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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
March 11, 2014

Top of the Agenda

New Fatal Clashes in Venezuelan Unrest

Two deaths were reported in intensified protests in Venezuela: a student and the first foreigner killed during a month of unrest. In the capital city of Caracas, a Chilean woman who was studying in the western Venezuelan city of Merida was shot dead while clearing a barricade put up by antigovernment protestors (Reuters). A student leader was also shot Monday night in the western city of San Cristobal, considered the birthplace of the recent antigovernment protests (AP). After a month of daily protests in Caracas, a tense routine has been established where several hundred young people erect barricades and hurl rocks, bottles, and fireworks at police while security forces attempt to clear the street using tear gas and plastic shotgun pellets (AP). In San Cristóbal, Venezuela has deployed the National Guard to smash barricades and confront demonstrators (al-Jazeera).


"The government shows no sign of buckling; nothing, its officials insist, can stop Mr. Chávez's socialist revolution. If anything, the protests may inject new energy into a weak and inefficient dictatorship. The government seems to be biding its time until the silent majority gets impatient with the protesters. It is trying to borrow more money from China, its newest key ally, to restart the economy," writes Rafael Osío Cabrices in the New York Times.

"More than 120 demonstrators have been shot, according to non-governmental organisation Foro Penal Venezolano. Hundreds more have been assaulted. One of them, a partially disabled seamstress called Marvinia Jiménez, 35, was beaten with a helmet by the National Guardafter she used her phone to film national guardsmen throwing rocks at demonstrators. Even though the beating was recorded and posted online, she now stands accused of assaulting the officer who attacked her," writes Reynaldo Trombetta in the Guardian.

"Chávez's policy of harsh criticism of Israel, the severance of diplomatic relations with Israel, his support of regimes like that of the late Muammar Gadhafi in Libya and of Bashar Assad in Syria, and the close partnership he developed with Ahmadinejad's Iran—all this contributed to a dangerous mix of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in various parts of the regime. Maduro, according to people in the Jewish community, has not exhibited anti-Semitic tendencies," writes Shlomo Papirblat in Haaretz.


Pacific Rim

North Korea Skirts UN Sanctions

North Korea has developed sophisticated means to circumvent UN sanctions, including the suspected use of embassies in Cuba and Singapore to facilitate the illegal trade in weapons, according to a United Nations report (Reuters).

THAILAND: The use of two fake passports by passengers on the missing Malaysian Airlines jet has shone a light on Thailand, where the stolen passports were likely acquired (CSMonitor).


South and Central Asia

Pakistan Suffers Heavy Losses in Taliban Fight

The Pakistani army has lost almost twice as many soldiers in the conflict with Taliban fighters as the United States, and the toll continues to rise as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan (WSJ).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Pakistani Taliban and other terrorist groups in the country.

NEPAL: Police arrested at least nine Tibetans in the capital on Monday in a crackdown to prevent anti-China demonstrations on what is known as Tibetan Uprising Day (Hindu).


Middle East

Ex-Intelligence Officer Says Iran Ordered Lockerbie Bombing

A former senior Iranian intelligence officer said Iran, along with agents from Syria and Libya and Palestinian militants, ordered the bombing of the Pan Am flight that crashed in Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 as retaliation for a Persian passenger jet shot down by the United States earlier that year (Independent).

SYRIA: UNICEF said 2.8 million Syrian children can't go to school because of the civil war, and that two million children are in need of psychological support or treatment (AP).

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



UN Launches Probe in Central African Republic

The United Nations launched a human rights investigation into the violence in the Central African Republic in hopes that the presence of investigators in the country would help prevent genocide (BBC).

SOUTH SUDAN: The UN mission in South Sudan is facing heavy criticism after security forces seized a weapons shipment they claim was intended for rebels. The UN said the shipment was mislabeled cargo (All Africa).



Europe Prepares Russian Sanctions

European officials are preparing sanctions against Russian officials and additional aid for Ukraine after efforts to negotiate a Russian stand-down in occupied Crimea have failed (FT).

CFR's Stephen Sestanovich says in this interview that Russia's intervention in Ukraine could still expand.

UKRAINE: Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich urged military units to disobey orders from interim authorities and insisted that he is still the commander-in-chief (NYT).



Snowden Says Surveillance Hurting U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said the focus on "mass surveillance" has led to missed clues about terrorist attacks, claiming that America's spy agencies are too focused on "monitoring everybody's communications instead of suspects' communications" (WaPo).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the controversy over U.S. domestic surveillance.



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