The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration plans to cut the number of troops in Afghanistan in half during the next 16 months, a move that represents a faster drawdown than previously planned. The White House is also reportedly considering an option that would leave no U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 when NATO’s combat mission there comes to an end.
In other news:
- A former Israeli diplomat told CNN this week that the right-wing smears on Chuck Hagel are “total and utter nonsense.” “I think that those going after his record are after President Obama rather than after Senator Hagel. And I think these attacks are vile, vicious, ugly and unfounded,” said Alon Pinkas, who most recently served as Israel’s general counsel in the United States.
- The Military Times reports: The Air Force delivered about half of the troops and equipment for two Patriot anti-missile batteries being set up in Turkey to protect the allied states and U.S. interests from instability in neighboring Syria.
- Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Iranians citizens on Tuesday that criticizing the forthcoming presidential election would be akin to aiding the country’s enemies. “Everyone, even those who make general recommendations about the election through (expressing) concerns, should take care not to serve the purpose of the enemy,” Khamenei said in a statement published on his official website.
- The Financial Times reports: Iran has dramatically scaled up its use of compressed natural gas to power vehicles, an effort which has helped ease the tightening pressure from international sanctions on petrol imports.