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Iran Joins Countries Against U.S.-Backed Syria Force


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 16, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Iran Joins Countries Against U.S.-Backed Syria Force Iran has condemned a U.S. plan (AP) for a Kurdish-led border force to comprise some thirty thousand troops in northeastern Syria, joining Russia, Turkey, and the Syrian government in protest of the move. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria said that the coalition is working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to train a new Syrian Border Defense Force (Al Jazeera), drawing up to fifteen thousand of its members from SDF ranks. On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened action against Kurdish forces along his country's southern border, where the new U.S. force is to be stationed, saying an offensive there "may begin at any time" (Rudaw). ANALYSIS "Amid all the vacillations in Turkish policy on Syria there has been one constant throughout: Ankara's unequivocal opposition to [Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party]-controlled territory along its borders," Suraj Sharma writes for Middle East Eye. "The SDF is basically a new occupying power that is imposing a rigid, dictatorial one-party system and completely ignoring the struggle for freedom and change that began in 2011," Yassin al Haj Saleh said in an interview with Muftah. "The Syrian conflict is on a trajectory to continue to expand during 2018," Jennifer Cafarella said in an interview with the Carnegie Middle East Center. PACIFIC RIM Oil Spill Growing off China China's state oceanic agency said on Tuesday that an oil slick in the East China Sea grew to fifty-two square miles (NYT) from just four square miles a day earlier after a January 6 collision involving an Iranian oil tanker. All of the ship's thirty-two Iranian and Bangladeshi crew members are believed to be dead. PHILIPPINES: The government has ordered an influential media site critical of President Rodrigo Duterte to close down, saying it violated rules on foreign ownership (FT). SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Israel's Netanyahu Visits India Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to "further cement the close friendship" (Al Jazeera) between Israel and India as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in New Delhi on Sunday. The two leaders signed deals on defense, agriculture, and aviation (BBC). PAKISTAN: Some 1,800 party leaders and religious scholars issued a fatwa condemning suicide bombings (RFE/RL) as un-Islamic in a Tuesday ceremony (Dawn) with President Mamnoon Hussain. Shuja Nawaz writes in Foreign Affairs that Trump's policy in Pakistan is flawed. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Palestinian Leader Says Israel 'Killed' Oslo Accord Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a Sunday speech, rejected the United States as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said that Israel has "killed" the 1993 Oslo Accords (NYT). A top decision-making body of the Palestinian Liberation Organization voted on Monday to suspend recognition of Israel (Middle East Eye) and back an international movement to boycott the country. In Salon, CFR's Steven A. Cook discusses the unlikelihood of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Ethiopia to Release Five Hundred Detainees Ethiopia's general prosecutor said that charges will be dropped (VOA) for more than 528 people arrested in recent years in connection with anti-government protests. The chairman of an opposition party is among the prisoners expected to be released (Bloomberg) on Wednesday. SOUTH AFRICA: A South African court has ordered the consulting firm McKinsey to surrender its share (FT) in a $129 million contract involving a close associate of the Gupta brothers, a prominent business family accused of corruption. EUROPE Refugee Numbers Drop Sharply in Germany Germany registered 186,644 asylum seekers (DW) in 2017, about one hundred thousand fewer than the year before and well under its 2015 peak of some 890,000. In this CFR interview, the International Rescue Committee's David Miliband discusses the ongoing historic displacement of millions of people. SPAIN: Spain has overtaken the United States (BBC) as the world's second-most popular tourist destination, according to the UN tourism agency. France continues to hold the top spot. AMERICAS Pope, in Chile, Asks Forgiveness Over Sexual Abuse in Catholic Church Pope Francis, during a trip to Chile on Tuesday, asked Chileans for forgiveness for the "irreparable damage" done to children who suffered sexual abuse by church ministers (AP). The Catholic leader made the comments in a speech to President Michelle Bachelet and lawmakers. UNITED STATES BP Adds $1.7 Billion to 2010 Oil Spill Bill Oil giant BP said $1.7 billion of its fourth-quarter earnings will go toward settlement claims stemming from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill (WSJ). The total cost of the offshore spill, the worst in U.S. history, is estimated to be more than $63 billion.   GLOBAL Democracy in Retreat Across Globe, Says Watchdog The research and advocacy group Freedom House said in a new report that there are more countries seeing declines in democracy (VOA) than ones experiencing democratic advances. The group said the United States has abdicated its role (RFE/RL) as "both a champion and an exemplar of democracy" in recent years. Oil briefly traded on Tuesday (NYT) for above $70 per barrel, a price not seen since late 2014 (Reuters).          Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 16, 2018 at 11:09PM

