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Daily Brief: U.S. Accuses Myanmar of 'Brutal' Campaign Against Rohingya

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September 29, 2017

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U.S. Accuses Myanmar of 'Brutal' Campaign Against Rohingya

The United States has called on countries to suspend weapons sales to Myanmar (Reuters), which U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said appears to be carrying out a "brutal" campaign to "cleanse the country of an ethnic minority."

The UN Security Council held a Thursday meeting on Myanmar (WSJ), where a crackdown by security forces on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State intensified following insurgent attacks on police in late August, prompting an exodus of an estimated half million refugees. Haley said the United States "must now consider action against Burmese security forces," but did not mention reinstating sanctions on Myanmar (Al Jazeera) that were lifted during the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama.


"The Myanmar government insists it is only targeting 'terrorists.' Rohingya militants, however, numbered at most several hundred," Lynn Kuok writes for Foreign Affairs.

"As this tragedy continues, short of a sea change in Myanmar's willingness to accept the Rohingya as their own citizens, the situation is unlikely to improve," writes CFR's Alyssa Ayres.

"[State Counselor] Aung San Suu Kyi is important as a moral and political authority but the reality on the ground in Burma is that she has little control over the army," Tejshree Thapa said in an interview with Foreign Policy Interrupted. 

Take a Closer Look at Pressing Global Issues

Take a Closer Look at Pressing Global Issues

From child marriage to Kurdish independence, CFR's new Facebook Watch series, Our World, Explained, explores global flashpoints with expert analysis and insight. 'Like' our show page on Facebook to be notified of new episodes each week!



UN Nuclear Watchdog Unable to Confirm North Korean Hydrogen Bomb Test

The UN nuclear watchdog said it does not have the capacity to confirm (DW) whether North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb in early September, as Pyongyang claimed. The agency's director did say the yield from the test showed North Korea has "made very rapid progress."

Katharine H.S. Moon writes in Foreign Affairs that North Korea is ultimately Seoul's problem.


Twenty-Two Dead in Mumbai Train Station Stampede

Nearly two dozen people were killed in a stampede at a Mumbai train station (TOI) believed to have been caused in part by heavy rains Friday morning. More than twenty-seven were injured (Guardian).

AFGHANISTAN: At least a dozen Afghan security forces were killed in a suicide bombing that targeted government and police headquarters in Kandahar (RFE/RL). The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.


Iraq to Cut Kurdistan Flights in Retaliation for Vote

The Iraqi government is expected to block international flights (Reuters) to Erbil and Sulaimaniya starting Friday in retaliation for an independence referendum held by Iraqi Kurdistan's regional government earlier this week. The two airports account for an estimated 40 percent (Al Jazeera) of Iraq's international traffic.

This CFR Interactive looks at the history of the Kurds across the Middle East.

ISRAEL: U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman referred to Jewish West Bank settlements (FT) as "part of Israel" on Thursday, breaking with decades of U.S. policy toward the region.


Zimbabwean Businesses Clash With Mugabe Over Prices

President Robert Mugabe has criticized local businesses for not complying with his order to reverse price hikes for basic commodities (VOA). In the last two weeks, gas stations and supermarkets have run out of some commodities as Zimbabweans stocked up on goods (DW) over fears of a return to hyperinflation.

CAMEROON: Cameroon has sealed its northern border (VOA), claiming several of its citizens were kidnapped by armed groups from the Central African Republic and taken across the border since violence escalated there two weeks ago. 


Turkey Proposes Releasing U.S. Pastor for Rival Cleric

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech he would release an American pastor (Reuters) who has been detained since last October in exchange for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric in the United States who Erdogan blames for a failed coup attempt last year (VOA).

CFR's Steven A. Cook testified before U.S. Congress that relations with Turkey are in need of a reevaluation.

RUSSIA: The U.S. Senate has unanimously confirmed former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (RFE/RL) as ambassador to Russia. He also served as ambassador to Singapore and China under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.


Colombian Forces Kill Dissident FARC Leader

A dissident from the Marxist rebel group FARC who disagreed with the terms of a government peace deal (BBC) signed last year was killed in an air force operation in the province of Guaviare. Colombia's military had accused him of extortion and drug trafficking.

BRAZIL: At least 150 Cuban doctors working in Brazil have filed lawsuits over the past year to be recognized as independent contractors (NYT) and receive full salaries. Their payments are currently routed through the Cuban state.


Trump Waives Shipping Restrictions for Puerto Rico

U.S. President Donald J. Trump lifted the Jones Act, which restricts the shipment of goods to U.S. ports to U.S.-flagged vessels that were built domestically, to ease aid deliveries to Puerto Rico (BBC). The Pentagon named Lt. General Jeffrey Buchanan to head the military's relief efforts (VOA) in the storm-ravaged U.S. territory.

CFR's Brad W. Setser discusses the economic implications of Hurricane Maria for Puerto Rico.

A U.S. tree-trimming company was fined $95 million on Thursday after pleading guilty to employing undocumented immigrants (Reuters). The penalty is the largest imposed in a U.S. immigration case and comes amid a crackdown on immigration by the Trump administration.

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