Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
March 27th, 2011
08:27 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

NATO agreed on Sunday to take military command of a coalition mission over Libya, including enforcement of a no-fly zone, but questions remain over how long and far the intervention will go as rebels push back forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Here is a look at this and some of the other stories CNN plans to follow this week:

NATO, African Union, Arab League to discuss Libya on Tuesday

The new NATO mandate will begin in two to three days, NATO officials said, taking leadership over the military mission as the U.S. government had wanted. Planes and missiles from a coalition led by the United States, the United Kingdom and France began attacking Libyan air-defense targets March 19 in part to establish a no-fly zone. It was authorized by a U.N. Security Council resolution, which approved military action - short of occupation - to prevent Gadhafi's forces from attacking civilians and cities.

The intervention comes amid a Libyan civil war, which began in mid-February after clashes between government forces and protesters. Opposition forces are seeking the ouster of Gadhafi, who has ruled for nearly 42 years. Buoyed by the coalition's air intervention - including airstrikes on military vehicles - rebels are advancing west from their strongholds in eastern Libya, pushing pro-Gadhafi forces out of cities they had captured days earlier.

Leaders from NATO members, the African Union and the Arab League are expected to meet in London on Tuesday to discuss the intervention's aims. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among those expected to represent the United States at the meeting.

Obama to give address on Libya Monday night

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to address the coalition military action in Libya during a nationally televised address at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday. The speech follows calls for Obama to explain why U.S. forces are involved in the conflict and what the American exit strategy is. Two days following Obama's speech, Clinton and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates are due to give Congress a classified briefing on the Libyan situation. Members of Congress have been pushing the administration for details not only about the mission's overall strategy and goals, but also for estimates on how much the operation is going to cost.

Syria, Yemen continue to grapple with anti-government protests, violence

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected to address his nation soon amid reports of protesters being shot to death as they called for government reforms. A source close to the government told CNN the country's emergency law - in effect for nearly 50 years - is about to be lifted, and that the Cabinet is expected to resign in days as al-Assad decides on a new prime minister.

Government security forces are alleged to have opened fire on protesters last week in the southern Syrian cities of Sanamen and Daraa, and anti-government protesters in Latakia also were wounded by gunfire on Saturday, according to witnesses. The government has blamed the Latakia shootings, which it said led to the deaths of 10 security force members and civilians, on armed gangs, according to state TV.

In Yemen, another country where deadly violence has surrounded anti-government protests, the president is fighting to retain power, arguing he is best equipped to lead a fight against Islamists and against members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Over the past two days, fighting between Yemeni security forces and al Qaeda members has left people on both sides dead, Yemeni security officials said. The country has been engaged in a U.S.-aided crackdown on al Qaeda operatives.

Yemen - like many Middle Eastern and North African countries this year - has been facing protests from people citing government corruption, a lack of political freedom and high unemployment. Calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster increased following revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, and he has responded by promising to to run in the next election, and accepting demands for constitutional reforms and new parliamentary elections, though opposition leaders still are pushing for his immediate removal.

Check this page for a roundup and explanations of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.

Radiation levels high at damaged Japanese nuclear plant

Workers still are trying to prevent full meltdowns at a Japanese nuclear power plant following March 11's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. The disasters knocked out backup generators that ran reactors' coolant systems and damaged water pumps at the Fukushimi Daiichi plant, leading to hydrogen explosions and suspected partial core meltdowns.

A few hours ago, the plant's owner said radiation levels in coolant in a reactor turbine there are extremely high - 100,000 times normal levels for reactor coolant - but added that an earlier reading of 10 million times normal was incorrect.

Nuclear analyst Joe Cirincione told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the situation still is very serious. "You have six nuclear reactors lined up in a row. ... Any one of these would be considered a serious situation, but the fact that you have all of them in critical condition at this same time makes this a uniquely challenging situation.

