Daily News Brief

July 15, 2011

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

- Diplomats Meet to Find Libya Solution
- Pakistani, U.S. Officials Meet in DC
- Senate Works on Backup Debt Plan
- News International CEO Resigns

Top of the Agenda: Diplomats Meet to Find Libya Solution

Diplomats comprising the so-called Libya Contact Group (al-Jazeera), including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, today to discuss a roadmap for the ongoing NATO-led military operation in Libya. U.S. officials said the meeting would seek to strengthen ties with the rebel National Transitional Council, the organized opposition seeking to overthrow leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.

Prior to the meeting, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said a political solution (Reuters) was needed to resolve the Libya situation, as reports emerged that Qaddafi may be ready to give up power if he can strike a suitable deal.

France, which has taken the political lead in the Libya operation, said it had begun informal talks (DeutscheWelle) with Qaddafi's government, and that a political solution is "beginning to take shape."

Meanwhile, Italy reportedly offered to release 100 million in credit (WSJ) to Libya's rebels, even as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a former ally of Qaddafi, has criticized the NATO mission.

Analysis:

Libya's rebels have gained the upper hand, but it remains to be seen what they will actually do if they finally defeat Qaddafi, says the Economist.

The International Criminal Court's warrants for Qaddafi's arrest stir debate about whether they will facilitate or hinder his demise and about the effectiveness of the ICC itself, says this CFR Analysis Brief.

NATO's success in Libya shows how important and effective the alliance remains, writes Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Foreign Affairs.

MIDDLE EAST: Syrian Crackdown Continues

Syrian security forces continued a crackdown against anti-government protesters throughout the country, with activists reporting that soldiers fired bullets (al-Jazeera) into a crowd in the city of Deir al-Zour, killing two demonstrators.

PACIFIC RIM: Indonesians Flee Volcano

Thousands of people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi have been forced to flee an erupting volcano (BBC), amid a rise in volcanic activity in the area.

Japan: The Tokyo Electric Power Company began injecting nitrogen into one of the reactors at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant (JapanTimes) in an effort to reduce the risk of hydrogen explosions in the aftermath of the March earthquake and nuclear crisis.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Pakistani, U.S. Officials Meet in Washington

The head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (al-Jazeera), Ahmed Shuja Pasha, met with acting CIA director Michael Morell in Washington Thursday, in an effort to mend ties between the two nations after the U.S. raid in Pakistan that killed former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May.

Cuts in U.S. military aid to Pakistan only have a chance to translate into greater cooperation if they're part of a larger strategy, including a U.S. crackdown on Pakistan-linked militants in Afghanistan, says CFR's Daniel Markey.

India: Officials investigating Wednesday's deadly bomb attacks in Mumbai are focusing on the involvement of a domestic terrorist group (FT) known as the Indian Mujahideen.

AFRICA: UN Report Accuses Sudan of War Crimes

An unpublished report by the United Nations documents violence by the Sudanese government in the southern state of South Kordofan (NYT)--on the border of newly created South Sudan--and accuses Khartoum of human rights abuses that could be considered war crimes.

The process that led to South Sudan's independence offers lessons for avoiding a new, devastating conflict in the region and underscores the importance of sustained and vigorous U.S. diplomacy, writes CFR's Payton Knopf from the new country's capital.

Nigeria: Two bombs went off in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri Friday, thought to be further attacks (Reuters) by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

AMERICAS: Senate Works on Backup Debt Plan

With talks stalled between the Republican-led House of Representatives and the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell began negotiations (WSJ) on a backup plan that would give President Obama the power to raise the nation's debt ceiling ahead of an August 2 deadline that could see the United States default on its credit obligations.

With the deadline looming for resolving the U.S. debt standoff, concern is rising among international creditors and markets about the largest economy and home of the world's reserve currency.

Latin America: The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean forecast that China will become Latin America's second largest trading partner (MercoPress) by 2015.

EUROPE: News International CEO Resigns

News International CEO Rebekah Brooks resigned her post in the wake of a widening phone hacking scandal (FT) in Britain that has threatened media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation empire.

Germany: Amid an escalating European sovereign debt crisis that is now threatening to engulf Italy, the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing growing criticism (DeutscheWelle) for not providing more aid to protect the eurozone.

The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, says this CFR Backgrounder.