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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 7, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Russia Institutes Food Ban Against West

In retaliation against Western sanctions over its involvement in the Ukraine crisis, Russia on Thursday banned most food imports (AP) from the West in a move that will likely bruise Western agriculture businesses and lead to shortages in Russian cities. The ban includes imports of all meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and a wide range of processed foods from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada, and Norway for one year (FT). Meanwhile, fighting continued in eastern Ukraine between government troops and separatist rebels. Polish prime minister Donald Tusk said that the possibility of Russia deploying military forces in Ukraine has risen, as roughly 20,000 Russian troops have massed near the border (NYT).


"But before the West celebrates the possibility of Putin being forced from the throne, we should consider what might come after him. This is not an argument against sanctions or against political change in Russia. But the country's history tells us that prolonged economic malaise often brings about political turmoil, the result of which has never been a democratic Russia," writes Julia Ioffe for The New Republic.

"Economic experts in Moscow warned the Kremlin would have to use its favourite weapon sparingly if it did not want sudden price rises or shortages to shake the population out of a nationalist euphoria it has promoted during the crisis," write Kathrin Hille and Stefan Wagstyl for the Financial Times.

"Europeans feared that the United States' meager economic ties with Russia made it too easy for Washington to push for sanctions, while Washington feared that the governments of many EU member states were too dependent on Russia's oil and gas to do what needed to be done," write Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev for Foreign Affairs.


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.


Khmer Rouge Leaders Sentenced

Two top Khmer Rouge leaders were sentenced to life in prison (SCMP) by Cambodia's United Nations-backed tribunal for crimes against humanity, marking the first time top-level leaders have been held accountable for the regime's crimes. Around two million people are believed to have died under the regime, which ruled from 1975 to 1979.

JAPAN: Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida plans to hold informal talks with his Chinese and North Korean counterparts during regional meetings this weekend in Myanmar (KyodoNews).



Hagel Goes to India

U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel will land in New Delhi on Thursday for his first visit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new government (PTI). The meeting, which also sets the stage for Modi's visit to Washington next month, will focus on defense deals and military-to-military ties.

This CFR interactive timeline traces the roots and evolution of U.S.-India relations.

PAKISTAN: Sri Lanka announced that its president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, will visit Pakistan later this month (Dawn). The news comes as the two countries conclude their fourth round of political consultations.



ISIS Seizes Iraq's Largest Christian Town

ISIS extremists have taken over Qaraqosh (AFP), Iraq's largest Christian town, as well as its surrounding areas, sending tens of thousands of residents fleeing toward autonomous Kurdistan. Some 50,000 Christians inhabited Qaraqosh, which lies twenty miles southeast of Mosul, which ISIS captured in June.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines the origins, leadership, and funding of ISIS.

ISRAEL: Israeli officials offered to extend the ceasefire in Gaza (Reuters) beyond Friday morning's deadline as Egyptian mediators pursued talks with Israelis and Palestinians on a long-term solution to end the war.



Liberia Declares State of Emergency

Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared a state of emergency (BBC) in the country as it grapples with a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus. The outbreak has also hit Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, and has so far killed more than 930 people.

CFR's Laurie Garrett and John Campbell discuss the global response to the Ebola outbreak in this conference call.

CAMEROON: Cameroon officials said that Boko Haram militants from neighboring Nigeria raided a border town in the north on Wednesday, killing ten people and kidnapping a child (VOA).



Bulgarian Commissioner Nominated For EU Post

Kristalina Georgieva, Bulgaria's commissioner in Brussels, was nominated to replace Catherine Ashton as the EU's next foreign policy chief (FT). The bloc's leaders are in deadlock over the succession as officials remain divided over candidates' positions on the crisis in Ukraine.



Rousseff Says EU Trade Deal Is Stalled

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said that the trade agreement between Latin American trade group Mercosur and the European Union is stalled due to resistance (MercoPress) from several European countries, namely France, Hungary, and Ireland. Negotiations have been ongoing for the past fifteen years.

UNITED STATES: Senators are at odds with the Obama administration over efforts to ensure that portions of a report criticizing the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation program remain secret (WSJ).



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