White House Faces Iran Sanctions Relief Deadline


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 12, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA White House Faces Iran Sanctions Relief Deadline Editor's Note: There will be no Daily Brief on Monday, January 15, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The United States is expected to announce today whether it will extend sanctions relief for Iran in line with a 2015 nuclear deal. Failure to extend the relief could break up the deal between Iran and world powers. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, following a Thursday meeting in Brussels with European foreign ministers and their Iranian counterpart, that the deal has been successful in preventing a "potential nuclear arms race" (VOA) in the region. In October, Trump decertified the nuclear deal to impose fresh sanctions on Iran, but did not withdraw the United States from the agreement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he expects "new sanctions" on Iran (WaPo), appearing to reference ones separate from those covered in the deal.  ANALYSIS "The best way to demonstrate that he's prepared to try to raise the cost to the Iranians is by doing it in a collective way. What made the sanctions effective is that it wasn't just the U.S. that it was doing it," Dennis Ross, a former U.S. presidential advisor on the Middle East, said in an interview with National Public Radio. "In its cost–benefit calculations, Iran sees the security benefits of its ties to various non-state actors as exceeding their economic costs. That is why decades of sanctions and isolation have not led to a reduction in Iran’s support of the groups in its neighborhood," Ariane M. Tabatabai writes for Foreign Affairs. "If there is one thing Americans should know by now about Iran, it is how little we know it. The Iranian regime, with its heavy-handed censorship and self-isolation, has made sure of this," Laura Secor writes for the New York Times. UNITED STATES Countries Rebuke Profane Remark Attributed to Trump A UN spokesperson has condemned as "racist" (WaPo) comments reportedly made by U.S. President Donald J. Trump in reference to African nations and Haiti in a Thursday meeting with lawmakers. The African Union said it was alarmed by the "contemptuous" terms used by Trump, while Haiti's ambassador to the United States said that Haitians (Hill) "continue to be great contributors to American society." In a Friday tweet, Trump appeared to deny (USA Today) that he used the profanity attributed to him. President Trump has canceled an upcoming trip to London (Guardian) for the opening of a new U.S. embassy in the city, writing on Twitter that he opposed the project's cost. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the visit would have been "met by mass peaceful protests."  PACIFIC RIM China Posts Largest-Ever Trade Surplus With U.S. China's trade surplus with the United States reached a record high of $275.8 billion (WSJ) in 2017, as strong U.S. growth pushed demand for Chinese products. China's overall trade surplus shrank by 17 percent. CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy discusses China's claim to global leadership. JAPAN: The justice minister announced that starting on Monday the country will limit which refugees are granted permission to work in Japan (Reuters). Those who do not pass initial checks will be subject to detention. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Pakistan to Stop Sharing Some Intel With U.S. A Pakistani official has announced that Islamabad will halt sharing intelligence from certain sources with Washington. The move comes after the United States suspended some $2 billion in annual military aid (FT) to the country. CFR President Richard N. Haass discusses how to navigate the troubled U.S. relations with Pakistan in a new Project Syndicate piece. AFGHANISTAN: A new report by a Kabul-based advocacy group for journalists says 2017 was the deadliest year for media professionals (RFE/RL) in Afghanistan, with some twenty killed. Emma Sky and Lisa Monaco discuss the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with Foreign Affairs. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA U.S. Creates New Team to Probe Hezbollah The U.S. Justice Department has created a new team to investigate individuals suspected of financing the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah (Politico). The team will use evidence collected in a decade-long Drug Enforcement Agency probe (WSJ) into Hezbollah.  SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Equatorial Guinea Coup Attempt Organized in France The foreign minister said a thwarted coup attempted late last month was planned in France (AFP), but that the plot had "nothing to do with" the French government. