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Afghanistan and Beyond


Zakaria focused on Afghanistan today on GPS. Among his guests were Steve Coll, president of New America Foundation, Rory Stewart, who once walked across Afghanistan, Barney Rubin, who was interviewed in December 2008 on Pakistan by Scott Horton. A part of that interview is above.

The debate about our role in Afghanistan, which must include an Af-Pak policy taking the countries together, will begin to intensify as Obama shifts resources and priorities. The Af-Pak region will be as important to Obama as the Middle East.

Re: the Gaza tunnels.

Laura Rozen on India gone missing from Holbrooke’s brief.

Marc Lynch takes aim at HRC’s likely choice to be Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, which was reported by the Washington Post’s Al Kamen.

Evidently, al Qaeda needs to read American nursery rhymes. You know, stick and stones, because trying to make Obama into Bush is a child’s plan.

That was just a warm-up. In the weeks since, the terrorist group has unleashed a stream of verbal tirades against Barack Obama, each more venomous than the last. Obama has been called a “hypocrite,” a “killer” of innocents, an “enemy of Muslims.” He was even blamed for the Israeli military assault on Gaza, which began and ended before he took office.

“He kills your brothers and sisters in Gaza mercilessly and without affection,” an al-Qaeda spokesman declared in a grainy Internet video this month. [...]

“They’re highly uncertain about what they’re getting in this new adversary,” said Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterterrorism official who lectures on national security at Georgetown University. “For al-Qaeda, as a matter of image and tone, George W. Bush had been a near-perfect foil.” …

Al Jazeera English was the network to watch during the latest war in Gaza, which for Americans was online:

American viewership of Al-Jazeera English rose dramatically during the Israel-Hamas war, partly because the channel had what CNN and other international networks didn’t have: reporters inside Gaza. [...] Al-Jazeera had another draw: Its reporters were inside Gaza while international networks such as CNN were barred by Israel from sending reporters in throughout the entire war. Israeli TV focused mostly on Israeli casualty reports and Hamas rocket barrages. …

Another media story, The New York Times has a simple story of the Taliban using radio to terrorize.

Via the Arab Times comes the news story of the day: Gender equality pivotal to social development, says Kuwait delegate. The article cites the recent Israeli – Hamas war, making the point that it is women and children who sustain the most harm in these situations.

“The Kuwaiti government is making continuous efforts in cooperation with civil society institutions to enhance women’s empowerment which bore fruit and led to an apparent positive transformation in the last few years,” he said. “Kuwaiti women have been able to assert themselves in politics after gaining their full political rights in an effective way. They had the access to elections and leading political posts including ministerial portfolios,” Al-Najem poited out. Kuwait pursues its determined efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in political decision-making in a bid to enhance social peace and stability. [...]

“All of us have to help Palestinian women play their due roles in the development of their society. Dealing with the Arab Economic, Social and Development Summit, hosted by Kuwait on January 19-20 in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Al-Najem said His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah announced during the summit a financial initiative to bail out the private sector and small and medium -size industries in the Arab countries.

“Kuwait pledged to offer $500 million to the total funds of dollar two billion of the initiative which has the ultimate goal of achieving socio-economic development,” he pointed out, voicing hope that the initiative would promote empowerment for women. Kicked off on Jan 21 under the theme of “ Empowerment of Women”, NAM’s second ministerial conference will come to a close later Saturday.

More of this from Arab nations, please. A lot more. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s make sure Pakistani aid is based on something beyond military firepower.

In other areas, Ethiopia has pulled out of Somalia, leaving Islamists are taking advantage of the void, begining in Mogadishu.

Sri Lanka is making news after the army chief claimed to have taken a rebel stronghold.

According to Jeff Stein, where will Obama’s first trip be? South America. Summit of the Americas, where Obama will run head long into Hugo Chavez.

Meanwhile back at home, Barack Obama has an economic crisis, with meetings with Republicans scheduled in the coming week. John McCain said today that he will not vote for the stimulus as it stands today. Where was this McCain before the election? Lesson learned a bit too late. But all in all, this is some inheritance from Mr. Bush.

Democracy Arsenal chronicles some of the reaction to the global financial meltdown.

Tom Ricks on our generals as dinosaurs.

Oh… and Happy Chinese New Year, a bit belatedly.

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