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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
April 23, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Car Bomb Hits French Embassy in Libya

A car bomb exploded at France's embassy in Tripoli on Tuesday, injuring two French guards and a Libyan girl in an attack (Reuters) that President François Hollande denounced as an assault on France and all countries fighting terrorism. The incident marked the first assault on a diplomatic mission (AP) in Tripoli since the end of the 2011 war that ousted former leader Muammar Qaddafi. Last September, a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed when militants attacked the diplomatic mission in the eastern city of Benghazi.


"Jihadist militias have reappeared in the east, running checkpoints in Benghazi and in Derna, further east along the coast, which has long had a reputation for hosting extreme Islamists. Five months after such people stormed the American consulate in Benghazi and killed the ambassador there, no one has been charged with the crime," writes the Economist.

"There have been a number of assassinations of Libyans in Benghazi, and another number of attempted assassinations. And to my knowledge, nobody has been arrested for any of these, which tends to suggest that there are forces at play in the Benghazi community that are quite powerful in one way or another," says Michael Smith in a conversation with Egypt Independent.

"Distrust of the government has also compelled many regional commanders to take legal and security measures in their own hands and run their own prison and torture camps. Some brigades have also fought over oil terminals and fields to gain strategic advantage over their domestic rivals," writes Zawya.



Japan Protests Chinese Ships

Eight Chinese maritime surveillance vessels entered waters (KyodoNews) around the contested Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Tuesday, prompting Tokyo to lodge a protest against Beijing. The incident comes amid heightened tensions after Japanese lawmakers visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

SOUTH KOREA: The weakening yen (Yonhap) is raising concerns in South Korea that Seoul's exports may be losing its competitive edge and hindering the country's efforts to boost its economy.

This CFR Backgrounder explains Abenomics, Japan's new set of economic policies geared at jolting the recession-riddled country out of deflation.



Musharraf Faces Conspiracy Charges

Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf stood before an anti-terrorism court, where he faces charges of conspiracy (Dawn) to murder former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The case is one of three he is fighting since returning home last month after four years in self-imposed exile.

AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban took eleven civilians prisoner (AP), including eight Turks and a Russian, in eastern Afghanistan in the first large-scale capture of foreigners there in nearly six years.



Deadly Clashes Plague Northern Iraq

At least twenty people have died in clashes (al-Jazeera) between security forces and anti-government protestors in northern Iraq, where demonstrations have been held since January. Protestors have taken to the streets in Sunni-majority areas for more than four months.



Spain Arrests Two North African AQIM Suspects

Spain arrested an Algerian and a Moroccan thought to be linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (BBC), although it is unclear what prompted the arrests. Moroccan Islamists linked to al-Qaeda were found guilty of the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed nearly 200 people.

This CFR Backgrounder traces the roots of AQIM.

ZAMBIA: An application by former Zambian president Rupiah Banda to have his immunity case (TimesofZambia) moved to the high court has been dismissed due to lack of merit.



EU Official Supports Relaxed Austerity

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso signaled his support for relaxing Europe's austerity drive (WSJ) in what could be a significant break for countries struggling with budgets. The comments are the latest in a series that could indicate a shift in European economic policy.

NORWAY: Norway is proposing to open up a part of the Arctic (FT), in the southeastern Barents Sea, for oil exploration in the first new acreage from the country in two decades.



Venezuela Cautions U.S.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua warned the United States against interfering in its domestic affairs (MercoPress), saying it would resort to "trade, energy, economic and political measures" if Washington applies sanctions.



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