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Daily Brief: South Korea Accuses North in Assassination


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. February 27, 2017 Daily News Brief TOP OF THE AGENDA South Korea Accuses North in Assassination South Korean intelligence said that six of the suspects identified by Malaysian police in the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother are from either the North's spy agency or foreign ministry (AP), according to lawmakers briefed by the agency. Malaysian authorities have also implicated a diplomat believed to be hiding in North Korea's embassy (WaPo) in Kuala Lumpur in last week’s attack on Kim Jong-nam, who died after two women smeared a chemical agent on him. Following Malaysia's announcement that the substance used to kill the estranged brother was the UN-banned chemical weapon VX, the White House reversed plans to issue visas to a North Korean delegation (NYT) that was set to take part in informal talks in New York. North Korea has accused the South of convincing Malaysia to fabricate the incident (WaPo). ANALYSIS "Talks have taken place sporadically in recent years, with former American officials sounding out the North Koreans on prospects for making progress on the intractable problem that is Pyongyang's nuclear ambition. But they have been held in neutral locations like Berlin, Geneva and Kuala Lumpur. This time they were planned for New York, where North Korea has a mission to the United Nations, for the first time in more than five years," Anna Fifield writes for the Washington Post. "The Kim family, which has ruled North Korea since its founding in 1948, has presided over a Shakespearean nest of internecine plots and family intrigue. Rival relatives have been sent into exile and occasional bloody purges have killed off anyone of questionable loyalty and set an example for others. Kim Jong-nam was an early dropout in the Kim dynasty’s third-generation power struggle. Sidelined from the race to succeed his father since the 1970s, when his mother was abandoned by his father, he had been effectively shut out of power and shut off from his father since he was a teenager," Richard C. Paddock and Choe Sang-hun write for the New York Times. "Despite North Korean orthodoxy that North Korea follows a line of direct father-son succession, eliminating prospects of rule by 'side branches,' the absence of a confirmed male heir means that the regime remains vulnerable, especially in the event that something happens to Kim Jong Un. Kim Jong Nam’s elimination removes the prospect that Kim Jong Nam could be put forward, for instance with Chinese backing, as an alternative to Kim Jong Un’s rule if the dissent were to grow in North Korea and the country were to become more unstable. It also symbolizes Kim Jong Un’s quest for absolute security through rule by fear, a leadership style that ultimately could come back to haunt him," write CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick and Scott A. Snyder.   PACIFIC RIM South Korea Land Deal Clears Way for Missile Defense South Korea's Lotte Group approved a land swap with the military to make way for the U.S.-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Korea Times) missile shield, the Defense Ministry said. Threats of business consequences (FT) from China had led the company to delay transferring the golf course. CFR's Scott A. Snyder testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the North Korean weapons threat.  SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Hundreds Protest Detention of Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Opposition leader Omurbek Tekebayev was detained on Sunday over accusations that he took bribes from a Russian investor, prompting hundreds of his supporters to protest in Bishkek (RFE/RL). Tekebayev’s defenders say the arrest, which comes ahead of a November presidential election (Al Jazeera), was politically motivated. CENTRAL ASIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin began a tour commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Kremlin's diplomatic relations with the former Soviet Republics (RFE/RL) of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA U.S. General Proposes Resuming Egypt Exercises Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, said after a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that he wants to resume a major military exercise with Egypt. The Bright Star exercises had been canceled by former President Barack Obama in 2013 following the Egyptian security forces killing of hundreds of protesters (NYT) and at their peak included up to seventy thousand troops from eleven countries. PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES: Leaders of a conference held in Istanbul announced the creation of a new entity (Al Jazeera) to represent the Palestinian diaspora. Conference leaders said the organization, to be based in Beirut, will complement rather than replace the PLO. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Pentagon May Propose Expanded Somalia Operations The Pentagon will recommend that the White House expand its counterterrorism mission in Somalia, officials said. The recommendations reportedly seek to give the military greater flexibility in launching air strikes (AP) against terrorism suspects and increase the number of U.S. special forces, currently around fifty, based in the country. CFR's Global Conflict Tracker looks at extremists in Somalia. NIGERIA: Security forces freed two German archeologists (AP) kidnapped at a remote dig site in northern Kaduna state. Two locals who attempted to help (DW) the Germans were killed by the kidnappers.  EUROPE Germany Records Ten Crimes a Day Against Migrants More than 2,500 migrants and refugees faced attack (FT) in Germany in 2016, according to the German interior ministry. An additional 988 incidents (Al Jazeera), including arson, targeted shelters housing asylum seekers and other migrants, the new data revealed. RUSSIA: Thousands marched in Moscow (BBC) on Sunday in remembrance of the killing of opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead outside the Kremlin in 2015. CFR's Richard N. Haass lays out what the Trump administration should do about Russia. AMERICAS Millions Without Water in Chilean Capital An estimated four million people in Santiago had their access to water cut after severe storms and mudslides left a major river contaminated (BBC). Three people were killed (Reuters) and nineteen have gone missing. PERU: President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski visited the White House, marking President Trump's first meeting with a Latin American leader (WSJ) since taking office. Kuczinski said Peru is interested in "the free movement of people" (Reuters) across borders.         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 | Manage My Subscriptions | Unsubscribe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  


Date: February 27, 2017 at 11:05PM