– The Pentagon and U.S. Central Command have begun a preliminary review of U.S. military options in Syria but U.S. policy, for now, emphasizes the use of non-military options.
– Syria’s economic and diplomatic isolation deepened amid ongoing brutal assaults on anti-government strongholds, with the European Union debating new rounds of sanctions, including on the Syrian central bank, and Persian Gulf states breaking relations by recalling their ambassadors and expelling Syria’s from their countries.
– Turkey seeks to form a international pressure group on Syria as to coordinate policy between regional and world powers following the “fiasco,” as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called it, at the U.N. after China and Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution on Syria.
– The architect of Egypt’s recent crackdown on U.S.-funded pro-democracy organizations, Faiza Abou el-Naga, is a holdover from the cabinet of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, evidence, her critics say, that elements of Egypt’s old guard are entrenched in the new government and blocking the rise of new political leadership.
– U.S.-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai has emerged as an obstacle to U.S. talks with the Taliban aimed at brokering a political resolution to the decade-old war there, objecting, for example, to a Taliban office in Qatar that will likely serve as a point of contact for the U.S.
– Despite the lack of concession from Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, the political crisis in Iraq showed signs of easing as ministers from a large Sunni bloc of Parliament retook their seats, agreeing that one minister charged with crimes should go through the courts.
– Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro said that ispectors searching for shoulder fired missiles that have gone missing after the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi cannot account for thousands of them. “The frank answer is we don’t know and probably never will,” Shapiro said.
– The CIA is expected to maintain a large clandestine presence in Iraq and Afghanistan long after the withdrawal of U.S. troops “as part of a plan by the Obama administration to rely on a combination of spies and Special Operations forces to protect U.S. interests in the two longtime war zones.”