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Daily Brief: Nigeria Claims Air Strikes Kill Top Boko Haram Leaders

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August 23, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Nigeria Claims Air Strikes Kill Top Boko Haram Leaders

Nigeria's air force says it killed several top leaders of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in air strikes Friday, which an army spokesman said (BBC) injured militant leader Abubakar Shekau. The strike has not been independently confirmed, and previous reports of Shekau's death have been unfounded. Local reports, citing the chief of Nigeria's air force, said some three hundred people (Vanguard) were killed in the strikes in Borno state. The attack occurred at a camp where female students kidnapped by the militants in 2014 are believed to be held (Al Jazeera). Nigeria's announcement of the attack came as U.S. Secretary of State arrived in the country for a visit to discuss corruption and security (VOA).

ANALYSIS

"For years, Nigerian forces have struggled with how to combat Boko Haram. Soldiers have been accused of carrying out arbitrary detentions, torture and killings of civilians, often without trying to distinguish fighters from the innocent. Witnesses have even described Nigerian soldiers deliberately carrying out revenge killings against villagers, prompting the United States to block the sale of American-made attack helicopters in the past over human rights concerns. But the nation’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, a former general from the north, was elected more than a year ago after vowing to clean up the military. Since then, Nigerian forces have made headway in routing Boko Haram from its strongholds in remote villages," Dionne Searcey writes for the New York Times.

"Boko Haram is on the run, and much of the credit must go to vigilantes in northeastern Nigeria who have risen up to protect their local communities from the jihadists. But there is a growing concern that they represent a whole new security threat," Eromo Egbejule writes for IRIN News.

"U.S. involvement in the Sahel is growing because of security issues associated with violent extremists. The U.S. military’s Africa Command is perhaps the best example. At the request of host governments, we have established a few drone facilities. Peacekeeping operations training continues, as does U.S. diplomatic and financial support for multilateral peace efforts. But, the bottom line is that the U.S. security presence remains small. The Leahy amendment limits our training of foreign military and police. More generally, U.S. involvement in the Sahel is limited by the indirect threat to U.S. security posed by violence extremist groups," CFR's John Campbell said at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center of the Foreign Service Institute. 

PACIFIC RIM

Typhoon Injures Dozens in Japan

Typhoon Mindulle caused severe flooding in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, injuring dozens of people and killing at least one (Japan Today). The extreme weather marks the first time three typhoons have hit Hokkaido in one year (Japan Times).

PHILIPPINES: President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations after the body criticized his zealous war on drugs (BBC). The nation's top police officer told lawmakers that nearly 1,800 suspects have been killed by police and vigilantes since Duterte took office seven weeks ago (NYT).

This CFR Backgrounder discusses the history of U.S.-Philippines relations as treaty partners in regional security concerns.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Eighteen Put on Trial in Bangladesh Over 2013 Garment Factory Collapse

A trial for eighteen people involved in the construction of the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka that collapsed in 2013 and killed about 1,130 people began Tuesday (Al Jazeera).  

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban militants continued their assault on the city of Kunduz into a third day, raising fears the city could fall into militant control, as it did in 2015 (WaPo)Also in Afghanistan a U.S. service member was killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb in Helmand province (WaPo).

This CFR InfoGuide looks at the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Turkey Attacks YPG, ISIS Targets in Syria

Turkey launched artillery attacks on Monday against targets in Syria, including Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Forces) locations in the city of Manbij (Al Jazeera). YPG forces recently overtook parts of Manbij from the self-proclaimed Islamic State in a U.S.-backed offensive. Also on Monday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim backed down from claims that a suicide bomber at a weekend wedding had been a child sent by ISIS, saying he did not have information on the perpetrator (VOA).

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

IRAN: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said expanding economic and diplomatic relations with Latin America was a priority for the country as he embarked on a six-country Latin American tour with dozens of Iranian business leaders (Iran News).

CFR's Ray Takeyh discusses whether U.S. presidential hopefuls will accommodate or confront Iran in this article for Foreign Affairs.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Kerry: Deploying Protection Force to South Sudan is Urgent

During a visit with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the deployment of a 4,000-troop protection force (VOA) recently authorized by the United Nations to South Sudan is urgent. Such a deployment would bolster the already 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in the country (NYT).

EUROPE

Oxfam: UK Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia May Violate Treaty Obligations

The charity Oxfam said the United Kingdom may be breaking its arms treaty obligations through its sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia (Guardian) and accused the UK government of "fueling a brutal war in Yemen."

FRANCE: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that he will run for president again in the 2017 election (Euronews).

AMERICAS

Report Accuses Mexican President of Plagiarism in Law School

An investigative journalist reported that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto likely plagiarized about one-third of his law school thesis (NYT). A presidential spokesman responded to the report by saying any similarities in Pena Nieto's writing and earlier work was due to "style errors."

GLOBAL

Court Upholds Ban on Russia Ahead of Paralympic Games

Russian athletes will not compete in September's Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro after losing an appeal (BBC) with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The International Paralympic Committee banned Russian competitors following reports of state-sponsored doping.

 
 
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