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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 4, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Obama Hosts U.S.-Africa Summit

President Barack Obama kicks off the first U.S.-Africa Summit on Monday (Guardian), convening nearly fifty heads of state and government to Washington, DC for a three-day conference the White House has billed as an elevation of its engagement with the continent. The agenda is heavily focused on business and trade, although the Ebola outbreak has forced the presidents of Liberia and Sierra Leone to withdraw in order to address the crisis (AP). The summit comes after the International Monetary Fund warned that economic mismanagement risked "spoiling" rising growth and better governance on the continent (FT).


"China has moved ahead of the United States in treating Africa as a strategic continent, directing significant investments of time as well as resources. The summit is well timed for the United States in continuing to position us as a leader on the continent," says Jendayi Frazer in a CFR interview.

"Balancing idealism and commerce will be a theme at the summit. In Washington, support for Africa draws on a curious coalition, spanning conservative members of Congress, often linked to Christian groups active on the continent, leftist Democrats interested in development and pro-business moderates from both parties," writes The Economist.

"America should now embrace a science-led agenda in Africa by partnering American institutions of higher education, scientific research centers and technological entrepreneurs with African countries to help them bolster economic growth and reduce dependency on foreign aid," write Nkem Khumbah and Melvin P. Foote for The New York Times.



Abe Wraps Up Latin America Tour

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe concluded a five-country visit to Latin America (AFP) Saturday, hailing the region as an "indispensable partner" after sealing a series of deals. The tour comes just after Chinese president Xi Jinping finished his own visit to the region.

CHINA: A magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck China's southern Yunnan province, killing at least 398 people and injuring 1,900 on Sunday afternoon.



India's Modi Visits Nepal

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi addressed Nepal's legislature on Sunday (NYT), marking the first speech by a foreign leader before the Constituent Assembly and making Modi the first Indian prime minister in seventeen years to make a state visit to the country. The writing of Nepal's constitution has been delayed for years.

CFR's Alyssa Ayres writes about India's role in a changing Asia in this new blog post.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan's troubled presidential election sank into deeper crisis on Sunday when supporters of Abdullah Abdullah released a recording (Reuters) they claimed to be Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili encouraging vote-rigging in favor of Ashraf Ghani, the race's other contender.



ISIS Captures Kurdish Territory

ISIS insurgents in Iraq have taken control of several northwestern enclaves from Kurdish control, seizing Iraq's biggest dam, an oilfield, and three more towns on Sunday after inflicting their first major defeat on Kurdish forces since sweeping through the region in June (al-Jazeera).

This new CFR Infoguide delves into the Sunni-Shia divide fracturing the Middle East.

ISRAEL: Israeli military officials said the bulk of Israeli ground forces in Gaza have pulled back, though air strikes continued, killing nine Palestinians in a strike outside a United Nations-run school sheltering refugees. The U.S. State Department issued an unusually harsh condemnation of the Israeli strike (FT).

CFR's Elliott Abrams discusses Hamas' role in this new blog post.



United States Sends Ebola Experts To West Africa

The United States announced plans to send at least fifty public health experts to West Africa to help fight the outbreak of Ebola (BBC), which has claimed 728 lives in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone this year. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and West African leaders are finalizing a $100 million plan to combat the highly-infectious disease.



Europe Commemorates World War I

European leaders and citizens prepared on Monday to mark the 100-year anniversary of Britain's entrance into World War I (Guardian). The commemoration began Sunday when French president Fran├žois Hollande and his German counterpart Joachim Gauck embraced at a war memorial in Alsace, marking Germany's declaration of war on France on Aug. 3, 1914.

RUSSIA: Russia announced on Monday new military exercises near the border with Ukraine (Reuters), a move that will likely alarm Western powers that have accused Russia of increasing troop levels along the border.



AP Reports Clandestine USAID Program in Cuba

A program under the Obama administration secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba under the guise of health and civic programs to provoke political change, the Associated Press reported (AP). The alleged program, overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was launched as early as October 2009.

UNITED STATES: House Republicans passed a modest $694 million bill (FT) to tackle an influx of child migrants at the southern border, but disagreements with Senate Democrats will mean that Congress will not approve funds until at least September.



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