"We have the possibility in three of those reactors ... of meltdowns. At least partial meltdowns are already under way in ... the fuel rods of those cores. And then in (a) fourth reactor, the core was taken out and put in the spent-fuel pond, and there, jammed in with other fuel, is a possibility that that could melt or catch fire."

U.S. Congress returns, faces April 8 deadline to avert shutdown

The U.S. Congress returns from a recess this week, ready for a new round of battles over an old problem - how to fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2011.

With Republicans and Democrats disagreeing over how much to cut spending levels, they have managed to pass only temporary spending measures, the most recent of which is set to expire on April 8. If a new plan isn't approved by then, some government services and offices would shut down until a plan is agreed. Republicans are pushing for about $61 billion in cuts overall, while Democrats say they will accept only a fraction of that.

Jimmy Carter visiting Cuba Monday through Wednesday

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is expected to visit Cuba and its president, at the invitation of the Cuban government, on Monday to discuss that country's economic policies and ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations. The three-day trip has sparked speculation that he could try to secure the early release of USAID contractor Alan Gross, who recently was sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison. The United State says Gross was helping Cuba's Jewish community connect to the internet, but Cuba says he was part of a plot to use illegal internet connections to destabilize the government.

Final Four in Houston on Saturday

The field for the NCAA men's basketball Final Four is set, and it's a good bet that you didn't correctly predict all four semifinalists when you filled out your bracket two weeks ago. Virginia Commonwealth, which barely even got into the tournament as a No. 11 seed in its region, will appear with last year's runner-up, Butler; Kentucky, a No. 4 seed that took out much-fancied higher seeds in Ohio State and North Carolina; and Connecticut. Check out full coverage at SI.com.

- CNN's Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Ahead of the curve
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Herbert

    Even with the NATO coalition taking the lead in Libya and limited American military actions at this point, President Obama will still be criticized. Don't worry Mr. President, only the smart people know you are doing a great job here.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kerryanne

      agreed

      March 28, 2011 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Neurotoxin

      Without disclosing my own views on Obama or whether "smart people" agree with him, "only the smart people" agreeing with a politician is a political death sentence. Stupid people outnumber smart people 10 to 1. :}

      March 28, 2011 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Henry Miller

      Actually, truly "smart" people have caught on to the fact that Obama is an empty, though well-tailored, suit, of manifest incompetence–future editions of The Peter Principle will feature him on the cover–and no capacity at all for leadership. He's in so far over his head it would take a bathyscaphe to find him. Having been deceived by his own well-crafted image, he took office confident that the country would enthusiastically embrace his vision for its future but, having discovered the fallacy of that, is left without the resources to take any action at all. Obama's biography, if anyone ever bothers to write it, will be that of the most ineffectual President in the history of that office.

      March 28, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Marucs

      To Herbert: I have a Phd. in Economics, so I think that I am pretty smart, however you seem to be lacking in smarts as an intellegent person would not make this comment. Moreover it is our responsibility as US citizens to criticize, judge, and hold the president and all elected officials accountable. Obama does not get a free pass just because the media loves him and he does not get a free pass just because his is the first black president.

      March 28, 2011 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Hawg

      Maybe the Bohemian Club can clean up this mess that they started. When they meet in July for their annual summer "retreat" within the confines of the big old Redwood tree's, they will show some compassion for the working man.

      March 28, 2011 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. syriall

    JUST IN:
    syrian authorities catch 37 people holding American nationality while killing people by shoting fire from the Buildings which they occupied its roofs
    and the syrian TV braodcasts some of their confessions.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWZDQ14OdI0&w=640&h=360]

    March 27, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neurotoxin

      Mubarak claimed the horse and camel-mounted thugs that tried to disperse Tahrir Square using whips were disgruntled tourism workers. Khamenei and Ghadhafi both claimed there were no demonstrations in their countries for weeks. Hell, Stalin used to deny massive earthquakes that were registered by richter scales outside his borders, and Gorbachev tried to deny Chernobyl for 4 days. Anything Assad's state-run media reports on Syria is as credible as these claims, it's the equivalent of believing what Ronald McDonald says about McDonald's.

