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Daily Brief: EU Commission President Urges Creation of Military Force

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September 14, 2016

Daily News Brief

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EU Commission President Urges Creation of Military Force

President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said (Reuters) that fractures in the European Union are spurring populism and called for the creation of an EU common military force (BBC) that would "complement" NATO. Speaking before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, he addressed issues ranging from migration to defense and said that the bloc is "not at risk" for disintegration following the UK vote to leave the EU (EU Observer). He also said that London cannot access the single market of the bloc "a la carte" without also permitting the free movement of people and goods. Junker also promised an investment fund for African countries to deter migrants who take dangerous sea routes to Europe (Guardian).


"This year the focus will be as much on the future state of the EU without Britain as it is on the current state of the bloc. While waiting for the U.K. to trigger the Brexit process, the EU is keeping its fingers crossed that Turkey upholds an agreement to keep out Mideast refugees and counting on European Central Bank monetary easing to help prevent a renewed euro-area financial crisis," Jonathan Stearns writes for Bloomberg.

"All EU members have military forces; most are also members of Nato; and several have extensive experience of operations abroad, from peace-keeping to war-fighting. The real question is how to organise these component parts to get greater security. Mr Juncker insists that the EU must have a role here. He wants to improve EU command and control facilities and appears to be suggesting that EU civil and military aspects of a given mission should be run out of the same headquarters. He also insists that whatever the EU does it should not detract from Nato. But defence resources are finite. His critics will say nothing should be done that duplicates existing Nato activities, as that sends a signal of disarray in Western ranks to Moscow," Jonathan Marcus writes for the BBC.

"The other strand of the EU migration strategy that Juncker chose to highlight was a plea for the speedy implementation of a law to create an EU border and coastguard, to ensure better control of migrants and refugees arriving from the Middle East and Africa. In a tacit acknowledgement that European commission plans for refugee quotas were in trouble, he said solidarity could not be forced, but 'must come from the heart'. Hungary, Poland and other central and eastern European countries have accused the commission of blackmail over proposals that would oblige them to pay for not giving refuge to people fleeing war," Jennifer Rankin writes for the Guardian.


Myanmar's Suu Kyi to Meet Obama Wednesday

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's state counsellor, will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday in her first visit to Washington since her party won a wide victory in last year's elections (Reuters). Suu Kyi is expected to discuss further rolling back U.S. sanctions imposed during Myanmar's military rule (AP) and to meet with U.S. business representatives.

Priscilla A. Clapp argues that revising the U.S. sanctions policy is critical to a successful democratic transition in Myanmar in this CFR special report.

JAPAN: Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, a military hard-liner and frontrunner to become Japan's next prime minister, will make her first visit to Washington since her ministerial appointment for a meeting this week (WaPo) with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

CFR's Sheila A. Smith discusses the U.S.-Japan alliance in this article for the World Politics Review.


Indian PM Modi Hosts Afghanistan's Ghani in Delhi

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani is in New Delhi for two days of talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (RFE/RL), during which Ghani is expected to ask Modi for increased military assistance. Modi announced $1 billion to be allocated to Afghanistan for development projects (Press Trust of India).

TURKMENISTAN: Turkmenistan amended its constitution to allow President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov to stay in power indefinitely (Reuters). Berdymukhamedov has ruled the country since his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, died in 2006.


Israel, United States to Sign Record Aid Deal Wednesday

Representatives from the United States and Israel are expected to sign a deal that raises U.S. aid to Israel by 23 percent to an average of $3.8 billion per year over the next ten years (WSJ). The package is a record (NYT) for Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, and phases out an exception that allowed Israel to spend past aid on Israeli weapons systems, requiring the money be spent on U.S. arms.

LIBYA: Libya's state oil company said it would restart shipments from facilities attacked by forces opposed to the Tripoli-based unity government (WSJ) and that the country could raise production from its current 290,000 barrels a day to 600,000 within weeks.


Somalia Hosts First International Meeting in Forty Years

East African leaders met in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday, the first time the country has hosted an international summit in four decades (VOA). Authorities put the capital city on lockdown during the Intergovernmental Authority on Development meeting.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the history of the Islamist militant group Al-Shabab in Somalia.

SOUTH AFRICA: A U.S. pastor was denied entry into South Africa on the grounds that he promoted violent hate speech (DW) against gays and lesbians.


UN Human Rights Chief Denounces Countries for Obstructing Inquiries

The top UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, denounced governments in Syria, Venezuela, India, Turkey, and the United States for blocking his office's ability to investigate allegations of abuses (NYT). Hussein said none of his office's requests for country visits in recent months had been granted.


Venezuelan State Oil Company Announces Debt-Swap Deal

Petroleos de Venezuela announced a debt-swap deal (WSJ) for investors as it seeks to delay an upcoming $7 billion in bond payments. The country faces a severe economic and political crisis, including food and energy shortages, but has so far continued to honor bond payments.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the role of Venezuela's oil-based economy in its current economic and political crisis.  

UNITED STATES: Climate change poses strategic risks to the U.S. military and national security, according to new statements signed by more than a dozen retired U.S. military officers and national security officials (Reuters). The documents from the Washington-based Center for Climate and Security cited risks to coastal military bases and called for a cabinet-level position to respond to climate change.

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