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August 31, 2015

Daily News Brief

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EU Calls Emergency Meeting on Migration Crisis

The EU will hold an emergency meeting (EU Observer) of the bloc's interior and justice ministers on September 14 to address the escalating migration crisis. After more than seventy asylum-seekers were found dead in a truck last week, Austrian authorities have tightened (Guardian) controls, saying the new measures do not violate the EU's policy of open borders. Elsewhere, a boat carrying migrants sank (Reuters) off the coast of Libya on Sunday, killing at least thirty-seven people, a local official said, while Greece rescued (AP) nearly 2,500 people at sea over the past three days. 


"The EU cannot simply wait out the current migration crisis by implementing piecemeal and panicked measures in the hope that the problem will eventually resolve itself. What is needed is careful consideration of how best to balance humanitarian imperatives with security concerns, domestic social welfare with international legal obligations, and member countries’ duties to one another with their responsibilities to their own citizens. Only then can leaders design the kind of thoughtful, comprehensive, and forward-looking strategy that the migrant crisis—and, indeed, the EU’s own survival—demands," writes Ana Palacio in Project Syndicate.

"A solution to Europe's refugee crisis also requires an active foreign policy on the part of the EU which seeks to stabilise, rather than destabilise, the countries and the regions from which migrants flee. Without these steps taken, Europe's chaotic situation with refugees will continue for the indefinite future (environmental refugees may soon become the next migration wave), with fragmented implosion being most likely Europe's own future," writes C J Polychroniou in Al Jazeera.

"Fixing the Balkans is an unfinished task that the EU must now concentrate on as part of its overall response to the migration crisis. Letting a bad situation get worse would only bring more problems – political and economic – in its wake, as well as more geopolitical uncertainty as Russia tries to grow its influence in a region about which it has always been proprietorial," writes the Guardian in an editorial.


Washington Drafting Sanctions Against China for Cyber Theft

The United States is developing a series of economic sanctions against Chinese firms and individuals who have gained from cyber theft of U.S. trade secrets, according to a Washington Post report. The news comes ahead of a summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, next month.

Tobias Feakin discusses how governments can develop proportionate responses to cyberattacks in this CFR Cyber Brief.

JAPAN: Tens of thousands of people protested (Japan Times) near the Japanese parliament on Sunday in opposition to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and legislation that would enable the Japanese military to fight overseas.  The security bills are expected to face a vote in mid-September. 


Obama Invites Pakistan's Sharif to White House

U.S. President Barack Obama has invited (RFE/RL) Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the United States for an October visit, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a visit to Islamabad. Rice urged Pakistan to help restart talks between Afghan officials and Taliban representatives, which were derailed after news of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. In a statement on Monday, the Taliban admitted it had covered up (AFP) Mullah Omar's death.

This CFR InfoGuide looks at the challenges of fighting the Taliban.

MALAYSIA: Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad joined antigovernment protestors over the weekend and called for a "people's power" (Asia Times) movement to remove Prime Minister Najib Razak over corruption allegations. Najib, who denies wrongdoing, called for unity (BBC)


Islamic State Holds Two Hundred in Iraq

Two hundred people in a remote part of Iraq's Anbar province have been detained (AP) by militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State following clashes between residents and militants, the town's mayor said. In Syria, Islamic State militants partially destroyed (WSJ) a two-thousand-year-old temple in Palmyra on Sunday, according to a monitoring group.

EGYPT: The Egyptian election commission announced that parliamentary elections (Reuters) will be held in two two-day rounds, beginning October 18 and November 22. Egypt has not had a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the main chamber, which was led by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. 


Nigeria Makes Boko Haram Arrests

Nigerian security officials said they had arrested (Al Jazeera) twenty prominent members of the militant group Boko Haram, whom it accused of plotting of deadly attacks. Separately, at least sixty-eight people were killed (Vanguard) in Nigeria's northeastern Borno state in the group's latest attack. 

SOMALIA: The number of people in Somalia in need of food aid rose (AFP) to 855,000 from 731,000 in the past six months, the UN said on Monday, calling the country's condition "critical." 


Ukrainian Protesters and Police Clash

Protesters clashed (BBC) with police in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Monday after members of parliament voted to grant greater autonomy to separatist-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk. 


Obama to Address Climate Change During Alaska Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama will travel (NYT) to Alaska on Monday for a three-day visit in which he is expected to call for aggressive action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

This CFR InfoGuide explores the challenges of managing the Arctic.

PUERTO RICO: The Puerto Rican government extended (LAHT) the delivery of debt restructuring plans for the Caribbean island to Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla to September 8. The governor announced in June that Puerto Rico could no longer afford to make debt payments.