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Daily Brief: Israel's Shimon Peres Dies at 93

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September 28, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Israel's Shimon Peres Dies at 93

A founding father of the state of Israel and former Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres died, two weeks after suffering a stroke. World leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, are expected to attend his funeral in Jerusalem on Friday (BBC). Peres became the director of Israel's defense ministry at the age of twenty-nine and headed the creation of Israel's defense industry and development of the country's nuclear weapon capability (NYT). He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords.

ANALYSIS

"Peres was long criticized for excessive optimism about peace with Israel’s neighbors, so it is ironic that when he passed from the scene his predictions appeared in some important ways to be coming true. Israel’s relations with Egypt and Jordan are close and cooperative, at least on security matters, and now relations with the Gulf states appear to be warming up," writes CFR's Elliott Abrams.

"If Peres had resigned from frontline politics at the age of 54, as many of his colleagues were demanding, after having lost the 1977 general election as leader of the Labour party to Likud’s Menachem Begin, he would be remembered as one of Israel’s most legendary security 'hawks'. The man who had purchased the arms for Israel’s army during its early years and conducted the secret negotiations with France for the supply of the Dimona nuclear reactor. The first patron of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Instead, most of the eulogies now being written in his memory are extolling him as a man of peace. For a man who loved to talk of his own experiences and thoughts, Peres never explained the transformation he underwent in the wilderness of opposition," Anshel Pfeffer writes for the Guardian.

"In his seven years as president, most of which paralleled Netanyahu’s premiership, Peres was Israel’s strategic asset in the international community. He was considered the sane, moderate voice of a country that shifted rightward as the prospect for a political settlement faded," Yossi Verter writes for Haaretz.

PACIFIC RIM

Report: Thai Military Govt. Permits Torture

A new report (Amnesty) charges that Thailand's military government allows soldiers and police to use beatings, waterboarding, and electric shocks on political opponents and suspected insurgents. The military came to power in a 2014 coup (BBC).

NORTH KOREA: The U.S. special envoy for North Korea human rights issues said the United States has no plans to send humanitarian aid to the country following severe flooding and that North Korea has not requested such assistance (VOA). The United Nations has requested $28.2 million in aid for North Korea, where at least 138 people were killed in floods this month.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Report: U.S. Corruption Monitoring in Afghanistan Near-Failure

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found widespread noncompliance (NYT) with rules requiring Afghan officials to declare their assets when they enter and leave office. Only one official among eighty-three, current President Ashraf Ghani, fully complied with disclosure requirements. Also in Afghanistan local officials in Nangahar province said that up to thirteen civilians were killed in a U.S. drone strike (RFE/RL).

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani discusses the challenges facing the national unity government in this CFR event.  

PAKISTAN: A South Asia summit to be held in Islamabad in November has been cancelled by chair Nepal (The Hindu). India, citing cross-border terror attacks in the region, announced it would boycott the summit, a decision followed (FT) by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Syria Launches Ground Offensive in Aleppo

Syrian troops launched ground attacks on rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo (Guardian) after a week of air strikes, including one on a hospital Wednesday. More than four hundred people have been killed in Aleppo since a cease-fire fell apart last week (Al Jazeera).

This CFR Global Conflict Tracker follows recent developments and foreign involvement in Syria's civil war.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Tanzanian Officials Fired Over Earthquake Fund Fraud

Tanzania's president fired (BBC) two senior officials over attempts to siphon money from a relief fund for an earthquake earlier this month. The firings came as President John Magufuli accepted relief aid from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Citizen).  

SOMALIA: A Somali radio journalist was shot and killed by gunmen in Mogadishu Tuesday night (Africa News). Abdiaziz Ali Haji's death follows that of another radio journalist, Sagal Salad Osman, who was also gunned down in the capital city in June.

EUROPE

Panel: MH17 Missile Was From Russia

A Dutch-led investigation team said that a surface-to-air missile system that downed Malaysia Air flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014 was transported from Russia (NYT) at the request of separatists and returned to Russia the same night it downed the plane, which was carrying 298 people. A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said reports of the incident were clouded in "speculation, unqualified and unprofessional information."

GREECE: Greece's parliament approved reforms to cut expenditures on pensions (DW) and transfer state assets, including airports and utilities, to a fund created by international creditors. The move seeks to unlock $3.14 billion in bailout funds.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias spoke about Greece's challenges in the country in this CFR event.  

AMERICAS

U.S. Names Ambassador to Cuba

U.S. President Barack Obama named career foreign service officer Jeffrey DeLaurentis to become the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in more than half a century (NYT). DeLaurentis has served as chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Havana since its opening (VOA) last July.  

This CFR Backgrounder examines the history of U.S.-Cuba relations.

VENEZUELA: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on the sidelines (Reuters) of a peace agreement signing between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Venezuela's foreign minister called the meeting "respectful" (LAHT), and a State Department spokesman said Kerry addressed the economic and political challenges facing millions of Venezuelans.  

 
 
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