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Daily Brief: Zimbabwe Leadership Uncertain as Military Seizes Control


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. November 15, 2017 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Zimbabwe Leadership Uncertain as Military Seizes Control An army chief of staff in Zimbabwe has denied a coup is underway (FT) in the country, after the armed forces seized control of the state TV station and government offices in what he called a bid to oust "criminals." South African President Jacob Zuma said ninety-three-year-old President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, is safe but confined to his home (Al Jazeera). Zuma has dispatched his defense minister and security officials (Guardian) to meet with Mugabe and the Zimbabwean armed forces. The move comes a week after Mugabe fired his vice president in what appeared to be a move to put his wife, Grace, on track to succeed him.  ANALYSIS "Mugabe (and presumably Grace) remains very popular in rural areas, where he is credited with expelling the white farmers and redistributing their land to those that work it, but he is deeply unpopular in urban areas," writes CFR's John Campbell. "The military takeover comes at a delicate moment for Zimbabwe, where an estimated 95 percent of the workforce is jobless and as many as three million Zimbabweans have gone into exile," Godfrey Marawanyika, Desmond Kumbuka, and Brian Latham write for Bloomberg. "The United States should make it a priority to consult with South Africa and other SADC governments on steps they could take individually and together to limit instability and violence in Zimbabwe," George F. Ward writes in a CFR Contingency Planning Memorandum. PACIFIC RIM Tillerson, in Myanmar, Calls to Investigate Rohingya Abuses The U.S. secretary of state, meeting with State Counselor Aung Sang Suu Kyi and a top military commander, said the United States may consider targeted sanctions on Myanmar but that broad-based ones are not advisable. Tillerson urged the Myanmar leaders to investigate credible reports of atrocities (NYT) in the country. CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick says the United States should have taken action to impose sanctions on the Myanmar military earlier. AUSTRALIA: Millions of voters in a postal referendum backed legalizing same-sex marriage (SMH) 62 percent to 38 percent. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on parliament to pass legislation by Christmas. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Afghan Minister Touts New Trade Route Afghanistan's chief minister said the new Chabahar Port in Iran will reduce Afghanistan's reliance on a route through Pakistan (PTI) and provide Kabul a new option for trade with India. He also said the country plans to sign a transit agreement with Uzbekistan in the coming days. INDIA: Lawyers for a Scottish Sikh activist say he was tortured by police in Punjab State (BBC). Authorities have accused him of financing purchases of weapons used against Hindu leaders.  MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Iran Vows Probe Into Building Collapses Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said faults in the construction of state-built buildings that toppled in a Sunday earthquake (CBS/AP) will be subject to a government probe. The death toll from the quake in Iran has risen to 530. YEMEN: In a boost to the Saudi-backed government fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, the United States released about $205 million in central bank funds (FT) that were frozen during the Barack Obama administration to pressure warring sides in Yemen to reach a political solution.  SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Sudan Moves to Normalize Currency to Attract Investment Sudan's finance minister said the country plans to unify its official and unofficial currency rates and cut subsidies for fuel and electricity in a bid to attract foreign investment after long-standing U.S. sanctions on the country were lifted (Reuters). The U.S. deputy secretary of state will visit the country (Sudan Tribune) on Thursday. EUROPE Climate Talk Delegates Back Global Insurance Proposal On the sidelines of UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, the host nation pledged $125 million for an international insurance scheme to provide coverage for four hundred million people (Reuters) who are poor or vulnerable to natural disasters. The proposal was first backed by Group of Seven (G7) countries in 2015. SERBIA: Serbia will host joint military exercises with the United States (RFE/RL) in Belgrade starting on Friday. The defense minister of neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina said he expects his country will be approved for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by the end of the year. Ivo H. Daalder discusses Russia's military buildup in Foreign Affairs. AMERICAS Mexico Arrests Cartel Leader Accused of Migrant Massacre Mexican security forces have arrested a leader of the Zetas cartel (AP) accused of organizing a 2010 massacre of seventy-two Central American migrants in Tamaulipas State. He is also accused of involvement in the killing earlier this year of an activist mother who spent years searching for her missing daughter. BOLIVIA: Bolivia's armed forces have inaugurated their new headquarters in a building expropriated from the U.S. Agency for International Development (LAHT). President Evo Morales said the facility was formerly a "symbol of interference." UNITED STATES House Backs Major Defense Bill The U.S. House of Representatives has backed President Donald J. Trump's call for increased military spending (Reuters) through a nearly $700 billion defense authorization bill, though appropriation of the funds depends on congressional approval of the Trump administration’s proposed budget. The bill would also increase active troop levels by sixteen thousand. President Trump's special advisor on climate said the United States may seek ways to stay in international climate talks (BBC), such as by reviving a George W. Bush-era forum on energy security and climate change CFR's Reuben E. Brigety II writes in Foreign Policy that the U.S. abandonment of the Paris Agreement on climate is a disaster.         Council on Foreign Relations — 58 East 68th Street — New York, NY 10065 CFR does not share email addresses with third parties. 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Date: November 15, 2017 at 11:05PM