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Daily Brief: Evacuations Underway in Besieged Syrian Enclave


Council on Foreign Relations Newsletter If you are unable to see the message below, click here to view. December 27, 2017 Daily News Brief   TOP OF THE AGENDA Evacuations Underway in Besieged Syrian Enclave Medical evacuations to Damascus began on Wednesday in the opposition-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta, which has been under siege (Reuters) by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The evacuations follow a deal between the opposition group Jaish al-Islam and the government that also involves an exchange of detainees, according to the Syrian American Medical Society, a U.S.-based organization providing medical relief there. On Tuesday, some forty rebel groups rejected a proposal by Russia for peace talks next month (AP), calling it an attempt to subvert UN-led negotiations. The start of evacuations came as Russia's defense minister announced plans to expand military bases in Syria (DW) and form a "permanent presence" in the country.  ANALYSIS "President Bashar al-Assad's government has used the presence of rebel groups in the area to justify a campaign of collective punishment against the district [of Eastern Ghouta]," Maryam Saleh, Murtaza Hussain, and Rajaai Bourhan write for the Intercept. "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin supporters will most definitely present Syria as a success story for the Russian military and for the Russian diplomatic school," Max Suchkov said in an interview with Syria Deeply. "Russia has so far employed the 'carrot and stick' model when communicating with local power brokers to ensure its influence, offering up benefits like security protection and financing, while guaranteeing them a place at the negotiating table and a share of reconstruction revenue," Ayman Aldassouky writes for Chatham House. Another Year of Record Displacement In this CFR interview, the International Rescue Committee's David Miliband discusses the ongoing historic displacement of millions from conflict and persecution.   PACIFIC RIM U.S. Sanctions Top North Korean Missile Officials The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Tuesday sanctions on two men they say are top officials for North Korea's ballistic missile program (Korea Times). The move follows a new round of UN sanctions Pyongyang condemned as an "act of war" (BBC). This CFR Backgrounder looks at North Korea's military capabilities. MALAYSIA: A Malaysian state development fund made its final payment (WSJ) to Abu Dhabi's state-owned energy investment firm to compensate it for an emergency loan provided after the fund defaulted on its bonds. The fund is under investigation for money laundering (Reuters) in at least six countries. SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA China Hosts Afghanistan-Pakistan Talks In a first, China's foreign minister hosted his Afghan and Pakistani counterparts in Beijing in a bid to boost security cooperation between the two (DW). Pakistan's foreign minister called China "fully supportive" of his country's proposal (VOA) to create working groups on issues such as refugee flows from Afghanistan and intelligence sharing. Lisa Monaco and Emma Sky discussed America's forgotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at this Foreign Affairs event. INDIA: India's foreign ministry accused Pakistan on Tuesday of harassing the wife and mother of an Indian naval officer sentenced to death for espionage (Al Jazeera) and of coaching his responses to give a "false narrative" during a Monday meeting with his family. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA Saudi Arabia Releases Two Dozen Detainees, Local Media Says A Saudi newspaper reported on Tuesday that twenty-three of the roughly two hundred high-profile detainees arrested in a November crackdown for suspected corruption (Reuters) reached agreements with the government and were released. The government said suspects could be freed if they surrender their assets (FT).  SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Turkey to Build Port in Sudan Sudan's foreign minister said that Turkey will rebuild on the African nation's Red Sea coast an Ottoman-era port and construct naval docks for military and commercial vessels. Sudan is seeking to attract foreign investment following nearly two decades of U.S. sanctions (Reuters). Yasir Zaidan discusses lifting sanctions on Sudan in Foreign Affairs. ANGOLA: Angola launched its first satellite into space (Al Jazeera) on Tuesday from a facility in Kazakhstan; the launch was part of a joint project with Russia.   EUROPE Madrid Begins Police Withdrawal in Catalonia Spain's central government said on Tuesday it has begun recalling thousands of police (DW) sent to the Catalan region several months ago ahead of an independence referendum it declared illegal. Catalan separatists referred to police deployed there as an "occupying force." EU: Germany's foreign minister said that a "smart" deal for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union (BBC) could serve as a model for relations with non-EU members such as Turkey and Ukraine.  AMERICAS Pardoned President Asks Peruvians to Forgive Him Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori released a video on Tuesday asking for Peruvians' forgiveness after receiving a medical pardon from President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a move that prompted widespread protest. Fujimori was serving a twenty-five year prison sentence (NYT) for human rights violations.  BRAZIL: Brazil has expelled Venezuela's top diplomat in the country (BBC)  after a similar move by Venezuela.  UNITED STATES Cities Sue Defense Dept. Over Background Checks The cities of New York, San Francisco, and Philadelphia have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense for failures to report criminal convictions in the military justice system so individuals could be listed on a national gun background-check database (NYT). The lawsuit follows a November mass shooting in Texas by a gunman who received a domestic violence conviction while he was in the Air Force.  GLOBAL World's Richest Gained $1 Trillion in 2017 The world's five hundred wealthiest people added roughly $1 trillion to their personal wealth in 2017, an increase of 23 percent from last year, according to a new index by Bloomberg.         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 27, 2017 at 10:57PM