Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the Obama administration planned to reevaluate its approach (NYT) to the Middle East peace talks, and that it would decide whether it was worth continuing the effort in light of the faltering process. Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached a recent impasse over Israel's refusal to release Palestinian prisoners, as well as the Palestinian Authority's applications to join a number of international organizations. Some critics posit (WaPo) that Kerry has devoted too much attention to pursuing Middle East peace at the expense of other pressing foreign policy challenges, including Syria, Ukraine, and Iran.
"There is no doubt the Americans are investing major efforts in an attempt to solve the disputes. Even the most minor agreements over the past 25 years have usually been accompanied by crises until the very last minute, with mutual threats and American warnings they would abandon the mediation - and that the mediator cannot want peace more than the parties themselves. But Abbas is not Yasser Arafat," writes Amos Harel for Haaretz.
"However justified the criticisms of Secretary of State Kerry's approach, the Obama administration, having launched this high-profile effort at comprehensive peace, cannot simply disown its own initiative just as it appears to be on the verge of collapse," writes CFR's Robert Danin.
"Kerry's process, by a contrast, set itself the more limited goal of simply managing the conflict. But that's something the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority were doing more or less effectively before the Secretary of State called them to the table – and it's unlikely to change despite the collapse of the latest talks," writes Mairav Zonszein for al-Jazeera.
CFR's Global Conflict Tracker
The Center for Preventive Action's Global Conflict Tracker is an interactive guide to U.S. conflict prevention priorities in 2014. It provides an up-to-date overview of ongoing or potential conflicts. Take a look.
U.S. Warns China
The Obama administration warned Beijing (FT) against using force to pursue its territorial claims in Asia, saying that sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea should serve as a deterrent. His comments come weeks before President Barack Obama is expected to travel to Asia.
THAILAND: Hundreds of thousands of Thai government supporters will gather in Bangkok this weekend in a show of solidarity (Bangkok Post) after months of protests against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
South and Central Asia
Foreign Journalists Shot in Afghanistan
An Afghan policeman shot two female journalists working for the Associated Press in eastern Afghanistan, killing one (AP), Anja Niedringhaus. Her colleague, Kathy Gannon, is reported to be stable. The attack comes as the country holds high-profile elections on Saturday.
This CFR Backgrounder discusses the cases and the problem of women's rights in India.
Syrian Opposition Alleges Gas Attack
The Syrian opposition accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of again using chemical weapons near Damascus. The alleged attack (al-Arabiya) comes a week after the government sent a letter to the United Nations claiming it had evidence that rebel groups were planning a gas attack in the same area.
Chad to Pull Troops From CAR
Chad will withdraw its peacekeepers (BBC) from an African Union mission in the Central African Republic in protest of claims that they aided rebels. Its forces have been accused of siding with Muslim rebels whose ousting of the government last year triggered a wave of religious violence.
SUDAN: Sudan received a $1 billion central bank deposit (Sudan Tribune) from Qatar after a one-day visit from Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to Khartoum.
Russia Recalls NATO Ambassador
Russia recalled its ambassador to NATO for consultations, two days after the international group suspended cooperation with Russia over the Ukraine crisis. Meanwhile, NATO's secretary-general defended the alliance's increased military deployments (FT) in central and eastern Europe.
TURKEY: Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday criticized a court ruling (Hurriyet) that lifted the recent ban on Twitter, saying the court should have rejected the application to restore its access.
Congress to Hear ‘Cuban Twitter’ Case
A congressional hearing next week will see the testimony (AP) of government officials responsible for creating the "Cuban Twitter" network designed to undermine the country's communist government. Administration officials defended the program on Thursday.
MEXICO: Mexican officials ordered citizen self-defense groups emerging to fight drug cartels in the state of Michoacan to join the government security apparatus, or disarm (LATimes).