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Daily Brief: Brazil's Interim President Faces Corruption Allegations

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June 16, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Brazil's Interim President Faces Corruption Allegations

Brazil's interim President Michel Temer is accused of seeking campaign donations for a political ally in 2012 in a bribery scheme involving state-oil company Petrobras (Reuters). The allegation marks the first time Temer has been personally implicated in the ongoing anticorruption investigation; his office denied the claims (FT). Temer assumed office in May after President Dilma Rousseff was suspended amid impeachment charges relating to budget mishandling. Two of Temer's ministers have already stepped down over charges they tried subvert the ongoing corruption probe (WSJ).

ANALYSIS

"Michel Temer's first month as interim president has not been the stuff of dreams. Even though important elements of urgently needed economic reforms have advanced, impeachment politics continue to cast a long shadow, corruption investigations continue to percolate, and Temer's legitimacy remains under constant assault," CFR's Matthew Taylor writes in this blog post.

"Brazilian politics suffers from chronic dysfunction. More than two dozen political parties hold seats in Congress, and because most of them lack a recognizable ideology governing coalitions are stitched together through patronage—a ministry here, a state bank there. This system explains how Rousseff originally came to team up with Michel Temer, her Vice-President, who is now Brazil's acting President. Temer was not a member of Rousseff’s Workers' Party, and never bought into its declared aims of social justice. A lawyer and career politician, Temer was a member of the old political establishment, and Rousseff relied on his skills as a power broker to help her projects get through the legislature. But when public opinion turned against her, so did he," Alex Cuadros writes for the New Yorker.

"With Ms. Rousseff stripped of her authority, a sense of powerlessness and indignation pervades the Palácio da Alvorada, the cavernous residence where she is allowed to stay while the fight to oust her once and for all grinds on in the Senate. It was not supposed to be like this. Brazil was hoping to celebrate its triumphs in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, not play host to a jaw-dropping spectacle of political dysfunction. Ms. Rousseff, Brazil's first female president, was supposed to be preparing to greet world leaders, not enduring the humiliation of an impeachment battle that has her hanging by a thread," Simon Romero writes for the New York Times.

PACIFIC RIM

Obama, Dalai Lama Meet at White House

U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a private meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader at the White House to discuss human rights and climate change (WSJ). A spokesman for China's foreign ministry criticized the meeting (Global Times), saying that "Tibet affairs are China's domestic affairs and no foreign country has the right to interfere."

PHILIPPINES: A senior advisor to President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte said the administration would resume peace talks with Maoist rebels (Reuters) in Oslo that faltered four years ago when President Benigno Aquino's administration declined to free political prisoners.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick writes about expectations for a Duterte presidency in this article for the Diplomat.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Report: Taliban Use Minors to Lure Police

A new report (AFP) says insurgents use underage boys as sex slaves to infiltrate police ranks and attack Afghan security forces; the report lists at least six such attacks in the first four months of this year.

CFR's Stephen Biddle discusses U.S. options in Afghanistan in this article for Defense One.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced a $2 million program to support to the region's transgender population (Al Jazeera) following a series of violent attacks on transgendered persons, including the killing of a prominent activist (LA Times). The country recognizes transgender people as a "third gender" following a 2009 high court ruling.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Prince Salman Visits United States

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began a week-long visit to the United States, which includes meetings with Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter (WSJ). The White House has not announced whether the prince will meet with President Obama.  

IRAQ: The head of the Kurdistan Regional Government's Security Council said that a post-Islamic State Iraq should be divided into three entities for Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds (Reuters).

This CFR Interactive discusses the history of the Kurds and the quest for Kurdish statehood.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Report: Ethiopian Security Forces Killed at Least Four Hundred Protesters

A new report (HRW) says that Ethiopian security forces killed at least four hundred protesters and arrested tens of thousands since November of 2015 in the Oromia region, where protesters demonstrated against a plan to expand Addis Ababa's boundaries. Ethiopia's government said (BBC) the report exaggerated the number of victims.

NIGER: The bodies of thirty-four migrants, including twenty children, were found dead in the desert in Niger, according to the country's Interior Ministry (Africa News). Many migrants pass through Niger on the way to Libya or Algeria to take boats to Europe.

EUROPE

NATO to Expand Role in Mediterranean Anti-Human Smuggling Operations

Defense ministers in Brussels discussed plans to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's role in stemming the flow of migrants into the European Union (FT). NATO's secretary general said that the bloc could support the Italy-lead EU Operation Sophia around Libya; U.S Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the United States would contribute a ship to the NATO operation.

UKRAINE: The White House announced $220 million in new aid (RFE/RL) for the Ukrainian government to strengthen democratic institutions and rule of law, promote sustainable development, and address humanitarian concerns.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the origins of the crisis in Ukraine.

AMERICAS

Arrests and Curfew Follow Looting in Venezuelan City

Some four hundred people were arrested in the coastal city of Cumuná after hundreds of people raided supermarkets (Guardian), prompting soldiers and special security forces to patrol the city and impose a de facto curfew. The country is grappling with widespread food and energy shortages and a move to oust President Nicolas Maduro through a referendum recall vote.

CAMPAIGN 2016

Survey: 80 Percent of Americans See Islamic State as a Major Threat

Eight in ten respondents to a recent Pew Research Center survey said the self-proclaimed Islamic State is a major threat to the United States. Seventy-two percent of respondents said cyber attacks were a major concern. 

Track and compare the presidential candidates' national security stances with CFR’s interactive, The Candidates and the World.

 
 
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