FPI Overnight Brief: August 6, 2014

Middle East/North Africa

The State Department has no new information on the whereabouts or welfare of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, detained two weeks ago in Iran, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday. – Washington Post
The International Monetary Fund said President Hassan Rouhani’s policies of reducing energy subsidies along with the easing of international sanctions have helped to steady Iran’s economy and cut inflation. - Bloomberg
International negotiators are likely to resume talks on Iran’s nuclear program when world powers meet next month for the annual U.N. General Assembly. – The Hill
Anthony Bourdain writes: I am, unfortunately, growing used to seeing bad things happening to good people. But this I can’t get used to, or ever understand. This wonderful couple is a danger to no one. They are nobody’s enemy. They are without blame or malice. Why are they in jail? – Washington Post
The U.S. is holding talks with Sunni Muslim officials in Iraq who have requested help in organizing grass-roots fighting forces to counter an extremist militant group seizing territory across the country. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Stranded on a barren mountaintop, thousands of minority Iraqis are faced with a bleak choice: descend and risk slaughter at the hands of the encircled Sunni extremists or sit tight and risk dying of thirst. – Washington Post
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) is seizing several facilities across regions of Syria and Iraq that are critical to public health and safety, potentially endangering hundreds of thousands of civilians, according to reports. – Washington Free Beacon
The Obama administration needs to boost its military support to Iraq’s Kurdish minority, which has suffered a string of setbacks in the last several days battling a Sunni militant group, according to key members of Congress. – The Hill
Regional power broker Iran believes Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is no longer able to hold his country together and is looking for an alternative leader to combat a Sunni Islamist insurgency, senior Iranian officials said on Tuesday. - Reuters
Kurdish forces attacked Islamic State fighters just 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil in northern Iraq, a senior Kurdish official told Reuters on Wednesday. - Reuters
Report: Read today’s ISW Iraq Situation Report – Institute for the Study of War
Zalmay Khalilzad writes: The situation in Iraq is extraordinarily urgent. The Islamic State has become a lethal and capable military force with control over oil fields and infrastructure critical to all of Iraq. It recruits from around the world, and it poses a threat to vital U.S. interests in Iraq, the Middle East and, potentially, the U.S. homeland. To contain, reverse and defeat it requires adjusting our plans based on developments on the ground. Now is the time to do so. – Washington Post
Lebanon struggled on Tuesday to contain tensions unleashed by the seizure of a remote border town by Sunni militants in the latest example of the unchecked expansion of the al-Qaeda offshoot that is battling to establish an Islamic state across the Middle East. – Washington Post
A 24-hour cease-fire between the Syrian Islamist insurgents who seized a Lebanon border town this past weekend and the Lebanese Army forces seeking to expel them collapsed almost immediately on Tuesday, raising new alarms about the infectious spread of Syria’s civil war into Lebanon. – New York Times
There are photos of bodies with limbs torn from their sockets and others showing people with their eyes gouged out -- even shots of people being crucified. But with crises in the Middle East and eastern Ukraine, does the world still care about Syria, one of the deadliest conflicts in history? - CNN
Air strikes by Syrian government forces in the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus killed at least 64 people at the weekend, a monitoring group said on Tuesday. - Reuters
Jamie Dettmer reports: The self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym ISIS, is actively recruiting Western women and girls. And in the process this “caliphate” that now occupies large swathes of Syria and Iraq is showing, once again, that it’s almost as shrewd with social media as it is ruthless on the battlefield. – The Daily Beast
North Africa
Nine people, including a police officer, four police conscripts and four militants were killed in attacks on a highway near the Mediterranean coast late Tuesday, officials said. – Los Angeles Times
At a lavish groundbreaking ceremony that included a military air show and the symbolic detonation of demolition explosives, Mr. Sisi’s government announced an ambitious plan to build a new waterway that would expand the capacity of the existing canal while creating jobs and revenue for the government. – New York Times
While Western governments have been keeping a close eye on the possible radicalization of their own citizens, the greater threat by far, analysts warn, is for Arab countries like Tunisia, in transition from autocracy and struggling to deal with incipient terrorism. – New York Times
The United States is planning to sell Tunisia a dozen advanced attack helicopters as Washington seeks to help the North African state stamp out a mounting threat from Islamist militants. - Reuters
Gulf States
Bahrain's expulsion last month of the top U.S. diplomat for democracy and human rights was a provocative move that seemed sure to bring a strong reaction from Washington. But four weeks later, the Obama administration has made no visible response beyond a phone call from Secretary of State John F. Kerry to Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Khalifa expressing U.S. concern. – Los Angeles Times
The Ministry of Labor this week released its annual report for 2013 where it said that the government will need to spend up to $4 billion annually to implement its “Saudi Employment Strategy.” – WSJ’s Middle East Real Time
As a 72-hour cease-fire mediated by Egypt took hold on Tuesday, Gazans emerged to view a shattered landscape with Hamas still in power, while Israel began to debate the politics, costs and accomplishments of the month-long war. – New York Times
A three-day cease-fire that ended the round-the-clock carnage and terror in Gaza and southern Israel was holding Wednesday ahead of negotiations in Cairo on a longer-term truce and perhaps a broader deal for the ravaged Gaza Strip. – Washington Post
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki on Tuesday met with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to explore the possibility of seeking an investigation of Israel on suspicion of war crimes in the latest Gaza Strip violence. – Los Angeles Times
As a 72-hour cease-fire took hold in the Gaza Strip, a United Nations official said Tuesday that Israel’s nearly monthlong offensive against Hamas, the militant Islamist organization that runs Gaza, had had a “catastrophic and tragic impact” on children in the territory and that reconstruction would require many hundreds of millions of dollars. – New York Times
Israel arrested a Palestinian last month accused of being the prime mover in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June, it emerged from court papers on Tuesday. The abduction set off the most recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza. – New York Times
With the U.S. and other countries trying to mediate a durable cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, another enthusiasm gap between the parties is emerging this midterm year, this one targeting the shifting feelings about the deep U.S. alliance with Israel. – Washington Times
A majority of Americans believe that the U.S. should be even-handed in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, but more people sympathize with Israel’s side of the Middle East split, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll out Tuesday has found. – WSJ’s Washington Wire
Declaring its anti-tunnel mission accomplished, Israel agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire, yet continues to maintain thousands of forces around the border with Gaza for rapid response in case rocket attacks resume. – Defense News
Even before it finished defusing the tunnel threat from the Gaza Strip Monday with the detonation of the last of 31 Hamas attack tunnels, the Israeli army began shifting its attention to the possibility of a similar threat from Hezbollah along the border with Lebanon. – Washington Free Beacon
Eli Lake reports: Hamas funded the man who allegedly led the kidnapping ring that abducted three Israeli teens—and helped spark the latest Gaza war, in the process. But the accused kidnapper didn’t receive specific instructions from the militant group’s leadership in Gaza, an Israeli intelligence official tells The Daily Beast. – The Daily Beast
Douglas Feith and Trevor Parkes write: When Kerry does his diplomatic work on the Gaza war, the Hamas Covenant is the elephant sitting on the negotiating table. It stares down and mocks anyone who thinks that Hamas leaders are peace-loving pragmatists seeking nothing more than a freer and more prosperous life for their people. It makes no sense for Kerry to pretend the elephant isn’t there — or to pretend it’s a manageable pet. – National Review Online
Jonathan Schanzer writes: Following the money may not sound like the path to diplomatic success, but it is crucial to creating an environment that is conducive to peace. It will both help the Palestinians to craft a forward-looking vision for their own state, while simultaneously alleviating long-standing Israeli security concerns. – NYT’s Room for Debate
Mona Charen writes: Steadfast American support for Israel will conduce to peace far more than a misguided attempt to serve as “honest broker” between the arsonist and the firefighter. – NYT’s Room for Debate
[W]hile Turkish Kurds have become potential kingmakers in the country's first direct presidential election on Sunday, some also worry that developments across the border could jeopardize their recent gains. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan made one of his strongest calls yet for the country to "make a jump" towards a presidential system, saying Sunday's election will nurture people's enthusiasm for the kind of executive presidency he has long sought. - Reuters

