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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 8, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Obama Authorizes Airstrikes in Iraq

U.S. president Barack Obama authorized limited air strikes against ISIS militants in northern Iraq (NYT) to prevent the killing of religious minorities and any threats to U.S. personnel and interests in Baghdad and the Kurdish capital of Erbil. The United States began to drop relief supplies (Reuters) to Yazidi refugees fleeing Islamist militants. The move marks the first time the United States has taken such steps for military action since the militants began an offensive in June that overran swathes of northern and western Iraq and declared a "caliphate" in captured areas of Iraq and Syria.

Analysis

"Mr. Obama made a wise policy call, and showed proper caution, by keeping his commitment not to reintroduce American ground troops in Iraq, but humanitarian assistance for the imperiled civilians was necessary," writes the editorial board of the New York Times.

"The United States could not stand by and watch these monsters cause 40,000 Yazidis to die of thirst up on that mountain—though it could, and did, watch as Mosul was made Christian-rein. Failure to act then was a sin of omission. Had there been no intervention now, that would have effectively been a sin of commission," writes John Podhoretz for Commentary.

"This means that U.S. warplanes are likely to be engaged on at least two fronts: in the northwest, protecting the Yazidis and the U.S. military transport planes that will deliver the humanitarian assistance; and in the northeast, engaging the ISIS fighters between Mosul and Erbil," writes John Cassidy for The New Yorker.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Australia Warns Russia of Sanctions

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop warned that further Russian intervention in Ukraine would provoke sanctions from Sydney (SMH), including on the sale of uranium.

CHINA: A British investigator and his wife are on trial in China for illegally trafficking personal data (SCMP) and selling it to China-based multinational companies, including GlaxoSmithKline China, which is under investigation for potential bribery.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

ASEAN Kicks Off Summit

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations kicked off a series of talks in Myanmar, which is chairing the summit this year. The meeting comes as recent moves by China in the South China Sea, including the stationing of an oil rig in territory also claimed by Vietnam, have sparked fresh regional tensions (AFP).

CFR's Infoguide on China's Maritime Disputes delves into the various territorial disputes and their policy implications.

PAKISTAN: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif summoned an emergency national security conference to discuss the country's internal security situation (Dawn), as well as the military operation in restive North Waziristan.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Gaza Cease-Fire Expires With Fresh Rocket Fire

A seventy-two-hour truce in Gaza expired with rockets (NYT) fired by Palestinian militants into southern Israel. The Israeli military reportedly responded with alleged airstrikes and a targeting of "terror sites" across the Gaza Strip. Hamas had earlier declined an Israel offer for an extension of the cease-fire truce.

CFR's Robert Danin discusses why the Israel-Gaza crisis persists in this new Three Things to Know video.

 

AFRICA

WHO Declares International Emergency

The World Health Organization has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency (BBC), although Director General Margaret Chan said there would be no ban on international travel or trade. Health officials said a coordinated international response was needed to stop the spread of the virus.

CFR's Laurie Garrett discusses the WHO's role in combatting the virus in this conference call.

SOUTH SUDAN: As peace talks languish between leaders in South Sudan, Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo (AllAfrica) and sanctions on the country.

 

EUROPE

Rebel Leader in Donetsk Resigns

Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, resigned on Thursday (KyivPost) as advancing government forces encircled the eastern Ukrainian city. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian prime minister's office and other embassies abroad were hit by a cyber attack linked to Russia (FT).

RUSSIA: Russia has granted Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, residency for three more years (Guardian).

 

AMERICAS

Fernandez Urges Obama Intervention in Debt Dispute

Argentine president Cristina Fernández urged U.S. president Barack Obama to intervene in the dispute between Argentina and its debtors over the country's debt crisis (MercoPress).

BRAZIL: A new poll showed that Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff would likely win re-election in a second-round run-off in October, although her main challenger Aecio Neves has narrowed the lead (Reuters).

 

 

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