Shorter Question Everything
• Sen. John McCain on Sunday renewed his threat to place a hold on John O. Brennan’s nomination as CIA director, saying his decision depends on Brennan’s answers to his questions about the terrorist attack last September in Benghazi, Libya, and his knowledge of harsh CIA interrogation techniques.
• Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered all U.S. Special Forces out of two key provinces within two weeks, accusing Afghan units under their jurisdiction of being responsible for the torture, abuse, and disappearance of Afghan civilians. The decision came after Karzai met Sunday with his National Security Council. According to the statement, during the meeting “it became clear that armed individuals belonging to US Special Forces engaged in harassing, annoying, torturing, and even murdering innocent people.” A NATO spokesperson says they are aware of the allegations, but would not provide further comment.
• Syria is ready to hold talks with its armed opponents, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday, in the clearest offer yet of negotiations with rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
• Cuban leader Raul Castro announced on Sunday he would step down from power after his second term as president ends in 2018, and the new parliament named a 52-year-old rising star to become his first vice president and most visible successor. In a surprise move, the new parliament named as his first vice president Miguel Diaz-Canel, a member of the political bureau who rose through the party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Castro. Diaz-Canel would succeed Castro if he cannot serve his full term.
• Park Geun-hye was sworn-in as South Korea’s new president Monday, becoming the first woman to lead the country. Park said she would work to reinvigorate South Korea’s economy and warned North Korea against pursuing its nuclear ambitions, Yonhap News Agency reported.
• Run-off presidential election begins in Cyprus. Cypriot conservative leader Nicos Anastasiades declared victory in a presidential runoff vote on Sunday after taking an insurmountable lead against his leftist rival.
• Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi has called for talks with opposition groups to ensure the “integrity and transparency” of the upcoming parliamentary elections of April 22.