Morning Brief, Friday, April 20

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP Middle East U.S. troops are erecting a wall around a besieged Sunni enclave in Baghdad.  U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a clear message in Baghdad Thursday: The Iraqi government is failing to meet its benchmarks, and the “clock is ticking” on the U.S. troop presence. Harry Reid, top Democrat in the U.S. ...

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602438_070420_gates_05.jpg

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP

Middle East

U.S. troops are erecting a wall around a besieged Sunni enclave in Baghdad. 

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP

Middle East

U.S. troops are erecting a wall around a besieged Sunni enclave in Baghdad. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a clear message in Baghdad Thursday: The Iraqi government is failing to meet its benchmarks, and the “clock is ticking” on the U.S. troop presence.

Harry Reid, top Democrat in the U.S. Senate, said the Iraq war was “lost.” 

Europe

Escalating a power struggle between the left-wing prime minister and the pro-U.S. president, Romanian lawmakers voted Thursday to suspend President Traian Basescu. A referendum on his impeachment will follow, which he will likely survive.

The French electoral campaign heads into its final 48 hours

Russian police questioned Gary Kasparov for “extremist” remarks he made on a radio program. 

Asia

North Korea reiterated its commitment to allowing IAEA inspections, but claimed that $25 million in frozen funds had yet to be released.  

This just in: China is not a democracy, but routinely makes gullible Westerners think it is progressing on that front. 

Elsewhere

In Bolivia, a squabble over revenues from a gas field is turning to violence

The fighting is heating up in Mogadishu, Somalia. 

Will Nigeria, where presidential elections will be held on Saturday, collapse into a frenzy of ethnic and tribal warfare

The 79-year-old man Cuban officials call “the bin Laden of the Americas” was released on bail yesterday in New Mexico, setting off a furor in Havana and Caracas.

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