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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
May 28, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Russia to Deliver Arms to Syria to Prevent Intervention

George Ourfalian/Courtesy Reuters  

George Ourfalian/Courtesy Reuters

Russia said it would deliver anti-aircraft missiles to Syria (BBC) in a bid to deter foreign intervention in the country's civil war, criticizing a Monday decision by the EU not to renew an arms embargo on the Syrian opposition. The escalation comes just as key countries prepare for a major peace conference in Geneva that observers view as the best chance yet to end the two-year bloodshed, which has killed more than eighty thousand people. In response to Russia's statement, Israel signaled that its military was prepared to strike (AP) said shipments of weapons, fearing the missiles could end up in the hands of groups like Hezbollah.


"For now, the direction London and Paris are going in is correct. The moderate forces opposing the Assad regime have been left high and dry in this conflict. Providing weapons will give these forces the currency of influence," writes an editorial for the Financial Times.

"What has changed, as Oxfam among others has warned, is that by fuelling the conflict by sending yet more weapons to the combatants, Britain and France risk stoking a further rapid and potentially disastrous escalation; risk adding to the appalling toll of 80,000 people dead and millions displaced; and risk shooting down and killing off the already enfeebled diplomatic process they seek to sustain," writes Simon Tisdall for The Guardian.

"Geopolitics means that Russia does not have strong military and economic relations with Syria, but the fact that it lost contracts worth billions of dollars with Iran and Libya pushed its regime to use the veto, in the hope of compensating for the losses. The same goes for China, Iran and America," says Akram Khuzam in an interview with El-Khabar.



Washington Calls for Deeper China Military Ties

U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon called for deeper military ties (Reuters) with China on Tuesday, saying the two countries needed closer collaboration in areas like peacekeeping, disaster relief, and combating piracy. The remarks come two weeks before a summit between the U.S. and Chinese presidents in California.

CFR's Adam Segal leads a conversation on U.S.-China relations through the lens of cybersecurity as part of CFR's Academic Conference Call series.

AUSTRALIA: Australia's foreign minister said its relationship with China would not be damaged by fresh allegations of cyber warfare (FT) by Chinese hackers on Australia's new spy headquarters.



India, Japan Shore Up Economic Ties

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on a four-day visit to Japan that the two countries share a "strong strategic interest" in expanding cooperation on maritime security issues (AP), continuing a bid to seek closer ties with Japan and other Asian countries.

PAKISTAN: The World Health Organization temporarily suspended anti-polio activities in Peshawar after an attack (Dawn) on a vaccination team in the suburbs that left one female worker dead.

CFR's Isobel Coleman discusses challenges for Pakistan's prime minister in this new blog post.



At Least Sixty-Six Die in Baghdad Car Bomb

At least sixty-six people died in a series of car bombs targeting mainly Shia areas in Baghdad, adding to the recent rise in attacks in Iraq linked to growing tension (BBC) between the Shia Muslim majority, which leads the government, and minority Sunnis.

CFR's Bernard Gwertzman talks to Ned Parker on the worsening situation in Iraq in this interview.



Brazil Writes Off African Debt

Brazil pardoned debts for twelve African countries as part of a broader strategy to boost ties (al-Jazeera) with the continent. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, visiting Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, is also set to announce a new development agency that will offer assistance to African countries.

AFRICA: The African Union publicly accused the International Criminal Court at the closing of the AU summit of "hunting" Africans due to their race (euronews).



EU Lifts Syria Weapons Ban

The EU lifted its arms embargo (Guardian) on what it identifies as the moderate opposition to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after Britain, backed by France, led acrimonious negotiations on Monday to win an easing of the embargo.

EUROPEAN UNION: A majority of EU governments opposed a plan to impose tariffs (Telegraph) on solar panel imports from China, undermining efforts by Brussels to pressure Beijing over its trade practices.



McCain Meets Syrian Rebels

U.S. senator John McCain, one of the Senate's most vocal supporters of intervention in Syria, met with rebel leaders (Politico) Monday on a trip from Turkey. McCain's visit, which lasted several hours, is the first by a U.S. official since Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford visited earlier this month.

COLOMBIA: U.S. vice president Joe Biden, in his first visit to Colombia in more than a decade, praised the country's security efforts after talks with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos on Monday (MercoPress).



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