General David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) in the Middle East, met Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul on the night of January 20-21, after announcing that arrangements had been made to establish new transport routes into Afghanistan from Central Asia.

On January 18, the militant Hamas regime that rules Gaza agreed to a one-week cease-fire with Israel. With three weeks of military action by Israel against Hamas brought to a halt, observers are taking stock of the devastating conditions in Gaza and trying to determine if Israel has accomplished its objective of neutralizing  Hamas, which is categorized as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union, Israel, and Japan.

Mexican governmentA report released this month by the U.S. Joint Forces Command is warning of the potential for “rapid and sudden collapse” of the Mexican government due to the corrupting influence of criminal gangs and drug cartels. The Joint Operating Environment 2008 document (pdf) also lists Pakistan as the other of two large and important states that “bear consideration,” explaining that these would be “worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world."

GazaKhaled Meshaal, a Hamas leader, told the attendees at an emergency Arab summit on the Gaza crisis being held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on January  16: "I assure you: despite all the destruction in Gaza, we will not accept Israel's conditions for a cease-fire."

Gaza, Israeli MilitaryAs the Israeli military intensified its ongoing assault against the Hamas terrorist organization in densely populated Gaza City on January 15, artillery shells struck the compound of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), drawing immediate criticism from UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, who called the attack an "outrage."

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