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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
April 19, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Manhunt Underway for Suspect in Boston Bombings

U.S. law enforcement officials are conducting a large-scale manhunt in Boston's suburbs for a suspect in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings, forcing a suspension of all public transportation services (NYT) and the lockdown of many of the city's universities. Another suspect, the brother of the man at large, was killed earlier this morning in a shootout with police. The two suspects, also considered responsible for the murder of an MIT security officer and the shooting of a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer, are believed to be Chechen.

Analysis

"There was much ado about President Obama's nonuse of the word 'terrorism' in his first statement to the nation after the bombing[...]There was no need to be so sensitive, however. The president said that terrorism is any bombing aimed at civilians. Not quite. Terrorism is any attack on civilians for a political purpose. Until you know the purpose, you can't know if it is terrorism," writes the Washington Post's Charles Karuthammer.

"Terror. In its simplest sense, the word means fear. But no one uses it in its simplest sense anymore. It has political overtones and an inflammatory effect. Since the days of the French Revolution, the word 'terror' when spoken in public discourse has referred to organized acts of violence designed to intimidate and demoralize a civilian population," writes the Boston Globe's Joan Wickersham.

"It would compound [the] tragedy if the push for desperately needed immigration reform were derailed through a deadly combination of overreaction and xenophobia. The United States was close to tackling a long-overdue overhaul of its immigration laws in 2001. Then came 9/11 and the birth of the homeland-security state," writes the New York Times' Lawrence Downes.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Asian Markets Rebound

Asian stock markets rallied today after a negative week that was triggered by a slower-than-expected growth projection for China (WSJ). The new Chinese economic data, released on Monday, helped fuel a global sell-off in commodities.

NORTH KOREA: A one-paragraph assessment about the extent of North Korea's nuclear weapons capability (NYT) was mistakenly declassified by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, unveiling opposing views in the U.S. intelligence community, the director of national intelligence said yesterday.

This CFR Independent Task Force report identifies three elements of an internationally coordinated response to the threat posed by North Korea.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistani Police Arrest Musharraf

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf surrendered himself to police today, following a court order on Thursday calling for his arrest. Musharraf was originally placed under house arrest at his residence outside of Islamabad, but was then transferred to police headquarters (Dawn) in the capital.

Former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Ryan Crocker and CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey discuss the upcoming elections in Pakistan and the future of U.S.-Pakistan relations in the transcript of this CFR media conference call.

AFGHANISTAN: The government yesterday accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (NYT) of being behind an air strike earlier this month that killed seventeen Afghan civilians, including twelve children, during a covert operation in eastern Kunar Province.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Violent Clashes Continue in Bahrain

Violent clashes between Bahrain's security forces and anti-government protesters continued last night, with many demonstrators calling on the government to cancel Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix (BBC).

SYRIA: Britain and France yesterday notified the United Nations of evidence allegedly showing that Syria employed chemical weapons (WaPo) on more than one occasion over the past five months.

 

AFRICA

Mauritania to Send Troops to Mali

Mauritania is expected to send 1,800 troops (Reuters) to Mali as part of a planned UN peacekeeping force, the French foreign minister announced yesterday. France began a military offensive against Islamist rebels in northern Mali earlier this year.

ZIMBABWE: In a speech yesterday commemorating the thirty-third anniversary of Zimbabwean independence (al-Jazeera), President Robert Mugabe warned against foreign interference in the country's upcoming national elections.

 

EUROPE

Illegal Immigration to EU Drops

The number of illegal border crossings into the European Union fell by around half in 2012 (WSJ) to 72, 437, the EU border agency reported yesterday. The drop was largely attributed to a decline in migration from Arab countries in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.

ITALY: Parliament failed to elect a new president yesterday as a result of divisions in the center-left Democratic Party. Disagreement over the largely ceremonial post signaled a continued political stalemate (FT) over the formation of a new government that has persisted since inconclusive elections in February.

 

AMERICAS

Venezuela to Audit Election Results

Venezuela's National Electoral Council announced yesterday that it will audit all votes cast in Sunday's presidential election. Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez's former deputy, was narrowly declared the winner, but the results have been contested (CNN) by opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

ARGENTINA: Around one million Argentines descended on the capital of Buenos Aires yesterday to protest President Cristina Fernandez's judicial reform plans (Reuters), which critics have labeled undemocratic and authoritarian.

 

 

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