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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 1, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Three NATO Soldiers Killed in Afghan Suicide Bombing

A suicide bomber disguised as police detonated an explosives-packed motorbike among a group of NATO and Afghan forces, killing three coalition soldiers (WashPo) and at least a dozen Afghans on Monday in the southeastern town of Khost. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came on the heels of a firefight between U.S. forces (AP) and Afghan army allies in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday that killed two Americans and three Afghani soldiers. The spate of violence in Afghanistan has pushed the number of U.S. troops killed in the long-running war to two thousand.


"If the United States is to bring the 'good Taliban' to the negotiating table, it needs the goodwill of Pakistan, which according to many outside observers continues to provide sanctuary to the movement's senior leadership in Quetta and Karachi. Attempts to find interlocutors among the Taliban have made at best stuttering progress," writes Tim Lister of CNN.

"Withdrawal from Afghanistan also elevates the risk that the United States, together with other external powers, will be drawn into a number of local disputes and escalating regional rivalries. Over the last decade, Central Asian leaders have consistently invoked the specter of insurgents' spilling over from Afghanistan to justify their own counterterrorism efforts and the need for security cooperation with Russia, China and the United States. Western withdrawal will encourage local elites to stoke these fears, justifying domestic crackdowns, rendition of political opponents and escalation of border tensions with neighbors," writes Alexander Cooley in the New York Times.

"Making clear that we will provide much less help to Afghanistan if it chooses poor leaders may seem obvious, but it was clear recently in Kabul that the message has not gotten through. Too many Afghans think that we will desert them unconditionally, as happened before, or, based on an exaggerated sense of their nation's geostrategic importance, that we will want to stay forever. We need to reestablish our leverage with clear, credible and consistent messaging from U.S. and international voices," writes Michael O'Hanlon for the Washington Post.



Japan Reshuffles Cabinet to Cool China Row

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Monday appointed Makiko Tanaka (AFP), the daughter of a former prime minister with Beijing-friendly ties, as education minister in a cabinet shuffle that commentators say was a move toward diplomatic progress with China, with whom Japan has been feuding over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

JAPAN: Six Osprey hybrid aircraft were transferred (AP) to a U.S. base in Okinawa on Monday, drawing hundreds of protesters exhibiting long-standing anger over the heavy presence of American troops on the Japanese island.



Georgia Votes

Georgians cast ballots in a parliamentary vote (Reuters) that pits Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili against rival Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire tycoon, in an election where a prison abuse scandal has tainted the incumbent president's reputation and fueled accusations of government repression.

TURKEY: Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reelected chairman (CNN) of his Justice and Development Party for the third time at a rally Sunday.

In this CFR Interview, Stephen J. Hadley of the United State Institute for Peace delves into U.S.-Turkey Relations.



String of Attacks in Iraq Kill at Least 37

Bombs across Iraq killed at least thirty-seven (AlJazeera) people and wounded ninety others on Sunday in a string of coordinated attacks ranging from Kirkuk, in Iraq's north, to the southern and mainly Shia town of Kut.



Church in Nairobi Attacked

A grenade attack in a Nairobi church killed a nine-year-old boy and wounded several other children two days after Kenyan forces invaded (NYT) the last major stronghold of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militant group in Somalia.

SOUTH AFRICA: South African President Jacob Zuma has opened a judicial inquiry (BBC) into the killings of forty-four people at a Marikana mine in August, when striking miners clashed with policemen.



Greece to Start Talks With International Creditors

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras faces crucial talks (AFP) Monday with international creditors, who will determine whether the country's latest round of budget cuts will be sufficient to unlock 31.5 billion euros in frozen loans under the country's bailout.

FRANCE: Fifty thousand protesters took to the streets (EUObserver) of Paris on Sunday, days after French President Francois Hollande revealed his 37 billion euro austerity budget.



Venezuela Opposition Supporters Killed

At least two supporters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski in Venezuela's presidential election were shot to death (MiamiHerald) on Saturday in Barinas, President Hugo Chávez's home state, as the campaign approaches its final week.

This CFR timeline exhibits Venezuela's Chavez era.

PERU: The third Summit of South American-Arab Countries will begin on Monday (MercoPress) in Lima, Peru, where political issues like Syria and the protests sparked by an American anti-Islamic film will be discussed, in addition to South American-Arab trade and investments.



Obama Blocks Chinese From Wind Farm Project

Amid an ongoing competition between candidates to be "tough on China," President Obama has blocked a bid by a Chinese firm (BostonGlobe) to own wind farms near a Navy drone testing site in Oregon, citing national security risks.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, GOP nominee Mitt Romney accused President Obama of "misunderstanding" and "misapplying" U.S. values in his dealings with other nations. Romney is also planning to make a major speech on foreign policy within the next few weeks.



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