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Pro-Russia separatists fighting off a Ukrainian government offensive have commandeered ambulances to transport retreating gunmen, taken cover in hospitals and threatened medical staff treating their wounded, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. – Los Angeles Times
The war against the pro-Russia rebels, who have managed to hold two large cities in eastern Ukraine despite a monthslong military onslaught from the government, is dragging down Ukraine's already fragile economy and weighing on an exhausted public. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Fighting in eastern Ukraine reached the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Tuesday as separatists and government troops exchanged rocket fire in neighborhoods on the edge of the city. – Associated Press
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday the threat of a direct intervention by Russia's military in Ukraine has risen over the last couple of days. - Reuters
A small U.S. military team has arrived in Kiev to help investigate the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, the United States said on Tuesday, with more direct training support for Ukraine also possible. - Reuters
About 730,000 Ukrainians have left the country for Russia this year, the European head of the United Nations agency for refugees said on Tuesday, citing data compiled by Russia. - Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered that retaliatory measures be taken in response to Western sanctions against his country, as a top deputy announced an oil deal with Iran that may weaken international efforts to halt the development of that nation’s nuclear program. – Washington Post
Japan imposed new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday that were more limited than those announced last month by the United States, a move that analysts said illustrates Tokyo’s conflicting desires to show solidarity with Washington while also keeping the door open to improving ties with Moscow. – New York Times
Russia’s Federal Migration Service moved to deport the American wife of a high-profile human rights lawyer living in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, labeling her “a threat to national security.” – New York Times
Tens of thousands of Russian tourists have found themselves stranded in foreign vacation spots amid a wave of bankruptcies among Russian travel agencies, which are struggling with a weak economy and fears of international isolation because of the Ukraine crisis. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
The Defense Department’s top spokesman on Tuesday raised fresh concerns over a renewed build up of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine. – The Hill
For months, Moscow has applauded a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine as a justified quest for "federalization." But when word spread of a planned August 17 "March for the Federalization of Siberia" in Novosibirsk, Russia's third largest city, the country's Internet monitoring agency took a less approving stance. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
President Vladimir Putin, senior government officials and many lawmakers will visit Crimea next week, two sources told Reuters, in a defiant show of support for Russia's annexation of the Black Sea region despite tough new Western economic sanctions. - Reuters
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev threatened on Tuesday to retaliate for the grounding of a subsidiary of national airline Aeroflot because of EU sanctions, with one newspaper reporting that European flights to Asia over Siberia could be banned. - Reuters
As the conflict between Ukraine and Russia flares into a sixth month, two other former Soviet republics are now engaged in renewed fighting over the remote, mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. – Los Angeles Times
The Canadian government confirmed Tuesday that the final details of a long-awaited free trade deal with the European Union have been completed, almost a year after leaders announced a preliminary agreement, though it could take two more years for approval by both sides. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Boris Johnson will stand to be an MP in 2015, the London mayor has confirmed, in a move that will reignite speculation about his leadership ambitions. – Financial Times
Andrew Nagorski writes: The Obama administration has repeatedly expressed its unhappiness with Israeli actions, but the president has not prominently addressed the subject of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, much less its pervasiveness in the Muslim world. For that matter, he also has had remarkably little to say about the escalating attacks on Christians in Africa and the Middle East. Words matter, and the lack of words can matter even more—as was chillingly evident in the 1930s. It is time to speak loudly and clearly. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes: Russia’s actions cannot be ignored. The post-cold-war world order is at stake. So Nato is needed more than ever. In Wales, we are determined to show that Nato means business. – Financial Times

