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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
January 3, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: U.S. Drone Strike Targets Militants in Pakistan

Multiple U.S. drone strikes on Thursday killed ten people, including Taliban warlord Mullah Nazir (Dawn) and five of his companions, in Pakistan's South and North Waziristan tribal regions. The attack has the potential to substantially alter the power balance in the Taliban heartland. Nazir was the main militant commander in South Waziristan and had expelled foreign militants from the area after signing non-aggression pacts (Reuters) with the Pakistani military between 2007 and 2009. At the same time, Nazir continued attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Analysts say his death could become a contentious issue (BBC) between Washington and Islamabad, as the Pakistani military views commanders like Nazir as essential to internal peace-keeping.


"Mullah Nazir headed one of the three major Taliban groups in the Waziristan region that have had peaceful relations with the Pakistani military--the other two being the Haqqani network and the group led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur. As such, his death is likely to upset the crucial strategic balance in the region which the Pakistani forces have worked hard to maintain," writes M Ilyas Khan for the BBC.

"He sent his fighters across the border to battle American and Afghan forces, and avoided taking on the Pakistani military, leaving him at odds with the leadership of the Pakistan Taliban led by Hakimullah Mehsud, based around North Waziristan. As a result, his death could upset the careful balance that the Pakistan military has tried to build in the troubled tribal areas that border Afghanistan," writes Rob Crilly for The Telegraph.

"According to facts and figures compiled by the Ministry of Interior, of the 2,670 people killed by the U.S. drones, 487 were innocent civilians including 171 children and 43 women. Of the remaining 2,183 people killed by the drones, hardly 42 were high value CIA targets while the rest of 2,141 people were believed to be low and mid-level al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked operatives," writes Amir Mir for The News.



South Korea Increases Capital To North Korea Fund

South Korea increased the capital allocation to its inter-Korean cooperation fund this year in anticipation of improved ties (Yonhap) with the North. South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye, who will take office on February 25, has signaled her openness to renewed dialogue with the Communist neighbor.

In this CFR report, CFR's Scott Snyder outlines South Korea's progress toward enhancing its role and reputation as a contributor to security on the Korean peninsula.

JAPAN: Japan's finance minister met with Myanmar's president and senior officials on Tuesday in an effort to open a market (Bloomberg) of 64 million people that has been long-dominated by China.



Suspects of India Gang Rape To Be Charged

Six men in India will be charged with the kidnapping, gang-rape, and murder of a twenty-three-year-old medical student on a Delhi bus last month, in a case that has sparked national outrage (TimesofIndia). If convicted, the six suspects could face the death penalty.

CFR's Isobel Coleman discusses India's sexual violence in this blog post.



Syrian Death Toll Rises To 60,000

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that more than 60,000 people have been killed (al-Arabiya) in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted in March 2011, a sharp hike from a previously cited figure of 45,000.

EGYPT: Egypt sent a top official to the United Arab Emirates for talks on Wednesday (AFP) following reports that ten members of a group linked to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party were arrested there.



Central African Republic Rebels Agree to Peace Talks

The Seleka rebels in Central African Republic said they halted their advance on the capital of Bangui on Wednesday and agreed to start peace talks (Reuters), after advancing within striking distance of the city and threatening to oust President Francois Bozize.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Robert Lumbala, an opposition parliamentarian in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has joined the Rwandan-backed M23 rebel movement (TheNewTimes).

Jason Stearns, of the Rift Valley Institute, discusses Congo's weak peace process in this CFR Interview.



Italy’s Monti Shifts into Campaign Mode

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who is running in next month's general elections, called on the center-left Democratic Party on Thursday to quell anti-reformists (GazettadelSud) within its ranks, while hinting that an alliance may be possible if the elections do not produce a clear winner.

RUSSIA: Russia's defense ministry announced the country will hold naval maneuvers (RT), the largest in several decades, at the end of January in the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

CFR's Stewart Patrick discusses Russia's G20 chairmanship agenda for 2013 in this blog post.



Venezuelan Opposition Demands Details

Venezuela's opposition demanded Wednesday that President Hugo Chavez's administration give more detail (LATimes) on whether the cancer-stricken leader will be able to return from Cuba, where he recently underwent his fourth cancer-related surgery since June 2011, to be sworn in for a new term on January 10.

ARGENTINA: Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner submitted a letter (Guardian) to British Prime Minister David Cameron urging the UK to return the disputed Falkland Islands and "end colonialism."



The Cliff Deal and Washington Governance

The Washington Post examines whether the fiscal cliff deal, where "a victory of pragmatism over ideology" prevailed, represents a new model of governing for Washington as President Obama approaches his second term.

In Foreign Policy, Danielle Pletka, of the American Enterprise Institute, offers a look at how the GOP's foreign policy positions following Mitt Romney's defeat.



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