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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 27, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Security Council Plans Vote on Syria's Chemical Arms

Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters  

Sana Sana/Courtesy Reuters

After weeks of gridlock, the United States and Russia agreed on a draft resolution to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons, and a UN Security Council vote on the measure is expected as soon as Friday evening (Reuters). Experts from the world's chemical weapons watchdog in The Hague appealed for funding to finance the operation in Syria, and expect to begin inspection in the war-torn country on Tuesday (BBC). U.S. and Russian officials said most of Syria's nerve agent stockpiles are "unweaponized" liquid precursors that can be eliminated relatively quickly and easily (WaPo).


"But if Syria cheats, the president will find himself constrained from acting. Under the terms of the resolution, a committee of diplomats and functionaries from the United Nations and the Organization on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will determine whether Syria has violated the terms of the agreement," Colum Lynch writes in Foreign Policy.

"Bashar's objectives to consolidate alliances and weaken the counter alliance and buying time have all been thus far satisfied. The one year disarmament period that Bashar suggested will be needed is no speculation at all; it is well calculated period during which time to weaken the opposition and its supporters and to deny the U.S. and her allies any legitimate pretext to attack Syria," Zaher Mahruqi writes for Iran's Press TV.

"There are huge challenges ahead, including devising a plan to get rid of the chemical weapons and trying to reach a broader deal that could end the fighting and put a transitional government in place. That was made even harder on Wednesday when some Syrian rebel groups abandoned their Western-backed political leaders in exile and cast their lot with an affiliate of Al Qaeda," writes the New York Times in an editorial.


InfoGuide: China's Maritime Disputes

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new interactive series called "InfoGuides." The first guide examines the escalating maritime disputes in the South China and East China Seas, pairing expert analysis with maps, timelines, infographics, and videos. Take a look.


Abe Sees Stronger Security Role for Japan

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to boost Japan's security role and said the country can no longer be a "weak link" in the world (SCMP). Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Abe said Japan plans to work with the United States on a "collective self-defense" plan.

JAPAN: Car manufacturer Nissan recalled almost one million vehicles due to faulty sensors that can cause cars to slow down or stop at times (Telegraph).



Pakistan's Iran Pipeline to Proceed

Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif said the country will continue its plan to build a gas pipeline from Iran despite U.S. objections (WSJ). U.S. officials say the pipeline project is a clear breach of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

PAKISTAN: At least seventeen people were killed in a bus bombing in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan. Police said the attack targeted government employees (Dawn).



U.S. Hopes for Breakthrough in Iran Nuclear Talks

After more than three decades of hostility and years of fruitless negotiations over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, a meeting between the top diplomats in the United States and Iran has given hope that the impasse could be resolved, and a deal might be struck in a few months (McClatchy).

Expert Mohsen Milani explains the prospects and challenges of talks with Iran in this interview.



Sudan Kills Dozens of Protesters

Sudanese security forces clashed with protestors as thousands of people took to the streets in Khartoum and central Sudan to demonstrate against corruption and demand the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir. At least fifty people were killed with shots to the head or chest (Reuters).

ZIMBABWE: Three members of a poaching syndicate were sentenced to fifteen years in prison for killing eighty-one elephants in a national park (AllAfrica).

CFR's John Campbell explains how Robert Mugabe outplayed South Africa's Jacob Zuma in the latest elections in this blog post.



Climate Panel Warns of Upper Limit on Emissions

A panel of climate scientists assembled by the UN formally adopted the notion of an upper limit on greenhouse gases that will likely be breached within decades (NYT). The report noted there is a 95 to 100 percent probability that human activity is the principal cause of the planet's warming.

UNITED KINGDOM: Royal Mail Group, the 360-year-old UK postal service, will be valued at $5.3 billion when it sells it shares in a public offering next month (Bloomberg).



Guatemala Pushes Drug Policy Reform at UN

Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina repeated calls for a new global strategy on drugs, saying that the war on drugs has not yielded results and has failed Central America (al-Jazeera). Molina said the approach should be based on public health and addiction prevention.

UNITED STATES: Intelligence chiefs urged Congress not to succumb to public anger about government surveillance and change laws that may hinder efforts to prevent terrorist attacks (Guardian).



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