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Daily Brief: Theresa May Becomes UK Prime Minister

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July 13, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Theresa May Becomes UK Prime Minister

UK Home Secretary Theresa May will become prime minister Wednesday after Conservative PM David Cameron steps down after six years. May, who will become the United Kingdom's second female prime minister, has indicated she will promote several women in her government (Guardian). Campaigners behind the two most prominent pro-Brexit movements have reported they will continue pressure her government to speed up measures to leave the European Union (FT); Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said the departure could take as long as six years. Meanwhile European countries have reportedly seen a surge in UK citizens inquiring about second citizenships in order to ensure their ability to work throughout the bloc (FT).


"In her one substantive campaign appearance before the rapid sequence of events on Monday that cleared the way for her to take power, [May] set out a vision of a Conservative government intent on doing much more than decoupling from Europe and eager to seize the political center. Seeking to address the underlying causes of the vote to leave the union, she suggested that she would address the anxieties and frustrations of the British who feel left behind or imperiled by globalization and its effects, including inequality," Stephen Castle writes for the New York Times.

"May's most obvious job is to contain the damage from the Brexit referendum, retaining as much access as possible to Europe’s single market while asserting Britain’s determination to control inward migration. But, from the perspective of non-Europeans, her progress on a parallel task will be at least as interesting. For May has set out to grapple with the problem plaguing most mature democracies: how to govern in an era of inequality and social division," writes CFR’s Sebastian Mallaby.

"There are more than a few similarities between the two women [Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel]. Both are children of the cloth – Mrs Merkel’s father was a Lutheran pastor, Mrs May’s a Church of England clergyman. Politically, they both hail from the centre right; their brand of politics is pragmatic. And in an age where charisma rules, they’re resolutely unshowy. They’re known for their grasp of details, drilling down into policy, rather than skimming the surface like some of their male colleagues. And while both like to quietly build consensus, neither is afraid to challenge the status quo: Mrs May when she told the Conservatives to quit being the 'nasty party', and Mrs Merkel when she told her country they couldn’t turn their back on the refugees on Europe’s doorstep – a decision which haunts her still," Cathy Newman writes for the Telegraph.


South Korea Picks Site for Missile Defense Shield Amid Protests

South Korea announced that a missile defense shield will be based in Seongju county (WSJ), about 180 miles south of Seoul. Some five thousand people gathered in the county's capital to protest the site selection, saying it will put locals' health at risk and cause environmental damage (Korea Times).

JAPAN: Eighty-two year-old Emperor Akihito plans to abdicate within a few years, according to Japanese government sources, which would make him the first emperor to do so in two hundred years (Japan Times).


Indian PM Urges Law Enforcement's 'Restraint' in Kashmir

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked security forces to exercise "absolute restraint" and ensure that "civilians were not harassed" in Kashmir following the killing of a popular militant leader (Hindu). Thirty-two people have died in clashes between protesters since the weekend (RFE/RL), and Pakistan summoned India's high commissioner to discuss the violence (RFE/RL).

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker discusses territorial conflicts in the Kashmir region.

AFGHANISTAN: The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said U.S. forces are using expanded powers, including air strikes authorized by President Barack Obama "almost daily" against militants (VOA). Under the new authorization, U.S. forces in Afghanistan can attack Taliban targets in order to gain a strategic advantage; before, U.S. troops could only do so if they or their Afghan allies were under attack or facing imminent defeat.


Seventeen Killed in Air Strike on Refugee Camp on Syria-Jordan Border

Air strikes on a camp for displaced persons in Hadalat killed at least seventeen people and wounded forty. Activists aid the camp may have been targeted because it hosts relatives of U.S.-backed rebel group Asoud Al-Sharqiya, which operates from Jordan (Al Jazeera). Meanwhile, an Al Jazeera reporter was killed in Syria (Reporters Without Borders) while covering a Russian air strike near in the northwestern city of Idlib.

IRAN: A spokeswoman for U.S. consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble said (WSJ) it is looking to push into the Iranian market.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons assesses the Iran nuclear deal a year after its announcement at this CFR event. 


Zimbabwe Pastor, Protest Leader Arrested in Anti-Mugabe Demonstrations

Law enforcement arrested Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire in Harare and charged him with inciting public violence (NYT). Mawarire has organized the country's largest protests in a decade against longtime President Robert Mugabe.

KENYA: Nobel laureate and girls' education campaigner Malala Yousafzai visited the world's largest refugee camp (TIME), a site in Dadaab that hosts displaced Somalians. Responding to claims that the Kenyan government plans to close the camp, she cited concerns that young refugee women could become a "generation lost" and called for alternative plans for them to continue their studies.


EU-U.S. 'Privacy Shield' Deal to Share Data Approved

European officials approved a new transatlantic data deal that will allow large companies like Google and General Electric to transfer information freely across the European Union and United States (NYT). The deal includes safeguards that allow Europeans to go to U.S. courts with complaints and guarantees from the U.S. government to not monitor Europeans' data without due cause; it follows a ruling from Europe's highest court that a previous transatlantic data agreement did not sufficiently protect privacy rights.


Citibank Shuts Down Venezuelan Government Accounts in U.S.


U.S. financial institution Citibank confirmed that it had closed the account that the Venezuelan government used to make international payments following a risk assessment (AFP). Also in Venezuela the government published a decree putting the country's armed forces in charge of food and medicine distribution (Reuters) amid widespread shortages.

CFR's Matthew Taylor discusses Venezuela's role in the strains on the Mercosur bloc in this blog post.

CHILE: German President Joachim Gauck condemned rights violations that took place at a German enclave, which was used as a torture center during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (BBC). Gauck said Germany was not responsible the rights abuses at Colonia Dignidad, which was set up by a former Nazi officer, but said the country would declassify documents on the colony.


Sanders Endorses Clinton

Bernie Sanders endorsed Hilary Clinton (NYT) on Tuesday, appearing with her on stage at an event in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, the Republican party platform for the 2016 presidential election adopted (NYT) some of Donald Trump’s positions, including opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and calls to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Track and compare the two leading candidates' positions on trade, immigration, and foreign policy with CFR’s interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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