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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 23, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Ottawa Shootings Stoke Terrorism Fears

A gunman shot and killed a soldier (NYT) at an Ottawa war memorial and then opened fire in the Canadian parliament on Wednesday. The suspect was killed and identified as a Quebec native who had converted to Islam, prompting fears that the attack was a reprisal for Canada's allegiance to the U.S. coalition against ISIS. Prime Minister Stephen Harper labeled the attack a terrorist act (Globe and Mail). On Monday, two soldiers were run over in Montreal, killing one. No link has been established between the attacks in Montreal and Ottawa.


"Canada is now faced with the question of how it should respond to the spread of extremist ideologies. […] Canada needs to have a similar national-level inquiry into both violent and non-violent extremists who are developing values which run contrary to the constitution and the Charter of Rights," writes Tom Quiggin for BBC.

"Canadians might have become complacent because we have not had overt terror attacks or threats inside our country, whereas obviously the United States has. Canada has been surprisingly free of this type of thing until this week. We were perhaps not quite as concerned or vigilant as we might have been," Geoff Norquay, a public policy strategist, told Al Jazeera.

"These two attacks constitute a spectacular failure for CSIS, which had claimed to be actively protecting the country against a plethora of terrorist threats. While the threat level was raised in the day before Wednesday's attack, there appeared to be no serious escalation in security near parliament. In a committee hearing earlier in the month, the director of CSIS promised parliamentarians that that the threat was real, but not imminent," writes Justin Ling in the Guardian.


What Threats and Conflicts Will Emerge or Escalate in 2015?

CFR's annual Preventive Priorities Survey aims to assist policymakers in anticipating and planning for international crises that threaten U.S. national interests. What threats and conflicts will emerge or escalate in 2015? Tell us what you think.


Plenum Emphasizes Party Role in Legal System

China stressed the Communist Party's central role in the legal system (WSJ) and vowed to bolster its judicial system and provide citizens a bigger role in the legislative process at the fourth plenum. China's plenum on the rule of law will conclude on Thursday amid ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Chinese representatives to the UN opposed referring a North Korean human rights case (AP) to the International Criminal Court.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea invited North Korea (Yonhap) to attend next week's forum on promoting peace in Northeast Asia. The event will focus on energy security, nuclear safety, and cyberspace. Meanwhile, a South Korean official expressed the country's willingness to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank if certain conditions are met.

This CFR Crisis Guide investigates tensions on the Korean peninsula.



Obama Invites Afghan Leaders to United States

President Obama invited Afghan leaders (TOLO) Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah on Wednesday to visit the United States early next year. Obama emphasized continued U.S. support for Afghan reform and good governance.

INDIA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the flood-hit regions (Times of India) of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday amid ongoing clashes with Pakistan over contested borders.



Iraqi Kurds to Enter Kobani

Two hundred Iraqi Kurdish fighters (Haaretz) will enter the Syrian town of Kobani through Turkey after Iraqi lawmakers approved a plan to send fighters from the region on Wednesday. Pentagon officials admitted (Al Arabiya) that some of the arms and ammunitions air-dropped near Kobani on Monday fell into the hands of ISIS.

This CFR Backgrounder chronicles the emergence of ISIS.

SYRIA: The Syrian government intensified air strikes (BBC) on rebel-held areas, carrying out more than two hundred attacks in thirty-six hours, opposition activists said. Opposition activists also said that more than 500 militants (AFP), mostly members of ISIS, had been killed since the U.S.-led coalition began launching air strikes in Syria.



Bus Station Bombed in Northern Nigeria

A bomb exploded (Vanguard) in a large bus station in the northern Nigerian town of Bauchi, killing five and injuring twelve on Wednesday. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Bauchi has been the site of previous Boko Haram insurgent attacks.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines Boko Haram's rise.

WEST AFRICA: World Health Organization records indicate that 4,877 people (Reuters) have died of Ebola, and at least 9,936 cases have been reported. The WHO, who released the figures on Wednesday, said that due to underreporting the death toll is likely as high as fifteen thousand.



NATO Jets Intercept Russian Spy Plane

NATO fighter jets intercepted a Russian intelligence-gathering plane (FT) when it violated Estonian air space on Wednesday in the boldest violation of NATO air space since the Cold War. It is still unclear whether the air space violation is related to sightings of an alleged Russian submarine in Swedish waters this week.

EU: Leaders from the EU will meet on Thursday in what are anticipated to be tough negotiations (EU Observer) on an energy and climate framework.



Arrest Warrant Issued for Mexican Mayor Over Missing Students

Mexico's attorney general ordered the arrests (Al Jazeera) of the Iguala mayor, his wife, and public safety chief on Tuesday. They are charged with organizing the attack on students last month that left six students dead and forty-three missing in the southern state of Guerrero. Early this week the government announced a $110,000 reward for information on the students' disappearance.



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