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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Australia's Kevin Rudd Ousts Julia Gillard as Party Leader

Kevin Rudd won back (SMH) the leadership of Australia's Labor Party on Wednesday from Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a snap leadership election she had called in a bid to end bitter infighting that divided the ruling party. The power shift comes just three months before a national election (BBC) in which Labor is expected to suffer significant losses. Gillard, whose popularity has plunged in recent months, pledged to resign from politics following her loss. Observers say that Rudd, who was prime minister from 2007 to 2010, remains popular with voters (FT) and is viewed by many members of parliament as a lifeline for the party as it heads into mid-September elections.


"But assuming Mr. Rudd can form a government—which is by no means certain—the man with arguably most to lose is opposition leader Tony Abbott, who had been strolling to a possible landslide in September's poll almost without having to try," writes Neil Hume for the Financial Times.

"For the woman who carried the hopes of so many when she made history, three years ago on Monday, and who gave her all to the job, this is a difficult pill to digest. Barring an unlikely olive branch from Rudd, her career is over at 51," writes Michael Gordon for the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Rudd, who resigned tearfully when he was deposed before the 2010 election, will see the result as sweet vindication. But his real vindication will only come if he can lead Labor to a narrow loss, or even defy all predictions and emerge victorious," writes Lenore Taylor for the Guardian.



Riots in China’s Xinjiang Province Leave 27 Dead

Riots in China's ethnically diverse Xinjiang region killed twenty-seven people, marking the latest outburst of violence (AFP) in the restive western region that is home to roughly ten million Muslim Uighurs. State media said police opened fire on "knife-wielding mobs."



Obama and Karzai Discuss Taliban

President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai held a video conference (al-Jazeera) on Tuesday to discuss the Taliban peace talks hours after the militant group attacked the presidential compound and a CIA office in Kabul. Doubts persist over the fate of planned talks.

MONGOLIA: Mongolia hits the polls on Wednesday in a national election that has focused on improving the distribution of resource wealth (NYT). The incumbent president, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, is considered the favorite.



Syria Death Toll Reaches 100,000

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 100, 000 people (DeutscheWelle) have been killed in Syria since the civil war began in 2011. The revised count comes as Saudi Arabia urged visiting U.S. secretary of state John Kerry on Tuesday to take action.

This CFR Backgrounder discusses Hezbollah's growing ties to Damascus.

QATAR: Qatar's new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will likely appoint a new prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle (al-Arabiya) expected to be announced on Wednesday.



Obama Leaves for Africa Trip

President Obama departs on Wednesday for his first extended trip to Africa since taking office (Reuters). The tour, which will include Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, will focus on trade and comes as Congress is urging increased engagement with the region in response to heightened competition from China.

CFR's John Campbell discusses Obama's overdue trip to Africa in this expert brief.

MALI: The UN Security Council agreed to deploy a peacekeeping force of 12,600 troops beginning in early July, aiming to provide security for the presidential election on July 28 (BBC).



Germany Reaches Deal With Turkey

Germany and Turkey reached a compromise to postpone Ankara's EU membership talks (FT) until later this year, stepping back from a confrontation over Turkey joining the regional body. Berlin had sought to block negotiations in response to Turkey's crackdown on protests this month.

RUSSIA: Russian president Vladimir Putin revealed that U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden was in a transit area of Moscow's airport, vowing that Moscow would not extradite him (Guardian).



Obama Gives Climate Speech

President Barack Obama gave his most forceful push yet (WashPost) for action on climate change in a speech on Tuesday, vowing tighter pollution controls on coal- and gas-fired utilities and strict conditions for approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama's speech on climate change signals policy changes in some important areas, CFR's Michael Levi writes in this new blog post.

ARGENTINA: Argentina filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to review a New York court ruling against it in a contentious case over the nation's defaulted debt (Bloomberg).



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