      March 28, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. Herbert

    FREEDOM for the people of SYRIA! Down with dictators and terrorists everywhere.

    March 27, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mumar Ghadaffi

    @Frenchy Mumar would like very much to learn the bung,gerbal,jetfighter technology i wish to use this weapon in our fighting againt the rebels and the americans. Get back to me on this. Im still at the bunker in libya. Thank u Mr. Frenchy

    March 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Frenchy

    Dear, Mumar Ghadaffi..as you can see my state of the art,rodent bung jetfighting tech has been omitted by CNN moderators..I wish I could pass these secrets along but I'm being water boarded by french pastries as I post... .

    March 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      If you can't pass the secrets, can you pass the grey poupon???

      March 28, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Herbert

    Hi Jazz7. How u been? So, what's your take on Syria?

    March 27, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Herbert

    Just my OPINION: Some Syrians have the idea the USA is evil due to propaganda, some know better. I think the Syrian govt is not keen on human rights.

    March 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Badfinger

    @ Jazz7...you seem like a nice blogger..I'm the guy who told that FINGER momo that he needs a manicure... .

    March 27, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. petey

    When do you all think haliburton can get to libya to start rebuilding with our taxpayers money they need to hurry up so the people will have a better place to live they will love america for remodeling their country

    March 28, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  10. petey

    I love how our government pull the strings of our people just like the puppets we are and they do what they want when they want and we can't do nothing but pay the bill

    March 28, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Karen

    Oh no we have a budget crisis- the us government might shut down if we dont make some cuts in spending/ oh no lets just jump right in & go to war in lybia why nt iraq afgan. We must have china's money to burn!

    March 28, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. The A-List

    Go Rams!

    March 28, 2011 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. dany

    the (UN) was looking for an excuse to invade Syria LIBIA.en mercenary foreigners caught firing on civilians and military to civil war, are of other nationalities and say they paid for decestabilsar the country to be working for United States. Isrrael or these same happened to Libya, NATO says it protects civil indefensos.lo protect themselves is that they are a group of guerrillas who are interested interested in pais.an fallen oil cities of 100.000 barrels per day of Oilin the the market cost is $ 120 a barrel and say that in one week will be ready to get started exporting, civilians are armed pole teeth and NATO with their planes they ever been able tomarce way for cities and overthrow the GOVERNMENT LIBYA

    March 28, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. mtrought

    yes, the ordinary is now getting smarter and wants a more democratic where HE can choose his leaders and not the army choose them for him. It is not perfect but it is a start to a better world for all of us who wish it to be so

    March 28, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. Charles Queen

    We shouldn't even be there,the tiny mount of oil we do get from them makes no diference to our country which mean there is no reason for thm to use it as an excuse to raise gas prices the way they did,The Europeans get a lot of oil from them.Passing the command was nothing more than a political gesture and thats all it was.We are still the ones who are overall in charge and running the show.Let the Saudi's and the others in that region handle it.They have the man power and the military strenght,we do not need to be there at all

    March 28, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @charles queen – So you would go if it was for oil? You sound like part of the problem.

      As you posted in your post, we get little if any oil from Libya.

      We are there to try to protect little children, children who never had any say in their form of government. Trying to protect them from a monster, who would kill their parents, destroy their homes, kill *them*.

      I'm against us being at war – ever, really. But someone's gotta do it. If not us, who? The Arab states? They all are in turmoil. Much of that part of the world is trying to shake off something that is a deep part of their culture. The Internet has made the world so small, we talk to Libyans every day.

      Destroying children to keep the death grip on your tin crown? Not in my neighborhood. This is the first war worth getting into in a long time. Maybe Madagascar will send monkeys to find mines again, maybe we'll see Malta break out their vintage biplanes. The world is there, and we're a big part of it.

      It really is tragic W wiped out our ability to respond more effectively, or this whole thing might be over by now. Imagine, if we'd been at peace, just sitting here, minding our own business...

      March 28, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
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