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January 26, 2009

1. The situation in northwest Pakistan deteriorates further as the fight for Swat rages. Army secures schools under siege after girls blocked, while the Taliban terrorize the streets and issue a hit list of 43 politicians wanted for sharia trials.

2. An increase in forces and change in strategy in Afghanistan long in crafting now being rolled out under President Obama. Marines want shift from Iraq while Afghan IED's in 2008 were at highest point yet.

3. In Somalia, the last of Ethiopian forces have left. Now, Islamist factions are vying for control of Somalia, with Transitional Federal Government virtually invisible. A car bomb intended to strike African Union peacekeepers instead blew up and killed more than 20 civilians.

4. Sri Lankan forces said to have taken control of the last village held by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

5. US Navy in Gulf of Aden tracking, interdicting suspected Iranian arms shipments to Gaza/Egypt for Hamas. Egypt says it lacks resources to stop tunnel smuggling on one hand, while others deny weapons smuggling.

AFGHANISTAN
Karzai cites civilian casualties seeking authority over deployed US troops - Washington Times
IRAQ: Time for Marines to leave, and go to Afghanistan, commandant says - Los Angeles Times
Afghan roadside bombs hit record in 2008 - USA Today
Editorial: Obama's challenge in Afghanistan - Washington Times

CHINA
China tries its hand at American 'soft power' with hospital ship - Washington Times

EGYPT
In Egypt's Rafah, Gaza tunnel smuggling denial is the way of life - Jerusalem Post

GAZA
Hamas offers 18-month cease-fire, urges PA to sever talks with Israel - Ha'aretz
In pummeled Gaza, Hamas recoups - CS Monitor
Sky joins BBC in refusing Gaza aid appeal - CNN

IRAN
Sources say Iran running out of uranium - UPI
Uranium nations urged not to sell to Iran: report - Washington Post
US navy seeks arms bound for Hamas - Times (UK)
US seizing of Iranian ship 'a covert op' - Jerusalem Post

ISRAEL
Israel vows to defend soldiers against calls for war crimes inquiries - Los Angeles Times

LEBANON
Hizballah lawmaker considers people trying to disarm it as support for terrorism - Xinhua

PAKISTAN
Pakistan deploys Army at Swat schools; No girls attending - The Hindu (India)
Swat Taliban declare 43 politicians 'wanted' for sharia court trials - Daily Times (Pak)
The Taliban Hit-List - Daily Times (Pak)
Pakistan urges halt to missile strikes - Washington Times
Police take over Jamaat-ud-Dawa (LeT) offices in Muridke near Lahore - DAWN (Pak)
Taliban radio spreads terror in Swat; Beheadings, draggings, public corpse displays - Daily Times

SOMALIA
Somalia Suicide Attack Misses AU Peacekeepers, Kills Civilians - VOA
22 civilians killed after Mogadishu suicide blast - Gulf Times
Last Ethiopian troops leave Somalia - Radio Netherlands
Background: With Ethiopian Pullout, Islamists Rise Again in Somalia - Washington Post
Foreground: Al-Qaeda-Linked Somali Sheik eyes new government, presidency - AFP
Somali Pirates Free Ship - VOA
US admiral: Pact near for Somali pirate trials - AP

SRI LANKA
Tamil Tigers lose Mullaithivu, last village held - The Hindu (India)
Is Sri Lanka about to finish off the Tamil Tigers? - Reuters

UNITED STATES
Obama seeks space weapons ban but challenges loom - Forbes

VENEZUELA
Chavez providing aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, says new book - Ha'aretz
Chavez visits Colombia, denies support for leftist rebels - AFP
Venezuela's Chavez warms to Obama after insults - Reuters

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