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Daily Brief: UN to Push for Constitution, Elections at Syria Talks


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. November 28, 2017 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA UN to Push for Constitution, Elections at Syria Talks A new round of Syria peace talks, the eighth held in Geneva since 2012, is set to begin despite uncertainty over whether the Syrian government will participate in the negotiations (DW). The UN special envoy for Syria said he received a message that a delegation from President Bashar al-Assad's government would not come to Geneva on Tuesday but that he expected one would "be on its way shortly." The diplomat said he would press the parties to back a new constitution (Al Jazeera) and UN-supervised elections. A UK-based monitoring group said that ahead of the talks Russian air strikes killed fifty-three civilians (RFE/RL), about half of whom were children; Moscow denied the charge. ANALYSIS "A significant part of the country in the north and south, holding most of the oil and water reserves, is not under the control of the regime. This means the conflict will last much, much longer than people expect," Marwan Kabalan said in an interview with Al Jazeera. "As the Syrian war draws to a close—and gives way to an interminable post-conflict phase—Assad is not just fighting the declining threat of rebel forces pitted against him. He is also renegotiating a regime that was always built on selective privilege, personalized rule, corruption, and overlapping security institutions," Nick Grinstead writes for War on the Rocks. "Combating ISIS was done not only out of a genuine will to defeat the group, but also because it was the only path of action all local and international actors could agree upon. Now, with the last ISIS-held city in Syria retaken by regime forces, the potential for violent disputes and unplanned escalations becomes extremely high once again," Neil Hauer writes for the Atlantic Council. PACIFIC RIM Pope Calls for Respecting All Ethnic Groups in Myanmar During a trip to Myanmar, Pope Francis said the country's future depends on respecting the rights of each of its ethnic groups. The Catholic leader, who met with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, did not use the word Rohingya (AP) to refer to the country's persecuted Muslim minority or mention an ongoing military crackdown in Rakhine State. Human Rights Watch's Skye Wheeler spoke with CFR's Jamille Bigio about sexual violence against the Rohingya. CHINA: The political director of the People's Liberation Army, who had been under investigation for corruption, was found dead in his Beijing home (NYT) in what state media said was an apparent suicide. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Kyrgyz President Seeks to Broaden Foreign Relations Newly inaugurated President Sooronbay Jeenbekov said on Monday that he will seek to balance Kyrgyzstan's ties (RFE/RL) with European nations, China, and Russia during his tenure, but called Moscow his country's main strategic partner. PAKISTAN: A senior police official said two officers, who had escorted the bodies of people killed during protests last Saturday to a hospital, were kidnapped there by religious activists (Dawn) and later found with marks of torture.  MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Bribes Offered Over Qatar World Cup Bid, Defendant Says The former head of the Colombian football federation told a New York court that Qatar had set aside as much as $15 million to bribe South American sport officials (Middle East Eye) to back the country's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup, according to information he received from an Argentine businessman. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Kenyatta to Be Sworn In for Second Term President Uhuru Kenyatta will be sworn in on Tuesday (BBC) following a contested reelection in which an initial round of voting was annulled by the Supreme Court. The opposition announced plans to simultaneously hold a memorial service (Standard) for Kenyans killed in post-election protests. Jon Temin writes in Foreign Affairs that Kenya's democratic backsliding is part of a disturbing regional trend. SUDAN: Authorities have arrested a Darfur militia leader (BBC) and former ally of President Omar al-Bashir whom the U.S. State Department accuses of leading a terror campaign (Sudan Tribune) against civilians. EUROPE Greece Urged to Cancel Saudi Arabia Arms Deal The rights group Amnesty International and two lawmakers from the ruling left-wing Syriza party have called on the government to suspend a planned arms sale to Saudi Arabia (AP), saying the weapons could be used by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. The deal includes the sale of nearly $80 million in surplus missiles and bombs (Al Jazeera) to the Gulf nation. Asher Orkaby discusses the roots of Yemen's humanitarian nightmare in Foreign Affairs. GERMANY: The mayor of the western city of Altena was stabbed by an assailant (BBC) who shouted criticism of the local leader's pro-refugee policy during the attack. AMERICAS Mexican Finance Minister Announces Presidential Bid Jose Antonio Meade resigned as finance minister on Monday to begin his run for the presidency on the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party's ticket (FT) ahead of a 2018 election. His top contender is former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. BRAZIL: The United Nations requested Brazil send troops for the international peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (Reuters), saying the country did an "exceptional" job assisting in a thirteen-year mission in Haiti. UNITED STATES U.S. to Reduce Support for Anti-Islamic State Fighters White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday that the United States plans to stop providing military equipment to "certain groups" fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria (Middle East Eye), though she said that did not mean halting all support. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, a benchmark for world oil prices, is expected to soon reach $60 a barrel (WSJ), a price not seen since June 2015.          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: November 28, 2017 at 11:03PM