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Daily Brief: Colombia's Santos Wins Nobel for Peace Negotiations

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October 7, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Colombia's Santos Wins Nobel for Peace Negotiations

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end the country's half-century-long civil war that has left more than 220,000 people dead in the conflict between rebels, right-wing paramilitaries, and government forces. The peace deal was narrowly rejected in a referendum last Sunday, reflecting many voters' concerns that it was too lenient on rebel fighters (Reuters). The Nobel committee said that even though a majority of voters chose to oppose the deal, the peace process was not necessarily dead. Santos told the director of the Norwegian institute that award the prize (VOA) that the award represented "a commitment to keep trying to bring peace to my country." In Colombia this week thousands of people marched in the capital in favor of the peace deal (LAHT).


"Notably, although the central argument of opponents was that the accord wouldn’t give victims the justice they deserved via adequate punishment of the FARC, those parts of the country most harshly affected by conflict violence—Cauca, Guaviare, Nariño, Caquetá, Antioquia, Vaupés, Putumayo, Meta and Chocó—showed the strongest vote for 'yes.'  Victims and victims groups have been some of the strongest advocates for the peace process," Virginia M. Bouvier said in an interview with the U.S. Institute of Peace.

"There is much to be said for why peace lost in Colombia, starting with the vote itself. Turnout was surprisingly low, especially considering how highly anticipated the poll was and that it was open to overseas Colombians (who voted overwhelmingly against the accord; 61 percent to 39 percent according to The Miami Herald). Only 37.4 percent of eligible voters took part in the referendum; a significantly lower percentage than the 59.9 percent that voted in the last presidential elections," Omar G. Encarnacion writes for Foreign Affairs.

"What does the FARC do next? News reports out of the guerillas’ 10th Conference suggested that many fighters were looking forward to life at peace, sleeping in the open and starting up normal lives. Does the FARC have the capacity to return to violent opposition if negotiations falter, or has the past six months’ movement toward peace sapped individual fighters’ resolve?" CFR's Matthew Taylor writes in this blog post.

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Japanese Arms Exports Lag Despite Abe’s Push

Japan has yet to make a single large arms sale in the two years since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the country's ban on exporting weapons in hopes of stimulating the defense industry (FT).

PHILIPPINES: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines "can live without" U.S. military aid (Reuters) in remarks at a forum for foreign correspondents. The United States provides up the $100 million to the Philippines annually.

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


Pakistani Parliament Toughens ‘Honor Killings’ Laws

Pakistan's parliament increased sentences for rape and so-called honor killings and closed a loophole that often allowed such crimes to go unpunished if the family of a victim has forgiven the perpetrator (NYT). Meanwhile, the Supreme Court confirmed it will hear an appeal next week from Christian mother Asia Bibi, a high-profile death row inmate who was sentenced in 2010 for blasphemy (AFP).

AFGHANISTAN: Thousands of people have fled the provincial capital of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan (VOA) as Taliban militants continue to assault the city, which they briefly took control of last year.


Moroccan Vote Tests King’s Reforms

Moroccans are set to vote in parliamentary elections on Friday five years after the protests of the Arab Uprisings prompted King Mohammed VI to introduce constitutional amendments to delegate some of his powers (Bloomberg) to a prime minister. The Islamist Justice and Development Party, which governs with a coalition including communists and liberals, is seeking a second term (AFP).

ISRAEL: Thousands of pro-settlement activists are expected to move into a West Bank Jewish settler outpost that houses forty families ahead of a December 25 deadline (NYT) set by the Supreme Court for it to be dismantled.

This CFR Crisis Guide looks at the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 


Nigerien Soldiers Killed in Attack on Refugee Camp

At least twenty-two soldiers were killed in an attack (Al Jazeera) on a camp in Niger for refugees who have fled armed groups in the northern deserts of Mali, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said.

ZIMBABWE: President Robert Mugabe announced plans to soften a so-called indigenization law (BBC) that obligated foreign companies to give most of their shares to black Zimbabweans.  


Merkel to Visit Niger, Mali, and Ethiopia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Mali, Niger, and Ethiopia (WSJ) starting Sunday ahead of meetings with the presidents of Chad and Nigeria in Berlin. Merkel will discuss development aid and push the countries to take back migrants whose asylum applications have been denied.  

This CFR Backgrounder discusses Europe's migration crisis.

UK: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said that he is considering (BBC) whether there is a "role" for him in British politics in the future. Blair had won three elections as prime minister, but his participation in the Iraq war alienated many in his Labor party. 


Hurricane Death Toll in Haiti Tops Three Hundred

At least 339 Haitians were killed by Hurricane Matthew, according to tallies from local civil protection officials (Reuters). The hurricane began to dump heavy rains and brought winds of 120 miles per hour to the Florida coast on Friday (NYT)

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