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Daily Brief: U.S. Flies Supersonic Bombers in Response to North Korea Nuclear Test

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September 13, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

U.S. Flies Supersonic Bombers in Response to North Korea Nuclear Test

Top U.S. and South Korean envoys on North Korea announced on Tuesday that they would urge the "strongest possible" resolution (NYT) from the UN Security Council, including new sanctions, in response to North Korea's fifth nuclear test. The announcement came after the United States flew two nuclear-capable supersonic B-1B bombers over South Korea (Korea Times) about seventy-five miles (AP) from its border with the North. North Korea has carried out twenty missile tests in addition to its latest nuclear one since the UN imposed new sanctions in March. Separately in North Korea, some 133 people have reportedly died in heavy flooding during recent weeks (Al Jazeera).

ANALYSIS

"North Korea is betting that the world will acquiesce to a nuclear North Korea rather than mobilizing the level of coercion necessary to force North Korea to reverse course and pursue denuclearization. In so doing, North Korea lives in the space created by geostrategic distrust between China and the United States and continues to take for granted China’s commitment to stability over denuclearization," CFR's Scott A. Snyder writes in this Asia Unbound blog.

"Washington and Seoul said on Tuesday that they would also try to enforce new bilateral sanctions against North Korea. But both have so few trade and other transactions there that their actions would be largely symbolic, analysts said. President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and her diplomats have been visiting countries in Africa and elsewhere in recent months to persuade them to curtail trade ties with the North, offering weapons and trade deals as incentives," Choe Sang-Hun writes for the New York Times.

"It would take a courageous president to restart talks with Pyongyang. The Iran nuclear deal was extremely difficult and highly controversial; a North Korea deal would be more so. No one wants to reward bad behaviour; at best the outcome would be a cap on development. But doing nothing is not the same as maintaining the status quo. Pyongyang will continue its race to gain weapons—and redouble its efforts if ignored. Engagement is not an attractive option; but the US should choose it, and soon," write the Guardian editorial board.

PACIFIC RIM

Citing Security Concerns, Philippines President Calls for U.S. to Remove Personnel

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called on the United States to remove military advisers from the country (WSJ), saying they are targets for the extremist group Abu Sayyaf. U.S. officials in Washington said they had not received official contact from Duterte's administration.

This CFR Backgrounder examines the history of U.S.-Philippines defense cooperation.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Uzbek Parliament Appoints PM as Interim President

Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev became interim president (RFE/RL) following the death of Islam Karimov, who had ruled the country since the fall of the Soviet Union. A presidential election will take place in December.

AFGHANISTAN: President Ashraf Ghani said a peace deal with the militant group Hezb-e Islami, led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is close to being finalized (RFE/RL). The militant group is expected to be offered an amnesty and to be recognized as a political party (Express Tribune).

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel Denies Syrian Army Downed Warplane, Drone

The Syrian army said it shot down two Israeli air craft (Haaretz) after Israel attacked army positions inside Syria (Reuters). Israel denied any of its air craft was lost. 

SYRIA: The Pentagon confirmed that a U.S. air strike killed self-proclaimed Islamic State commander Abu Muhammad al-Adnani in August (Reuters); Russia had claimed responsibility for the strike immediately following the attack.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Report: Rival South Sudan Leaders Amass Personal Wealth During Ongoing Conflict

Relatives and close associates of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former vice president and rival rebel leader Riek Machar own multimillion-dollar real estate and consume luxury goods, according to a new report from a Washington-based advocacy group (Sudan Tribune). The Sentry report accuses the leaders of exploiting ethnic tensions to control natural resources (NYT).

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker follows the civil war in South Sudan.

SOUTH AFRICA: President Jacob Zuma took out a home loan (FT) to repay public funds used to renovate his private residence (Mail & Guardian).

EUROPE

Germany Arrests Three Syrians on ISIS Suspicions

Authorities in Germany arrested three Syrian men in the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony on suspicion they had been sent by the self-proclaimed Islamic State to carry out attacks (BBC). A spokesperson for prosecutors said they had not discovered specific plans for an attack (Independent).

TURKEY: Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, (PKK), said the Turkish state should resume peace talks with the militant group (Middle East Eye) in his first public statement released since April 2015.

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

AMERICAS

Brazil's Lower House Strips Former Speaker of Seat

Brazil's lower house voted to remove former speaker Eduardo Cunha from his seat, a move that strips him of protection from facing corruption charges (Globe and Mail). The conservative lawmaker led the movement to impeach former President Dilma Rousseff and is accused of taking millions in bribes (NYT).

COLOMBIA: The commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) formally apologized for the group's history of using kidnapping to raise ransom funds (VOA). FARC peace negotiator Ivan Marquez said the practice, while used to "sustain the needs of rebellion," resulted in "harming entire families."

This CFR Backgrounder examines the history of the FARC in Colombia.

 
 
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