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled the country since 1979. SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town's mayor said on Thursday that the city is expected to reach what she calls "day zero," when the city will deplete its water supply (VOA), in late April. EUROPE German Parties Announce Coalition Deal German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a "new dawn for Europe" on Friday as her conservative bloc reached a coalition deal (FT) with the center-left Social Democrats. The breakthrough could end months of political deadlock (DW) since a September election. UK: Ecuador has announced that last month it granted citizenship to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (BBC), who was lived at its embassy in London since 2012 to avoid arrest. AMERICAS At Least Four Dead in Venezuelan Migrant Boat Crash Four bodies were found on shore Thursday after a migrant boat believed to be carrying at least two dozen people from Venezuela (AP) to the Dutch island of Curacao crashed. No survivors were reported. PERU: Demonstrators in Lima restarted rallies on Thursday against a presidential pardon granted to former President Alberto Fujimori (BBC), who had been serving a twenty-five-year prison sentence for human rights abuses and corruption.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 12, 2018 at 11:15PM

Hundreds Arrested in Tunisia Anti-austerity Protests


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 11, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Hundreds Arrested in Tunisia Anti-austerity Protests More than three hundred people in Tunisia were arrested overnight (Guardian) as anti-austerity protests that began last week spread to at least twenty cities and towns. The arrests late Wednesday bring the total detained (BBC) in Tunisia's largest demonstrations since the 2011 Arab Spring protests to six hundred. The protests began after the government of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, aiming to reach a loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (FT), implemented new austerity measures on January 1 that included tax hikes on cars and phone and internet usage. More protests are expected ahead of the anniversary of the 2011 ouster (Al Jazeera) of former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Sunday. ANALYSIS "The economy is inching towards becoming better. Since the revolution, GDP growth has not exceeded 1 percent until this year," Safwan M. Masri said in an event by the Carnegie Middle East Center. "Far too often, Western leaders have incorrectly assumed that Tunisia, as compared to its war-torn neighbors, is faring well and does not require their support," Sarah E. Yerkes writes for Foreign Affairs. "The government's rhetoric that this is a temporary period of hardship, as well as the prime minister's assurance that 2018 would be the last hard year for Tunisia, is rarely believed," Max Gallien writes for Middle East Eye. PACIFIC RIM China Warns Oil Tanker at Risk of Exploding China's Ministry of Transportation said that a tanker carrying Iranian oil to South Korea that has been on fire since a Saturday collision is at risk of exploding and sinking (Reuters) in the East China Sea. No survivors from the thirty-two-member Iranian and Bangladeshi crew have been found (CNN). CHINA: Chinese paramilitary police have demolished a prominent mega-church (AP) in the northern city of Linfen. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Protests in Pakistan Over Child's Rape, Murder Two people died in widespread protests (AP) on Wednesday over the rape and killing last week of a six-year-old girl whose body was found in a trash dump (Dawn) in the city of Kasur. Three police officers were arrested for opening fire on demonstrators. SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka has lifted a decades-old ban on adult women buying and selling alcohol (Colombo Page). MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA One Hundred Thousand Displaced From Syria's Idlib, UN Says Turkey, one of the parties responsible for monitoring de-escalation zones in Syria, has called on the Syrian government and its allies to end the siege of Idlib (BBC), the largest remaining opposition stronghold. The United Nations says an estimated one hundred thousand civilians have fled the area since November. On Wednesday, Russia said drones that attacked its Khmeimim Air Base (WaPo) over the weekend came from Idlib. Dmitri Trenin discusses Russia's plan for Syria in Foreign Affairs. