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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 7, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: U.S. Questioning al-Qaeda Suspect Seized in Libya

An accused al-Qaeda operative who was captured in Libya over the weekend is being interrogated on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea and is expected to be sent to New York eventually for a criminal trial (BostonGlobe). Abu Anas al-Libi, who was allegedly involved in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, was nabbed in Tripoli on Saturday in one of two U.S. Special Operations forces raids in Africa conducted over the weekend (WaPo). It isn't clear if the other operation in Somalia, which went after a Shabab leader, was successful (NPR). The Libyan government asked U.S. officials for clarification about what it called the "kidnapping" of al-Libi, and said its citizens should be tried in Libyan courts (AP).

Analysis

"To counter the spread of violent extremism requires not simply one-off missions designed to eliminate senior leaders; what is required is steady, long-term engagement to build up indigenous institutions capable of keeping order on their own," writes CFR Senior Fellow Max Boot in Commentary.

"Al-Libi ought to be an intelligence gold mine if the Obama administration is willing to extract it. U.S. officials are saying he is likely to be tried eventually in U.S. criminal court. But for now he is probably on a U.S. Navy vessel, where he can be interrogated safe from American civilian due process," the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.

"The mall assault showed new desperation by Al Shabab and perhaps growing cooperation with Al Hijra, an extremist cell in Kenya. With these kinds of looming threats, the Obama administration should increase its efforts to cut off financing for Al Shabab, including fund-raising in the United States," writes the New York Times in an editorial.

 

PACIFIC RIM

China Seen as Dominant Force at APEC

President Obama's absence from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia, due to the U.S. government shutdown, has left China's leader Xi Jinping as the dominant force at the gathering, which aims for greater economic integration in the region (NYT).

JAPAN: Japan Airlines agreed to buy thirty-one Airbus aircraft for $9.5 billion in a deal that was seen as a blow to Boeing, which comprised the bulk of the airline's fleet (Reuters).

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Bomb Targets Polio Campaign in Pakistan

Two people, including a police officer, were killed by a bomb that went off near a Peshawar hospital that administers polio vaccinations (BBC). Pakistan is one of three countries where polio remains endemic, and militants have attacked immunization teams in the past.

AFGHANISTAN: Four NATO soldiers, possibly U.S. citizens, were killed in southern Afghanistan while taking part in an operation with Afghan forces (LATimes).

 

MIDDLE EAST

Dozens Killed in Egypt Protests

At least fifty-three people died and hundreds were injured in clashes between demonstrators in support of Egypt's military, which celebrated the anniversary of the 1973 war against Israel, and protestors marching against the removal of the country's first elected president (al-Jazeera).

This Backgrounder explains the origins and struggles of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

SYRIA: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States and Russia were "very pleased" with the progress made so far in the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons (DeutscheWelle).

 

AFRICA

Uganda Resumes Offensive on Kony

Ugandan-led African Union forces have resumed their offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army rebels in the Central African Republic, which is headed by Joseph Kony, the infamous warlord who relies extensively on child soldiers (All Africa).

 

EUROPE

EU Works to Heal Split Over Kosovo Independence

EU governments are making progress on healing a split over the recognition of Kosovo's independence in an effort that would bring the former Serbian province closer to the bloc. Cyprus, Greece, and Slovakia, three of five EU states that refused recognition, met with Kosovo officials (FT).

IRELAND: Voters narrowly rejected a proposal to abolish the upper house of parliament in a referendum, a blow to the government plan to reform politics after the financial crisis (IrishTimes).

 

AMERICAS

U.S. Default Could Dwarf Lehman's Collapse

Failure to raise the debt ceiling and the potential default of the United States on its $12 trillion debt could send shockwaves through global markets that would likely lead to recession or a depression (Bloomberg), analysts say.

CFR Senior Vice President James Lindsay asks if America's global influence is declining in this blog post.

BRAZIL: Hundreds of Brazilian security officers have occupied twelve shantytowns, known as favelas, in Rio de Janeiro in an effort to drive out drug gangs from poor areas (Guardian).

 

 

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