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Daily Brief: Turkey Threatens to Withdraw From Migrant Deal

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August 15, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Turkey Threatens to Withdraw From Migrant Deal

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned (DW) that a failure by the EU to grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel to the bloc by October would lead to the unraveling of an EU-Turkey deal to reduce migration into Europe from the Middle East. Visa liberalization has been repeatedly delayed over EU concerns (Reuters) over Turkish antiterrorism legislation and a crackdown on civil society after last month's failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Cavusoglu said (AFP) that the EU is "humiliating" Turkey, and accused European leaders of "encouraging" the coup attempt.


"For European officials, Turkey’s recent hostile statements against the EU and the country’s renewed friendship with Russia has sounded alarm bells, with officials increasingly fearful that a pillar of the EU’s migration strategy could collapse—with dire consequences for the prospect of opening new chapters in Turkey’s EU membership bid," writes Politico Europe's Florian Eder.

"There are good reasons to grant Turks a visa waiver. But right now, it's especially important that Europe insist Ankara first meet the criteria the EU has determined necessary for that waiver to happen. That includes a reform of Turkey's anti-terror laws, which the government has been using to imprison political opponents without due process. The EU must not let itself be blackmailed by Erdogan," argues Mathieu von Rohr in Der Spiegel.

"Juncker has warned that thousands of people could make their way into Europe again, should the deal collapse. Yet on closer inspection this standoff is paradoxical. The two sides are squabbling over a deal that was difficult to implement from the outset, and that ultimately proved ineffective. The collapse of the EU-Turkey agreement constitutes neither a credible threat from Turkey nor an existential danger for the EU," writes Angelos Chryssogelos at CNN.


Hong Kong Protest Leaders Given Light Sentences

Joshua Wong, the most prominent leader of Hong Kong's 2014 pro-democracy protests, received (SCMP) no jail time after being convicted of unlawful assembly. Another protest leader, Nathan Law, also received no jail time and is free to stand in local elections, while a third, Alex Chow, received a three-week jail sentence suspended for a year (BBC).

JAPAN: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declined to visit (Japan Times) the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japanese war criminals among its dead, on the seventy-first anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II. Abe dispatched a special advisor to go in his place.


Afghan Forces Confront Taliban Offensive

Taliban insurgents continue to push (NYT) toward Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, with Afghan army and special forces, backed by American air strikes, struggling to halt their advance. Government forces have been losing ground for months in Helmand, the country's largest province.

This CFR InfoGuide traces the origins of the Taliban and the group's continuing threat to the Afghan government.

INDIA: Gunmen in India-administered Kashmir injured ten police officers (AP) after security forces attempted to impose a curfew during Indian Independence Day, security sources said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked (Hindu) the day with an address in New Delhi inveighing against violence.


Iraqi Troops Advance Towards Mosul

Iraqi forces, led by the Kurdish Peshmerga army, launched an offensive (Al Jazeera) Sunday to retake several villages near Mosul, the largest city under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Officials said that plans to recapture Mosul have not yet been finalized.

This interview with journalist Ned Parker considers how Iraq will deal with cities liberated from the Islamic State.

YEMEN: Saudi-led air strikes in northern Yemen killed at least ten children (WaPo) and injured twenty-eight others at a school, according to Yemeni locals and officials, drawing condemnation (VoA) from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A Saudi spokesman said the strikes hit a Houthi rebel training camp.


Boko Haram Releases Video of Captive Girls

The Nigerian insurgent group Boko Haram released a video (BBC) showing fifty girls thought to be part of a group of nearly three hundred abducted from the northern town of Chibok in 2014. The video demands the release of jailed Boko Haram fighters and claims that Nigerian government air strikes led to the deaths of many of the girls.

ZAMBIA: Opposition parties accused (News 24) the incumbent president, Edgar Lungu, of fraud after delays in the release of results in the country's presidential elections.


Casualties Mount in Swiss Train Attack

A woman has died (AP) and several other victims remain hospitalized after a Swiss man attacked a crowded passenger train with a knife and an unidentified burning liquid. The attacker also died of his wounds.


Venezuela Reopens Border With Colombia

More than eighty thousand Venezuelans crossed into Colombia to buy food and other basic supplies after the governments of Venezuela and Colombia began implementing a plan (WSJ) to gradually open the border. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had closed the border a year ago after blaming Colombia for destabilizing the country.

BRAZIL: Four U.S. Olympic swimmers were robbed at gunpoint (LAT) by men posing as police officers early Sunday, underlining the ongoing security concerns at the 2016 Rio Games.

In a CFR Interview, journalist Juliana Barbassa explores the challenges Rio de Janeiro has faced in preparing to host the Olympics.

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