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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 28, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: UK Drafts Resolution for UN Action on Syria

Khalil Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters  

Khalil Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters

The United Kingdom is set to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Wednesday condemning the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week and requesting authorization to "protect civilians" (FT), while the Obama administration said it is considering limited strikes to "deter and degrade" President Bashar al-Assad's ability to use such weapons (NYT). The UN's special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, urged for any military intervention to be sanctioned by the Security Council (AP). Emerging market currencies and stocks declined on Wednesday and oil prices spiked (WSJ) on concerns of possible U.S. military strikes against Syria.

Analysis

"Obama never needed to go searching for coalition of the willing for Syria; one comes pre-assembled for him and has been knocking, in fact, at the door to the Oval Office for quite some time. Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, all see Syria as a grave short-term threat to their national security," writes Michael Weiss in Foreign Affairs.

"Assad's plan this week is fourfold: hunker down, survive whatever attack is materializing on the horizon, emerge from his bunker declaring victory over the perfidious Americans (no matter how many of his army bases and command posts and aircraft are on fire), and privately internalize the lesson of the American strike, which is to lay off the gas," writes Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg.

"Of course ethics, not only laws, should guide policy decisions. Since the Rwandan genocide and the Balkan mass killings of the 1990s, a movement has emerged in support of adding humanitarian intervention as a third category of lawful war, under the concept of the 'responsibility to protect.' It is widely accepted by the United Nations and most governments. It is not, however, in the charter, and it lacks the force of law," writes Ian Hurd for the New York Times.

 

PACIFIC RIM

U.S. Envoy to Visit North Korea Seeking American's Release

The U.S. special envoy to North Korea, Robert King, will visit Pyongyang on Friday (NYT), seeking amnesty for Kenneth Bae, the State Department said. Bae, a Christian missionary who was arrested last November while leading a tour group, is reportedly in poor health.

Expert Marcus Noland discusses North Korea's softened rhetoric in this CFR interview.

CHINA: Chinese authorities said twenty-two Uighurs, an ethnic minority Muslim group, were killed in an "anti-terror" operation (RFA) last week.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

India's Rupee Recovers from Record Lows

The Indian rupee bounced back slightly on Wednesday after hitting a record low of 68.76 against the U.S. dollar, buoyed by a recovery in equity markets and speculation of central bank intervention (Live Mint). Local investors are spooked by a growing trend of capital outflows from India and other emerging markets.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick explains how this year's emerging market currency crunch differs from the 1990s crisis in this blog post.

PAKISTAN: The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Pakistan has an estimated 105 trillion cubic feet of recoverable shale gas reserves, as well as more than nine billion barrels of oil (Dawn).

 

MIDDLE EAST

Bombings Kill 71 in Baghdad

At least seventy-one people were killed in a series of bombing in Baghdad on Wednesday, extending a wave of violence that has surpassed the monthly death tolls seen in 2008 (Reuters). Sectarian tensions and the capacity of al-Qaeda in Iraq have risen due to Syria's civil war.

 

AFRICA

Boko Haram Fighters Kill Vigilantes in Nigeria

Boko Haram insurgents killed twenty vigilantes (BBC) in the northeastern state of Borno. Nigeria's military encouraged the formation of vigilante groups to assist in its offensive against the militant Islamist group.

SUDAN: A highly anticipated meeting between Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and an opposition leader ended without any concessions from the president (Sudan Tribune).

 

EUROPE

Thousands of Chechens Seek Refuge in Germany

More than ten thousand Chechens have applied for asylum in Germany (Spiegel) in the first seven months of 2013, surpassing the combined refugee applications from Syria and Afghanistan, two countries racked by civil war.

GERMANY: Peer Steinbrueck, the Social-Democratic challenger of incumbent chancellor Angela Merkel in upcoming German elections, has shaken up the country's campaign by predicting that Greece will require another bailout (EU Observer).

 

AMERICAS

Argentina's Foreign Reserves at Record Low

International reserves held by Argentina's central bank dipped below $37 billion on Tuesday, the lowest in over six years, and are expected to fall further when the country repays a $2 billion sovereign bond in September (MercoPress).

COLOMBIA: More than ten thousand Colombians protested in major cities and towns to support a national strike movement that includes farmers, miners, health workers and truckers (Columbia Reports).

 

 

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