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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 14, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Anti-U.S. Protests Enter Fourth Day in Cairo

Protests against the United States entered the fourth straight day in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Friday as demonstrators threw rocks and gasoline bombs (NYT) near the U.S. embassy. The violent protests, which also erupted in Benghazi on Tuesday, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were incited by a video mocking Islam that was apparently circulated by right-wing Christians in the United States. Anti-American demonstrations spread to Yemen yesterday, while authorities throughout the Muslim world prepared for expected demonstrations following Friday noon prayers. In Bangladesh, thousands of protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags, but were blocked from reaching the U.S. embassy by security officials.

Analysis

"The more important signifier, at the embassies in Benghazi, Cairo and Sana'a, is the ubiquitous black flag bearing an Arabic inscription of Islam's founding tenet, 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.' That flag is an icon of political Salafism, having been used by al-Qaeda and also the Taliban, but also by a range of parties and movements across the Arab world that may share Osama bin Laden's austere brand of Islam but in many cases vehemently reject the terrorism that became his leitmotif," writes TIME's Tony Karon.

"Even if the deaths were not linked to al Qaeda or its dangerous North African affiliates, the event is still a major threat to Libya's chances of successful transition to stability, and could be a watershed of the worst kind. The nightmare scenario that Libya could go the way of Iraq in 2004 is still not likely, but no longer seems implausible," writes Christopher S. Chivvis for ForeignPolicy.com.

"Here is what now seems to be the case: the anti-Islam film wasn't made by an Israeli-American, wasn't funded by Jews, and probably had nothing to do with the American deaths, which seem to have resulted from a long-planned attack by a specific terrorist group, not spontaneous mob violence," writes the Atlantic's Robert Wright.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Chinese Patrol Ships Enter Japanese Waters

Six Chinese patrol ships entered Japanese-controlled waters today to "demonstrate China's jurisdiction" (WashPost) over a group of disputed islands that the Japanese government recently purchased from private owners. One Chinese ship called on the Japanese coast guard to "leave the waters immediately."

CFR's Sheila A. Smith examines the way in which the crisis emerged between Japan and China, arguing for a crisis management initiative between Beijing and Tokyo in this Orbis article.

AUSTARLIA: Around thirty Sri Lankan men seeking asylum in Australia were transferred from Christmas Island to the island nation of Nauru today under the federal government's new offshore processing policy (Australian).

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan Files Murder Charges Over Factory Fire

Pakistani police yesterday registered murder charges against factory bosses and government officials (SMH) over a fire at a garment factory in Karachi that killed 289 people, in the worst industrial disaster in the country's history.

INDIA: The government yesterday moved to cut diesel subsidies (WSJ), raising prices by 14 percent, in an effort to rein in the country's budget deficit and secure foreign investor investment.

 

MIDDLE EAST

IAEA Condemns Iran

The thirty-five-member board of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency yesterday approved a resolution that expresses "serious concern" over Iran's failure to abide by UN Security Council resolutions and suspend uranium enrichment (al-Jazeera), a step necessary for producing a nuclear weapon.

This section of the CFR Crisis Guide on Iran provides an overview of the country's controversial nuclear program.

 

AFRICA

South African Miners Reject Wage Offer

Striking miners at South Africa's Marikana platinum mine (Reuters), where police shot dead thirty-four protesters last month, today rejected a pay offer by mining company Lonmin, while President Jacob Zuma vowed to crack down on those inciting labor unrest.

KENYA: Nairobi police confiscated a cache of weapons (DailyNation), including grenades, bombs, and AK-47 rifles, and arrested two terror suspects allegedly planning to attack churches in the capital this Sunday.

 

EUROPE

Pope Benedict Visits Lebanon

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon today on the start of a "peace pilgrimage" (NYT), his first visit to the Middle East since 2009. Benedict called on the international community to cease weapons shipments to Syria, where the conflict between government and opposition forces has nearly descended into a civil war.

RUSSIA: Parliament voted to expel from the legislature an opposition leader and strong critic of President Vladimir Putin (RFE/RL), Gennady Gudkov, who called the move "political revenge."

 

AMERICAS

Fed Announces Fresh Bond Buying

The U.S. Federal Reserve yesterday announced a new round of quantitative easing, saying it would buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities (AP) per month on an open-ended basis, while vowing to "undertake additional asset purchases" and "employ other policy tools" until the labor market improves.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the Federal Reserve's evolving policy role in the wake of the global financial crisis.

BRAZIL: The country yesterday cut its growth forecast (BBC) for this year from 3 percent to 2 percent, amid global economic pressures and rising local debt levels.

 

CAMPAIGN 2012

Romney and Ryan to Receive Intelligence Briefings

On Monday, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, will begin receiving intelligence briefings (TheHill) similar to that which the president and vice president receive--a courtesy usually extended the opposing party's nominees once they are formally nominated.

Romney campaign advisers on Thursday defended their candidate's criticism of President Barack Obama's foreign policy while offering specifics on how Romney would have handled this tough week in the Middle East (NYT).

 

 

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