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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 13, 2014

Top of the Agenda

France Arms Kurds as U.S. Advisers Arrive in Iraq

In a surprise announcement, France said Wednesday morning it will send arms "in the coming hours" to Kurdish forces in Iraq to aid in their fight against ISIS (AP). The announcement comes a day after the European Union failed to establish a common policy on the issue, agreeing only that individual states could—in agreement with Baghdad—send weapons to Kurdish forces (NYT). Meanwhile, the Obama administration deployed another 130 military advisers (FT) to the Kurdish capital of Erbil on Tuesday in what the Pentagon described as a "temporary mission" to assess the humanitarian crisis and help trapped Yazidi civilians on Sinjar mountain.

Analysis

"There is still an opportunity to draw back from the brink. Iraq is now in the process of replacing its prime minister. What Iraq sorely needs is a transformational leader of Faisal's caliber—one that can navigate the potentially devastating storms that are gathering and shift Iraqis away from the mind-set that views the redressing of wrongs as vengeance and equates the loss of absolute power with complete powerlessness," writes Ali Allawi for the New York Times.

"In other words, Obama's moves do not amount to a resumption of the Iraq war but rather a necessary response, not only to a humanitarian crisis but to a mortal danger facing a vital ally," writes Fred Kaplan for Slate.

"The US should carry out sustained attacks on Isis in both Iraq and Syria. The border is irrelevant; what is essential is that Isis is slowed and weakened. Economic and especially military aid to the Kurds holding the line against Isis should be increased and sped up," writes CFR President Richard N. Haass for the Financial Times.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Japan Suffers Economic Contraction

Japan saw a sharp fall in consumer spending (FT) in the second quarter after an increase in the national sales tax, marking the country's worst economic contraction since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The government reported an annualized 6.8 percent decline in gross domestic product on Wednesday.

This CFR Backgrounder explains Abenomics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's three-pronged approach to jumpstart the Japanese economy.

INDONESIA: Indonesia, the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation, is stepping up its counter-terrorism efforts to combat potential backlash from Indonesians joining violent jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq (FT).

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan Responds to Modi Comments on Kashmir

Pakistan's foreign office on Wednesday said that Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's comments on Kashmir were "most unfortunate," and engaged in a "blame game." Modi was reported to have accused Pakistan of engaging in a proxy war on a visit to Kargil earlier this week (Dawn).

MYANMAR: Myanmar is in preliminary talks to net its first credit rating, the Wall Street Journal reported (WSJ). The rating would allow an eventual debut global-bond sale by a country still recovering from decades of military rule.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Israel-Hamas Talks Continue

Egypt presented a cease-fire proposal to Israeli and Palestinian parties early Wednesday after negotiators gathered for a second day of talks aimed at resolving the month-long crisis (Haaretz). Negotiators in Cairo are addressing the issue of the Israeli Gaza blockade (al-Jazeera) as the clock runs down.

 

AFRICA

UN Threatens South Sudan With Sanctions

United Nation Security Council envoys warned South Sudan's warring leaders of sanctions if the civil war, which has pushed the young nation to the brink of famine, perpetuates (al-Jazeera). Representatives of the council, which was in the capital of Juba for a two-day mission, are also due to meet rebel chief Riek Machar.

MOZAMBIQUE: Mozambique's parliament approved an amnesty law that will allow opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama to sign a peace accord with President Armando Guebuza and run in an October 15 election (Reuters).

 

EUROPE

Ukraine Refuses Entry to Russian Convoy

Ukraine said it will refuse entry (KyivPost) to a convoy of 280 Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid to the east of the country, citing it as a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and international law.

In Ukraine, the United States seeks an outcome that may not be achievable, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass in this op-ed.

SPAIN: Spain's interior ministry said that more than 1,200 migrants entered Spain illegally by sea over two days (BBC); as a response, Spain increased defenses at the borders of two territories in North Africa.

 

AMERICAS

Venezuela Closes Borders

Venezuela's government instituted a nightly closure of all crossings along the 1,370-mile border to Colombia in a bid to prevent the flow of contraband fuels and foods to Colombia (LATimes). Venezuela loses roughly fourteen percent of its gasoline production in contraband sales, mostly to Colombia and Brazil.

COLOMBIA: Colombia's military said it is deploying more troops to the eastern province of Arauca, a rebel stronghold, to counter a recent spate of attacks (BBC).

 

 

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