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Friday, August 13, 2010

[RED DEMOCRATICA] CFR.org Daily Brief, August 13, 2010


From the Council on Foreign Relations

August 13, 2010

View this newsletter as a web page on CFR's website.


- Fresh Flood Surge Due in Pakistan
- Myanmar Junta Sets Election Date
- President Obama to Sign Border Bill
- Germany Posts Record Growth

Top of the Agenda: Fresh Flood Surge Due in Pakistan

Flood levels in Pakistan are expected to surge (BBC) in Punjab and Sindh provinces, the country's National Disaster Management Authority warned. The region's worst flooding in eighty years has affected fourteen million people and killed 1,600 so far, according to the United Nations. Concerns about outbreaks of diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, and cholera are growing. So far, 36,000 suspected cases of potentially fatal diarrhea (Dawn) have been reported. The United Nations says flood-recovery costs for the country's agriculture sector (Daily Times) could billions of dollars. Pakistan's finance ministry says preliminary assessments show the floods may have wiped out (Xinhua) between 2 to 3 percent of the country's GDP.

The Pakistan army, which is leading the rescue efforts, stressed that the military would not divert its troops or attention from fighting militants in the country's border areas along Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the U.S. military has stopped lobbying Pakistan (WSJ) to root out the militant Haqqani network, one of the biggest threats to coalition forces in Afghanistan, deeming such pressure counterproductive.


In an interview to CFR.org, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard C. Holbrooke says the international aid for Pakistan so far has been inadequate.

Unless there is decisive action by the West, large parts of flood-stricken Pakistan will be taken over by the Taliban (Telegraph), writes Pakistan expert Ahmed Rashid.

Shuja Nawaz of the Atlantic Council writes that amid all this destruction are reasons for optimism (WashPost), especially on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid argues that despite the devastation caused by the floods, there is still hope (FT) that Pakistan can recover, and thrive.


This Analysis Brief from CFR examines the economic and political costs of Pakistan's floods.

To learn about U.S. response to the floods and its assistance in relief efforts, click here.

MIDDLE EAST: Iran Airs Stoning Woman's 'Confession'

Iranian state television has broadcast what it portrayed as a murder confession by a woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning (al-Jazeera) on adultery charges, in an effort to deflect criticism of a case that has drawn international criticism. In the interview, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani purportedly admitted conspiring to murder her husband in 2005 and denounced her lawyer.

Iraq: Al-Qaeda in Iraq has increased attacks on Baghdad in a bold campaign of shootings, bombings, and intimidation aimed at undermining the capital's developing police force, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

SOUTH ASIA: Myanmar Junta Sets Election Date

Myanmar's ruling junta announced November 7 as the date (AP) for the country's first election in two decades; critics have dismissed the vote as a sham designed to cement military rule. The poll is the first since pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in 1990, but the military refused to recognize the results. CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick writes the elections present an opportunity for the United States to play a larger role in the country and possibly gain leverage with the regime.

India: Protests gain strength in Indian-administered Kashmir on Friday after government forces killed two people (NDTV) and injured at least eight others for defying a curfew in the disputed region.

PACIFIC RIM: Malaysia Verdict on Church Attack

A Malaysian court sentenced two Muslim brothers to five years in prison for torching a church during the height of a dispute (BBC) over whether non-Muslims could use the word Allah to refer to God.

South Korea: South Korea announced that several senior corporate executives convicted of fraud will be pardoned (FT) this weekend in an amnesty that could undermine Seoul's commitment to improving corporate governance. Bloomberg says the announcement may fuel perceptions that Korea's resolve to rein in family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol, is waning at a time of global economic weakness.

AFRICA: Nigerian President Gets Poll Boost

Nigeria's governing party has agreed that President Goodluck Jonathan has the right to contest (Telegraph) next year's elections, overturning an unwritten People's Democratic Party practice of rotating power between Muslim north and Christian south of the country every two terms.

Zimbabwe: The New York-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network on Thursday advised its members to boycott diamonds (Zimbabwean) from Zimbabwe's controversial Marange fields, threatening to expel and blacklist anyone who violated the ban. Diamond sales from Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe were suspended in November 2008 after accusations by human rights organizations of killings and brutality by the Zimbabwe security forces that were sent to clamp down on smuggling and illegal sales.

AMERICAS: President Obama to Sign Border Bill

President Obama will sign a bill Friday that provides $600 million (CNN) in emergency funding to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border, providing for roughly 1,500 new law enforcement agents, new unmanned aerial vehicles, new forwarding operating bases, and more.

Bolivia: Potential talks between protest leaders from mineral-rich southwest region of Potosi and government ministers have failed (BBC) as protesters said they would only talk if President Evo Morales attended. Residents of Potosi want more government investment in their region and have been holding strikes and blockades for more than two weeks.

EUROPE: Germany Posts Record Economic Growth

The German economy grew by 2.2 percent (Spiegel) in the three months to the end of June, its fastest quarterly growth since reunification in 1990, thanks to an exports boom, increased consumption, and government stimulus programs. Led by Germany, accelerating recoveries in UK, France, and Spain also helped nudge Europe's main stock markets upwards (AFP), with only debt-laden Greece slipping deeper into recession.

Russia: Russia says it will start fueling Iran's nuclear power plant (BBC) at Bushehr on August 21. Experts say it could be six months before the reactor is fully operational.


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