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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
February 5, 2014

Top of the Agenda

U.S. Curbs Pakistan Drone Strikes

The Obama administration has paused drone strikes in Pakistan after Islamabad asked the United States for restraint as it pursues peace talks with the Taliban, the Washington Post reports. The last known use of the program was the November strike that killed a senior Pakistani Taliban leader, and U.S. officials said it will still carry out strikes against senior al-Qaeda leaders (WaPo). Pakistanis are split on the drone strikes, with some saying they kill fewer civilians than military operations and others arguing that the strikes cause civilian casualties and violate Pakistani sovereignty (Reuters).

Analysis

"Far more credible than the president's promises of transparency would be actual accountability. The White House should declassify drone operations once they are completed—as is the case with many military operations—and come clean about who has been killed and why. The White House can immediately commit to full, prompt and impartial investigations of all credible allegations of potentially unlawful killings," writes Naureen Shah for Reuters.

"In either case—in Afghanistan and Pakistan—the Taliban seem to be winning. And in the final analysis, this is surely not simply the fault of Karzai or Nawaz. When Obama preempted all future debate by fixing on December 2014 as the date for NATO's exit he in effect invited the Taliban to sit out the clock. This they are now doing with great aplomb, in grateful expectation that all they wish for will soon be theirs," writes Simon Tisdall in the Guardian.

"A more discriminating drone program would not cost the United States much in terms of security. Few of those killed by drones have been high-level military targets planning terrorist attacks against the United States. Instead, a policy of greater restraint would improve U.S. security in the long term, as countries acquiring drones will be looking to the United States as a precedent for their own policies," writes CFR Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow Sarah Kreps in Foreign Affairs.

 

Pacific Rim

U.S. Says China ‘Acting Professionally’ in Air Defense Zone

Admiral Samuel Locklear, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, said the Chinese air force has acted professionally with the United States and Japan and hasn't dramatically changed its behavior since creating an air defense zone over the East China Sea (FT).

This CFR InfoGuide explains the maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.

NORTH KOREA: South and North Korea agreed to hold a new round of reunions for families separated by the 1950–53 Korean War, a move that is expected to ease tensions between the countries (Yonhap).

 

South and Central Asia

Pakistan Fails to Show Up at Taliban Talks

Pakistani government representatives didn't show up for scheduled peace talks with the Taliban on Tuesday. The government delegation said it wasn't clear if their counterparts had the authority to speak for the insurgents (NYT).

SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka refused a visa request for a U.S. State Department official after another diplomat said Washington would propose a UN resolution against the country over alleged war crimes (Reuters).

 

Middle East

West Wants UN to Press for Aid Flow in Syria

A draft UN Security Council Resolution may be circulated this week that compels Syria's government to allow humanitarian aid into besieged areas, but the top UN official in Damascus warns that the effort may backfire (WSJ).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the conflict in Syria and the global response.

IRAQ: More than twenty people were killed after three bombings ripped through neighborhoods in Baghdad, including one near the foreign ministry on the edge of the heavily fortified Green Zone (AFP).

 

Africa

UN Launches Humanitarian Appeal in South Sudan

The United Nations launched a $1.27 billion appeal for humanitarian aid to help three million people in South Sudan who are facing acute or severe hunger after ethnic fighting in the country caused almost one million to flee their homes (LATimes).

NIGERIA: Gunmen, some suspected to be members of Boko Haram, have killed more than seventy people in separate attacks in villages in three Nigerian states this week (This Day).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and evolution of Boko Haram.

 

Europe

UN Denounces Vatican Over Child Abuse

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child denounced the Vatican for adopting policies that allowed priests to sexually abuse thousands of children, and called on the Holy See to open the files on clergy members who concealed crimes or are known or suspected child abusers (BBC).

RUSSIA: The Russian Olympic Committee has prohibited several Russian political activists from attending sporting events in an effort to contain possible political protests at the Games (NYT).

 

Americas

States Look to Limit U.S. Government Surveillance

Lawmakers in at least fourteen states, angry over the revelations of National Security Agency surveillance, are proposing bills to curb the powers of law enforcement to monitor and track citizens (AP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the controversy over domestic surveillance in the United States.

 

 

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