London – Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization authorized a 90-day extension of the alliance’s aerial mission over Libya on Wednesday, raising the prospect that U.S. and allied troops could be involved in the North African nation until Christmas.
But NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen emphasized that the alliance could call home its forces “at any time” if international authorities and the new Libyan government determine that NATO’s help is no longer necessary.
NATO took over enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya in March, with an initial deadline for the mission at the end of June. A three-month extension was set to expire next week, but Wednesday’s decision renewed the operation until the end of December.
NATO fighter jets have flown more than 20,000 sorties over Libya in the last six months, dropping thousands of bombs to take out Gadhafi’s command centers and military materiel. The alliance has reported no serious casualties in its air campaign.
Egypt prolongs emergency rule
Cairo – Egypt’s caretaker military government announced Wednesday that the emergency law that allows it to jail people without charges and try civilians before military courts will not be lifted until the middle of next year.
The announcement angered political activists and human rights advocates, who warned that continuation of emergency rule ran counter to the goals of the movement that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February and could threaten campaigning for parliamentary elections, now expected to be held in November.
Shortly after it came to power, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled by decree since assuming power from Mubarak, announced that it would lift emergency rule in September.
But on Wednesday, General Adel al Morsy, head of Egypt’s military justice department, said that the emergency law would remain in effect until June 2012.
He declared that Egypt’s military rulers would continue to enforce the emergency law until then “to fight all forms of domestic instability, terrorism, disturbing the national security and public order or financing any of the aforementioned cases.”
Taiwan plane upgrades anger China
Beijing – China today denounced a decision by the United States to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16 fighter jets, summoning the U.S. ambassador and warning that military ties and overall relations will suffer.
Despite the heated rhetoric, the impact on overall ties was expected to be slight, partly because Washington deferred a decision on whether to sell Taiwan a more advanced version of the plane that would have stirred far greater anger from Beijing.
China reacts strongly to all U.S. military cooperation with the island, but previous threats to retaliate diplomatically or economically have come to nothing.