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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 15, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: International Community Reacts to UN Mali Resolution

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved (AP) a French-sponsored resolution that paves the way for military intervention in Mali to retake the north from Islamist extremists, giving organizations like the African Union and West African regional body ECOWAS forty-five days to map a detailed plan. The al-Qaeda-linked fighters threatened to "open the doors of hell" (AlJazeera) for France, whose president Fran├žois Hollande said the country would remain undeterred, although it will not be committing any combat troops (France24). Algeria, which has itself held talks with the militant Ansar Dine group but resists becoming a proxy of the West, gave a guarded welcome (Reuters) to Friday's UN resolution. Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels took control of the north after Mali's president was overthrown in March.


"We must expand the humanitarian response to this crisis, and not allow it to slip off an international agenda that has been completely preoccupied by events in Syria. We must ensure that refuge is provided to those people who need it, that uprooted populations do not become targets for exploitation, manipulation and recruitment by armed groups, and that their capacity to remain economically active is maintained. We cannot remain indifferent to their plight. Without an adequate humanitarian response that allows people to live safely, with dignity, and with a vision of a future, disaffection and despair can themselves become factors in the perpetuation of conflict," writes Ant├│nio Guterres for the New York Times.

"A decade of growing U.S. military involvement on the continent has not only failed to curb instability and the growth of so-called 'terrorist' groups; the United States' actions in Somalia and Libya have directly fed the formation of such organizations. And 'training' foreign militaries has hardly stabilized things. Indeed, Amadou Sanogo, the Malian army captain who overthrew the civilian government in the wake of the Tuareg offensive, was trained by the U.S. military. Sanogo attended the Defense Language Institute in 2005 and 2007, a U.S. Army intelligence program in 2008, and an officer-training course in 2010," writes Conn Hallinan for Foreign Policy in Focus.

"Washington has a different plan. The U.S. wants to follow the model it is using to fight Somalia's Shabab movement. In the last four years, the U.S. has spent some $600 million to rent an African proxy force of 20,000 Ugandan, Ethiopian and Kenyan soldiers to invade Somalia and battle Shabab. Washington plans a similar strategy in Mali, led by its sexy new star, Africa Command. Nigeria is expected to play a key role; Morocco and Algeria may contribute troops. All this seems like a lot of effort to combat a bunch of Saharan tribesmen and troublemakers in pickup trucks in a place whose main city, Timbuktu, is a synonym for remoteness and obscurity," writes Eric Margolis for the Nation.



Philippines Signs Peace Pact With Muslim Rebels

The Philippines signed a peace plan with the country's largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, after lengthy negotiations (Telegraph) to end the forty-year conflict. The pact provides a new autonomous region in the south, where Muslims are a majority in the mainly Catholic nation.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea's defense minister apologized publicly on Monday (Yonhap) for the undetected defection early this month of a North Korean soldier, and announced disciplinary measures again fourteen military officials for the incident.



Taliban Kill Police in Pakistan

A large group of Taliban militants stormed a police checkpoint outside Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Sunday night and killed six policemen (TimesofIndia). Separately, Malala Yousufzai, the fourteen-year-old girl who was shot by the Taliban last week, was flown to the UK for treatment (Dawn).

Joshua Foust discusses drone politics in Pakistan in this CFR Interview.

CAMBODIA: Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk, who was crowned king by the French in 1941 at the age of eighteen, died Monday in Beijing at the age of eighty-nine (AP).



Turkey Grounds Armenian Plane

Turkey stopped an Armenian plane flying humanitarian aid to Aleppo, Syria, on Monday in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum and ordered a search of its cargo (Hurriyet). The search comes after Turkey grounded a Syrian jet traveling from Moscow last Wednesday that was suspected of carrying Russian munitions.

LIBYA: Ali Zidan, a former diplomat allied with a liberal bloc of lawmakers, was named Libya's third prime minister (FT) in five weeks on Sunday.



African Union Names New Head

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former South African minister and supporter of military intervention in Mali, will assume office as chair of the African Union Commission (AfricaReview), replacing Jean Ping of Gabon, whom she ousted in July after six months of internal conflict that exposed bloc rifts.

Paul D. Williams outlines the African Union's conflict management capabilities in this CFR Working Paper.



Lithuania Votes Out Conservative Government

Lithuania voted out its conservative government, which had pushed for pension and public wage cuts in a battle for austerity (BBC), and championed the Labor and Social Democrat parties in the first round of votes.

EUROPE: The European Union agreed to impose new sanctions on Iran (Reuters) on Monday to increase pressure over its disputed nuclear program.

This CFR Backgrounder details the lengthening list of Iran sanctions.



Paraguay to Launch Talks on Re-Admission to Mercosur/Unasur

Paraguay's Foreign Minister Jose Felix Fernandez Estigarribia confirmed the start of negotiations (MercoPress) for the re-incorporation of Paraguay to regional blocs Unasur and Mercosur after his country was suspended in June over the impeachment of president Fernando Lugo.

CUBA: Fidel Castro's relatives in Cuba and Miami denied the latest round of rumors (AP) on Twitter of the death of the eighty-six-year-old former president.



Survey Shows U.S. Voters Disapprove of Most Debt-Reduction Proposals

Amid campaign debates on how to reduce the national debt and avoid the looming fiscal cliff, a new Pew survey shows that only two methods of debt reduction--raising taxes on annual incomes over $250,000 and limiting corporate tax deductions--are supported by a majority of the public.

GOP nominee Mitt Romney criticized President Obama's decision to postpone the release of a government currency report (WSJ) until after the election, saying the president declined an opportunity to label China a currency manipulator.



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