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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
January 13, 2014
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Top of the Agenda

Iran Nuclear Deal Finalized as Congress Balks

Negotiators representing Iran and six world powers finalized technical talks to implement November's nuclear deal that will freeze much of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from international sanctions (Guardian). Sunday's agreement will take effect on January 20. The Obama administration, which says the chances for a comprehensive deal are "50-50," estimated sanctions relief would come to $7 billion over the six-month period, with a first installment of $550 million at the start of February (WSJ). The agreement comes as the White House confronts growing congressional support for a new sanctions bill, which has fifty-nine cosponsors in the Senate—eight short of the sixty-seven that would be needed to override a threatened presidential veto (FT).

Analysis

"If the Iranians do genuinely want sanction elimination soon, then the West has new-found leverage and the oil ministry's aggressive moves are an opportunity for the P5+1 to raise the bar at little risk. However, if the Iranians are attempting to split the sanctions alliance, a strategy likely found in the Iranian playbook, then the alliance needs to reassert its cohesion and commitment to a unified approach," writes Aaron Menenberg in EconoMonitor.

"Some of these rural MPs note grimly that the draft budget, whose final version will come into effect in March, proposes to allocate more to the Revolutionary Guard, the police and the intelligence ministry, despite Mr Rohani's campaign promises to tackle the 'suffocating security atmosphere' that has pervaded the country. Most ordinary Iranians, in big cities and remote villages alike, look to Mr Rohani's government to clinch a deal with the West over Iran's disputed nuclear programme which has led to the economic sanctions now biting so hard, especially against the poor," reports the Economist.

"The U.S. task remains imposing stringent limits on Iran's nuclear program through negotiations while restraining Tehran's regional ambitions through pressure. This latter goal will require mending the United States' battered alliances in the Middle East. Strategic dialogues and arms sales can go only so far. The United States cannot reclaim its allies' confidence without being an active player in the Syria saga," writes CFR's Ray Takeyh for the Washington Post.

 

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Pacific Rim

Antigovernment Protestors Occupy Thai Capital

Tens of thousands of protestors occupied parts of central Bangkok on Monday as they sought to shut down the Thai capital, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra prior to snap elections slated for February 2. Security forces maintained a low profile; clashes in previous protests had resulted in several deaths (Reuters).

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick writes that Thailand is headed toward a coup.

INDONESIA: A ban on raw-mineral exports took effect on Sunday after last-minute exemptions were made for two U.S. mining firms (BBC).

 

South and Central Asia

Bangladesh Incumbent PM Hasina Sworn In

Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as prime minister for the third time on Sunday and began to form a cabinet after her Parliamentary Party won two-thirds of the vote in elections that were boycotted by the opposition and marred by violence (Hindu).

PAKISTAN: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government announced on Monday it would award nearly $50,000 to the family of Aitizaz Hasan, the fifteen-year-old who tackled a bomber entering his school. The move comes after opposition leader Imran Khan criticized provincial leaders' response to Hasan's death (Express Tribune).

 

Middle East

Israel Holds State Funeral for Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon, who died Saturday after a stroke and subsequent coma felled him during his premiership, will be buried at his Negev farm on Monday afternoon following a memorial service held at the Knesset (Haaretz). His eulogizers include President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. vice president Joe Biden.

Hussein Ibish appraises Sharon's legacy in Foreign Affairs.

 

Africa

Report: U.S. Military Advisers Deployed to Somalia

The United States deployed military advisers to Somalia in October to assist African forces in ousting the militant group al-Shabab, the Washington Post reported. The deployment of fewer than two dozen troops effectively reverses the "boots on the ground" proscription on U.S. forces there that has been in place since eighteen Americans were killed in Mogadishu in 1993.

SOUTH SUDAN: Efforts to mediate a cease-fire continued over the weekend as U.S. special envoy Donald Booth met rebel leader Riek Machar. Booth said mediators would press for the release of rebel-affiliated detainees to facilitate peace talks in Ethiopia (BBC).

CFR's John Campbell discusses the death toll in the South Sudan crisis.

 

Europe

Emphasizing Developing World, Pope Names New Cardinals

Pope Francis named nineteen new "princes of the church" on Sunday in a move to reorient the College of Cardinals from Europe to the developing world. Vatican observers say the shift is both a reflection of Catholicism's demographic changes and the pope's emphasis on the church's pastoral mission (WSJ). The appointees hail from the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile, the Philippines, and Haiti, as well as the Vatican bureaucracy.

GREECE: Three more lawmakers from the far-right Golden Dawn party were arrested on Saturday. Authorities charged them with running a criminal organization thought responsible for the assassination of an anti-fascist rapper (FT).

 

Americas

In Western Mexico, Vigilantes Contest Cartel’s Territorial Control

A vigilante group took control of the Michoacán city of Nueva Italia on Sunday as part of a broader campaign by the self-styled "self-defense group" to wrest control of the area from the Knights Templar cartel. Federal troops did not intervene in the fighting, leading some to believe the vigilantes had authorities' tacit approval (LAT).

HONDURAS: The World Bank's ombudsman issued a report criticizing the development institution's private-sector arm for improperly supervising a loan to a palm-oil producer that was engaged in violent conflict with farm workers (NYT).

 

 

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