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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
April 22, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Insurgency Violence Kills Hundreds in Nigeria

Fighting between the military and the Boko Haram militant group in northern Nigeria is reported to have killed at least 185 people (BBC) in the remote town of Baga, near the border with Chad. The assault marks a sharp escalation in a long-running insurgency in the predominantly Muslim north, where Boko Haram has launched a campaign to overthrow the government and adopt strict Islamic law. The conflict has killed thousands since 2009 (al-Jazeera).


"Traditional Muslim leaders, the sultan of Sokoto in particular, may have an important role to play in countering the extremist views that attract recruits to Boko Haram, Ansaru, and other radical Islamist groups," writes Jacob Zenn in this blog post for CFR.

"However, what is left to be seen is whether the US and in fact other Western countries really believe the amnesty option would curb insurgence in Nigeria, as strategic arms of the US government have written expressly on the likelihood of the failure of the amnesty option," writes Moses Alao for the Nigerian Tribune.

"President Goodluck Jonathan is on his knees morning, day and night begging the Islamist terrorists to accept an amnesty that they never asked for in the first place and which they have consistently rejected," writes Femi Fani-Kayode for Daily Trust.



South Korea Cancels Japan Trip

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se canceled his trip to Japan this week after a series of visits (Yonhap) by Japan's cabinet members to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine on Sunday. The shrine honors Japan's war dead, including fourteen who were classified as war criminals in World War II. Yun planned to hold his first bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart during his two-day visit.

CHINA: China declined Japan's offer to help with disaster recovery from the earthquake that shook the city of Ya'an on Saturday. The rejection came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine (SCMP).



Myanmar Accused of Fueling Ethnic Violence

Human Rights Watch said in a new report that Muslim civilians were facing ethnic cleansing (SMH) in Myanmar's western Arakan state, with attacks directly supported at times by state security forces. The report was released hours before the EU was to lift its last sanctions against Myanmar.

CFR's Josh Kurlantzick discusses Myanmar's alarming civil unrest in this Expert Brief.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's caretaker government has refused to try former president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf for treason (Dawn), saying it has a limited mandate.

This CFR Crisis Guide outlines Pakistan's history and turbulent present.



U.S., Israel to Close $10B Arms Deal

The United States finalized a roughly $10 billion arms deal (Haaretz) with Israel during U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's visit, which kicked off a week-long trip. Hagel said the sale was intended to "ensure Israeli air superiority," and that the deal should send a clear message to Iran.

SYRIA: At least eighty people, including women and children, were killed in Damascus (al-Jazeera) during a five-day battle between government forces and rebels. The deaths come as opposition president Moaz al-Khatib again offered his resignation.

In this Ask CFR Experts series, a reader asks how Russia challenges U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Middle East.



CAR Neighbors Pledge Troops

The Central African Republic's neighbors, at a regional summit in Chad, have pledged an extra 2,000 troops (BBC) to help restore security following last month's rebel takeover. The country had asked both neighbors and former colonial power France to increase their forces.



Serbia Reaches Kosovo Deal

Serbia approved on Monday a potentially landmark agreement (AP) to normalize relations with breakaway Kosovo that could end years of tension and put the Balkan countries on a path to European Union membership.

ITALY: Italy's president Giorgio Napolitano was elected for a second term (FT) on Saturday as Rome's deadlocked parties continue to struggle with political impasse from its inconclusive elections.



Tobacco Magnate Wins Paraguay Election

Horacio Cartes, a tobacco magnate, won a solid victory in Paraguay's presidential election (NYT) on Sunday against ruling Liberal Party candidate Efrain Alegre. Cartes returns the presidency to the conservative Colorado Party, which held a tight grip on power for six decades until 2008.

COLOMBIA: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said he may run for reelection (MercoPress) in 2014 under the condition that he serves half the usual term and changes the rules for future presidents.



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