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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 16, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: West Presses Assad on Chemical Weapons

The United States, France, and Britain agreed to seek a strong resolution at the UN Security Council that sets binding deadlines for the removal of Syria's chemical weapons (Reuters). A UN report is expected to be released on Monday that will confirm the use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war, but may not identify the perpetrator (ABC). Meanwhile in Syria, more than one thousand people died last week as the Assad regime resumed an offensive against towns that have not seen airstrikes in weeks (WaPo), and analysts fear that an international deal to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons arsenal may prolong the conflict.


"Who are the real losers in this episode? That one is easy. The Syrian people. They will continue to be raped, tortured and slaughtered in their homes, in their markets, on their streets, in their hospitals and in their mosques. So long as they die in conventional ways, no one will pay their deaths much mind at all," Jeffrey Goldberg writes for Bloomberg.

"President Obama deserves credit for putting a focus on upholding an international ban on chemical weapons and for setting aside military action at this time in favor of a diplomatic deal. The Syria crisis should demonstrate to Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, that Mr. Obama, who has held out the possibility of military action against Iran's nuclear program, is serious about a negotiated solution," the New York Times writes in an editorial.

"No matter which path Mr. Obama pursued—a military strike or adoption of the Russian plan to put Syrian chemical-weapons stocks under international control—Chinese analysts claimed that he had weakened his presidency and American standing in the world," CFR Senior Fellow Elizabeth C. Economy writes in the Wall Street Journal.



Philippines Launches Offensive Against Islamic Rebels

At least sixty people have been killed in eight days of fighting between Philippine armed forces and a Muslim rebel group seeking independence (Reuters). Roughly seventy thousand people have been displaced as the army deployed helicopter gunships to take on three hundred rebels holed up in Zamboanga City.

JAPAN: The last operating nuclear reactor in Japan has been shut down for maintenance, raising concerns over the power supply in the country (Bloomberg).



Afghanistan's Top Policewoman Killed

The most senior female police officer in Afghanistan, Sub-Inspector Negar, was killed when gunmen opened fire on her as she was getting into her car on Sunday (AP). Her predecessor was also killed in a shooting in July.

PAKISTAN: Two senior Pakistani military officers and a soldier were killed in a roadside bomb near the border with Afghanistan (BBC). Officials suspect the Pakistani Taliban was responsible.



Iran's Rowhani May Meet Obama at UN

President Obama said there may be a diplomatic opening with Iran in regards to its nuclear program and position on Syria, and said he exchanged letter with Iran's new president Hassan Rowhani, raising expectations that the two men may meet at the UN next week (Guardian).



Rwandan Invasion of DR Congo Feared

Southern African countries are concerned of the growing number of Rwandan troops on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, signaling a possible Rwandan invasion (AFP). DR Congo has been battling M23 rebels supported by Rwanda, according to the UN.

NIGERIA: An alleged cult group in Nigeria accused of killing seventy security personnel this year attacked towns in Nasarawa state, spreading fear across the community (AllAfrica).



Greek Public Sector Kicks Off Week of Strikes

Public sector employees in Greece kicked off a week of strikes, starting with teachers protesting a new redeployment plan that is a part of the country's agreement with creditors (France 24).

ITALY: Officials in Italy say it will take twelve hours to right the massive cruise ship Costa Concordia twenty months after it capsized (USAToday).



Summers Exit Sparks Global Stock Rally

Stocks surged in most markets after Lawrence Summers, former U.S. treasury secretary, withdrew his name from the running for the next chairman of the Federal Reserve (FT). Summers was expected to quickly unwind the Fed's stimulus program.

This Backgrounder explains the role of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

UNITED STATES: The White House marked the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers with a new report defending the Obama administration's economic recovery measures in the wake of the ensuing financial crisis and global recession (al-Jazeera).

Three experts weigh in on Lehman's legacy in this expert roundup.



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