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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 7, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Mass Protest March in Tunisia

Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters  

Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters

Tens of thousands of Tunisians gathered in downtown Tunis on Tuesday night to demand the ouster (TunisiaLive) of the transitional government, led by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda. The march marked the largest opposition demonstration since the country's political crisis began two weeks ago (al-Jazeera) when the secular opposition rose to protest two political assassinations. The opposition also wants to dissolve the Constituent Assembly, which is weeks away from finishing a draft constitution and election law (Reuters). Tunisia has been facing its worst political turmoil since autocratic ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011.

Analysis

"Labor union officials have recently been leading the call for a technocratic national unity government to end the current political tensions that threaten to erode the democratic progress of the past two years," writes Mohamed Elshinnawi for Voice of America.

"Behind some Tunisian politicians, there are businessmen who had very prominent positions in the old regime. Old regime interests are strong in [political party] Nidaa Tounes, the media, and even in UGTT [Tunisian General Labor Union], and these links need to be better understood by Tunisians and outside analysts," writes Omar Belhaj Salah for Foreign Policy.

"Ennahda is now trying to negotiate a new deal with the main opposition parties. The deal would pave the way for an expanded coalition, where Ennahda will still have a bigger say. But the deal will not include the parliament, known here as the Constituent Assembly. For the governing coalition, it is a 'red line,'" writes Hashem Ahelbarra for al-Jazeera.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Thai Demonstrators Protest Amnesty Bill

Around two thousand Thai antigovernment demonstrators met for an opposition-led rally near parliament Wednesday, protesting against a controversial bill (AFP) offering amnesty for those involved in political violence during and after the 2006 military coup that toppled then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick joins a discussion about the political and economic transition of Thailand and Indonesia in this audio series.

NORTH KOREA: North Korea proposed another round of talks (Yonhap) with its southern counterpart on the joint Kaesong industrial complex, which has been shuttered since early April.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Former IMF Economist Takes Over India's Central Bank

India appointed former International Monetary Fund chief economist Raghuram Rajan as the next governor of the Reserve Bank of India in a bid to tackle the country's slow growth (WSJ) and currency depreciation. The rupee has fallen by more than 12 percent since May.

PAKISTAN: At least eleven children were killed in a bomb explosion (al-Jazeera) in Pakistan's port city of Karachi, which has seen continued ethnic, sectarian, and political violence.

This CFR Crisis Guide delves into Pakistan's fractured history and present.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Yemen Foils al-Qaeda Plot

Yemen says it foiled an al-Qaeda plot (BBC) to blow up oil pipelines and seize the country's main ports. The report comes days after the United States and the UK withdrew diplomatic staff from the country based on intelligence reports of renewed terrorist activity.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

 

AFRICA

Fire Shutters Nairobi Airport

Kenyan authorities closed Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after a large-scale fire (AP) broke out and shut down one of East Africa's most important transportation hubs. Authorities said there were no immediate signs of terrorism.

UGANDA: Uganda's government passed a controversial bill (BBC) limiting public protests despite fierce criticism from religious and opposition leaders, the public, and rights groups.

 

EUROPE

Kerry Meets With Russian Counterparts

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet in Washington with their Russian counterparts on Friday for a day of talks (NYT) that could determine the fate of the proposed September meeting between President Barack Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

UK: British Prime Minister David Cameron phoned Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy to complain about Spain's treatment (Telegraph) of Gibraltar in an intensifying dispute over the British territory. Spain has been increasing checks at the border with Gibraltar and has raised the possibility of imposing a levy on vehicles crossing through.

 

AMERICAS

Mexico Launches Energy Reform

Mexican president Enrique Peņa Nieto will unveil controversial landmark legislation as early as Wednesday that would open Mexico's state oil company Pemex to private investment (LAT). The bill would end virtually absolute state control of exploration and production after seventy-five years.

VENEZUELA: Pablo Uzcategui, a Venezuelan opposition leader of the Proyecto Venezuela party, was killed (MercoPress) by a gunman in the home state of the late president Hugo Chavez. Venezuela has battled high homicide rates.

 

 

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