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Daily Brief: Neighbors, U.S. Condemn Iraqi Kurds' Independence Vote

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September 26, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Neighbors, U.S. Condemn Iraqi Kurds' Independence Vote

Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and the United States reacted with threats and condemnation following Monday's independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, the results of which have not yet been tabulated but are expected to overwhelmingly show support for independence.

Turkey and Iran carried out military exercises on their borders (NYT) near their respective Kurdish regions; Iraq announced it will hold joint exercises with Turkey. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to block oil exports (Al Jazeera) by Iraqi Kurdistan's regional government. The U.S. State Department said it was "deeply disappointed" (BBC) the vote took place and that the move would increase instability in the region.


"The Kurdish state, should there be one, will only be meaningful if it is different from the Kurdistan Regional Government, apart from its flaws and failures in relation to democracy, human rights, and gender equality," Choman Hardi writes for Middle East Eye.

"Folks inside the Beltway love the Kurds but hate the idea of Kurdish independence, all the while declaring solemnly that a Kurdish state is 'inevitable'," CFR's Steven A. Cook writes for Salon.

"As Daesh begins to fade as a major actor in the region, the time to change the conversation from military to politics has come. But there is very little for the West to offer the Kurds in return for their role as military partners," Michael Stephens writes for the Royal United Services Institute. 


Refugees Leave Australia Detention for U.S.

About two dozen asylum seekers (Guardian) held in offshore detention facilities by Australia were flown Tuesday to the United States under a resettlement deal between the two countries. A second group of about thirty (Reuters) is expected to depart soon.

PHILIPPINES: A gunman opened fire Tuesday morning near the Manila residence of President Rodrigo Duterte (Al Jazeera), killing a security guard. The head of Duterte's security unit said the shooting was not politically motivated. 


U.S. Defense Secretary Visits India

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday (TOI) for a two-day visit that will include a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mattis, the first cabinet-rank official from the Trump administration to visit the country, is expected to push the purchase of U.S. fighter jets and surveillance drones (Reuters).

UZBEKISTAN: Uzbekistan will allow its citizens to buy foreign currency (RFE/RL) for the first time in two-and-a-half decades, part of recent moves by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev to end the country's long international isolation.

Ilan Berman discusses encouraging developments in Central Asia in Foreign Affairs


Monitor: U.S.-Led Strikes in Syria Killed Eighty-Four Civilians

Air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition fighting the self-proclaimed Islamic State killed at least eighty-four civilians at a school and a market (BBC) west of Raqqa in March, according to Human Rights Watch. 


DRC Claims Preparations for Election

President Joseph Kabila said in a speech to the United Nations that the publication of an electoral calendar should be "forthcoming" (Bloomberg). Kabila's second term was set to end last year but he has postponed a vote for his replacement, sparking violent protests.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Africa's longest-serving leaders.

ZAMBIA: A UN report has found that there is "significant evidence" that military aircraft shot down the plane carrying former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold (Guardian) over modern-day Zambia in 1961, killing the diplomat and fifteen others. The report has been submitted to UN chief Antonio Guterres. 


EU Says Greek Finances Stabilized

The European Union has ended disciplinary measures against Greece that were enacted after the country consistently reported a deficit (WSJ) greater than 3 percent of its gross domestic product. The move, though largely symbolic, reflects greater confidence in Greece's finances. Its third bailout program ends next year.

UKRAINE: President Petro Poroshenko signed into law a controversial education bill (RFE/RL) that makes Ukrainian the obligatory language of study in state schools, upsetting the country's sizeable Polish, Romanian, and Hungarian communities.


Brazil to Auction Oil Fields Holding Ten Billion Barrels

Brazil will host an oil field auction on Wednesday open to foreign companies that could bring in over half a billion dollars (Reuters), reversing a 2007 decision to set aside the acreage (WSJ) for the state oil company Petrobras.

VENEZUELA: Dozens of doctors in Venezuela have called on the World Health Organization (Reuters) to put more pressure on the government and provide additional assistance as the country suffers from a severe shortage of medicines and doctors, some of whom have fled amid economic crisis.

Adriana Erthal Abdenur and Robert Muggah discuss avoiding civil war in Venezuela in Foreign Affairs.


Trump to Host Thai Prime Minister

President Donald J. Trump will host Prayuth Chan-ocha (FT), the head of Thailand's ruling military junta, on October 3 in Washington. President Barack Obama shunned the former Thai general after a military coup in 2014. 

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