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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 12, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Israel Releases Names of Palestinian Prisoners to Be Freed

The Israeli government has published the names of twenty-six Palestinian prisoners to be released (Haaretz) on Tuesday as part of a U.S.-brokered deal that led to a relaunch of Mideast peace negotiations. Among the prisoners (BBC), most of who have already served for twenty years, are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad. The announcement comes after Palestinian officials accused Israel of derailing peace talks by approving nearly 1,200 new settlement homes (FT)—a criticism Israel rejected. Direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on Wednesday.


"Officials who have spoken to Netanyahu say his behavior, his hesitation and zigzagging result from his lack of trust in Abbas. Netanyahu, say the officials, is willing to cross the river but wants to know if Abbas will do the same," writes Barak Ravid for Haaretz.

"To induce the citizens of Israel to support a withdrawal to the 1967 borders, with minor modifications, and the division of Jerusalem, Netanyahu should start marketing this ideologically revolutionary political-security product right away. At the same time, he must take concrete steps to demonstrate to the Palestinian public as well that this time around, the negotiations are not intended to buy him more time for the expansion of the settlements," writes Akiva Eldar for al-Monitor.

"Given Mr Kerry's frenetic focus on Israel and Palestine at a time when other more burning regional issues might have topped his agenda, a token reward for his efforts was perhaps the least the parties could offer. America's battered credibility in the region has been spared another blow, at least for now," writes the Economist.



Cambodia Upholds Election Results

Cambodia's election committee confirmed the election win (BBC) of Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party despite protests from the opposition, which said it would not accept the results unless allegations of electoral fraud were addressed.

JAPAN: Japan's economy expanded for the third straight quarter (FT), with gross domestic product rising at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent, but the pace was slower than experts had expected.

This CFR Backgrounder explains Abenomics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's grand plan to restart Japan's economy.



Pakistan, India Tensions Over Kashmir Rise

The Indian army accused Pakistan again on Monday of violating the 2003 cease-fire at the border between the two countries, accusing Pakistani troops of firing at Indian military posts (TIME). Pakistan in turn accused India of artillery fire across the Line of Control in Kashmir.

AFGHANISTAN: Three U.S. soldiers were killed (al-Jazeera) in an attack in Afghanistan's eastern border region of Paktia province. The deaths mark 114 foreign troop casualties this year.



Pro-Morsi Supporters Urge Demonstrations

Supporters of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi urged Egyptians to take to the streets to prevent a police crackdown (al-Jazeera) on two Cairo protest camps. Officials had said that police would move to disperse the camps, though they have not yet done so.

CFR's Elliott Abrams discusses how to understand the Muslim Brotherhood in this blog post.



Mugabe Gives First Post-Election Speech

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe launched a stinging attack on his main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in his first public speech (BBC) since he won the country's disputed presidential election. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change has lodged a legal challenge against the results.

SUDAN: More than one hundred people were killed in clashes (SudanTribune) between two Arab tribes in Sudan's East Darfur state. The conflict escalated after similar violence during the first week of August.



UK Considers Legal Action Over Gibraltar

The UK may take legal action (FT) against Spain over tighter border controls at its contested territory of Gibraltar, escalating a row that has strained relations between the two countries. Tensions flared this month after Spain complained that a reef being built by Gibraltar would block its fishing vessels.

EUROPEAN UNION: Europe's largest banks will have to cut 661 billion euros of assets and generate 47 billion euros of fresh capital over the next five years to comply with forthcoming regulations (FT).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the euro crisis.



Kerry to Head to Colombia, Brazil

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry will visit Brazil and Colombia (AP) this week in an attempt to build warmer relations with the two allies in Latin America. The meetings may be overshadowed by previous disclosures that U.S. spy programs targeted data across the region.

ARGENTINA: Argentine president Cristina Kirchner's Victory Front coalition did poorly in several important electoral districts and could struggle (WSJ) to retain control of Congress in October's midterm elections.



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