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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 28, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Syria Meets Deadline on Chemical Weapons Declaration

The international body overseeing the disarmament of Syria's chemical weapons says the Assad government has met the deadline for submitting a declaration of its facilities (LAT) and the plan to destroy its arsenal. Details were not available for the plan, which the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons must now consider in its executive council. Western states are likely to scrutinize the plan since their intelligence found forty-five chemical weapons sites (Economist) and Syria's government has identified only twenty-three. Inspectors have been in the country since October 1 and have overseen destruction of bombs, unarmed warheads, and mixing machines. But the destruction of the chemicals themselves is to be more complicated.


"Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are proving every day that professionals can still carry out essential work where there is political will. If weapons inspectors can carry out their crucial mission to ensure Syria's chemical weapons can never be used again, then we can also find a way for aid workers on a no less vital mission to deliver food and medical treatment to men, women, and children suffering through no fault of their own," writes U.S. secretary of state John Kerry in Foreign Policy.

"Syria's huge investment in chemical weapons was originally seen by its government as a way to deter a nuclear-armed Israel rather than as a means to terrorise and coerce its own citizens. It would be surprising if President Bashar Assad does not have contingency plans for covertly hanging on to some of that hard-won capability," writes the Economist.

"All hell has broken loose in Syria, with jihadist groups competing with the regime in savagery as both unleash attacks on revolutionaries and opponents. People are begging for a solution, but all the Obama administration seems to be seeking in Geneva is a process for the sake of a process," writes Rime Allaf in the Guardian.


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Chinese Newspaper Recants Support for Reporter

The New Express apologized for supporting (SCMP) a reporter who investigated the finances of one of China's largest construction equipment manufacturers. Chen Yongzhou confessed on state television that he accepted bribes to publish fabricated stories about the company.

JAPAN: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned China (JapanTimes) again on Sunday about its growing maritime activities near the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, pledging more surveillance to protect the islands.

This CFR Infoguide provides in-depth analysis on China's maritime disputes.



Bomb Targets India's BJP Rally

Five people were killed in bomb explosions (AP) at a rally for India's BJP Party in the eastern city of Patna. Hundreds had gathered to hear a major campaign speech by Narendra Modi, the country's main opposition candidate for prime minister in the country's 2014 elections.

AFGHANISTAN: A roadside bomb (NYT) killed at least seventeen civilians going to a wedding in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni on Sunday.

CFR's Stephen Biddle discusses the stalemate in the war in Afghanistan in this new interview.



Israel Releases Names of Palestinian Prisoners

Israel published on Sunday evening the names of twenty-six Palestinian prisoners to be freed (Haaretz) within two days as part of the agreement for renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. A total of 104 Palestinians are slated to be released.

CFR's Elliott Abrams discusses Obama's new Mideast strategy in this blog post.



Madagascar Votes

As Madagascar counts votes cast for the presidency Friday in the first such polling since a 2009 coup, international observers said the election was free and transparent (al-Jazeera). Thirty-three candidates are vying to be the country's next leader.

DR CONGO: Government forces said they captured the M23 rebel stronghold (Reuters) of Rutshuru on Sunday in a third day of fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.



Georgia's Ruling Party Likely to Win Elections

Exit polls in Georgia's election are predicting a convincing win (DeutscheWelle) for Georgi Margvelashvili, an ally of Prime Minister Bidzi Ivanishvili and the ruling Georgian Dream coalition.

CZECH REPUBLIC: The leader of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, has defied a call (AFP) from his party leadership to resign following poor election results, raising uncertainty over who will be the Czech Republic's next prime minister.



Argentina’s Kirchner Loses Ground in Election

Argentine president Cristina Kirchner and her allies suffered a blow in crucial midterm elections on Sunday, shrinking her majority in Congress (BBC) and ending chances of a constitutional change that would allow her a third term in office.

UNITED STATES: The U.S. National Security Agency tracked more than 60 million calls in Spain (Reuters) in a recent one-month period, raising possible fresh controversy in Europe over the agency's surveillance program, reports Spain's El Mundo newspaper, citing papers obtained by Edward Snowden.



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