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Daily Brief: Russia to Withdraw Some Troops From Syria


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. December 12, 2017 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Russia to Withdraw Some Troops From Syria President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria (BBC) during an unannounced visit to a Russian air base in western Syria on Monday, his first such trip. Putin said the pullout is possible since "international terrorists" including the self-proclaimed Islamic State have been ousted from the country. Russia's top envoy to Syria said it is "entirely up to" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whether he will run for president again (Bloomberg) in elections proposed as part of a UN-backed peace plan. Russia's military intervention in Syria, which began more than two years ago, has backed Assad against rebel groups challenging his hold on power. ANALYSIS "The war in Syria is not over. However, a phase in this war is indeed behind us, the one dominated by the regime (with its Iranian and Shia and Russian allies) and the armed non-jihadi opposition, in all its diversity and contradictions, which Russia dramatically weakened and isolated in its two-year intervention," Ziad Majed writes for the Carnegie Middle East Center. "Washington also intervened in Syria, although primarily to fight ISIS. Since 2014, the United States has spent more than fourteen billion dollars—an average of more than thirteen million a day—in its air campaign against the Islamic State's pseudo-caliphate," Robin Wright writes for the New Yorker. "The U.S. and its European and Arab partners have for years insisted that Assad must go and are now using the carrot of funding for rebuilding the shattered nation in a final attempt to pressure the Syrian leader. The International Monetary Fund estimates the cost of reconstruction at $200 billion, and neither of Syria's main allies, Russia and Iran, can afford to pick up the bill," Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer write for Bloomberg.  CFR's Preventive Priorities Survey What should keep U.S. policymakers awake at night? Read what experts said in this survey from CFR's Center for Preventive Action.   PACIFIC RIM U.S., South Korea Could Delay Military Drills for Olympics The United States and South Korea could decide to delay two annual joint military exercises until after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which will end in mid-March, to avoid provoking North Korea (FT). Riccardo Alcaro and Ettore Greco offer recommendations to reduce conflict with North Korea for CFR's Council of Councils. CHINA: Several Chinese towns along the North Korean border are planning to construct refugee camps (NYT) in preparation for a possible crisis on the Korean Peninsula, according to a leaked document from a Chinese state-owned telecommunications firm. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA Sri Lanka Leases Port to China Sri Lanka has formally handed over its Hambantota port to China (NYT) for ninety-nine years in a deal worth $1.1 billion that aims to ease some of the $8 billion it owes Chinese state firms. KAZAKHSTAN: An estimated two hundred coal miners striking for higher wages in the central town of Shakhtinsk have refused to surface for two days (RFE/RL). The firm that owns the mines said it is drafting new contracts to meet the workers' demand to double wages.  MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA ICC to Refer Jordan to Security Council The International Criminal Court said on Monday it will refer Jordan to the UN Security Council for failing to comply with an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he traveled there in March for an Arab League summit (Jordan Times). The United Nations could impose sanctions (Reuters) on the country for failing to cooperate with the court. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA China to Finance New Mozambican Airport China has given the southern African nation $60 million to construct a new airport in the southern city of Xai Xai (BBC). The Asian nation has provided more than $100 million in funding to expand the international airport in the nearby capital of Maputo since 2010. SOUTH AFRICA: The country's poultry association has called on the government to investigate reports of slave labor in Brazil's poultry sector (Reuters), claiming thousands of South Africans have lost their jobs due to cheap poultry imports from Brazil and elsewhere. EUROPE European Ministers Warn U.S. Over Tax Plan Finance ministers from Europe's five largest economies wrote in a letter to their U.S. counterpart on Monday that a planned U.S. tax overhaul includes protectionist measures that could violate world treaties and trade rules (WSJ). This CFR Backgrounder looks at U.S. corporate tax reform. ROMANIA: Romania's lower house passed a bill on Monday to make changes to the judicial system that critics says would undermine judicial independence (Reuters). The proposed changes have sparked protests across the country. AMERICAS Mexicans Reject Amnesty for Gangs, Poll Shows Two-thirds of respondents do not favor offering amnesty to criminal gang members (Reuters) as a way to reduce violence in Mexico, according to a new poll by the firm Buendia & Laredo. The poll was conducted after left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador floated the idea. UNITED STATES New York Bombing Suspect Motivated by Islamic State, Police Say Police said the suspect who detonated a pipe bomb at a Manhattan bus terminal on Monday pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and was motivated by Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip (CNN). Four people, including the suspect, were injured in the attack. In a letter to the House Oversight Committee, more than fifty female lawmakers have called for an investigation into U.S. President Donald J. Trump (VOA) over allegations of sexual misconduct. GLOBAL Exxon to Begin Climate Reporting The oil giant ExxonMobil said it will publish reports about the impact of policies to limit global warming on its business, bowing to pressure from investors (FT) who say the company should acknowledge the threat it faces from climate change. Chatham House's Rob Bailey looks at the future of the Paris Agreement on climate in this CFR Global Memo.          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: December 12, 2017 at 11:00PM