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July 24, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Israel-Jordan Tensions Rise After Amman Attack

Two Jordanian men were killed and an Israeli wounded in a confrontation Sunday at the Israeli embassy in Amman. Israel said one of the men attacked an Israeli guard with a screwdriver (BBC), and that the guard shot the assailant and a bystander. Jordanian police demanded to interrogate the guard (Haaretz), whom Israel says is protected by diplomatic immunity. The incident comes amid mounting tensions over increased security measures at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, the site of a recent attack. Earlier on Sunday Jordan called for a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss security at the mosque's complex (Al Jazeera), for which Jordan is the official custodian. U.S. President Donald J. Trump dispatched special envoy Jason Greenblatt (WSJ) to Israel to address tensions over the holy site.


"Placing security equipment, essentially an Israeli checkpoint, at the entrance to a Muslim holy place is perceived by Palestinians, by Arabs, and by Muslims, as augmenting Israeli control of the sacred compound," Gideon Levy writes for Middle East Eye.

"Some compromise deal will have to be formulated that allows Israel to get out of this mess without losing face," Judy Maltz writes for Haaretz.

"It is impossible for Israel to have peace with the Arab and Muslim world as long as Arab public opinion remains against it," Yousef Munayyer writes for Foreign Affairs.


South Korea to Push Nuclear Reactor Exports

South Korea's new energy minister said he will support the country's plan to export nuclear reactors to the United Arab Emirates (Reuters) and possibly other countries even as South Korea curbs its use of nuclear energy at home (Korea Herald).

AUSTRALIA: The United Nations accused Australia of backtracking on an agreement to resettle asylum seekers and refugees with ties to the country. The immigration minister said on Sunday that "people will not be coming to Australia" (AFP).


Thirty Dead in Kabul Car Bombing

A car bomb in an area of Kabul that is home to many Shia Hazara minorities (BBC) exploded Monday, killing at least thirty people. On Friday, a U.S. air raid in Helmand Province killed sixteen Afghan police officers (DW) in a case of "friendly fire."

Sameer Lalwani discusses President Trump's options in Afghanistan in Foreign Affairs.


Iran, Iraq to Boost Military Cooperation

Iran's defense minister met his Iraqi counterpart in Tehran, where they signed an accord to increase military cooperation (Reuters) on counterterrorism and border security. The United States has accused Iran of supporting militant groups in Iraq.

Ariane M. Tabatabai discusses the June attack on Iran by the Islamic State (Foreign Affairs).


HIV Vaccine Trials to Begin in Southern Africa

Large-scale trials of a new HIV/AIDS vaccine developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Johnson & Johnson will begin in southern Africa by the end of the year. It will be the second vaccine for the virus to undergo testing by thousands of volunteers (FT), following trials of HVTN 702 last year.

SOMALIA: More than one hundred Somalis released from prisons in Ethiopia (VOA) arrived in Mogadishu on Saturday. The inmates had been charged with various crimes, including illegal entry. 


Polish President Vetoes Bill on Judiciary

President Andrzej Duda vetoed a bill that would have forced out the nation's top judges (BBC) and provoked both mass demonstrations and threats of sanctions by the European Union. Duda said he didn't feel that the law would "strengthen a sense of justice."

TURKEY: The trial of seventeen journalists and executives from a Turkish newspaper charged with supporting terrorism (Guardian) began in Istanbul on Monday. The journalists are accused of aiding the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party and the movement led by exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

CFR's Steven A. Cook writes in Foreign Policy that a government crackdown in Turkey has ruined thousands of lives.


Venezuela's Maduro Reaffirms Constitutional Rewrite Plan

President Nicolas Maduro said he will move forward with plans to elect a constituent assembly next weekend to rewrite the country's constitution (Reuters). The opposition called for a two-day strike ahead of the vote, which it plans to boycott.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Venezuela's economic and political crisis.

CANADA: Canadian lumber prices have soared this month after wildfires spread across British Columbia (WSJ). The United States receives about one third of its lumber from Canada.


White House Signals Support for Russia Sanctions

The White House press secretary said the administration supports legislation on sanctions against Russia (WSJ) for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, ahead of a likely House vote on Tuesday. The European Commission president called for Brussels to review (FT) how it will respond to such sanctions if European companies are targeted.

Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak ended his tenure (Reuters) on Saturday. Kislyak came under scrutiny in recent months over meetings with members of the Trump administration during the president's election campaign.


IMF Trims UK, U.S. Growth Predictions

The International Monetary Fund lowered its 2017 growth predictions (BBC) for the United Kingdom and the United States while its forecast for overall global growth of 3.5 percent remained unchanged.