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Ex-President's Son Fired From Angolan Sovereign Fund President Joao Lourenco has dismissed the entire board of Angola's sovereign wealth fund (Bloomberg), including its head, the son of longtime leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The move comes shortly after Lourenco removed dos Santos's daughter as head of the state oil company. SOUTH AFRICA: Coca-Cola's branch in South Africa said it will not work with consulting firm McKinsey (FT) until investigations into the firm's work with a consulting company owned by the Gupta brothers, a prominent family accused of corruption, have been completed. EUROPE Greece Seizes Ship Carrying Explosives to Libya The Greek coast guard intercepted a Tanzania-flagged cargo ship that was heading from Turkey to Libya and was carrying twenty-nine containers of explosives and detonators (Kathimerini). The ship's bill of lading said it was destined for Oman and Djibouti but the captain claims the owner ordered him to take the ship to Libya, which has been under an international arms embargo (DW) since 2011. EU: The European Commission is considering a tax on plastic packaging (BBC) to reduce trash and fill a gap in the budget expected after the United Kingdom's exit from the bloc. AMERICAS Colombian Rebel Group Resumes Attacks A day after a three-month bilateral cease-fire expired, the rebel group ELN carried out three attacks and killed one soldier (Colombia Reports). The resumption of attacks comes days before an expected visit (NYT) by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to monitor progress since a landmark peace deal between the government and Colombia's largest rebel group, FARC. This CFR Backgrounder looks at the history of Colombia's civil conflict. CANADA: Canada has filed an extensive complaint against the United States (BBC) at the World Trade Organization, charging the country broke various international trade rules. UNITED STATES NYC Sues Big Oil Over Climate Change New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a lawsuit on Tuesday against oil giants BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell for misleading the public about their role in climate change (FT). The city also said it is considering divesting close to $200 billion in pension funds from fossil fuel companies. In American Interest, CFR's Varun Sivaram discusses energy policy in President Trump's National Security Strategy. The death toll from flash floods and mudslides in southern California earlier this week rose to seventeen on Wednesday (VOA).         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 11, 2018 at 11:06PM

Polish Leader Shuffles Cabinet Amid EU Sanctions Threat


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 10, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Polish Leader Shuffles Cabinet Amid EU Sanctions Threat Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki replaced nearly half of his administration on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with the European Commission, as relations with the bloc strain over the threat of sanctions on Warsaw. The cabinet shuffle, which analysts say may have been aimed at improving ties with the bloc, included ministers of finance, defense, and foreign affairs. A joint EU-Poland statement called the atmosphere of the Tuesday meeting "friendly," though Morawiecki has not backed down on a judicial overhaul (Politico EU) that the European Union says threatens democracy in the country. Last month, the European Union triggered the process to sanction Warsaw for its recent moves to give politicians greater control over the judiciary (Bloomberg). ANALYSIS "The key question remains: Is this a PR stunt or a fundamental adjustment of the country's approach to governing?" Bartosz Dudek writes for Deutsche Welle. "What's occurring in Poland is parallel to what is occurring in Britain with Brexit. At the core of it, the Polish ruling party is alleging that it is exercising sovereignty and taking [back] control," Agata Fijalkowski said in a CFR interview. "The changing of the guard may be too little too late—the EU and Poland's drawn-out feuds over the rule of law as well as the environment and migration have sowed deep damage and could take months to reverse," Jan Cienski and Joanna Plucinska write for Politico EU.  PACIFIC RIM Reuters Reporters Charged in Myanmar Two Reuters journalists have been charged with violating Myanmar law (NYT) after obtaining what authorities say are state secrets from police. The reporters were investigating allegations of a mass grave in Rakhine State, where a military crackdown has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee. This CFR Backgrounder looks at the Rohingya refugee crisis. MALAYSIA: The government has signed a deal with the U.S.-based company Ocean Infinity Limited to restart the search for flight MH370 (Star), which went missing in 2014.  SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Trump to Host Kazakh President at White House U.S. President Donald J. Trump will meet with his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, next Tuesday to discuss security and economic cooperation (RFE/RL), according to the White House. The visit comes shortly after Kazakhstan's UN envoy took over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council. INDIA: The World Bank has predicted that India will be the fastest-growing major economy (Quartz) over the next three years, with projected growth rates of up to 7.5 percent. