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Daily Brief: Yemen Funeral Strike Prompts U.S. Review of Saudi Support

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October 10, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Yemen Funeral Strike Prompts U.S. Review of Saudi Support

The White House said it was beginning an "immediate review" of its support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen after an airstrike Saturday on a funeral hall (Guardian) in rebel-held capital Sana'a killed more than 140 people and injured 525. Saudi Arabia did not claim responsibility for the air raid, but said it would investigate (BBC) the strike, which targeted the funeral of a n official from the rebel Houthi group. A spokesman for the National Security Council said (White House) that the United States was "deeply disturbed" by reports of the attack and that U.S. cooperation with Saudi Arabia "is not a blank check." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Saudi Arabia to immediately cease hostilities (NYT). Meanwhile, a new report (Reuters) said that some U.S. government officials warned that the United States could be liable for war crimes for making $1.3 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year.

ANALYSIS

"The conflict in Yemen broke out in 2014 when rebels known as the Houthis seized the capital and sent the government into exile. The Houthis are allied with army units loyal to a former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh; they have been fighting for control of the country against groups at least nominally loyal to the current president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is backed by Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies. In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition began a campaign of airstrikes aimed at turning the tide against the Houthi-Saleh alliance. The campaign has largely failed, while reports of civilian deaths have grown common, and much of the country is on the brink of famine," Shuaib Almosawa and Ben Hubbard write for the New York Times.

"It?s not just the airstrikes that cause suffering. The war has driven Yemen from what was already a humanitarian crisis before the war to what is now more like a full-blown catastrophe. More than half of its 26 million people are considered food insecure, 2.8 million (more than 10 percent of all Yemenis) have been displaced from their homes, and the vital healthcare sector is almost non-existent," Annie Slemrod writes for IRIN News.

"In recent months, the Obama administration has faced mounting criticism for its backing of Saudi Arabia?s air campaign in Yemen. Lawmakers and human rights groups have urged a ban on U.S. arms sales to Riyadh, declaring that Washington bears some responsibility for the civilian casualties in Yemen," Sudarsan Raghavan writes for the Washington Post.

PACIFIC RIM

China's Anti-Graft Push Harms Party Reputation: Report

Chinese President Xi Jinping's four-year anti-graft push harms the reputation of the Communist Party more than it helps it, according to new academic research (FT). The report said that areas with a higher number of reported local graft cases had more people that considered the central government as corrupt.

THAILAND: Thailand's 88-year-old monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej is in unstable condition (Guardian) after receiving hemodialysis treatment, according to the royal palace. The Thai king is the world's longest-reigning monarch.

CFR's Karen B. Brooks discusses Thailand's eroding democracy under the ruling military junta in this interview.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Indian Compound Attacked in Kashmir

Indian government forces are battling armed attackers who attacked a compound near Pampore in India-occupied Kashmir (AP), injuring at least one soldier. India-occupied Kashmir has seen months of unrest since the killing of a popular rebel leader in July.

CFR's Global Conflict Tracker discusses the history of the disputed Kashmir region.

KYRGYZSTAN: The U.S. Embassy issued a warning of possible terror attacks in Kyrgyzstan, saying it had information that attacks or kidnappings targeting diplomats or local officials could take place this month (RFE/RL).

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

FIFA Challenged in Swiss Court Over Labor Abuse Claim

Soccer federation FIFA is being sued by the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation on behalf of a Bangladeshi migrant worker (Guardian) over charges it is complicit in the abuse of laborers working on the 2020 World Cup in Qatar.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Ethiopia Declares Six-Month State of Emergency

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared a six-month state of emergency (Al Jazeera), Ethiopia's first in twenty-five years, following months of deadly protests. Rights groups say more than five-hundred people have been killed in the Oromia region following opposition to development plans.

NIGERIA: Nigeria's security agency said it seized $800,000 in funds in raids on corrupt judges (BBC). A judiciary union public relations officer decried (Vanguard) the style of the operation .

CFR's Matthew T. Page discusses U.S. policymakers' options to fight corruption in Nigeria in this report.

EUROPE

Bomb Suspect Arrested in Germany on Tip from Syrians

A Syrian refugee in Germany was arrested on suspicion of plotting a bomb attack (BBC) in the eastern city of Leipzig. A spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked a Syrian man who detained the suspect in his apartment and alerted authorities to the plot (DW).

VATICAN: Pope Francis named seventeen new cardinals, including three Americans and five from developing countries (NYT) that had never had such an appointment. The Pope also named a papal envoy to Syria (Guardian).

AMERICAS

Haiti Hurricane Death Toll Tops 1,000

Haiti began three days of nationwide mourning (UPI) as the death toll from Hurricane Matthew surpassed one thousand. The country is now facing a rise in cases of cholera (Al Jazeera) due to contaminated water.

GLOBAL

Two U.S.-Based Economists Win Nobel Prize

Economists from Finland and the United Kingdom were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics (WSJ) for research on contract design, including their analysis of performance-based pay for executives.

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