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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 1, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Gaza Cease-Fire Collapses

A seventy-two-hour ceasefire crumbled only hours after it began in Gaza on Friday, with both Israel and Hamas accusing the other of violating the truce (Haaretz). At least thirty-five Palestinians were killed by Israeli shelling (AP), and Israeli forces are searching for a soldier believed to be captured by Palestinian militants. The deal, brokered by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, had been the most ambitious attempt so far to end more than three weeks of fighting, and was to be followed by negotiations in Cairo for a longer-term solution (Reuters).


"As America grows less nationalistic, less hawkish, less religious and less inclined to consider its own culture superior, it will grow less sympathetic to an Israeli government defined by exactly those characteristics," writes Peter Beinart for Haaretz.

"Many Israelis think they can no longer count on public opinion in Europe—and, to a much lesser extent, America—and that where popular sentiment leads, democratic politicians will sooner or later follow," writes the Economist.

"The odds are that, once the dust settles in Gaza, Washington will let the situation drift. It is arguably the fourth of Mr Obama's Middle East crises after Iraq, Iran and Syria. Why waste more capital on it? The answer lies as much within the US as in the Middle East," writes Edward Luce for the Financial Times.


Explore CFR’s Interactive on the Sunni-Shia Divide

Sectarian conflict is becoming entrenched in a growing number of Muslim countries. Tensions between Sunnis and Shias could reshape the future Middle East. Click on the Sunni-Shia Divide to learn more.


Xi Consolidates Military Power

China's People's Liberation Army restated its allegiance (SCMP) to President Xi Jinping after the government announced a high-profile corruption probe against former security chief Zhou Yongkang. Observers say the move—as well as Zhou's persecution—indicates Xi's further consolidation of support within the party and military.

JAPAN: Japan said Friday that it plans to classify five additional islands (JapanTimes) as part of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, a move that will likely to spark backlash from China.

This interactive CFR Infoguide provides in-depth background to the territorial dispute.



India Blocks WTO Deal

The World Trade Organization failed to reach a deal on standardizing customs rules after India's surprise veto (FT) blocked efforts to pass the first global trade reform in two decades. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting New Delhi to revitalize ties, told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India's move sent the wrong signal (ET).

This CFR Timeline outlines a dynamic history of U.S.-India relations.

PAKISTAN: India's new army chief issued a stern warning (Dawn) to Pakistan on his first day in office, referencing the alleged beheading of an Indian soldier along the Line of Control.



Protests Erupt in Tripoli

Demonstrators supporting the Libyan army protested in the streets of Tripoli (Al-Arabiya), demanding the expulsion of Islamist militias from the capital. The protest comes after Libya's Islamist militant group Ansar al-Sharia claimed control of Benghazi on Wednesday, declaring the city an "Islamic emirate."



WHO Announces Ebola Response

The World Health Organization and African leaders are set to announce a new $100 million emergency response plan to combat the Ebola outbreak (BBC), which has already claimed 729 lives. The WHO has called the outbreak "unprecedented," with 1,323 cases confirmed and suspected in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone since March 2014.

UGANDA: A Ugandan court on Friday struck down an anti-gay bill (AP) that had been condemned by the West and rights groups. The United States has withheld funding to some Ugandan institutions accused of rights abuses.



Ukrainian Troops Killed Near Crash Site

At least ten Ukrainian troops were killed in a Thursday night ambush by pro-Russian rebels (Independent) near the crash site of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, an area that has seen heavy fighting of late. Thursday saw the first survey of the area by international investigators, who had previously struggled to gain access to the region.

RUSSIA: Sberbank, Russia's largest lender, said on Friday that its inclusion under EU sanctions would do nothing to ease the Ukraine crisis (FT), echoing earlier comments from the government.



Mercosur Agrees on Trade Proposal With EU

Members of Mercosur, Latin America's regional trade group, agreed on a draft joint proposal (MercoPress) for a long-delayed trade and cooperation agreement with EU. The exchange of proposals was originally scheduled for last December, but faced obstacles and delays from Argentina.

ARGENTINA: Argentina, mired in a debt crisis, said it wouldn't oppose a deal sought by JPMorgan and other banks that would allow the country to resume debt payments (Bloomberg). Its dollar bonds sank for a second day.

CFR's Robert Kahn discusses Argentina's options in his latest blog post.



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