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Daily Brief: Car Bombing in Shia District of Baghdad Kills Dozens

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May 11, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Car Bombing in Shia District of Baghdad Kills Dozens

At least sixty-three people were killed and up to a hundred wounded in a bombing targeting an outdoor market in the largely Shia district of Sadr City in Baghdad. The self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, one of the deadliest incidents in the capital city (AP) in recent months. A truck filled with explosives was detonated during rush hour (Reuters). The low-income neighborhood of Sadr City is a stronghold of support for the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led recent antigovernment and anticorruption protests (Middle East Eye). A statement from the Islamic State circulated online said that the attack targeted Shiite militia fighters. The attack is the third one against Shia communities in and around Baghdad claimed by the Islamic State since February (Al Jazeera)


"The effort to retake Mosul and the overall fight against the Islamic State have stalled because of the political paralysis of the past few months, and also because Iraqi Shia leaders have shown little willingness to share power with the Sunni Arabs. The United States has some leverage because it is training Iraqi forces, U.S. Special Operations troops are undertaking operations against ISIS, and U.S. military officials are working with their Iraqi counterparts to help prepare for the major operation to retake Mosul. But as far as political bickering goes, the United States has almost paralyzed itself trying to get the Shia factions to share power [with Sunni Arab and Kurdish factions] and also to get along with one another," says Mohamad Bazzi in this CFR interview.

"[T]here is a symbiotic relationship between terrorists and corrupt politicians: They feed off each other and justify each other’s existence. The post-2003 system of parceling out ministries to political parties has created a kleptocratic political class that lives in comfort in the Green Zone, detached from the long-suffering population, which still lacks basic services. There is no translation into Arabic of the term kleptocracy. But judging by the protesters chanting 'you are all thieves,' they know exactly what it means," writes Emma Sky for Politico.

"An operation for Mosul itself still appears distant, though. It will involve coordinating a mix of Sunni tribal fighters, Kurdish forces, Iraqi armed forces and Shiite and Christian militias, putting U.S. forces in the midst of a potentially drawn-out and complex battle for the ethnically and religiously mixed region. Abadi, also commander in chief of Iraq's armed forces, faces the challenge of corralling them at a time when he is also fighting to steer the country out of its political crisis," writes Loveday Morris for the Washington Post.


U.S. to Continue Calling Myanmar Minority Group ‘Rohingya’

Scott Marciel, the new U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, said he would continue to refer to the persecuted Muslim minority group as Rohingya despite objections from Myanmar’s government, led by Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi (Guardian). He also said the United States is reviewing outstanding sanctions on the country (RFA). Suu Kyi’s government said last week that using the term would undermine national reconciliation efforts, as it does not recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group.

Priscilla A. Clapp writes that the United States needs to revise its outdated sanctions policy on Myanmar in this CFR Special Report.

AUSTRALIA: Federal police arrested five Melbourne men they said were attempting to take a small boat to Indonesia to join fighting in Syria (Guardian). One of the men was an Islamic preacher previously imprisoned in Saudi Arabia (SMH).


Bangladesh Executes Head of Islamist Party

Thousands of police and border guards were deployed across Bangladesh to prepare for backlash over the execution of the leader of banned Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (Al Jazeera). Motiur Rahman Nizami was put to death on charges of war crimes during the 1971 liberation war from Pakistan.

PAKISTAN: A special court declared former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf an absconder for failing to appear in court for treason charges (Dawn). The charges relate to Musharraf's suspension of the constitution and declaration of a state of emergency in 2007. 


Saudi Aramco Finalizes IPO

Saudi Arabia's state oil company will soon present proposals for a partial privatization to the country's Supreme Council, a move at the center of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's bid to diversify the country's economy (Reuters) as it faces falling oil revenue.

CFR's Ray Takeyh writes about points of contention between the United States and Saudi Arabia in this article. 


Amnesty Accuses Nigeria of Abusing Detainees

A new report by rights group Amnesty International says that 150 people, including children and babies, have died in custody of the Nigerian military in the northeastern city of Maiduguri (FT). The report comes before leaders from France and Nigeria's francophone neighbors gather in Abuja for a security conference this weekend.

CFR's John Campbell discusses the evolution and goals of Nigerian militant group Boko Haram in this Expert Brief.

RWANDA: The World Economic Forum on Africa opened in Kigali, where more than 1,500 representatives from international and regional corporations are expected during the three-day event (VOA).


Hollande Forces Labor Reform Through National Assembly

Using a constitutional tactic to bypass parliament, the socialist government of France’s President Francois Hollande pushed an unpopular package of labor reforms through the National Assembly in a bid to lower unemployment (AFP). On Thursday the government will face a vote of censure aimed at toppling it in the assembly (NYT).

BELGIUM: A strike by prison employees now in its third week has led to prison conditions that one human rights activist called "nearly insurrectional" (AFP). The Belgian army has been deployed to the worst-hit prisons, where inmates are stuck in their cells for twenty-four hours a day. 


Brazilian Senate to Vote on Rousseff’s Impeachment

The Senate will vote Wednesday (WSJ) on whether to go forward with impeachment charges for President Dilma Rousseff. If the body obtains a simple majority in favor of impeaching her, Rousseff will be forced to step aside as she is put on trial for as long as 180 days. 

UNITED STATES: Attorney General Loretta Lynch decided not to pursue the death penalty in the case against alleged Benghazi attacker Abu Khattalah (Reuters). Khattalah was arrested in 2014 and brought to the United States to face charges in federal court over the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.


Sanders Wins West Virginia Primary

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) won (CNN) the West Virginia Democratic primary but still trails front-runner Hillary Clinton among pledged delegates needed to clinch the party’s nomination. Republican Donald Trump won the nominating contests in West Virginia and Nebraska. 

Track and compare the candidates’ positions on major foreign policy issues with CFR’s interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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