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Anti-Austerity Protests Swell in Tunisia Demonstrations that began last week over tax hikes and spending cuts in the government's 2018 budget continued on Wednesday in the capital of Tunis (Bloomberg) and other cities. Tunisia seeks to reduce its deficit to meet conditions set out by the International Monetary Fund, which is providing $2.9 billion in loans (CBS/AP). Sarah E. Yerkes discusses democracy in Tunisia after the Arab Spring in Foreign Affairs. ISRAEL: The UN refugee agency has appealed to Israel to not deport some thirty-five thousand Sudanese and Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers (VOA) in the country. The United Nations interviewed eighty Eritrean migrants in Rome who said they were tortured and extorted after being relocated by Israel (UNHCR).   SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA UN Chief Urges DRC to Uphold Election Schedule UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said there is a "real risk" (VOA) that the Congolese government will continue to delay a long-awaited presidential election, which was rescheduled for December 2018. President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, had agreed to step down after an election that was initially set for late 2017 but was postponed. In Foreign Affairs, Stuart A. Reid discusses the Democratic Republic of Congo's slide into chaos. ETHIOPIA: Parliament has passed legislation banning child adoption (BBC) by foreigners.  EUROPE Mafia Suspects Arrested in Raids in Italy, Germany Law enforcement in Italy and Germany arrested more than 170 suspects they accuse of running a vast criminal enterprise (DW) involving bread and wine sales, waste recycling, and funeral services. Police seized some $60 million in assets. AMERICAS Tillerson Orders Review of Alleged Cuba Attacks U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will set up an independent board (WSJ) to investigate mysterious physical ailments that more than two dozen U.S. diplomats and their family members in Cuba have suffered. Cuba says there is no evidence (Miami Herald) it carried out an attack. ECUADOR: The foreign minister said Ecuador is looking for a third party to mediate talks on an extradition warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (DW), who has lived in Ecuador's embassy in London since 2012 to avoid arrest. UNITED STATES Federal Judge Blocks Trump's Move to End DACA A San Francisco judge ruled late Tuesday that an Obama-era program to shield unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation must stay in place while legal challenges against President Trump's order to rescind it are ongoing (BBC). Trump told lawmakers that he is willing to negotiate a deal (NYT) that would offer citizenship to millions of undocumented individuals. A former arms control advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama said a new proposal by the Trump administration would loosen constraints on nuclear weapons (Guardian) and develop a new type of nuclear warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 10, 2018 at 11:01PM

North Korea to Join in Winter Olympics After Talks With South


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 9, 2018 Daily News Brief TOP OF THE AGENDA North Korea to Join in Winter Olympics After Talks With South North Korea will send a delegation of athletes (Korea Times) to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Seoul announced on Tuesday following the first high-level talks between the Koreas in two years. South Korea's unification minister met his North Korean counterpart (NYT) in the border village of Panmunjom for the talks. An aide to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea's move signaled a welcome "change in stance" (WaPo) while a senior U.S. State Department official said President Donald J. Trump credits U.S. pressure (AP) with leading the North to agree to dialogue. The group of North Korean athletes is expected to march alongside South Koreans during the opening and closing ceremonies. ANALYSIS "Amidst the fire and fury of missile tests and testy tweets, the Moon [Jae-in] administration has been hard at work over the past few months creating the opening which we are now seeing bear fruit," John Delury writes for Foreign Affairs. "For Washington to oppose the steps for inter-Korean dialogue underway in the wake of Kim's speech would be to take Pyongyang's bait and give credence to his narrative that Washington is an enemy, not a friend, of the Korean people," writes Jongsoo Lee for CFR's Asia Unbound blog. "Recasting the U.S. policy of maximum pressure and engagement, with a serious U.S. point of contact for negotiations, could create space for diplomacy that currently does not exist," Jung H. Pak and Ryan L. Hass write for the Brookings Institution [PDF]. PACIFIC RIM U.S. Military Apologizes to Japan Japan's foreign minister told the U.S. ambassador to Japan on Tuesday that frequent accidents involving U.S. military equipment "amplify locals' anxiety." The move came after two U.S. helicopters made forced landings in Okinawa (Japan Times) in recent days. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis apologized to his Japanese counterpart following the incidents. