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Daily Brief: Belgium Extradites Paris Attack Suspect to France

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April 27, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Belgium Extradites Paris Attack Suspect to France

Belgium handed over Salah Abdeslam to authorities in France, where he is expected to appear before a judge on Wednesday. The French national, who was raised in Belgium (France24), is thought to be the last surviving member of the Islamic State-affiliated terror cell that carried out attacks in Paris in November. Abdeslam, who is also suspected of having connections to last month's attacks in Brussels, was arrested in March in the Belgian city after a four-month manhunt (RFE/FL). Experts say his role in the Paris attacks remains unclear (NYT).


"A large part of the reason why European states such as Belgium and France have such major terrorist problems is because they have done such a poor job of assimilating Muslim immigrants. The United States has less of a problem in no small part because we have done a better job of assimilation. [U.S. Presidential hopeful Donald] Trump’s crude attacks on Muslims risk undoing all of that progress. Trump could not possibly do more damage to our security if he were an actual ISIL agent," CFR's Max Boot writes in USA Today.

"There is no denying that the hard approach — surveillance, policing, intelligence gathering — is only a plug in the dike. It does nothing to stem the flow of young men and women to Syria and into the arms of violent, radical organizations. Something must be done on that end, too, lest the dike breaks, or simply because there don’t ever seem to be enough plugs for all the potential leaks. There is also no denying that there is a demand for it in the very communities that feed that flow. [German de-radicalization expert Daniel] Koehler told me that the preventative measure most often applauded by these communities is also the most basic — a hotline. Every time a country introduces one, it’s flooded with calls," Julia Ioffe writes in Foreign Policy.

"The first theater of operation [for the rise of violent extremism in Europe] at the micro level, if you like, is inside prisons. Here in Britain the prison population for Muslims has increased. The prison population in France and Germany of young Muslims has increased. Now, they go into prisons not because they’re Muslim. They go into prison for delinquency and drugs and petty crime, but they come out often as extremist violent Salafi radical Muslims with connection to radical outfits around the world," Ed Husain says in a CFR Conference Call.


North Korea Announces Rare Party Congress

The ruling Workers' Party will hold its first party congress in almost forty years (Korea Times) amid speculation that North Korea is planning a fifth nuclear test. A U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States would consider "other" options (Reuters), including new sanctions or security measures, should the country carry out fresh nuclear or missiles tests.

CFR's Scott A. Snyder discusses the latest UN resolution over North Korea's nuclear activity in this Asia Unbound blog.

CHINA: The U.S. Air Force disclosed that it flew three patrols near Scarborough shoal in the South China Sea in recent days (WSJ), drawing rebuke from China. The flights came shortly after the United States announced new joint patrols with the Philippines in the region where China has expanded and developed artificial islands.

This CFR InfoGuide maps the disputing territorial claims in the South China Sea.


Afghan Taliban Delegation in Islamabad

A three-person delegation from the Afghan Taliban's Qatar office arrived in Islamabad this week to discuss the reopening of peace talks with Kabul, according to diplomatic sources (Express Tribune). A Taliban spokesman only confirmed that the group would discuss refugees and the release of prisoners.

TAJIKISTAN: The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization announced the preparation of a rapid deployment group (WSJ) to enter Tajikistan to combat threats from Islamists.


Attacks in Aleppo Kill Dozens

Nearly sixty civilians were killed in three days of government air strikes and shelling in the Syrian city of Aleppo, according to a monitoring group (Syria Deeply). The attacks come after peace talks in Geneva were halted and Russia deployed artillery to support a Syrian government offensive (Guardian).

IRAN: Four journalists who support President Hassan Rouhani received long prison sentences by an Iranian revolutionary court on charges of acting against national security (NYT). The sentencing was seen as a rebuke from the conservative judiciary toward Rouhani's calls to bolster press freedom in Iran.


South Sudan Rebel Leader Returns to Country, Fulfilling Peace Promise

After delays following a dispute over his armed escort, rebel leader Riek Maxhar returned to South Sudan to be sworn in (FT) as vice president by his rival, President Salva Kiir. The UN chief of peacekeeping operations hailed the move as allowing "the real transition to begin" in the  country's peace process (Sudan Tribune).

CFR's Global Conflict Tracker gives background on the civil war in South Sudan

CAR: The United Nations Security Council voted to extend UN peacekeeping forces' mandate in the Central African Republic until at least July 31 (UN News Centre).  

CFR's Global Conflict Tracker discusses unrest in the Central African Republic.


Russia's 'Safe Internet League' Hosts China's Firewall Architect

A Russian multimillionaire with close links to the Kremlin is hosting a Chinese delegation to discuss filtering web content and limiting the U.S. digital influence (FT). Critics say the move is an attempt to clamp down on dissent.


Venezuela Cuts Public Servants' Workload to Two Days

Public sector employees in Venezuela will only work on Mondays and Tuesdays in a bid to cut electricity use amid an energy crisis spurred by a severe drought and reduced water levels at a hydroelectric dam (BBC). Meanwhile, a Venezuelan electoral panel opened the way for the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro by making a recall vote possible (NYT).
BRAZIL: Brazil registered 91,387 cases of the Zika virus in a two-month period (LAHT). The country's health ministry said it had tallied 4,908 cases of microcephaly, with confirmed or suspected links to the Zika virus (Reuters).

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the spread of the Zika virus.


Trump, Clinton Win in Northeast Primaries

Republican candidate Donald Trump won (CNN) all five primaries in states that held nominating contests on Tuesday, while Democratic contender Hillary Clinton won in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–VT) won in Rhode Island.

Track and compare the leading candidates' major foreign policy positions with CFR's interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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