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Daily Brief: EU Signals Plan With African, Mideast Nations to Stem Migration

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June 8, 2016

Daily News Brief

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EU Signals Plan With African, Mideast Nations to Stem Migration

The European Commission announced a plan to work with African and Middle Eastern governments to manage migrant flows (European Commission). The commission said its priority will be to save lives lost in unsafe crossings to the bloc and to help partner nations address the root causes of mass migration. The announcement builds off a similar deal established with Turkey in March to stem the tide of refugees arriving on Greek islands and may include security support for nations with troubled human rights records (BBC) such as Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. The proposal includes incentives for Middle Eastern and African countries such as improved trade terms, visa deals, and access to a proposed $70 billion investment fund (FT). The United Nations said on Tuesday that ten thousand people had died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe since 2014 (Middle East Eye).


"For the EU, the deals would come at a price. Following the Turkey deal, in which Ankara won €6bn in aid, European Council president Donald Tusk warned that Europe ran the risk of 'blackmail' by potential partners. To some extent, this warning has been borne out. Countries on migratory routes to the EU know that they have leverage and have proven willing to name their price. In May, Niger demanded an extra €1bn — roughly a seventh of its total gross domestic product — from the EU just to help it halt the flow of people who head through the country on their way to Europe. The EU investment fund’s headline figure of €62bn looks large. But for the moment it is a mirage. The commission will put aside €3.1bn and ask national capitals to match this total — something that they have not always been willing to do," Duncan Robinson writes for the Financial Times.

"The deal with Turkey was roundly criticized by human rights groups and the United Nations for violating international law protecting asylum seekers. The deal was signed with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an autocrat, who has attacked the news media and freedom of expression. If the European Union does not do better on dealing with migration from Africa, it will further damage to its credibility as a model of democracy and human rights," writes the New York Times.

"Democracy, in other words, does not necessarily guarantee that an African country can keep its people at home. Nigeria had its first peaceful transfer of power to a different party in 2015. But it is also the largest source of migrants to Italy so far this year. The other big sources are Gambia, Somalia, Ivory Coast, and Eritrea. In many cases, people are fleeing repression or violence. But also, as Africa’s overall economy has outpaced the rest of the world’s in recent decades, a rising middle class simply has more money to spend on smugglers—about $2,000 a trip—to get to Europe," writes the Christian Science Monitor.


Pentagon Calls Chinese Intercept of U.S. Spy Plane 'Unsafe'

Two Chinese fighter jets conducted what the Pentagon called an "unsafe" intercept of a U.S. reconnaissance plane patrolling the East China Sea (AFP) on Tuesday. The U.S. Pacific Command's spokesman said the incident seemed to be a "case of improper airmanship" since no other "provocative or unsafe maneuvers" took place.  

This CFR InfoGuide examines maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Police fired on student protesters, wounding dozens, who called for Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to step down over corruption charges (Reuters).


Monsoon Begins in India After Historic Heat Wave

India's seasonal heavy rains began in the southern state of Kerala (TOI), following a historic heat wave, in which the country recorded its hottest-ever temperature of 123.8 degrees. The annual showers came about a week after their expected start date (Al Jazeera).

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials said Taliban militants killed twelve captives, including Afghan soldiers, police, and employees of the national spy agency, whom they had captured in recent ambushes in the southeastern Ghazni province (RFE/RL).

This CFR InfoGuide looks at the history of the Taliban.


UN: Civilians Fleeing Fallujah Face Abuse From ISIS, Government-Allied Militias

The United Nations said it had "extremely distressing, credible reports" that civilians fleeing the city of Fallujah are facing extreme abuse, including executions, as men are detained for "security screening" by armed groups operating in support of the Iraqi military (UN News Centre). Iraqi forces and allies are attempting to retake the city from the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

SYRIA: In a televised speech, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said government forces would retake "every inch" of the country from rebel forces and said he would not accept a UN peace proposal for the country to be ruled by a transitional government (Al Jazeera).

CFR's Gayle Tzemach Lemmon discusses what options exist in Syria when diplomacy fails in this Defense One article.


Eritrean Man Accused of Human Smuggling Operations Extradited to Italy

Mered Medhanie, who was arrested in Khartoum in May, was extradited to Rome to face charges on leading a network of human smugglers between Central Africa and Libya (BBC). UK investigators say Medhanie was behind a migrant boat traveling from Libya that sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013, killing at least 359 people.

NIGER: An estimated fifty thousand people have fled southeastern Niger's Diffa region following attacks by the militant group Boko Haram (Vanguard), according to the UN.

This CFR Backgrounder discusses the origins of the militant group Boko Haram.


Ex-CIA Agent Loses Appeal, Will Be Extradited to Italy

Former CIA agent Sabrina de Sousa lost an appeal to Portugal's Constitutional Court and will be extradited to Italy to serve a four-year sentence for participating in the agency's so-called extraordinary renditions (AP). De Sousa is one of twenty-six Americans convicted in the kidnapping of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street in 2003.


Peru's Vote Count Continues in Tight Presidential Race

Votes continued to be counted in a Sunday presidential election in which Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former economy minister, holds a slight lead over Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of a jailed ex-president (LAHT).

CFR's Matthew Taylor discusses what is at stake in Peru's election and Latin America's "right turn" in this blog post.

BRAZIL: Brazil's prosecutor general requested arrest warrants for four powerful members of the party of interim President Michel Temer, including a former president and the suspended speaker of the house (Guardian). The prosecutor alleges the men have tried to obstruct the ongoing corruption investigations centered on the state oil company.


Clinton Claims Democratic Nomination

Hillary Clinton claimed the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination (NYT) after winning four out of the six primary contests on Tuesday that included California and New Jersey and securing a majority of pledged delegates. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–VT) said he would stay in the race. 

Track and compare the foreign policy positions of both parties’ presumptive nominees with CFR’s interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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