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Daily Brief: NATO to Continue Troop Deployments to Afghanistan Through 2017

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June 15, 2016

Daily News Brief

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NATO to Continue Afghan Troop Deployments Through 2017

The North Atlantic Treaty alliance will continue to deploy troops to Afghanistan through 2017, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday. Another senior NATO official told reporters in Brussels that the bloc's allies are ready to commit $5 billion to Afghan security forces through 2020 (USA Today). World leaders are expected to approve a move at a July summit to keep NATO bases open in Afghanistan despite earlier plans to close them and reduce the number of foreign troops in the country (WaPo). The announcements follow reports that U.S. President Barack Obama gave military commanders in Afghanistan broader authority to accompany Afghan forces in combat and expand the use of U.S. air strikes against Taliban targets (WaPo). The United States declared an official end to its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 and maintains 9,800 servicemen in the country. 


"Afghanistan’s national security forces, comprising primarily soldiers and national policemen, number about 320,000, often young and uneducated men who were drawn in by the dearth of other jobs and the difficulty of imagining a life that doesn’t involve fighting. Since the end of NATO’s combat mission in late 2014, it is they who have been leading the war against the Taliban. The ability of these men to subdue the insurgency is integral to maintaining Afghanistan’s stability and to keeping Afghans from emigrating. Their success is also critical for the United States — which has spent more than $60 billion to train and equip them," Danielle Moylin writes for the New York Times.

"In terms of the overall threat that the Taliban poses to the state of Afghanistan, it’s at least as high as it was in the 2008–2009 period prior to the Obama administration’s surge. And given the limited number of international forces in Afghanistan and the likelihood that that number will stay low, this Taliban offensive threatens to take the state past a breaking point in a way that we haven’t seen basically throughout the entire period that U.S. and NATO forces have been engaged there since 9/11," CFR's Daniel Markey says in this interview with the Cipher Brief.

"Certainly we’re not on a path to success. And I would posit the proposition that, as the Taliban and ISIS and the HIG and others have increased their presence and their lethality, our failure to have a plan and a strategy, and the opaque nature of whatever it is we’re doing there, and our lack of commitment to maintain and sustain the capabilities that we need to help the Afghans has had as much to do with the deteriorating situation in the security sector as anything else. Frankly, we are largely responsible for where we are and our lack of commitments," former Assistant Secretary of Defense Mary Beth Long Mary Beth Long said in this CFR panel. 


Chinese Ship Followed U.S. Aircraft Carrier in Pacific Drills

A Chinese observation ship shadowed a U.S. aircraft carrier during naval drills in the western Pacific involving the United States, Japan, and India (Reuters). A second Chinese observation ship entered Japanese territorial waters on Wednesday (Japan Times), the first such incident since 2004.  

JAPAN: Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe resigned (Japan Times) amid accusations that he misappropriated political funds for private use.


Pakistan Considers Purchase of Used F-16 Jets From Jordan

Pakistan's defense secretary said the government was studying a "third-party transfer" of F-16 fighter jets, including a Jordanian proposal to sell the country sixteen used aircraft, after the U.S. Congress refused to finance a deal for Pakistan to purchase the fighter jets from the United States (RFE/RL)


State Media: Iran to Purchase Passenger Planes From Boeing

Iranian state-run media reported that the government has reached a deal with Boeing (Press TV) to buy passenger air craft, a purchase which would be the most significant commercial transaction between a U.S. company and Iran since sanctions were lifted six months ago (NYT). U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby did not confirm the deal but said the Iran nuclear deal permits the sale of jets for commercial passenger aviation (Reuters).

Valiollah Seif, the governor of Iran's central bank, discusses the future of Iran's economy at this CFR event.

SYRIA: The Syrian government accused Germany and France of sending special forces to territories controlled by Syrian Kurds (Al Jazeera), who are allied with Western forces. A German government spokesman denied the accusation.


Nigeria's Inflation at Six-Year High

Nigeria's National Statistics Bureau said inflation in May reached 15.6 percent year-on-year (Daily Post), its highest point in six years (This Day).  

CFR's Matthew T. Page writes about Nigeria's economic woes and debt in this Financial Times blog post.

GUINEA: Two members of the Guinean National Ebola Coordination Committee were given prison sentences for charges of embezzling funds from the World Health Organization (Africa News)

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the Ebola outbreak and international efforts to combat it.


Markets on Edge Ahead of 'Brexit' Vote

The world's largest investment banks are anticipating market volatility following the June 23 referendum (Reuters) in which UK voters will decide whether to remain in the EU. Banks, including Citi and Goldman Sachs, say they plan to have senior staff and traders working overnight following the vote. Yields on German ten-year government debt sank below zero for the first time in apparent concern over the fallout from the vote (WSJ).

This Expert Roundup looks at the stakes of a potential "Brexit."

RUSSIA: Government hackers obtained access to the Democratic National Committee computer network and its entire file of research on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, according to DNC officials and security personnel (WaPo). A Russian embassy official said he had "no knowledge" of the breach.


Brazil's Congressional Ethics Committee to Strip Former House Speaker of Mandate

A legislative ethics committee voted to strip Brazil's former speaker of the house, Eduardo Cunha, of his mandate (AP); the Chamber of Deputies will now vote on the matter. Cunha, who led impeachment charges against suspended President Dilma Rousseff, is accused of lying about possessing foreign bank accounts. Separately, Brazil's Supreme Court referred former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to a lower court judge (WSJ) for corruption charges, effectively stripping him of privileged legal standing.

VENEZUELA: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez on the sidelines of the Organization of American States general assembly (WSJ). Kerry called on the Venezuelan government to release political prisoners and allow a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro to take place. Rodriguez said her country was suffering "international bullying from the right."


REPORT: Nine in Ten Minors Who Cross Mediterranean Are Unaccompanied

Nine out of ten migrant children arriving in Italy by crossing the Mediterranean are unaccompanied (Voice of America), according to a new UNICEF report. Some seven thousand children entered Italy from North Africa in the first five months of this year, according to the agency, which reported the arrivals are largely are from Somalia, Eritrea, Gambia, and Egypt.


Clinton, Sanders Meet, Pledge Cooperation

Hillary Clinton and her Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–VT) met on Tuesday after Clinton won the Washington, DC, primary, and said (NBC) pledged to work together in the general election. Sanders has not conceded the nomination although Clinton has earned enough delegates to become the party's presumptive nominee.

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

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