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Daily Brief: Colombian Government, Rebels to Announce End to Long War

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June 23, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Colombian Government, Rebels to Announce End to Long War

Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are expected to announce the details of a bilateral cease-fire agreement in a Havana ceremony attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and heads of regional governments Thursday (WSJ). FARC leadership and the Colombian government have been negotiating since 2012 in the Cuban capital. The deal also includes an agreement for rebels to lay down their arms (NYT). FARC declared a unilateral cease-fire in July of 2015 (Colombia Reports). An estimated 220,000 people have been killed and five million displaced in half-century long conflict.


"For Colombians, the agreement involves 'swallowing toads', in a local metaphor. The FARC claim to have fought a just war against unequal land ownership. In that cause the country suffered bombings, firefights, murders, kidnapping and extortion. Many people find it hard to accept that FARC leaders accused of crimes against humanity will not go to jail provided they confess. But they will face a special tribunal and restrictions on their liberty for up to eight years. Many other points in the agreement involve the government saying it will do things it should do anyway, such as fostering rural development and adopting better ways to fight drug-trafficking and criminal gangs," writes The Economist.

"The ceasefire will also mark the beginning of the demobilization and disarmament of the FARC’s guerrilla organization, which will ultimately become a political movement. However, the thousands of members of the guerrilla group and more than 24,000 state officials will first have to go through a process of transitional justice that will seek justice for the millions of Colombians who have become a victim of human rights violations committed on a massive scale by both parties," Adriaan Alsema writes for Colombia Reports.

"Afraid of getting bogged down in a Vietnam-style quagmire, [the U.S.] Congress initially restricted the use of donated helicopters and other hardware strictly to fighting drug production and trafficking. A battalion of 3,000 men trained by US special forces could not be used to combat the guerrillas or paramilitaries unless their targets were clearly protecting drug labs or coca fields. ... That ended after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, when the US became openly engaged in fighting 'narco-terrorism' in Colombia. That is where Plan Colombia did succeed: in helping the Colombian government take control – in some areas for the first time – of its territory, fighting back guerrillas to mountain and jungle redoubts and driving them to begin peace negotiations with the government in 2012," Sibylla Brodzinsky writes for the Guardian.


Incoming Philippines Administration to Carry Out Family Planning Push

Two ministers in the cabinet of Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said his government would push (FT) for family planning by cutting additional welfare benefits for families that have more than three children and promoting contraception use.

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

ASIA: Millionaires' assets in the Asia-Pacific region surpassed (Bloomberg) private wealth held in North America for the first time in 2015, according to a new report. Millionaires in Asia held $17.4 trillion in wealth compared to $16.6 trillion in North America.


Pakistani Performer of Sufi Music Killed in Attack Claimed by Taliban

A popular Pakistani singer of Sufi devotional music was killed by gunmen on a motorcycle in Karachi (Dawn). Thousands attended the funeral for the performer, whose attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban as retaliation for blasphemy (Reuters).

KYRGYZSTAN: The Kyrgyz parliament gave initial approval to a bill to ban foreign organizations and individuals from owning media outlets in the country (RFE/RL). The bill would also ban outlets supported with foreign funding. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is funded by the U.S. Congress, reported that activists believe the bill targets the outlet.  


Israeli Transport Minister Seeks Support for Gaza Artificial Island Construction

Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz is seeking support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet to construct a secure three-square mile island off the Palestinian territory of Gaza. The island would restore the strip's access to the outside world without building a seaport or airport in Gaza itself (Guardian), which the minister said raises security concerns.

UAE: Dubai's tourism department relaxed rules on daytime alcohol sales during the holy month of Ramadan (AP), which the department said was in the interest of "ensuring a superlative visitor experience consistently."


UN to Pull Peacekeepers After 'Lack of Responsiveness' To South Sudan Camp Attack

The United Nations said it will pull some peacekeepers from a UN base in South Sudan where troops were criticized for their poor response to a February attack that killed at least twenty-five people (AP). The Malakal camp provided shelter for 48,000 internally displaced persons (Sudan Tribune).

NIGERIA: Five foreign workers and two Nigerian employees of an Australian mining company were kidnapped (WSJ) near the border with Cameroon in an ambush that also killed a local member of the company's staff.  


UK Votes in 'Brexit' Referendum to Leave EU

UK citizens vote today in a long-anticipated referendum over leaving the European Union. Polls have put the "leave" and "remain" camps within a few percentage points of each other (Guardian); results are expected Friday morning.

This CFR Backgrounder explains why some UK citizens are pushing to exit the European Union.

EU: The European Union agreed to create a new border agency and coast guard force capable of deploying rapidly to areas with extraordinary migrant influxes (AP). In a compromise, the new force will not be able to enter a country without the national government's consent (FT).

This CFR Backgrounder discusses Europe's migration crisis.


Report: Abortion Demand Spikes in Latin America Over Zika Fears

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that demand for abortion services rose sharply as fears increase over the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects in newborns (BBC). Terminating pregnancy is illegal in most countries across Latin America.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the spread of the Zika virus.

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