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November 25, 2015

Daily News Brief

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Obama, Hollande to Escalate Fight Against Islamic State

Editor's NoteThere will be no Daily Brief tomorrow or Friday. The DB will resume on Monday, November 30.

French President Francois Hollande and U.S. President Barack Obama have agreed to scale up operations (WSJ) in Syria and Iraq against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Their meeting in Washington on Tuesday marked an important leg of Hollande's tour to rally global support (NYT) for the military campaign against the militant group; he is also slated to meet with the leaders of Germany, Russia, and Italy. Meanwhile, French prosecutors said that the suspected coordinator of the Paris attacks had planned to conduct a suicide attack in the city's La Defense business district (France24)


“Obama's remarks, after a private meeting with Hollande at the White House, reflect an effort to adjust his adjust his tone without changing the substance of his position: Obama still doesn't want to send U.S. ground troops, impose a no-fly zone, abandon a Syrian refugee program in the U.S., or drop his insistence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power,'” write Margaret Talev and Justin Sink for Bloomberg.

“The new pledges of military support, if honored, would reverse what had been a worrying trend for some U.S. officials. Prior to the attacks in Paris, eight Western and Arab allies had carried out 5 percent of the 2,700 airstrikes in Syria that took place since the operation began and about 30 percent of the 5,100 airstrikes in Iraq, according to the New York Times,” writes John Hudson for Foreign Policy.

“[Hollande’s] prospects for success are mixed. The leaders of the US, Russia, Germany and Britain – whom Hollande will meet separately over four days – agree unreservedly about the necessity of eradicating Isis. All want a peace deal to end the Syrian civil war. But there is less agreement on how to do this,” writes Simon Tisdall for the Guardian.


U.S. Ups Military Aid to Philippines

The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines announced Wednesday that Washington increased its military aid to Manila to $79 million this year (Reuters). The move comes as Asian countries conclude a series of regional conferences amid rising tensions over China's territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea.

This CFR InfoGuide looks at China’s maritime disputes.

JAPAN: Top Chinese and Japanese officials will meet early next month to discuss a range of maritime issues (JapanTimes). The talks will focus on the early launch of a communication mechanism aimed at averting accidental clashes in the East China Sea.


Taliban Seizes Soldiers After Helicopter Crash

The Taliban announced that it had captured fifteen soldiers (WSJ), including two Americans, after a helicopter carrying Afghans and foreigners crashed in a Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan. The group said that three soldiers had died.

This CFR InfoGuide provides insight and analysis on the Taliban.

INDIA: Indian authorities said several armed militants attacked an army camp (IndiaToday) in the India-administered region of Kashmir near the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Several rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces deployed there to seek independence or union with Pakistan.


Tunisia Declares State of Emergency

Tunisia declared a thirty-day state of emergency after an explosion on a bus carrying presidential security guards killed at least twelve people in Tunis (NYT).

EGYPT: The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing at a hotel in Egypt's northern Sinai region that killed at least seven people (AP). The attack came just after Egypt held a second round of parliamentary elections.

CFR's Philip Gordon writes in this op-ed that the Islamic State may be turning its fire abroad because it can no longer take territory in the region.


Pope Francis Begins Africa Tour

Pope Francis left Wednesday for his first tour in Africa as pontiff (BBC), landing first in Kenya for a three-day stay. He will also visit Uganda and the Central African Republic and is expected to address issues of corruption, poverty, and religious conflict during his visits.

MALI: Germany's defense minister announced that the country will send up to 650 soldiers to Mali to support the French-led peacekeeping mission (DW). The announcement comes days after militants stormed a hotel in Mali's capital of Bamako, killing at least nineteen.


Russia Halts Military Cooperation With Turkey

Russia's defense ministry announced a suspension of military cooperation (Al Jazeera) with Turkey following the downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cancelled a planned trip to Turkey as tensions flared.

Opponents of the Islamic State should not use this incident to isolate Russia, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass in this op-ed.


Canada Decreases Refugee Intake

The Canadian government said it will resettle ten thousand Syrian refugees by the end of this year (CBC), short of the twenty-five thousand it originally promised. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had made Canada's acceptance of Syrian refugees central to his campaign, and recently reiterated his commitment to ending Canadian air strikes in Syria and Iraq.

UNITED STATES: Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Chicago after the city police department released video (WaPo) of the shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager, by a white police officer last year. The officer was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday.