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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
April 18, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Pakistani Court Orders Arrest of Musharraf

A Pakistani judge today ordered the arrest of former president Pervez Musharraf for having allegedly dismissed senior judiciary members and put them under house arrest in 2007. The decision caused Musharraf to flee the Islamabad High Court (WSJ) with his heavily armed security detail, which includes paramilitary soldiers. Musharraf, who is taking shelter at his fortified mansion outside the capital, returned to Pakistan last month after four years of self-imposed exile. He intended to run in May's national parliamentary elections, but election officials barred him from doing so earlier this week.


"Since his humiliating ousting by the very politicians he spent nearly a decade trying to shut out of power, Musharraf had appeared desperate to return to, and lead, a country he believed would welcome him back with open arms. In fact, Pakistan has moved on from the Musharraf era, irrefutably and irrevocably," writes Cyril Almeida for the Guardian.

"A decade in power exposed his dictatorial tendencies; he suspended constitutional rule twice, declared a state of emergency in 2007, unleashed a violent crackdown against political opponents and fired the chief justice of the Supreme Court and five other judges," explains this New York Times editorial.

"In a heightened state of self-delusion, he returned to the country he had once ruled on March 24 to 'save Pakistan'. The isolation he has suffered since then should have freed him from misconceptions and brought home a realization that he has condemned himself to a bleak future. The 'savior' of Pakistan may, in the end, be unable to save himself," writes M. Afzal Khan for the Express Tribune.



North Korea Outlines Terms for Talks With U.S.

North Korea today offered a series of detailed conditions for engaging in negotiations with the United States, including the termination of UN sanctions (Guardian) and a cessation of U.S.-South Korea military drills on the Korean peninsula. The demands come on the heels of a series of provocative threats by North Korea against its neighbors and the United States.

This CFR Crisis Guide provides an interactive multimedia overview of the dispute between North and South Korea.

NEW ZEALAND: Parliament yesterday voted to legalize same-sex marriage (NZHerald), making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.



Bangalore Blast Targets Indian Opposition Party

A bomb explosion today targeting the offices of the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party in Bangalore left more than sixteen people wounded (NYT), including eight police officers. The attack comes less than three weeks ahead of local elections in southern Karnataka state.



U.S. to Send Soldiers to Jordan

The Pentagon will send around two hundred soldiers from a U.S. Army planning division (AP) to Jordan as part of an effort to increase the U.S. presence along the Syrian border, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said yesterday.

SYRIA: President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with a Syrian television station, affirmed his regime's commitment to defeating opposition forces in Syria, declaring "no to surrender, no to submission" (al-Jazeera).



Nigerian President Backs Dialogue With Boko Haram

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan established a new committee to consider options for providing amnesty (BBC) to Islamist separatist group Boko Haram, including a time frame for negotiations and disarmament.

SOMALIA: A suspected al-Shabaab Islamist militant (Reuters) killed himself today while attempting to plant a bomb in the capital of Mogadishu, Somali police said. The attempted bombing comes on the heels of weekend attacks by al-Shabaab that left at least thirty people dead.

Some experts believe al-Shabaab is at its weakest point in years following an African-led counterinsurgency campaign, but others warn of the group's resiliency in an unstable Somalia, explains this CFR Backgrounder.



Italian Parliament Votes for Head of State

Italy's parliament is today voting for a new president, with former speaker of the Senate Franco Marini (FT) considered a likely choice. The new head of state will be tasked with helping to broker a resolution to the political impasse that resulted from February's national elections.

GERMANY: Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, warned that the eurozone debt crisis could take as long as a decade to bring under control, while suggesting political leaders should rely less on the European Central Bank and focus more on implementing structural economic reforms.

Germany's Bundesbank remains an influential actor in eurozone policymaking, and its recent disagreements with the ECB raise concerns about managing the zone's debt crisis, explains this CFR Backgrounder.



Kerry Backs Venezuela Recount

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday called for a recount in Venezuela's closely disputed election, which was officially won Sunday by Hugo Chávez's heir Nicolás Maduro (NYT). Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has refused to accept the result and demanded a full recount.

Significant challenges await Venezuela's new president, including rampant crime, economic distortions, and political divisions, explains this CFR Issue Guide.

UNITED STATES: The U.S. Senate blocked gun control legislation (WaPo) championed by the White House, including a measure to widen background checks for most gun sales, in what President Barack Obama labeled a "shameful day for Washington."

This CFR Backgrounder examines gun control policies in select countries around the globe.



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