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Bangladeshi Court Upholds Ban on Rohingya Marriages The High Court in Dhaka has dismissed a challenge to a 2014 ban on Bangladeshis marrying individuals from Myanmar's Rohingya minority (AFP). The ban was intended to keep refugees from seeking citizenship. This CFR Backgrounder looks at the Rohingya crisis. INDIA: Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden tweeted on Monday in support of an Indian journalist whom authorities say committed a criminal offense by reporting that citizens' personal information, kept in a national biometric database (BBC), was available for sale online. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA One Dead in Anti-Austerity Protest in Tunisia The Tunisian Interior Ministry said a demonstrator who was killed in a protest over recent government austerity measures (Al Jazeera) outside Tunis on Monday likely died from tear gas inhalation. Five people were injured in the demonstration. EGYPT: Electoral authorities have set a late March date (DW) for the first round of this year’s presidential elections. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power in a 2013 coup, has not announced his candidacy but is widely expected to run (Al Jazeera). In Foreign Affairs, Michael Wahid Hanna and Daniel Benaim write that Cairo is drifting from traditional allies under Sisi. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Madagascar Cyclone Kills Twenty-Nine Twenty-nine people are dead and at least two are missing after a tropical cyclone passed through Madagascar over the weekend (Reuters), the country's disaster management office said Monday. ANGOLA: President Joao Lourenco, at a Monday press conference, said there is no tension in his relationship (Africa News) with former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The statement comes after Lourenco fired sixty top government officials including dos Santos's daughter, who headed the state oil company. EUROPE Dozens Reported Dead After Migrant Boat Sinks The UN migration agency said sixty-four people are believed to have died after a rubber dinghy carrying 150 migrants (VOA) sank in the Mediterranean on Saturday. The Italian coast guard rescued eighty-six people (Guardian). FRANCE: Prosecutors have announced a probe into the tech giant Apple (BBC) after the company admitted its phones are slowed down in software updates as they age. Under French law, a firm can not shorten a product's lifespan to force the user to buy a new one. AMERICAS Ecuador to Investigate Correa-Era Debt The national comptroller's office announced it will audit the debt (Reuters) contracted under the last five years of former President Rafael Correa's government. Correa said recent moves by President Lenin Moreno, once his protege, to undo some of Correa's actions constitute a "coup." EL SALVADOR: President Salvador Sanchez Ceren called the U.S. announcement that it will end protected status for two hundred thousand Salvadorans an "extension," referring to the eighteen months migrants have before they will be forced to leave. The comment prompted criticism he was attempting to spin negative news (NYT). CFR's Stewart M. Patrick, in the Hill, criticizes the Trump administration's withdrawal from an international summit on migration. UNITED STATES Natural Disasters Cost Record $306 Billion in 2017 Extreme weather disasters, including hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires, cost the country $306 billion in damages in 2017 (CBS), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The total tops a previous record of $215 billion in 2005. Puerto Rico's police chief has resigned after a year on the job (AP) amid a spike in homicides on the island. Thousands of officers have not appeared for work in recent weeks to protest a lack of overtime pay.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 09, 2018 at 11:13PM

Two Dozen Civilians Reported Dead in Syria's Idlib


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 8, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Two Dozen Civilians Reported Dead in Syria's Idlib An explosion and air strikes in Syria's opposition-held city of Idlib on Sunday have killed some forty people (Middle East Eye), including at least twenty-one civilians, according to a monitoring group. The explosion happened near a site used by an Islamist rebel group that draws fighters from Russia and the Caucasus (BBC), some of whom are among the dead, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Local media also reported two attacks outside the city, which is one of the last major rebel strongholds, including an air raid on the town of Jarjanaz. Separately, the Syrian government said it retook a military base outside Damascus (Al Jazeera) that had been under assault by rebels since November. ANALYSIS "This year may not yet be one of peace in Syria, but 2018 may be the last year of this brutal conflict. It has become clear that President Bashar al-Assad and his allies have won the war," Fabrice Balanche writes for Syria Deeply. "Instead of forcing the regime to compromise, the mechanisms of war and destruction, including the anti-Islamic State campaign, allowed it to block any political transition, destroy the prewar order, and create a new one in which it could survive," Kheder Khaddour writes for the Carnegie Middle East Center. "Even as Russia has assumed ownership of Syria, Washington and its allies control key spaces on the country's periphery and possess some relevant if non-decisive leverage," Sam Heller writes for War on the Rocks. PACIFIC RIM Iranian Tanker in Flames After Collision Near China International crews found one body and continued to search on Monday for missing Iranian and Bangladeshi crewmen after an Iranian oil tanker collided with a Hong Kong-flagged vessel (NYT) in the East China Sea late Saturday. The collision may have resulted in the worst oil spill (Reuters) since a 1991 disaster off the Angolan coast. AUSTRALIA: Sydney saw its hottest day on record since 1949 (SMH) on Sunday, at a temperature of 117 degrees Fahrenheit. