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Daily Brief: Istanbul Attack on Police Bus Kills Eleven

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June 7, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Istanbul Attack on Police Bus Kills Eleven

Eleven people, including seven police officers, were killed and thirty-six wounded in an explosion that seemed to target a bus carrying police officers in central Istanbul. No group immediately claimed responsibility (BBC). The explosion follows a series of recent attacks in major Turkish cities, including suicide bombings at an October Kurdish peace rally and a January bombing suspected to have been carried out by the self-proclaimed Islamic State that killed twelve German tourists. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested Tuesday's attack could have been carried out by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (Middle East Eye). Turkey had carried out airstrikes in the largely Kurdish province of Diyarbakir and in northern Iraq against alleged PKK targets on Monday (Hurriyet)

ANALYSIS

"Although Erdogan and the AKP articulated a vision that appealed to many Turks and many Kurds, it failed to transform Turkish society and resolve the conflict between Turkishness and Kurdishness. Erdogan, motivated by his own craven desire for power and political necessity, has now tacked to his nationalist right, closing off the possibility of reconciliation. In January, he declared that the PKK is 'no different than daesh,' the Arabic derogatory term for the Islamic State, and assured Turks that a resolution would come only 'after our security forces have entirely liquidated terrorists in the region'," CFR's Steven A. Cook writes for Foreign Policy.

"About five years ago, everyone was talking about the 'Turkish model.' People in the West and in the Muslim world held up Turkey as a shining example of the compatibility of Islam and democracy. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was then prime minister and is now president, was praised as a reformist who was making his country freer, wealthier and more peaceful.

These days, I think back on those times with nostalgia and regret. The rhetoric of liberal opening has given way to authoritarianism, the peace process with the Kurdish nationalists has fallen apart, press freedoms are diminishing and terrorist attacks are on the rise," Mustafa Akyol writes for the New York Times.

"Turkey, a key member of NATO, has so far chosen to sit out the war against ISIS. Instead, it is at war with Kurdish militias in Syria, the only ground forces so far that have managed to take on ISIS and win. Turkey fears and loathes Kurdish independence anywhere in the world more than it fears and loathes anything else. Kurdish independence in Syria, from Ankara’s point of view, could at a minimum escalate a three-decades-long conflict and at worst threaten Turkey’s territorial integrity. Kurds make up between 15 and 25 percent of Turkey’s population, but no one knows for sure because the government outlaws ethnic classification," Michael J. Trotten writes for World Affairs.

PACIFIC RIM

IAEA: North Korea May Have Resumed Activities at Plutonium Plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency said satellite imagery indicated that North Korea may have begun processing spent nuclear fuel in order to harvest plutonium for nuclear weapons (Yonhap).  

This CFR Global Conflict tracker follows recent developments in the North Korea weapons crisis.

AUSTRALIA: Four people died and three were missing after severe storms and high tides struck exclusive beachfront properties in Sydney (BBC). The high tide caused the area to lose 150 feet of beachside (SMH).

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Hindu Priest Killed in Bangladesh

A priest was killed by three men on motorcycles in Bangladesh's western Jhinaigah district (Hindu), the latest in a series of attacks on minorities and liberals in the country.

INDIA: Rallying global oil prices are getting a boost from consumption in India (WSJ), where gasoline demand grew by 14.5 percent in the year leading up to March as car usage rises, according to government data. Twenty-four million new vehicles were built in the country last year.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

EU Seeks UN Mandate to Expand Operations off Libyan Waters

The EU's top foreign policy representative, Federica Mogherini, asked members of the UN Security Council to approve a wider mandate for the EU's Mediterranean operations to include intercepting illegal arms shipments to Libya. The EU's naval Operation Sophia currently focuses on human smuggling (NYT).

This CFR Backgrounder examines the countries involved in Europe's migration crisis.  

SAUDI ARABIA: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the UN had removed Saudi Arabia from its annual blacklist of countries that violate children's rights during conflict (Reuters) and would review the designation. An earlier version of the report said that Saudi Arabia was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths in Yemen's conflict in 2015 (Reuters).

This CFR Backgrounder examines the civil war in Yemen.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Two Killed in Kenya as Police Fire on Demonstration

Two protesters were killed and six injured in the city of Kisumu after police fired on a demonstration against Kenya's electoral commission, which opposition members accuse of bias toward the ruling government coalition (DW). A presidential spokesman said the people shot had been robbing supermarkets (BBC).

SOMALIA: Five African Union soldiers were arrested by the African Union Mission in Somalia for allegedly planning illegal sales of military equipment (AFP).

EUROPE

Ukraine Arrests Frenchman Amassing Weapons Ahead of Euro 2016

A French citizen was arrested on the Ukraine-Poland border with five assault rifles, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and 275 pounds of explosives (WSJ). The head of Ukraine's security services said the suspect "spoke negatively about his government and mass migration to France, the spread of Islam and globalization," and planned terrorist attacks, including against the soccer tournament to be held in France this week.

EU: A report from the European statistics agency (WSJ) said the unemployment rate among migrants in the bloc was 18.9 percent, compared to 8.7 percent for EU nationals.

AMERICAS

Third Minister in Interim Brazil Government Faces Corruption Reports

Intercepted phone messages suggest interim President Michel Temer's tourism minister offered support for a large construction company in exchange for campaign donations from funds taken illegally from the state oil company (Mercopress). The minister is the third to be implicated in fresh corruption charges since Temer took office less than a month ago.

VENEZUELA: Looters (Reuters) shot and killed a shopkeeper, and an Italian diplomat was found dead from a head injury in his Caracas home (LAHT) as unrest continues in Venezuela over severe food and energy shortages and protests to recall President Nicolas Maduro through a referendum vote.

CAMPAIGN 2016

AP: Clinton Clinches Democratic Nomination

Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, the Associated Press reported (AP) Monday. The agency surveyed unpledged superdelegates and reported that Clinton would reach the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Her challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–VT), said he did not accept the survey.

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

 
 
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