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Council on Foreign Relations Educators Bulletin
July 2013

Dear Educators Bulletin Subscriber:

The July issue of the Educators Bulletin is dedicated to the CFR Backgrounder Series, an ideal classroom resource. Written primers on current affairs, Backgrounders include links to external documents, such as primary sources and articles by CFR and outside experts. They offer succinct explanations of a wide range of international concerns, providing students with comprehensive, concise overviews of pressing issues.

There are more than eight hundred Backgrounders on You can access the entire list of Backgrounders here, or browse by region: Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Africa (sub-Saharan), Latin America and the Caribbean and North America; or issue: defense and security, economics, energy and environment, and global governance.

Highlights follow:


Middle East

The Muslim Brotherhood has seen a rapid ascension to power in Egypt, but as protests in Cairo show, questions remain whether the country can maintain a postrevolutionary commitment to democracy.

Read more on the Middle East: Hamas, The Lengthening List of Iran Sanctions, and The Arab League.



In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, a resurgent al-Qaeda (AQI) in that country, aided by the jihadist fighters in neighboring Syria, constitutes a considerable threat to regional security.

Read more on terrorism: Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, Targeted Killings, Closing Guantanamo, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.



As Europe's central bank moves aggressively to staunch the continent's crisis, some critics are asking whether it has exceeded its mandate by stepping into the breach left open by elected leaders.

Read more on economics: Poland's Economic Model, the Income Inequality Debate, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and Understanding the Libor Scandal.



The Pentagon is facing major budget constraints. Experts disagree on how to balance the fiscal challenge with the country's national security priorities.

Read more on defense: U.S. Domestic Surveillance, Confronting the Cyber Threat, and Missile Defense Technology.



As the gasoline prices continue to rise, U.S. policymakers remain divided over the course of action that would ease the impact on U.S. consumers.

Read more on energy/environment: Expanding China-Africa Oil Ties, Nuclear Power Safety Concerns, Global Natural Gas Potential, or Peru's Mineral Wealth and Woes.


Global Governance

As the United States pivots to Asia, disputes over territories in the South China Sea have escalated and threatened regional stability.

Read more on global governance: Palestinian Statehood at the UN, Syria's Crisis and the Global Response, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and The World Bank Group.



The Six-Party Talks are a forum for the denuclearization of North Korea, but analysts say the negotiations have been hindered by Pyongyang's belligerence and the shifting priorities of participating nations.

Read more on Asia: Governance in India: Women's Rights, Media Censorship in China, Understanding Myanmar, and the Chinese Communist Party.



Experts say instability in South Sudan should be looked at in tandem with the crisis in Darfur, and some call for addressing Sudan's problems in a more unified way to help forestall an escalation of violence.

Read more on Africa: Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, The African Union, Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa, and The African Growth and Opportunity Act.


The Americas

Despite changes in both U.S. and Cuban leadership since early 2008, experts do not anticipate any normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations in the near to medium term.

Read more on the Americas: The U.S. Immigration Debate, Mexico's Drug War, Mercosur: South America's Fractious Trade Bloc, and U.S. Patents and Innovations.



The eurozone crisis has consequences far beyond the continent's economic performance, including the EU's ability to forge coherent defense and foreign policy.

Read more on Europe: Germany's Central Bank and the Eurozone, Understanding the Libor Scandal, Greek Elections and the Eurozone's Future, and Europe: Integrating Islam.




Complex Issues, Succinctly Explained

Visit to view more Backgrounders, such as the recently published U.S. Antitrust Policy, Papal Succession in the Catholic Church, and U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons.


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