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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 19, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Scotland Rejects Independence in Historic Vote

Scotland voted to remain in the UK by a 55.3 to 44.7 percent margin after a historic referendum (Scotsman) on its independence that saw an 86 percent voter turnout and ended one of the country's most intense political campaigns (Guardian). The outcome was a deep disappointment for the pro-independence movement (NYT), led by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, whose heated nationalist campaign pushed the three main British parties into granting promises of new power to the Scottish parliament. After the Thursday vote, Prime Minister David Cameron opened the door for a federal UK (FT), pledging more constitutional power for English members of parliament.


"David Cameron has escaped becoming forever known as 'the prime minister who lost Scotland.' But his task is not over. He must now manage his victory. If he fails to rise to the moment and communicate his respect for Scottish nationalism—and just as important, his willingness to address their substantive concerns—he may yet snatch political defeat from the jaws of victory," writes CFR's James A. Lindsay.

"Even if the 'no' vote're facing a high probability of another referendum perhaps in five years' time. The projected narrowness in the margin means some kind of Rubicon has already been crossed. It's going to be very difficult to go back to where we were previously." Richard G. Whitman tells CFR.

"But the outcome of the vote, in many ways, is less important than its broader political context—specifically, the festering governance crisis in the United Kingdom and the European Union. The Scottish referendum will likely affect the evolution of this broader crisis, but will not resolve it," write Fiona Hill and Jeremy Shapiro for Foreign Affairs.



China Fines GlaxoSmithKline for Bribery

A Chinese court imposed $492 million in fines on UK drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (SCMP) for bribing hospitals and doctors to promote GSK products. A number of other GSK employees, including the former country manager, were sentenced to prison.

JAPAN: Japan is set to resume whaling in the Antarctic (Reuters), despite the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Thursday ruling that such activity is illegal.



Modi Dismisses Al-Qaeda South Asia Plan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called al-Qaeda's South Asia expansion plan "delusional" (Times of India) in an interview with CNN.

PAKISTAN: Before a joint session of the Pakistani national assembly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif instructed protesters in Pakistan to review their strategy (DAWN) and consider the harm they were causing their country. During the same session, Pakistani lawmakers adopted a resolution against the ongoing protests.



Turkey Opens Borders to Syrian Kurdish Refugees

Turkey opened its borders to hundreds of Kurds (Hurriyet) fleeing fighting between ISIS and security forces in Syria. The decision by Turkish authorities comes after Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons on the masses that gathered on the Turkish-Syrian border.

LEBANON: Islamic militants killed two Lebanese soldiers in a bombing attack (Reuters) near the Lebanese-Syrian border on Friday.



Ebola Team Killed in Guinea

Eight members of an Ebola awareness campaign team died (Al Jazeera) in an attack in rural Guinea. The attack follows the World Health Organization's discovery of more than 700 new cases of Ebola in West Africa this week and the UN Security Council's declaration of the Ebola outbreak as a threat to world security (BBC).

West Africa's Ebola outbreak is outpacing efforts to contain and combat it, says CFR's Laurie Garrett.

NIGERIA: An Amnesty International report exposed torture practices of the Nigerian police used to prompt confessions (BBC). The report found torture to be especially harsh in Nigeria's northern regions where Boko Haram is active.



France Carries Out Airstrike on ISIS

French President François Hollande announced that the country's first airstrikes in Iraq destroyed an ISIS logistics center (AP) on Friday morning. The French airstrikes are the first addition to U.S. military action in Iraq against ISIS.

This CFR Backgrounder discusses the origins and rise of ISIS.

UKRAINE: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited the White House on Thursday, receiving pledges of $53 million in aid (France24), of which $46 million will be military assistance.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines the crisis in Ukraine.



Alibaba Opens on New York Stock Exchange

Chinese giant Alibaba, priced at $68 a share, opens on the NYSE (WSJ) on Friday morning. The IPO is set to break records, making Alibaba one of the NYSE's largest companies with an initial market value at $168 billion.

CHILE: On Thursday, Chilean police arrested three people suspected of planting the bomb (AFP) that exploded in a busy Santiago metro station on September 8. The bombing, which wounded ten and was identified by the Chilean government as a terrorist act, was the country's worst attack in twenty-four years.



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