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Daily Brief: Afghanistan Attacks Kill Twenty-Three, Including Embassy Guards

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June 20, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Afghanistan Attacks Kill Twenty-Three, Including Embassy Guards

A suicide bomber killed fourteen Nepalese guards assigned to security at the Canadian embassy in Kabul Monday. At least nine others were killed in two other attacks: one attack targeted a politician in Kabul and another struck a market in the northeastern province of Badakshan, bringing the death toll to at least twenty-three (Al Jazeera). Both the Taliban (Stars and Stripes) and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (WaPo) claimed responsibility for the attack on the security guards. The bombing is one of the deadliest attacks on foreign contractors since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan; it broke what had been two months of relative calm in the capital.

ANALYSIS

"There is a growing risk that the current National Unity Government in Kabul could collapse because of a defection by Abdullah, a severe economic crisis, the establishment of a parallel government, or a coup d'état. There is also a growing possibility that the Taliban could gain substantial territory in one or more cities. These contingencies would amount to a strategic reversal for the United States, since Washington was instrumental in helping create the National Unity Government in 2014," writes Seth Jones in this new CFR Contingency Planning Memorandum.

"The critical thing to recognize is that the fight in Kabul is an important one, but where we’re seeing the real battlefield shifts are elsewhere. These spectacular attacks have a real symbolic quality to them and undercut confidence, but the actual military moves are happening throughout the country in a fairly wide and comprehensive way. It’s not just a matter of firming up security in Kabul or resolving one specific line of threat. It’s broader than that, it makes it a lot harder, and that means we have fewer quick fixes," CFR's Daniel Markey says in an interview with the Cipher Brief.

"The reality is that the medieval Taliban will neither be defeated nor seek peace until their Pakistani sanctuaries are eliminated. No counterterrorism campaign has ever succeeded in a country when the militants have found refuge in another. While Obama recognizes the imperative of eliminating terrorist sanctuaries, he has failed to do what is needed. Simply put, bribing Pakistan’s military will not work. Over the last 14 years, the US has given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid and armed it with lethal weapons, ranging from F-16s and P-3C Orion maritime aircraft to Harpoon anti-ship missiles and TOW anti-armor missiles. And yet Pakistan continues to provide the Afghan Taliban a safe haven within its borders," Brahma Chellaney writes for Project Syndicate.

PACIFIC RIM

Tens of Thousands Protest U.S. Okinawa Bases

Protests on Sunday (Japan Times) drew tens of thousands in Okinawa and Tokyo calling for the removal of U.S. military bases from the island. The protests came after a former U.S. Marine who was employed as a civilian worker was arrested for the killing in April of a twenty-year-old Japanese woman. Protesters also called for the U.S. and Japanese governments to abandon a plan to relocate a marine base to a more remote coastal area of Okinawa (Guardian).

INDONESIA: The Indonesian navy fired at Chinese fishing boats (AP) near Indonesia's Natuna Islands on Friday and detained seven crew members of a vessel. China's foreign ministry condemned the incident, which it said took place in "traditional Chinese fishing ground" in the South China Sea (BBC).

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker explains the ongoing tensions in the East China Sea.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Report: Cluster Bombs May Have Been Used in Sri Lankan Civil War

A new report (Guardian) suggests that Sri Lanka's military used cluster bombs in the final days of the country's civil war in 2008 and 2009, based on images and testimony from those removing mines from former conflict zones. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that the military acted "adherence with international law" when he faced earlier questions about rights abuses during the war.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel Approves $18.6 Million in New Funding for West Bank Settlements

The Israeli government approved new funding for Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank (Haaretz), citing the "unique security situation" faced by settlers. The move comes as Israeli ultranationalist Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, himself a settler, arrives in Washington and is expected to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter (NYT).  

This CFR Backgrounder explores the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

EGYPT: An Egyptian court sentenced two Al Jazeera employees and another journalist (Middle East Eye) to death in absentia in an espionage trial. The court also gave an additional twenty-five-year-sentence to former President Mohamed Morsi, who already has already been sentenced to death, life in prison, and twenty years in prison in separate cases (AP). Morsi's sentences are under appeal.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sudanese President Declares Cease-Fire in Blue Nile and South Kordofan

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir decreed a four-month cease-fire in two southern states where the government and rebel fighters have clashed since 2011 (Al Jazeera). Last year the Sudanese government declared a general amnesty for armed groups that would join in a national dialogue conference (Sudan Tribune)

EUROPE

Rights Group: Eleven Syrian Refugees Killed by Turkish Border Guards

Turkish border guards shot and killed eleven Syrians, including three children, at Jisr al-Shoughour, a key border town for smuggling (NYT), according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Turkey has denied past accusations that its forces fired on Syrian refugees (Middle East Eye).

ITALY: Rome elected Virginia Raggi from the antiestablishment M5S party as mayor, making her the first woman to hold the office (Guardian). Her win is seen as a rebuke of the center-left Democratic Party of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (EU Observer).

AMERICAS

China Renegotiates Venezuela's Debt, Meets With Opposition

China has extended payment schedules for loans taken out by Venezuela and sent unofficial envoys to meet with opposition figures to discuss repayment of debt in the case of a collapse of the government of Nicolas Maduro (FT). China is Venezuela's largest creditor and has loaned Caracas $65 billion since 2005.   

BRAZIL: The new CEO of Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, Pedro Parente, promised a leaner, better managed company free from political interference in his first interview with the foreign press since taking the job last month (WSJ). The company has been at the center of an ongoing corruption investigation involving kickbacks to political figures and construction companies.

GLOBAL

Report: Roughly Sixty-Five Million People Displaced

A new UN report says some sixty-five million people, or one in every 113 people, are refugees (BBC), the highest number on record. More than half of the world's refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia (Africa News).

This CFR Backgrounder discusses Europe's migration crisis.

 
 
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