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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
June 11, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Turkish Riot Police Enter Gezi Park

Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters  

Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters

Turkish riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of protestors (Reuters) early Tuesday as authorities tried to regain control of Taksim Square's Gezi Park, a central square in Istanbul at the heart of fierce anti-government demonstrations sparked two weeks ago. The unrest sank Turkey's currency to fresh lows since 2011 (WSJ), prompting the central bank to declare the possibility of intervention to support the lira. The renewed violence comes a day after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who staunchly defended the most recent police incursion, agreed to meet protest leaders. The anti-government demonstrations across the country have killed three people and wounded around 5,000 (al-Jazeera).

Analysis

"After the immediate controversy over Gezi Park is defused--through, perhaps, an act of contrition by Erdogan--the E.U. must return to Turkey with renewed vigor. It is decidedly not in Europe's interest for a neighboring country of 80 million and an important economic partner to drift inexorably from the values that many Europeans and Turks hold dear," writes CFR's Steven Cook for the Washington Post.

"It remains highly improbable that Turkey's dysfunctional opposition parties will win the general election scheduled for 2015, or that anyone can beat Mr Erdogan in a presidential election next year. Still, some of the prime minister's ambitions--such as setting up a new, more powerful executive presidency for himself to occupy--seem further away than before," writes Daniel Dombey for the Financial Times.

"For the White House, Erdogan's handling of the challenge to his leadership could complicate Turkey's close but complex relationship with the U.S. Since taking office, Obama has taken significant steps to point to Turkey as a model for other majority-Islamic nations pursuing democracy and ties with the West," writes Julie Pace for the Associated Press.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Taiwan to Meet With China

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Taiwan's Kuomintang Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung in Beijing on Thursday to discuss cross-strait relations in a three-day state visit (SCMP), hoping the high-level meeting will set the tone for policies in the next decade.

CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy reflects on Xi's summit with President Obama in this blog post.

VIETNAM: Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung was dealt a public blow on Tuesday after winning the support of less than half the members of parliament in the country's first-ever confidence vote (Reuters).

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan Claims India Violated Air Space

Pakistan alleged Tuesday that two Indian fighter jets entered the country's air space over Punjab province, saying the jets remained in Pakistani airspace seven kilometers in for more than one minute. Pakistan has yet to officially register a protest with India over the incident (TOI).

CFR's Daniel Markey recommends that Washington promote "economic stabilization and improved relations with India" for Pakistan's new leadership in this op-ed.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's High Court on Tuesday granted bail to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in a judges' detention case against him (Dawn), one of the multiple legal charges he faces.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Kerry Postpones Mideast Talks

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry postponed a trip to Israel and Palestinian territories this week to attend White House talks on Syria (AFP). The Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad has been gaining ground against the rebels with the aid of Hezbollah. The talks come amid growing calls for Washington to arm the opposition.

 

AFRICA

Egypt Warns Ethiopia Over Nile

Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi warned Ethiopia that "all options are open" in dealing with the construction of a $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam on the Nile that threatens Egypt with water shortage. Morsi said Egypt was willing to confront any threats to its water security (al-Jazeera).

SOUTH AFRICA: Former South African president Nelson Mandela spent his fourth day in intensive care battling a lung infection (NYT), raising fears that the ninety-four-year-old leader is nearing the end of his life.

 

EUROPE

UN Talks to Germany About Syrian Refugees

The UN refugee agency is talking to Germany about resettling up to ten thousand Syrian refugees (Reuters) in a bid for European governments to help resettle some of the 1.6 million Syrians who have fled the country. The UN agency plans to hold talks around the end of June in Geneva.

ITALY: Italy's center-left Democratic party rebounded from its poor showing in national elections in February by winning all sixteen big towns and cities, including Rome, in local elections (FT).

 

AMERICAS

Chile's Bachelet Promises New Constitution

Former Chilean president and Socialist candidate Michelle Bachelet pledged a new constitution (MercoPress) during her first year in office if she is elected in the country's upcoming November presidential election. Chile's current one was drafted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

UNITED STATES: Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA employee who leaked details of the NSA's surveillance programs, has left his hotel in Hong Kong (BBC), though he is still believed to be in the territory.

This CFR Backgrounder traces the path of U.S. domestic surveillance.

 

 

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