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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 30, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Syrian Rebels Claim to Shoot Down Fighter Jet

The Free Syrian Army rebel group today said it shot down a Syrian military fighter jet in Idlib province (al-Arabiya), near the Turkish border, while claiming to have destroyed military helicopters and tanks by the Tiftiaz military airport in Aleppo. The apparent attack comes as Syrian security forces continue a deadly assault on rebel strongholds throughout the country. Meanwhile, foreign ministers of member countries of the UN Security Council (al-Jazeera) are set to meet today to discuss the worsening humanitarian situation in Syria after eighteen months of conflict, though no new resolutions are expected.


Not only is the international community divided over Syria, but even those countries most supportive of the rebellion have not settled on a common strategy, while the disarray among the Syrian opposition further deepens disquiet over intervention. Whether by design or luck--or the failures of the opposition--the Assad regime may well have created a situation in which it survives for quite some time, even if in considerably diminished form," writes TIME's Tony Karon.

"Turkey has been one of the Assad regime's most vehement critics. As the number of refugees pouring across its borders has surged amid spiraling violence inside Syria--there are now more than 80,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, according to the foreign ministry--the government in Ankara has pushed to make the refugee issue an international one," writes Newsweek's Mike Giglio.



China to Keep Investing in Europe

China plans to continue buying European government debt while coordinating more closely with the European Central Bank to help alleviate the ongoing eurozone sovereign debt crisis, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (WSJ) in Beijing today.

INDONESIA: A boat carrying more than 150 asylum-seekers bound for Australia (Australian) sank off the Indonesian coast, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Search teams from Australia and Indonesia have rescued forty-five survivors thus far.



Australian Troops Killed in Afghanistan

A man wearing an Afghan army uniform killed three Australian soldiers yesterday, while two other Australian soldiers died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan today, in what Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard described as "the most losses in combat" for Australia (SMH) since the Vietnam War.

PAKISTAN: Intelligence officials today confirmed that a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan last week killed Badruddin Haqqani (AP), the son of the founder of the militant Haqqani network and the group's chief operations commander.

Washington has been pressing Pakistani authorities for years to take action against the Haqqani network, and it's not clear whether the government will move vigorously in this direction, says CFR's Daniel Markey in this new Expert Brief.



Egypt's President Criticizes Syria at Iran Meeting

During his speech to the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran today, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called for "full solidarity" with the Syrian opposition movement, while characterizing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an "oppressive regime" (al-Jazeera).



UN Issues Warning Over Crisis in Mali

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said the international community had failed to adequately respond to the conflict situation in Mali. Close to 500,000 people have been displaced (BBC) by Islamist and Tuareg rebels in the north of the country in the wake of a political crisis set off by a military coup in March.

CFR's John Campbell discusses the "dawning humanitarian nightmare" in Mali on his blog Africa in Transition.

KENYA: A grenade attack in Mombasa (NYT) yesterday wounded seven police officers, following two days of rioting by Muslims youths over the killing of radical cleric Sheikh Aboud Rogo Mohammed.



Greece Close to Deal on Budget Cuts

Greek political leaders said yesterday they were close to a deal on $17 billion in new austerity measures (WSJ) mandated by Greece's international creditors for 2013 and 2014, ahead of a visit to Athens by inspectors from the so-called lending troika of the IMF, ECB, and European Commission next week.

The ongoing eurozone debt crisis continues to threaten the future of the single currency, even as European policymakers work to forge a closer political and fiscal union, explains this CFR Issue Guide.

UNITED KINGDOM: Barclays appointed Antony Jenkins, its former head of retail and business banking, to be the bank's new CEO (Guardian), nearly two months after former chief executive Bob Diamond was forced out in the wake of the Libor rate setting scandal.



Colombia-FARC Talks Would Begin in Norway

Tentative peace negotiations (MercoPress) between the Colombian government and leftist FARC rebels would be launched in Oslo, Norway, before moving to Havana, Cuba, while the Venezuelan and Chilean governments would play a supporting role in the talks, according to a government document released to a Colombian broadcaster.

MEXICO: A judge yesterday issued an arrest warrant for the former governor of Tamaulipas state, Tomas Yarrington, on charges of allegedly accepting millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels (BBC).

Since 2006, the Mexican government has been in embroiled in a bloody drug war, which has failed to significantly curb trafficking, explains this CFR Backgrounder.



Ryan and Rice Take the Stage at RNC

Signature moments of the Republican National Convention Wednesday night included vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who spoke on reinvigorating White House leadership of an economic turnaround (WashPost), and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who stressed the need for the U.S. president not to shirk from leadership (Reuters) on a range of global issues. Mitt Romney is set to accept his party's presidential nomination tonight.

The New York Times's Peter Baker writes that what a candidate says about foreign policy on the campaign trail and what they actually do once elected are not always the same thing.



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