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Daily Brief: At Least Forty-One Killed in Istanbul Airport Attack

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June 29, 2016

Daily News Brief

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At Least Forty-One Killed in Istanbul Airport Attack

At least forty-one people were killed and scores wounded in an attack carried out by three suicide bombers at Istanbul's Ataturk international airport Tuesday evening. The victims were mostly Turkish citizens and included nationals from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ukraine, China, Iraq, Jordan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan (Al Jazeera). Turkey declared a national day of mourning as Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said there were indications that the self-proclaimed Islamic State was responsible (Hurriyet), though no group claimed has responsibility for the attack (NYT). The attack is the latest in a string of terror incidents in Turkey in recent months, including suicide bombers at a Kurdish peace rally in Ankara that killed one hundred people last October and two suicide bombings in Istanbul. 


"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.

"Initially, Turkey considered the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad as a bigger threat than the Islamic State and was reluctant to cooperate closely with the United States, but more recently the government has helped U.S-led efforts. Last year, Turkey allowed U.S. aircraft to fly from Incirlik air base to target militants in Iraq and Syria. Turkey has also increased efforts to prevent foreign fighters from moving through its border into Syria," Jim Michaels writes for USA Today.

"At times, the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) has seemed to hinge on the 560-mile line that divides Turkey and Syria. The United States and Russia have frequently urged Ankara to seal off its southern border in order to cut off supplies and volunteers destined for the radical group. For much of the conflict, Turkish officials have responded coolly to such calls. Some have argued that closing off the border is impossible. ISIS has seized significant portions of territory on the Syrian side of the perimeter, and walling off, or manning, such a distance would be expensive and require a huge number of security personnel. Further, stopping all traffic out of Syria would also mean turning away refugees en masse," Ryan Gingeras writes for Foreign Affairs


U.S., South Korea, and Japan Conduct Anti-Missile Drills

The three countries conducted their first-ever joint anti-missile tracking exercise off Hawaii (Yonhap) in an effort to coordinate against threats from North Korea.  

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

AUSTRALIA: A mosque in western Australia was the target of an arson attack (CNN) as hundreds of worshippers gathered to pray Tuesday evening. Australian police said four cars were set aflame using an accelerant. There were no reported injuries.


India Supreme Court Refuses Case Against Same-Sex Relations Ban

India's highest court refused to hear a petition against a colonial-era ban on same-sex relations, a crime which can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years for violators (Reuters). The ban was reinstated in 2013 after a four-year period in which same-sex relations were decriminalized.

This CFR map looks at LGBT rights across the world.

MALDIVES: The highest court in the Maldives upheld a thirteen-year prison sentence (AFP) on terrorism-related charges for the country's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, a climate change activist who won political asylum in the United Kingdom. The United Nations and U.S. Secretary of State have criticized the actions against Nasheed.


Lebanon Raids Syrian Refugee Camp After Bombing

Lebanese forces arrested more than a hundred people for not having appropriate legal papers in Syrian refugee camps (WSJ) following a series of bombings in the town of northeastern town of Qaa on Monday. No group claimed responsibility for the attack on the predominantly Christian town (Middle East Eye).

IRAN: Eleven rebels from the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran and three Revolutionary Guards were killed in clashes near the border with Iraq (Middle East Eye), according to Iran's state news agency. Also on Tuesday, Iran's Supreme Leader replaced the general at the helm of the country's armed forces; Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi had held the position since 1989 (NYT).

This CFR interactive discusses the political struggles of Kurdish populations across Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.


South Sudan Cancels Independence Day Celebrations

South Sudan announced it would not commemorate its five-year independence anniversary on July 9 (Africa News) due to its ongoing economic crisis. Senior banking officials have alerted that currency reserves in the country's central bank may only last one month (Sudan Tribune).  

SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa's Constitutional Court ordered President Jacob Zuma to repay $500,000 of public funds used to upgrade his private residence (VOA).


EU Leaders Meet in Brussels Without UK

Twenty-seven member states of the EU met in Brussels to discuss the exit of the United Kingdom from the bloc as leaders called for the UK to clarify its plans for the leaving the union as soon as possible (BBC). Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK's Labour party, lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in a 172 to 40 vote (NYT).

CFR's Robert Kahn writes about the economic impacts of UK's vote to exit the European Union in this blog post.


Report: Torture, Sexual Violence Against Women Routine by Mexican Security Forces

A new report (Amnesty International) accuses Mexican security forces of torture, sexual assault, and threats of violence against women during arrest and interrogation. Of the one hundred women interviewed for the report, seventy-two reported sexual abuse (LAHT).  

VENEZUELA: The umbrella opposition platform, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, asked the country's electoral officials to initiate the second phase of a recall process against President Nicolas Maduro (LAHT) after validating a necessary quota of signatures to trigger a referendum.

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