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July 31, 2015

Daily News Brief

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UK PM Calls Emergency Meeting on Calais Migrants

UK Prime Minister David Cameron will hold an emergency meeting (Reuters) of his government's security committee amid an influx of migrants seeking entry into the country. Thousands have attempted to cross (Deutsche Welle) the Channel Tunnel into the UK from France's port city of Calais this week. An estimated five thousand migrants, primarily from the Middle East and North Africa, live in makeshift camps in Calais, and at least nine people have died (Politico) trying to cross into the UK over the past six weeks. Earlier this week, Hungary said that a fence (AP) to curb migrants entering from Serbia would be completed by August 31. Tens of thousands of migrants have reached the EU through entry points in Greece, Italy, and Hungary. The UK has refused to participate in an EU relocation plan to alleviate the burden of migration across the twenty-eight-member bloc.


"The world has changed. The relative power of Europe has slipped still faster than that of the US, and with it the capacity to fix problems in its neighbourhood. That is not to say it can abdicate responsibility. The EU still has the tools—economic, political and military—to promote order beyond its borders, sometimes on its own, more often as a convening power. The Calais crisis is just one more a lesson in the costs of hiding under the bedcovers," writes Philip Stephens in the Financial Times.

"The political rhetoric that surrounds these migrants makes it harder to understand why they take such journeys. Often when government ministers are called on to comment, they will try to make a distinction between refugees (good) and 'economic migrants' (bad). But a refugee needs to think about more than mere survival—like the rest of us, they’re still faced with the question of how to live," writes Daniel Trilling in the Guardian.

"Faced with this rapidly expanding crisis, the European Union has reacted as it often does: slowly, burdened by the lack of a common immigration and asylum policy. A few leaders in Brussels seem to have understood the scale of this massive movement of people and the challenges it poses to Europe’s identity as well as to its ideals of solidarity and shared human values," writes Sylvie Kauffman in the New York Times.


Former Chinese Military Chief Investigated for Corruption

Authorities expelled (SCMP) Guo Boxiong, a former vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, from the Chinese Communist Party and turned him over to military prosecutors to face charges on corruption, including taking bribes for promotions. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee named Beijing as the host (CNN) for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

NORTH KOREA: Officials from Japan, South Korea, and the United States are scheduled to meet in Tokyo on Friday to coordinate (Yonhap) their efforts to convince North Korea back to end its nuclear program. The meeting follows a series of bilateral meetings between member nations of the Six Party Talks, which also includes China and Russia.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the role of the Six Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear program.


Taliban Names Successor as Peace Talks Postponed

The Taliban chose (AP) Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as the group's new supreme leader on Thursday, confirming reports of the death of former leader Mullah Omar. Peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban slated for Friday in Pakistan have been postponed (TOLO) at the Taliban's request, according to Pakistani officials.

This CFR InfoGuide tracks the reemergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

PAKISTAN: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to discuss (Dawn) broadening bilateral ties with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad on Saturday. The visit will be Erdogan's seventh to the country in the past ten years.


World Food Program Cuts Aid to Syrian Refugees in Jordan

The World Food Program announced on Friday that it cut (AP) its aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan by half because of budgetary limitations. Jordan hosts more than six hundred thousand Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, militants of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front attacked (Reuters) Western-backed Syrian rebels following U.S.-led alliance air strikes in northern Syria, according to a monitoring group.

LIBYA: Four Indian teachers have been detained (India Express) by suspected militants at a checkpoint in Sirte, a stronghold of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in northern Libya.


Chad MPs Reintroduce Death Penalty for Acts of Terror

Members of Chad's parliament voted unanimously to reintroduce (AFP) the death penalty for acts of terrorism, just six months after it was abolished, following recent attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants. Separately, a suicide bombing killed (AP) at least ten people at a market in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri. 

This CFR Backgrounder chronicles the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency.

BURUNDI: Opposition leader Agathon Rwasa was elected (Al Jazeera) deputy chief of Burundi's parliament on Thursday, despite Rwasa's outspoken criticism of recent national elections and President Pierre Nkurunziza's election to a third term. Nkurunziza won 69 percent of the vote in controversial presidential elections held on July 21.


France and Russia Finalize Warship Compensation

France and Russia have concluded talks (Deutsche Welle) on compensation for the cancellation of the delivery of two French-made Mistral warships, according to Russian media reports. France will pay $1.3 billion for refusing to deliver the ships due to Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict.


United States Increases Ukraine-Related Sanctions

The United States extended (RFE/RL) sanctions against individuals related to the crisis in Ukraine on Thursday, including port operators in Crimea, former Ukrainian officials, and a Russian gas trader, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. The move follows the extension of sanctions against Russia by the EU and Canada last month in a bid to increase pressure on authorities to implement the Minsk peace deal reached in February.

PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico is expected to default (WSJ) on Saturday after signaling that it would likely be unable to make debt payments of $58 million due August 1. Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced in June that the island's $72 billion debt was not payable and required restricting.

Expert Matt Fabian says Puerto Rico must take painful steps to balance its budget, in this CFR Interview.