Top of the Agenda: U.S.-Russian Talks on Syria Continue
U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov continued negotiations on dismantling Syria's chemical weapons arsenal and met with UN–Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to discuss the peace process (AP) on their second day of talks in Geneva. The Syrian government submitted a document to the UN confirming its intention to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention and said it would reveal its stockpiles within thirty days, as the treaty stipulates (Al Jazeera). U.S. officials estimate that Syria has over 1,000 tons of chemical and biological agents, and intelligence indicates that the Assad regime has been dispersing these weapons in recent months (Telegraph).
"While Mr Putin can fairly claim to have won this round of diplomacy, through his own cleverness and Mr Obama's multiple missteps, he cannot assume it is the harbinger of a trend, much less an era of global politics. Tactical triumphs cannot obscure or do away with the larger strategic reality of Russian limitations and weaknesses, and America's underlying power and reach," writes CFR President Richard Haass in the Financial Times.
"The Arab rebellions of 2011 had unnerved the Russians. The autocratic model itself was on the defensive, and those Arab regimes of plunder and tyranny were both physically close to Russia and bore a striking resemblance to the lawless Kremlin model of rule," writes Fouad Ajami in the Wall Street Journal.
"Most bizarre is the out-of-date nature of Putin's analysis of U.S. warmongering, right down to paraphrasing a 12-year-old quote from President George W. Bush: 'You're either with us or against us.' Drones aside, if Obama has a Middle East policy it is to withdraw U.S. military that Bush deployed, and he is hardly a 'with us or against us' kind of guy," Bloomberg writes in an editorial.
China Targets Bayer in Graft Probe
Chinese regulators have contacted the local division of German pharmaceutical company Bayer in relation to an investigation into antitrust violations (SCMP). Drug companies from the United States, France, Denmark, UK, and Belgium have been approached by investigators this year.
SOUTH KOREA: A South Korean fisherman who was abducted by North Korea forty years ago has escaped and returned to the South (Yonhap), an official said Friday. Abduction is a contentious issue in North-South relations, dating to the Korean War.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Taliban Attacks U.S. Consulate in Herat
Seven Taliban fighters attacked the U.S. consulate in Herat, in western Afghanistan, killing an Afghan guard and wounding eighteen people (AFP). There were no U.S. casualties. The attackers set off two car bombs and then engaged in a firefight with American forces.
This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and resiliency of the Afghan Taliban.
INDIA: Four men convicted in the gang rape of a twenty-three-year-old student were sentenced to death by a Delhi court on Friday, ending a case that brought attention to violence against woman in India (Hindu).
Egypt Extends State of Emergency
Egypt's president, in a statement, extended the country's state of emergency (BBC), which began on August 14, by two months. The military-backed government accused Muslim Brotherhood leaders of inciting violence and has cracked down on the group and its supporters.
CFR's Steven Cook explains Egypt's Islamic insurgency of the 1990s and its possible revival in this article.
African Union Urges End to Kenya ICC Cases
The African Union asked the International Criminal Court and UN Security Council to end the trials of Kenya's president, his deputy, and a local journalist, and to refer the cases to Kenyan courts (CapitalFM). Deputy President William Ruto is currently standing trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity in the aftermath of 2007 elections.
French president Francois Hollande unveiled a ten-year plan to support thirty-four industrial sectors, including renewable energy, robotics, and medical biotech (FT). The president said the plan could help reverse the loss of 750,000 manufacturing jobs over the past decade.