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Pentagon Watchdog Criticizes Afghan Air Force Reforms The Pentagon's inspector general has released a report criticizing NATO-led efforts to reform Afghanistan's air force (VOA), saying the mission "does not have a plan" to develop a sustainable national force and has failed to define its end goal. INDIA: Four people were arrested for playing Pakistan's national anthem (TOI) at a cricket match in India-controlled Kashmir on Sunday, according to police.  MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA EU to Invite Iran Envoy Following Protests Germany's foreign minister said that he and the EU foreign policy chief will invite their Iranian counterpart to discuss recent anti-government protests in the country (RFE/RL). The German minister said he will not follow the U.S. position of calling on demonstrators to "take back" their government and warned against "instrumentalizing" domestic conflicts in Iran. In Foreign Affairs, Ariane M. Tabatabai writes that anti-government protests won't change Iran's foreign policy. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Zimbabwe Charges Ex-Ministers With Corruption Former foreign and energy ministers who served under ousted President Robert Mugabe (DW) were arrested and charged with corruption on Friday, their lawyers said. The arrests are the latest in a series targeting Mugabe-era ministers. In Foreign Affairs, CFR's John Campbell writes that the coup that ousted Mugabe will likely not lead to reform. SENEGAL: Gunmen killed thirteen people in the southern region of Casamance (AP) on Saturday; no group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. A separatist insurgency has lasted in the region for over three decades. EUROPE Germany's Merkel Leads Fresh Coalition Talks German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she believes a new round of coalition talks, which began Sunday and include her Christian Democrats, its sister party, and the center-left Social Democrats, may yield a new government (BBC) after three months of political stalemate since a September general election. FRANCE: Corporate deals in France reached a ten-year record high in 2017, according to the data company Dealogic, totaling some $250 billion (FT). Ronald Tiersky writes in Foreign Affairs that President Emmanuel Macron is remaking France. AMERICAS No Evidence of Sonic Attacks in Cuba, U.S. Senator Says Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), after meeting with top Cuban officials on Friday, said the United States has found no evidence that sonic attacks (AP) were behind illnesses that affected some two dozen U.S. diplomats and their spouses beginning in 2016.  UNITED STATES East Coast Sees Coldest Temperature in Decades Temperatures in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island dropped to as low as -9 degrees Fahrenheit (Guardian) during a deep freeze across the region over the weekend. Boston marked its lowest temperature in a century. The United States is facing a nationwide shortage of intravenous bags (WSJ), which hospital officials say stems from hurricane damage to a major manufacturer in Puerto Rico. GLOBAL Civilian Deaths From Explosives Jump in 2017 More than fifteen thousand civilians were killed in 2017 by explosive weapons, an increase of 42 percent compared to the previous year, according to a new survey from the research and advocacy group Action on Armed Violence. The rise was driven by the near-doubling of civilian deaths (Guardian) from air strikes.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 08, 2018 at 11:03PM

Pakistan Defends Its Record After U.S. Cuts Aid


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. January 5, 2018 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Pakistan Defends Its Record After U.S. Cuts Aid The U.S. State Department said Thursday that it is suspending most of its military assistance to Pakistan (NPR) until Islamabad takes action against armed groups that are "destabilizing the region and targeting U.S. personnel." Washington had earlier said it would withhold $255 million in aid to the country; the latest announcement brings the total to an estimated $1 billion (FT). On Friday, Pakistan's foreign office said that Islamabad has spent $120 billion over fifteen years (Dawn) in its fight against terrorism, but that it has "largely" used its own resources to do so. The State Department also announced