— Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen, President Obama’s choice to take over as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, endorsed the President’s new Afghanistan withdrawal plan, reportedly saying “the drawdown will impress on Afghan leaders that they must urgently grow their own security forces to take over as U.S. troops leave.”
— A negotiated settlement with the Taliban dominates the Obama administration’s thinking about how to fully withdraw from Afghanistan. “After months of quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy, officials last week began claiming progress in the effort to begin talks.”
— As force levels are reduced in Afghanistan, U.S. strategy will shift in the direction of counterterrorism said outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The new strategy will focus U.S. forces on targeting militant leaders but will retain elements of the counterinsurgency strategy.
— A new report from the Federation of American Scientists to be released tomorrow in Washington rings the alarm about a possible militant takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons facilities.
— The U.N. Security Council approved a U.S.-drafted resolution authorizing more than 4,000 Ethiopian troops, as peacekeepers, into a disputed border region between Sudan and the soon-to-be-birthed South Sudan. — During a state television broadcast, the Iranian government showed off images of underground missile silos built for medium- and long-range missiles that a military official said were for rapid response defense against attacks.
— A Kremlin Middle East envoy told a delegation from the Syrian opposition that “leaders come and go” but Russia sees no other friend in Syria than its people.
— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu withdrew a warning issued by the Israeli Government Press Office that foreign journalists travelling with the latest flotilla to Gaza could be barred from Israel for the next ten years.