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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 1, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: U.S. Pushes to Broaden Syrian Resistance

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an overhaul of Syria's opposition, stating that the coalition should be expanded to include "those who are on the frontlines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom." Clinton, who was on her first official visit to Zagreb, Croatia, as secretary, specifically noted it was time to move the resistance beyond the leadership of the Syrian National Council (SNC), a prominent exile opposition group operating out of Turkey.

Analysts say Clinton's comments signify a "clear break with the SNC," voicing Washington's long-held frustration with the Sunni-dominated group's failure to forge a coherent strategy and unite disparate components of the opposition under its umbrella. The remarks come just days before Syrian opposition members (al-Jazeera) assemble in Doha, Qatar, to discuss a new leadership council.

Analysis

"The Obama administration sees the new council as a potential interim government that could negotiate with both the international community and – down the line – perhaps also the Syrian regime. The SNC will have a minority stake in the new body, but some opposition leaders are still skeptical that the effort will succeed," writes Josh Rogin for Foreign Policy.

"Until now, U.S. assistance to the rebels has been mainly limited to nonlethal aid to nonviolent opposition groups, primarily communications equipment. A major obstacle to further aid is this: The main external Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has been unable to present a unified leadership through which aid could be reliably channeled – and has had much too little input from activists on the ground," writes Trudy Rubin for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

 

What Will Be the Top Global Hot Spots in 2013?

Each year, CFR's Center for Preventive Action asks a group of experts to rank various violent contingencies in order of their importance to U.S. national security interests. Help them create that list by telling them what international conflicts you are worried about breaking out or escalating next year. Learn more and weigh in here.

PACIFIC RIM

Chinese Think Tank Urges End to One-Child Policy

A government think tank has called upon leaders to start phasing out the country's one-child policy immediately (AP), and to allow two children for every family by 2015. The China Development Research Foundation is scheduled to release its final report in the coming weeks.

SOUTH KOREA: On Wednesday, presidential candidates squared off on the issue of extending the country's voting hours (Yonhap) on Election Day, December 19, which, some argue, could affect voter turnout.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan Eases Visa Regime With India

The federal cabinet has ratified an agreement that liberalizes the visa regime between Pakistan and India, easing travel for members of each country's business community (SANA). The move builds on ongoing efforts to improve trade and people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

SRI LANKA: Members of parliament have begun a motion to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. Reports say the move is the latest sign of tensions that have surfaced following recent judicial rulings unfavorable to the government (BBC).

 

MIDDLE EAST

Ayatollah Issues Warning on Political infighting

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that political infighting (NYT) must end between the executive branch of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and high-ranking officials in the legislative and judicial branches, and that their public disputes would be treated as treason because it provides ammunition to "foreign media and enemies."

ISRAEL: Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a crowd in London Wednesday that Israel will not outsource its vital security interests (JerusalemPost) to anyone, even its closest allies. "All options are on the table to prevent Iran from crossing the point of no return," he said.

SYRIA: Government forces launched new air raids in Damascus Thursday in what analysts say are a response to opposition gains (DailyStar) aimed at "terrorizing" and turning local communities against the rebels.

 

AFRICA

Aid to Uganda Suspended Over Fraud Allegations

The British government confirmed Wednesday that it had suspended $6.4 million in development aid (NewVision) to Uganda's office of the prime minister, saying officials had stolen billions in aid from Europe meant for post-conflict recovery efforts. Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden suspended donor support funds to Uganda last week.

NIGERIA: Amnesty International said Thursday the Nigerian government was committing human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions, in its fight against militant Islamist group Boko Haram (Reuters). The government's tactics could result in building support for Boko Haram outside its core, the report says.

 

EUROPE

Greek Budget Projections Spark Fresh Concerns

Greece's draft budget for 2013 forecasting a deeper recession and worsening debt problems (BBC) sparked a fresh round of concern on Wednesday. Revised projections show Greek government debt peaking at 189 percent of economic output (FT) and the economy shrinking by 4.5 percent in the upcoming year. Euro-area finance ministers are currently negotiating a possible bailout extension (Bloomberg) for the crisis-worn country.

EUROPE: According to Eurostat's newly released report, unemployment in the eurozone hit a record high of 11.6 percent in September (Telegraph), with almost 18.5 million people out of work in the 17-member currency union.

 

AMERICAS

Argentina Lowers Voting Age

Argentina's congress has approved a law to lower the eligible voting age (BBC) to sixteen, a move critics say is designed to boost the chances of President Cristina Fernandez's party in midterm elections next year. Voting will still only be mandatory for those between the ages of eighteen and seventy.

MEXICO: TransCanada Corp's Mexican subsidiary will build, own, and operate the El Encino-to-Topolobampo Pipeline, a $1 billion in the project supported by a twenty-five-year natural gas transportation service (Reuters) contract with the Mexico's Comision Federal de Electricidad.

 

CAMPAIGN 2012

October Jobs Report to Be Released on Schedule

The October jobs report will be released on Friday morning as scheduled despite a two-day government office shutdown caused by Hurricane Sandy, reports the New York Times.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) looks likely to be elected to a second term (Gannett) and become either the chairman or ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

 

 

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