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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 21, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Fighting Resumes as Inspectors Arrive in Eastern Ukraine

Fighting in eastern Ukraine resumed on Monday, raising new concerns about access for the international investigators who began arriving in Donetsk to inspect the wreckage of flight MH17 and victims' bodies (Reuters). Russian president Vladimir Putin urged that the incident not be used for political ends (Guardian) as the UN Security Council was set to vote on a resolution that would demand a cease-fire around the vicinity of the crash site and the United States laid out its claims that Russia bears responsibility for the incident (WSJ). Meanwhile pressure mounted on European leaders to widen sanctions ahead of Tuesday's meeting of EU foreign ministers (EUobserver).


"The tactically clever and deeply cynical maneuvers of propaganda and military improvisation that have taken [Russian president Vladimir Putin] this far, one of his former advisers told me in Moscow earlier this month, are bound to risk unanticipated disasters. Western economic and political sanctions may be the least of it," writes David Remnick in the New Yorker.

"According to one close observer of Ukrainian politics, the MH17 tragedy has unified almost all Ukrainians against Putin, even those who might sympathize with some elements of the pro-Russian opposition. And rather than undermining NATO, it has breathed new life into the alliance. The more that Moscow meddles in its neighbors' politics, the more likely that other states will move toward the west," writes Joshua Rovner for the Monkey Cage.

"None of this looks very good for the West, which is clearly hoping that MH17 is the thing that will bring Putin to his senses and get him to agree to some kind of off-ramp, or, at least, a deescalation. But that's hard to do if neither your public nor your political class see it as a game-changer or as anything that should force Russia to end this game," writes Julia Ioffe in the New Republic.



Contested Indonesian Elections Results Expected

Indonesia's electoral commission is expected to declare the winner of Indonesia's tightly contested presidential election (Bloomberg). Ex-general Prabowo Subianto signaled that he would reject the results (SMH), calling for a delay in the announcement amid allegations of fraud.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick comments on the election and other developments in Southeast Asia.

CHINA: Beijing defended its dispatch of a spy ship to international waters off Hawaii (SCMP), where China is participating for the first time in the U.S.-hosted Rim of the Pacific naval exercises.



China's Afghan Envoy Backs Pakistan

China's new Afghan envoy, Sun Yuxi, praised Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency amid recent Afghan and Indian criticisms that it has played a destabilizing role (Hindu) in the country. Sun, whose position is newly created, will visit Kabul and Islamabad this week.

AFGHANISTAN: U.S. envoy James Dobbins on Sunday spoke with Afghan president Hamid Karzai on the country's political transition (TOLO), a day after the vote audit was briefly suspended over a dispute regarding the adjudication of fraud complaints (WSJ).



Kerry to Make Israel-Hamas Cease-Fire Bid in Cairo

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry is expected to arrive in Cairo on Monday in a bid to restore the 2012 cease-fire struck between Israel and Hamas (FT). Sunday was the deadliest single day in two weeks of conflict for both Palestinians and Israeli forces (NYT), which said they thwarted two infiltrations via tunnel (Haaretz).

CFR's Elliott Abrams and Robert Danin discussed the crisis in a media call Friday.

IRAN: Iran is complying with its commitments to dilute its stock of enriched uranium, the nuclear watchdog IAEA said Monday (AFP). The report comes after Iran and world powers announced a four-month extension of negotiations.

Nuclear expert Robert Litwak discusses the view from Tehran.



UN: South Sudan Rebels Broke Cease-Fire

The United Nations on Sunday accused South Sudanese rebels of violating a cease-fire (BBC) as they battled government forces for control of the strategic town of Nasir (Sudan Tribune).

AFRICA: The latest cycle of economic expansion in sub-Saharan Africa is being driven by consumer demand rather than high commodity prices (NYT).



Bosnians Bury Newly Found Civil War Dead

Thousands of Bosnians gathered on Sunday to lay to rest 284 victims of Serbian ethnic cleansing in 1992. Evidence from a recently discovered mass grave will be used at war crimes trials at The Hague (Deutsche Welle).



Central American Migration Draws Protests

The flow of young Central American migrants to the United States may be slowing (NYT), but anti-immigration rallies have spring up nationwide (WSJ).

PANAMA: Arbitration over cost overruns in the expansion of the Panama Canal (Miami Herald) is set to begin on Monday in Miami.



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