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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 20, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Pakistan's Musharraf Indicted on Murder Charges

Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters  

Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters

A Pakistani court indicted former president Pervez Musharraf for the 2007 murder of opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in a move (AFP) that marks the first time a head of Pakistan's army has been charged with a crime. Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack after a campaign rally in Rawalpindi. Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup and was forced out of office by a democratically elected government in 2008, has been under house arrest (al-Jazeera) since April 19, when he returned to the country ahead of a general election to campaign for his All Pakistan Muslim League party. Observers say the ruling challenged beliefs that the military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its history, is immune from prosecution (BBC).


"The case looks more and more political, particularly when you consider that Mr. Musharraf finds himself in a country led by Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister he ousted in a coup in 1999, and where the chief justice is still Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the man who did more than anyone to end the military strongman's time in power," writes Rob Crilly for The Telegraph.

"The case is now taking its due legal course, and we can safely say that it was the judiciary that actually went after him. The motive may be revenge, according to some, because of Mr Musharraf's attempts to sack the entire higher judiciary in 2007. Or it could simply be an opportunity to break new ground in Pakistan's legal history by arraigning a former army chief," writes M Ilyas Khan for the BBC.

"Pakistan's soldiers need to be discouraged from intervening ever again. The best way of doing that is for democratically elected leaders to assert their authority over military ones. Mr. Sharif has a chance to hold a military dictator to account in a country in which military dictators have enjoyed impunity," writes the Economist.



Bo Xilai's Son Speaks Out

Bo Guagua, the son of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, published a statement (NYT) in the New York Times urging Beijing to give his father a chance to defend himself when he stands trial later this week. Bo said he has been denied contact with his parents for the past eighteen months.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Chinese Communist Party and outlines the Bo Xilai case.

CHINA: China's defense minister said at the Pentagon on Monday that China was prepared to defend (Bloomberg) its territorial interests and would not barter for its maritime rights in the Asia-Pacific region.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines tensions over the South China Sea, one of the major territorial disputes in the region.



Afghan Attorney General to Remain in Office

Afghan attorney general Muhammad Isaaq Aloko will keep his post (Reuters) despite President Hamid Karzai's decision on Monday to fire him over an unauthorized meeting with Taliban peace negotiators in the United Arab Emirates. Karzai decided not to sign the dismissal papers after lengthy talks.



Egypt Arrests Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Egypt's military arrested the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie (al-Jazeera), who was accused of inciting violence during protests before the overthrow of deposed president Mohammed Morsi. A U.S. senator said that military aid to Egypt had been temporarily cut off (TheDailyBeast).

IRAN: The CIA has publicly admitted for the first time that it was behind the 1953 coup (ForeignPolicy) against Iran's democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.



Boko Haram Leader Possibly Dead

Nigeria's military authorities said yesterday that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau may have died (DailyTrust) from gunshot wounds sustained in late June. The militant Islamist sect has targeted Nigeria's police, rival clerics, politicians, and public institutions since 2009.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins of Boko Haram.

MADAGASCAR: Madagascar's electoral court disqualified incumbent president Andry Rajoelina and two other candidates from a presidential election (VOA) scheduled for Friday.



Hollande Unveils Ten-Year Plan

French president Francois Hollande outlined a ten-year plan (FT) for the country during a speech before a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, saying it needed to boost the export sector for Europe's second largest economy. Figures last week showed the French economy exiting recession.

UNITED KINGDOM: Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who published NSA secrets leaked by Edward Snowden, vowed to publish more documents (Reuters) after his partner was detained in London's Heathrow airport for nine hours under anti-terrorism laws.



Uruguay Urges Mercosur on FTA

Uruguayan vice-president Danilo Astori said Latin American trade bloc Mercosur must sign a free trade agreement (MercoPress) with the United States, but also admitted that the trade group had many policy issues it needed to address.

COLOMBIA: Colombia's farmers, miners, and various labor unions have organized a national strike (MiamiHerald) in hopes of winning concessions from the government, including the cancellation of free trade agreements and increased subsidies.



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