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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
May 3, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Pakistani Prosecutor Investigating Bhutto Assassination Murdered

Gunmen shot dead Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, the prosecutor investigating the 2007 assassination of Pakistan's ex-leader Benazir Bhutto, in an ambush in Islamabad (Dawn). Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has been accused of failing to provide adequate security for Bhutto at the time of her death, and was placed this week under two-week house arrest over charges that he conspired to murder her (Reuters). The former army chief, who has denied responsibility for Bhutto's death, returned to Pakistan in March after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest the May general election. He has since been banned from politics.

Analysis

"The killing of a top prosecutor of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency has brought into focus the complex security situation in Pakistan. While the killers are not yet known, the timing is such that fingers are being pointed at various quarters, including a couple of Jihadist organisations and even the secret agencies," writes M Ilyas Khan for the BBC.

"Though Pakistan has experienced repeated violence, it's rare for such an attack to happen in the capital, which is home to high-ranking government and military officials, diplomats and international aid workers," writes Munir Ahmed for the Associated Press.

"[T]he Musharraf affair will be an early test of which direction Pakistan's civilian politicians and judiciary intend to take their country and its relations with America. If Musharraf's old foes can deliver justice instead of vengeance, all would benefit. So far, however, evidence suggests otherwise: This will be a messy, perhaps even bloody, business that will damage relationships (civil military and U.S.-Pakistan) that were already bound to be fraught," writes CFR's Daniel Markey for Foreign Policy.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Indonesia Arrests Bomb Suspect

In the wake of fresh violence against Muslims in Myanmar, Indonesian police detained two men suspected of plotting a bomb attack (AFP) on the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta. The minority Muslim Rohingya are regarded by many Burmese with hostility, and have often fled to Indonesia.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick discusses the Rohingya's humanitarian plight in this blog post.

JAPAN: Finance ministers from Japan and ASEAN are set to agree on enhancing financial cooperation (KyodoNews) on Friday as Tokyo looks to deepen economic ties with the region.

This CFR Backgrounder explains Abenomics and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's initiative to jolt the economy out of decades of stagnation.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan Takes Issue With India Over Jail Attack

Pakistan raised concerns with India after a Pakistani prisoner was beaten in an Indian jail on Friday. The incident follows a fatal attack (TOI) on an Indian jailed for spying in Pakistan, whose death triggered outpouring of anger and strained ties between the neighbors.

 

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Considers Arming Syrian Rebels

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed Thursday that the Obama administration was no longer ruling out the arming of Syrian rebels, marking the first time a senior U.S. official has openly considered the option (NYT). President Barack Obama rejected such a proposal last year.

EGPYT: Egyptian police fired tear gas to disperse a small group of hardline Salafi Islamist protesters (Reuters) attempting to scale the walls of the state security headquarters in Cairo.

 

AFRICA

Kenya Sentences Two Iranians

A Kenyan court has found two Iranian men guilty of plotting to attack British, U.S., and Israeli targets with explosives inside Kenya (BBC). The men are accused of belonging to a terror network planning to blow up targets in Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa.

SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa demanded an explanation from Zambia for remarks (SAPA) its vice president reportedly made comparing President Jacob Zuma to a former apartheid leader.

 

EUROPE

Officials Say Italy Likely to Avoid Fiscal Sanctions

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said after meeting new Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta that Italy will likely escape eurozone sanctions (WSJ), as it brought its budget deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product last year. Letta won a confidence vote in parliament on Tuesday.

FRANCE: The European Commission predicted Friday that France will slide into recession this year (RFI), with the expectation of unemployment hitting 10.9 percent.

 

AMERICAS

Obama Meets Peña Nieto

President Obama met with Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto on Thursday (LAT), shifting the focus from the drug war by emphasizing economic cooperation over U.S. collaboration on security issues. Nieto's administration has begun restricting U.S. involvement in some security operations, possibly signaling the end of close cooperation in law enforcement.

CFR's Shannon O'Neil counters five myths about Mexico that directly impact U.S. foreign policy in this op-ed.

VENEZUELA: The Venezuelan opposition formally challenged the results (MercoPress) of last month's presidential poll won by the late Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro.

 

 

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