that Pakistan has been placed on a list of countries that have committed severe violations of religious freedom (Al Jazeera). ANALYSIS "Pakistan survives in the smug belief that after the United States' grandstanding is done and over, Washington will eventually turn to it for mopping up its half-finished mess in Afghanistan," Barkha Dutt writes for the Washington Post. "Pakistan was once the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, but administrations, including President Obama's, have withheld funding to Pakistan because of its inaction against bad actors within its borders," Samantha Vinograd writes for CNN. "America and its allies are rightly concerned that any instability in Pakistan may result in terrorists getting their hands on Pakistan's nuclear technology, fissile material, or a nuclear device. This is Washington's worst nightmare," C. Christine Fair writes for Foreign Policy. PACIFIC RIM North Korea Accepts South's Offer for Talks North Korean officials will travel to a village across their southern border (Korea Times) on Tuesday for high-level talks about Pyongyang's participation in the upcoming Winter Olympics. U.S. President Donald J. Trump reportedly said he supports the move to "de-conflict the Olympics." In Foreign Affairs, Oriana Skylar Mastro says that China will not protect North Korea in the case of a crisis. CHINA: The Chinese government has begun offering free ten-year visas (Channel News Asia) to foreigners who qualify as "high-end talent." The government has said it hopes to bring in as many as fifty thousand expatriates (BBC) through the visa category. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Breach Reported at Indian Biometric Database A new report from an Indian newspaper alleges anonymous users on social media offered access to citizens' personal information (Guardian) on India's biometric database for less than $8. The Indian agency that manages the database said its data is safe (TOI). MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Two Dozen Civilians in Syria Killed in Russian Strikes, Says Monitor The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said twenty-three people across three parts of the besieged rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta were killed in strikes (BBC) by what witnesses said were Russian aircraft. IRAN: The UN Security Council will meet on Friday at the United States' request (DW) to discuss recent anti-government protests in Iran. A Russian envoy criticized the U.S. move as interference in Iran's domestic affairs. In Politico Magazine, CFR's Ray Takeyh looks at what's next for Iran. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Ethiopia Claims Mix-Up Over Prisoner Release An aide to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said that a translation error led to reports that Ethiopia would release all its political prisoners and that the government intended to pardon only some (BBC). The earlier announcement had been welcomed by human rights groups. ZIMBABWE: A Zimbabwean court has dropped charges of subversion against an American working for a comedy production company (VOA). The woman was arrested in November after allegedly tweeting that then President Robert Mugabe was a "selfish and sick man."  EUROPE Migrants Deported by Belgium Allege Torture A top Belgian immigration official is facing pressure to resign following reports late last month that two Sudanese men among migrants deported from the country were tortured by Sudanese authorities (WaPo) upon their return. In this CFR interview, the International Rescue Committee's David Miliband discusses the ongoing historic displacement of millions of people. TURKEY: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron (DW) in Paris on Friday to discuss the future of the EU-Turkey relationship and extremist currents across Europe, according to a spokesperson for Erdogan. AMERICAS Pardoned Peruvian Leader Leaves Hospital Former President Alberto Fujimori, who received a presidential pardon for medical reasons (NYT) last month while serving a twenty-five year sentence for human rights violations, left the Lima hospital where he was receiving treatment on Thursday. The pardon led to large protests in the capital. BRAZIL: Brazil's energy secretary surprised environmentalists by appearing to back away from the government's push for hydropower dam construction (Guardian) during a media interview this week.  UNITED STATES Trump Administration to Open U.S. Coast to Drilling The Interior Department announced plans on Thursday to host dozens of auctions for drilling rights (VOA) in fields across nearly all areas of the U.S. coastal shelf. The proposal reverses an Obama-era ban (NYT) on such drilling. President Trump said that any legislation that would preserve an Obama-era program (VOA) that shields immigrants who entered the country as children from deportation must also include funds to expand a border wall and end so-called chain migration and a U.S. visa lottery program.          Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. Forward This Email | Subscribe to CFR Newsletters | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: January 05, 2018 at 11:03PM