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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 31, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Zimbabwe Votes Amid Fraud Concerns

Zimbabwe heads to the polls (AEP) on Wednesday to vote in fiercely contested presidential and parliamentary elections that have been plagued by fraud allegations. President Robert Mugabe has said he will step down (BBC) after thirty-three years in power if he and his Zanu-PF party lose the race, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has accused Zanu-PF of manipulating the electoral roll, which was only released to the public on Monday. The United States, which has sanctioned Mugabe, has questioned (Reuters) the credibility of the poll, pointing to a lack of transparency and pro-Mugabe bias in the media and security forces.


"This time, Mugabe has blocked any western election observers. The African Union and SADC will have teams on the ground, but they are unlikely to be critical of Mugabe, who is the surviving patriarch of the southern African liberation movements. Given these realities, it is surprising that at least some in the opposition expect to win, and by a substantial margin," writes CFR's John Campbell on his blog, Africa in Transition.

"With the country heading on Wednesday into a fiercely contested poll – the first since violent and disputed elections in 2008 – a crucial question is how partisan security chiefs would react to a victory by Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change and Mr. Mugabe's main rival," writes Andrew England for Financial Times.

"Zimbabwe is recovering after a decade of economic stagnation and crisis. Inflation rose 231 million percent in the summer of 2008. Although Finance Minister Tendai Biti abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar in favor of the U.S. dollar in April 2009, reducing inflation to single digits, growth remains modest," writes Stephanie Findlay for TIME.



Cambodia Opposition Claims Election

Cambodia's opposition party said on Wednesday it had won (AP) the majority of National Assembly seats, escalating its challenge to the country's Sunday parliamentary election results. The opposition, which has already called for an investigation into voting irregularities, is competing against the longtime prime minister Hun Sen.

JAPAN: Japan and the United States are discussing a potential official visit (KyodoNews) to Tokyo for President Barack Obama next spring to discuss their bilateral alliance.



Pakistan Elects President

Pakistan elected Mamnoon Hussain (al-Jazeera), a textile businessman who served as the governor of southern Sindh province, as the country's next president in a result that was widely expected. Hussain will replace Asif Ali Zardari of the opposition Pakistan People's Party, whose five-year term expires in September.

INDIA: India announced the formation (BBC) of the new state of Telangana, which will be carved from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, after popular movements for statehood.



Iran, Syria Sign Oil Deal

Iran has signed an oil deal with Syria that supplies Damascus with $3.6 billion in fuel (AFP) in exchange for the right to invest in the country. Oil production in Syria has plummeted during the country's civil war, which the United Nations says has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

This CFR Crisis Guide delves into the complex history and evolution of Iran.

ISRAEL: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed long-stalled peace talks (WaPo) on Tuesday. Secretary of State John Kerry said the negotiations will seek an independent Palestinian state within nine months.

CFR's Robert Danin discusses the cautious pessimism surrounding the peace talks in this op-ed.



UN Warns Democratic Republic of Congo

The United Nations gave residents of Goma, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, forty-eight hours to disarm after receiving a mandate (BBC) to use lethal force against M23 rebels who are suspected to have killed civilians in the region. The UN warned that anyone still with weapons after the Thursday afternoon deadline would be considered a rebel.

This CFR Expert Brief discusses the African Union and its role in security on the continent.



Italy's Court Hears Berlusconi Trial

Italy's supreme court began hearing Silvio Berlusconi's final appeal (FT) against his conviction for tax fraud. The former prime minister's defense lawyer said he expected a ruling on Wednesday or Thursday.

EUROPEAN UNION: The June unemployment rate in the eurozone fell for the first time (Reuters) in more than two years, an indication that the bloc's economy could be pulling out of recession.



Bradley Manning Acquitted of Top Charge

A military judge found Pfc. Bradley Manning not guilty (NYT) of the top charge levied against him, acquitting him of "aiding the enemy" for the release of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks for publication. Manning was convicted of most of the other crimes he was charged with.

UNITED STATES: A report by the Defense Department's Office of the Comptroller said that the Pentagon spends nearly half a billion dollars (MiamiHerald) a year to operate Guantanamo Bay.



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