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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 26, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: China, Japan Air Zone Rift Continues

Japan urged airlines not to follow China's new air defense zone rules, which Beijing unilaterally created over disputed East China Sea waters this weekend, but many carriers, including Japanese ones, are informing China of their flight plans (BBC). The Pentagon said it won't comply with China's demands for aircraft to report flight plans or identify themselves, adding that U.S. pilots are able to defend themselves (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, China sent its sole aircraft carrier on a training mission to the South China Sea where a maritime dispute with the Philippines and other neighbors has caused tensions (Reuters).


"Keeping militaries apart and alert to the consequences of miscalculation is the biggest challenge for U.S., Japanese, and Chinese policymakers. This new ADIZ announcement only enhances risk and deepens suspicions. Cooperation in creating viable risk reduction measures ought to be the highest priority," writes CFR Senior Fellow Sheila Smith.

"By trying to use force to seize control over the Senkakus' environs, Beijing edges closer to naked aggression. If its goal is to get Tokyo to talk about the status of the islands and reach a peaceful settlement, its brinksmanship has put that possibility further out of reach," the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.

"Mr. Abe has pursued a disturbingly nationalistic foreign policy dominated by overheated words and an aggressive posture toward China that can be dangerous, for Japan and the United States. The Obama administration must find a way to defend Japan's interest without emboldening the Abe government to take foolish risks that would increase tensions with China. Along with its predecessors, the administration has not always been clear or consistent in its messages and that needs to change," the New York Times writes in an editorial.


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China to Curb Interbank Lending

Regulators in China are expected to place limits on interbank loans, which will slow down the growth of credit in the Chinese financial system. Exposure to these off-balance sheet loans by mid-tier banks has tripled to 21 percent of assets since 2008 (FT).



Karzai Adds Conditions for U.S. Security Pact

A deal for a long-term security arrangement between the United States and Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse after President Hamid Karzai said he would only sign if the United States helps start peace talks with the Taliban and releases Afghan citizens from Guantanamo Bay (WaPo).

BANGLADESH: Opposition supporters detonated homemade bombs and removed railway tracks to disrupt train services as a protest against upcoming elections turned violent (Dawn).



Syria Peace Talks Set for January

The United Nations said Syria's government and opposition will hold their first peace talks in Geneva on January 22, but a top rebel commander said fighting will continue during the conference and that the armed opposition won't participate if there is any possibility that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad remains in power (al-Jazeera).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Syrian conflict and the global response.

YEMEN: Gunmen on a motorcycle killed two Belarussian military instructors in Sanaa in an attack that was similar to others attributed to al-Qaeda (Reuters).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and rise of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.



France to Send Troops to the Central African Republic

France will send hundreds of extra troops to the Central African Republic after the United Nations warned that the country was descending into chaos (AFP). According to reports, security forces and militia gangs have razed villages, carried out public executions, and perpetrated rapes in acts that verge on genocide.

NIGERIA: Switzerland said all of the $700 million in Swiss bank accounts belonging to the late head of state General Sani Abacha have been returned to Nigeria (All Africa).



Ukraine President Firm Over EU Decision

Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych defended his decision to put on hold talks with the European Union as protests against the move continue (BBC). The EU accused Russia of exerting economic pressure on the Ukraine to influence the decision.

SCOTLAND: The Scottish government has released a comprehensive blueprint for a new independent country that would keep the British pound, queen, and EU membership, but will have its own defense force and collect its own taxes (Guardian).



Senate Writing New Sanctions in Case Iran Fails to Honor Deal

Top Democratic and Republican senators are writing legislation to reinstate existing sanctions and impose new ones if Iran doesn't comply with its pledge to roll back its nuclear program. The measure would require the Obama administration to certify every thirty days that Iran is adhering to the terms of the Geneva deal (AP).

Expert David Albright explains in this interview that while the deal with Iran is an important accomplishment, tough negotiations will continue on the scope of Tehran's nuclear program.

UNITED STATES: A new analysis by a group of climate scientists reports that emissions of the greenhouse gas methane were 1.5 times greater in the United States in the middle of the last decade than prevailing estimates, driven largely by incorrect estimates of the impact of the oil and gas industry (NYT).



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