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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
January 10, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Death of Kurdish Activists in Paris Raise Questions

Three Kurdish activists, including a cofounder of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, were shot dead (AFP) overnight at the Kurdish Information Centre in Paris with gunshot wounds to the head. The attack comes as Turkish authorities recently acknowledged that they were holding talks (Hurriyet) with Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the PKK, which has waged a twenty-eight-year insurgency against the Turkish state. A lawyer for one of the three victims said that the murders were "fomented by the forces opposed to a solution (France24) to Kurdistan, the forces who are looking for a provocation."


"The question is how far Turkish leaders will go -- whether they will be prepared to abandon their Plan A, reinforcing a unified Iraq, for Plan B, linking up with entities estranged from Baghdad, such as the Kurds and the largely Sunni provinces in northern Iraq, at the risk of breaking up Iraq," writes Joost Hiltermann for Foreign Affairs.

"The insurgents cannot expect freedom for Ă–calan, or other top Kurdish leaders' return to Turkey, before peace is fully established. Their public rhetoric should assuage deep-seated Turkish concerns and recognize that, while the most important single player among Turkey's Kurds, there is no evidence that they speak for the majority of all Turkey's 15-20 percent Kurdish-speaking communities," writes Hugh Pope for the Majalla.

"The attitude of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is focused on the Kurdish problem, is critically important for the whole process. The first response of the BDP was supportive and has already born some results," writes Murat Yetkin for Hurriyet Daily.



China's Southern Weekly Hits Stands Again

Southern Weekly, the newspaper engaged in a censorship battle with the Chinese government, returned to stands (ChinaDigitalTimes) Thursday after a weeklong standoff with local propaganda officials that included street protests and a staff strike.

AUSTRALIA: Australia will toughen its sanctions (SyndeyMorningHerald) against Iran over the country's nuclear ambitions, with new curbs on natural gas trade and banking.



India's Gang-Rape Suspects Claim Torture

Lawyers for the six men accused of raping and murdering a twenty-three-year-old student in Delhi last month claimed the suspects were tortured by police (Guardian) after their arrests. Indian police face frequent accusations of abusing detainees.

CFR's Isobel Coleman outlines three things to know about the case in this blog post.

PAKISTAN: India on Thursday rejected Pakistan's proposal (TimesofIndia) for a UN investigation into the killing of two Indian soldiers on the Kashmir border with Pakistan.



Fatah, Hamas Meet in Cairo

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal agreed to expedite a stalled reconciliation deal (DailyStar) between the rival factions after meeting in Cairo. The talks were the first in almost a year between the two leaders.

EGYPT: Egypt will sign a long-awaited financing agreement (al-Arabiya) with the International Monetary Fund before upcoming parliamentary elections in a deal that could affect elements of the government's economic program.



Mali Forces Push Back Rebels

Mali's army on Wednesday forced Islamist rebels out of Douentza, an important northeastern town, in the first major pushback (Reuters) by government forces since the north of the country fell to insurgents last year.

UGANDA: Britain's University of Buckingham is suspending accreditation (NewVision) for courses at a Ugandan university in response to proposed legislation against homosexuality.



UK Allies Discourage EU Exit

Top officials from the United States and Ireland pleaded this week with British Prime Minister David Cameron's government to stay within the European Union (FT). The public pressure follows similar concerns from Finland and the Netherlands over the UK's future role in the union.



Brazilian Companies Nervous About Venezuelan Impact on Trade

Brazilian corporations with strong interests in Venezuela have expressed concern (MercoPress) about the future of the country, given President Hugo Chavez's current state, and its impact on Latin America's Mercosur trade bloc if the political transition does not follow the constitutional process.

VENEZUELA: Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that President Hugo Chavez would not have to take the oath of office (LAT) as scheduled Thursday, a finding that some legal experts claimed was unconstitutional.

CFR's Shannon O'Neil outlines what to watch for U.S. policy in Latin American in 2013 in this blog post.



Treasury Secretary Nomination Expected

President Obama is expected to nominate White House chief of staff Jacob "Jack" Lew as the next U.S. Treasury Secretary to replace current secretary Tim Geithner, reports CNN. Lew is a former budget director for both President Obama and Bill Clinton.



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