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October 12, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Hamas, Fatah Announce Reconciliation Deal

The Gaza-based militant group Hamas and Western-backed ruling Fatah party have signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo (Al Jazeera), a move that could end a decade of fissure between the Palestinian factions.

The groups are expected to reveal more details (BBC) at a Thursday news conference, though the deal reportedly includes integrating Hamas officials into Palestinian Authority ministries, rebuilding Gaza's police forces, and negotiating management of the strip's crossings (Haaretz). A top Fatah official said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will visit Gaza within a month, the first such trip in the decade since Hamas took control of the strip (Guardian).


"Should the talks lead to reconciliation, the U.S. government could find itself in an awkward legal bind, since it is forbidden by law from working with Hamas as long as it remains designated a terror organization," Dina Kraft writes for Haaretz.

"That Hamas has made this move reflects the pressures it has endured from Israel and Abbas. During this summer, power cuts in Gaza increased while Qatar—amid the fallout from the Gulf crisis—stopped funding Hamas and many projects in the coastal enclave," Hind Khoudary writes for Middle East Eye.

"Palestinian nationalism seems to be at a critical juncture, with no clear way forward. The current trajectory likely leads to continued occupation, settlement expansion, social division, and institutional decay," Perry Cammack, Nathan Brown, and Marwan Muasher write for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 

CFR's Tenth Annual Preventive Priorities Survey

CFR's Tenth Annual Preventive Priorities Survey

CFR's Center for Preventive Action conducts an annual survey to assist policymakers in planning for ongoing and potential conflicts and sources of instability. What threats will emerge or escalate in 2018? Tell us what you think.



Australia Defense Data Compromised in 'Extensive' Hack

Australia's defense industry minister said Thursday that information about new fighter jets and navy vessels considered sensitive though not classified was stolen in a hack that began July of last year (BBC). He said the hacker could be a state actor but the attack remains unattributed.

JAPAN: Japan's main stock index, the Nikkei 225, hit a twenty-one-year high (NYT) on Wednesday.


Sri Lanka Arrests Two for $60 Million Cybertheft

Sri Lankan authorities arrested two suspects in relation to a cyberheist of $60 million from a Taiwanese bank (Bloomberg), which they allegedly wired to accounts in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

INDIA: The price of wind energy fell to a new low (Quartz) in an auction by a state-run firm in India last week, making both wind and solar energy now cheaper than coal-based power there.

CFR's Varun Sivaram writes in Scientific American that global warming this century may depend heavily on India's energy decisions.


Iraqi Court Issues Arrest Warrants for Kurdish Officials

A federal court in Baghdad has issued arrest warrants for electoral officials involved in carrying out a recent independence referendum (BBC) in Iraqi Kurdistan, a vote opposed by the central government. Baghdad suggested that Kurdish President Masoud Barzani could also be arrested (Rudaw).


Kenya Bans Demonstrations Ahead of Election Rerun

Kenya has banned protests in the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu ahead of an October 26 rerun (Al Jazeera) of an August presidential election that was annulled by the Supreme Court. The move comes after opposition candidate Raila Odinga pulled out of the race on Tuesday. 

CFR's John Campbell discusses Odinga's withdrawal from the presidential race.

NIGER: The Pentagon said Wednesday that the self-proclaimed Islamic State was behind an October 4 attack in southwestern Niger (VOA) that killed four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien security personnel.


Turkish, U.S. Officials to Meet Over Diplomatic Spat

Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have agreed to discuss recent consular restrictions prompted by Turkey's arrest of two employees at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul (RFE/RL) on espionage charges.

EU: The EU human rights commissioner has asked Italy's interior minister for information about the deployment of naval vessels to Libyan waters (DW), warning Italy that it risks violating the European Convention on Human Rights if it hands over migrants who are intercepted in the Mediterranean to Libya.


Brazil to Pass Law on Trying Military for Civilian Deaths

Brazil's congress has backed new legislation that would allow the military, increasingly being deployed to slums for antidrug operations (WSJ), to be tried in military rather than civilian courts for civilian deaths. President Michel Temer is expected to soon sign the measure into law.

GUATEMALA: The supreme court said Wednesday it will not investigate monthly bonuses to President Jimmy Morales (Reuters) by the defense ministry. Morales is one of Latin America's top-paid leaders. 


White House Briefs Lawmakers on Iran Announcement

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster briefed members of Congress on Wednesday about U.S. President Donald J. Trump's upcoming announcement on whether he will recertify the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement (NBC), according to two officials.

CFR's Philip H. Gordon and Ray Takeyh discuss the successes and failures of the 2015 deal