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Daily Brief: U.S. Announces Transfer of Fifteen Guantanamo Detainees

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August 16, 2016

Daily News Brief

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U.S. Announces Transfer of Fifteen Guantanamo Detainees

The Pentagon announced (NYT) it had sent fifteen detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center to the United Arab Emirates in the largest single transfer of the Obama administration. The transfer reduces the number of prisoners (WSJ) remaining at Guantanamo to sixty-one, down from the 242 held when Obama took office in 2009. While Obama has sought to close the detention facility before leaving office, only twenty of the remaining detainees have been approved for transfer. He has faced opposition from leading Republicans such as House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, who criticized the release (BBC) of "hardened terrorists" to the UAE.


"It's unclear what has happened to prisoners the UAE previously took in, though it's widely believed they undergo some sort of government-monitored rehabilitation. Of those already taken in, there have been no complaints of maltreatment, said Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the British-based advocacy group Reprieve," writes David McFadden of the AP.

"The Obama administration appears close to resettling the remaining detainees recommended for transfer, some of whom have been stranded on that list for years. That prospect raises a question: What more, if anything, should the United States do to help them, and hundreds of other people who were previously released after being detained without charges for years?" writes Charlie Savage in the New York Times.

"At least 43 inmates are being held indefinitely and have not been recommended for release by the review boards. These indefinite detainees are known as the 'forever prisoners,' the captives deemed too dangerous to release but who have not been charged with any crimes," explains Marina Koren in the Atlantic.


China Launches 'Hack-Proof' Satellite

China launched (SCMP) what it claims is the world's first quantum satellite into space, which is expected to send faster-than-light communications. Scientists said such messages would be impervious to hacking, with implications for military as well as commercial uses.

MYANMAR: State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi is traveling (Reuters) to China for the first time since her party won last year's elections. Talks will likely include the fate of a $3.6 billion dam project that is supported by China but controversial in Myanmar.

This Backgrounder explores the recent political shifts that have taken place in Myanmar and the challenges that lie ahead.


Death Toll Rises in Kashmir Clashes

Security forces in India-administered Kashmir opened fire (Times of India) on rock-throwing protestors Tuesday, killing five. Gunfights between protesters and police also led to the death of a police officer (Al Jazeera), bringing the toll to more than fifty killed since the current spate of violence began in July.

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban fighters captured (UPI) a strategically important district in the country's northern Baghlan province after Afghan forces retreated. The district controls the main highway linking the capital, Kabul, with other northern provinces.


Russian Jets Use Iranian Base to Strike in Syria

Russian planes used a base in Iran to launch bombing campaigns (AP) targeting the self-proclaimed Islamic State and other militants in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The mission marked the first time Russia has launched operations in Syria from another country, signaling the country's deepening cooperation with Iran in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

This interview with journalist Rukmini Callimachi discusses how the Islamic State is evolving as it loses ground in Iraq and Syria.

YEMEN: An air strike hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), killing eleven people (AFP) and wounding more than nineteen others, the aid group said. The Saudi government announced it would investigate the attack, which was condemned by the United States, a backer of the Saudi-led campaign there.


Report Reveals Abuses By South Sudanese Soldiers

An investigation found that South Sudanese troops loyal to President Salva Kiir targeted foreign residents and aid workers (AP) in the capital of Juba for beatings, rapes, and other abuses in a July incident. UN peacekeeping troops stationed less than a mile away failed to respond to calls for help, according to the report.

DR CONGO: A yellow fever outbreak centered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (NYT) could spread throughout Africa and to the rest of the world due to a severe vaccine shortage, warned the charity Save the Children.


Turkish Police Target Suspected Pro-Coup Companies

Police raided forty-four companies and are seeking to arrest 120 executives suspected of complicity (BBC) in the failed July coup attempt. Turkish prosecutors allege that these companies channeled money to the cleric Fethullah Gulen, an opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is based in the United States.

CFR's Steven Cook and Michael Koplow argue in this op-ed that Turkey is no longer a reliable U.S. ally.

FRANCE: A mayor on the island of Corsica has become the third in France (Guardian) to approve a ban on “burkinis,” a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women. Brawls have broken out in recent days over opposition to immigration from North Africa.


Assailants Abduct Men From Mexican Resort

Gunmen in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta abducted up to a dozen men (WSJ) who were celebrating at a restaurant in the town's center early Monday, the state prosecutor said. The assault comes as cartel-related violence in the region is on the rise, and local officials said that federal police and the armed forces would increase their presence in the city.


Trump Calls for Cold War Approach to Fighting Terrorism

Donald Trump called (NYT) for an approach to fighting terrorism that draws on Cold War–era opposition to communism and pledged to temporarily suspend immigration from “the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world.” He said he would end nation-building efforts and judge allies by whether they support U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

Track and compare the foreign policy positions of Trump and Hillary Clinton with CFR’s interactive, The Candidates and the World.

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