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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 30, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Tensions Flare in Jerusalem

Far-right Israeli activist Yehuda Glick was shot and seriously wounded (Al Arabiya) as he left Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, in Jerusalem on Wednesday night. Police later shot and killed the Palestinian suspect at his home after he opened fire. Israeli forces closed off the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Thursday, a move Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned (BBC) as a "declaration of war." Meanwhile, Sweden officially recognized Palestine (Al Jazeera) as a state on Thursday.


"Israel is quick to point out efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. Yet what truly undermines Israel's international standing is not its critics, but Israel's abysmal treatment of its own citizens who are Palestinian. It is little different than other countries that have systematically discriminated against and segregated a whole class of its people based on race, religion and ethnicity," writes Rula Jebreal in the New York Times.

"It's ironic that all those groups, especially in Europe, who consider themselves champions of Palestinian rights wish only to condemn Israel—while they continue to ignore the threat to Palestinians that emerges from their own officials and government bodies," writes CFR's Elliott Abrams.

"The solution for Jerusalem's problems is not in the mayor's hands, it's in the prime minister's. But Benjamin Netanyahu, during his long years in office, has chosen to do nothing to advance a stable solution for the city, something that requires dialogue with the Arab residents," writes Haaretz.



Beijing Eases Credit Card Restrictions

Beijing announced it will ease restrictions (AP) on foreign credit cards, allowing companies like Visa and MasterCard to apply to operate on the mainland. The decision is seen as a move to open China's financial sector.

MYANMAR: President Thein Sein will meet with (Radio Free Asia) opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's military chief, and other political and ethnic leaders Friday to discuss a cease-fire between the government and armed ethnic groups as well as ending the military's veto power in parliament. This comes two weeks before U.S. President Barack Obama's scheduled visit to Myanmar for this year's East Asian Summit.

U.S.-Myanmar rapprochement should increasingly depend on continued political reform in Myanmar, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick.



Modi Relaxes Rules on Construction FDI

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi eased the rules for foreign direct investment (Mint) in the construction sector. The minimum capital and development area were both reduced, from $10 million to $5 million and from 50,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet. The new rules are part of a plan to improve India's infrastructure.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the infrastructure challenges in India.

AFGHANISTAN: China's Ministry of Public Works said that Afghanistan is ready to cooperate (TOLO) in the construction of the Wakhan-China road on Friday. The road, which follows old Silk Road trading routes, will connect China's western Xinjiang region to northern Afghanistan, improving bilateral trade. The announcement follows Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's call for a direct link between the two countries to bolster regional cooperation.



ISIS Releases Kurdish Children

ISIS freed (Al Arabiya) the remaining twenty-five children who had been kidnapped in Syria in May, according to a monitoring group, as Iraqi Kurdish forces entered the besieged Turkish-Syrian border town of Kobani on Thursday. Meanwhile, the bodies of 150 Iraqi Sunni tribesman who had fought ISIS were discovered in a mass grave (Reuters).



Boko Haram Seizes Town, Defying Cease-Fire

Boko Haram militants seized the town of Mubi (Vanguard) in eastern Nigeria on Wednesday. The attack defies a cease-fire brokered two weeks ago between the insurgent group and the government. Meanwhile, group of former deputy governors endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan (Daily Independent) to run for a second term in elections slated for next year.

This CFR Backgrounder chronicles the emergence of Boko Haram.

BURKINA FASO: The government canceled a vote (BBC) on plans to extend presidential term limits after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, storming and then setting fire to the parliament on Thursday.



NATO Expresses Concern Over 'Unusual' Russian Flights

More than two dozen Russian military aircraft, including six nuclear bombers, conducted a series of maneuvers (FT) over European airspace on Tuesday and Wednesday. NATO has increased its air presence in Baltic states and has invested in upgrading airbases in the region in the past year.

Meanwhile, France denied the delivery of warships (EU Observer) to Russia amid contradicting reports from Russian sources.

FRANCE: A French paratrooper was killed (France24) in an operation on an armed insurgent group in northern Mali on Wednesday. France has increased its military presence in the region following an uptick in rebel attacks.



Fed Ends Quantitative Easing Program

The U.S. Federal Reserve ended its quantitative easing stimulus program (WSJ) that had been in place since 2008. The move comes amid indications that U.S. GDP growth was up to 3 percent or more in the third quarter.

This CFR Backgrounder discusses the role of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

MEXICO: President Enrique Pena Nieto met with the families (LA Times) of the forty-three missing students kidnapped in Iguala over a month ago.



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