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An Afghan soldier shot a United States Army major general to death and wounded a German brigadier general and at least 14 other foreign and Afghan military service members on Tuesday at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, officials of the American-led coalition said Tuesday. – New York Times
The U.S. general who was shot and killed in an apparent “insider” attack in Kabul on Tuesday had served in the American military for more than three decades and was a key player in the current U.S. effort to stand up Afghan security forces. – Washington Post
An airstrike by the American-led coalition killed at least four civilians, including two women, Afghan officials said Tuesday. The attack prompted a sharp rebuke from President Hamid Karzai, who has long bristled at the deaths of Afghans in military operations led by foreign forces. – New York Times
An insider attack against international and Afghan forces in Kabul that killed a U.S. general has renewed questions about the Obama administration’s exit strategy from Afghanistan and the country’s security. - Bloomberg

When the United States stops funding power generation in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar next year, the lights are set to go out and factories will fall idle, playing into the hands of Taliban insurgents active in the area. - Reuters
Eli Lake reports: No one knows for sure who was responsible for the slaying outside of Kabul of Maj Gen. Harold Greene—the first American general killed in a war zone since Vietnam. But U.S. intelligence agencies have recently detected a spike in threats from the Taliban and other associated jihadist organizations in Afghanistan, particularly against Kabul. And one American congressman has already laid the assassination at the feet of the Taliban. – The Daily Beast
South Asia
India's new government Tuesday defended its actions in stopping a global trade deal and expressed confidence it would win international support for more latitude to subsidize and stockpile food. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Authorities in Sri Lanka are clamping down on the activities of civil society groups, who accuse the government of trying to discourage survivors of the country's civil war from giving evidence to a U.N. war crimes investigation. - Reuters
Pakistan's civilian government is bracing for a wave of protests this month, days after the military took responsibility for securing the capital amid the threat of militant attacks and the specter of a political showdown. - Reuters
A U.S. drone strike killed five militants in Pakistan's volatile northwest on Wednesday, security officials and residents said, as the country's security forces press ahead with an offensive in a Taliban stronghold near the Afghan border. - Reuters
Kristofer Harrison writes: The administration's shameless leaking literally created a public health crisis. The fight against polio has gone on for decades and cost billions of dollars. It is a worthy goal and attainable. Yet it's a fight that would have been met with a little more success had there been a little more discretion and less political opportunism from President Obama. – Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government
Ilham Tohti, the Uighur academic who is facing charges of separatism, has rejected the allegations that he was the ringleader of a group advocating the creation of an independent Uighur homeland in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, his lawyers said Tuesday. – New York Times
While she no longer holds any official government position, Chan, 74, remains one of the most influential political figures in Hong Kong and has reemerged in the spotlight amid a growing fight by Hong Kongers for democratic rights. – Washington Post
A Canadian man under investigation in China for threatening national security said he ran a prayer and training facility outside the Chinese city of Dandong that was frequented by North Koreans, many of whom became Christians before returning to the isolated country. - Reuters
China's decision to investigate two Canadians for suspected spying highlights a sharp and unexpected deterioration in bilateral ties just months ahead of a trip by Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Beijing. - Reuters
A city in China's restive western region of Xinjiang has banned people with head scarves, veils and long beards from boarding buses, as the government battles unrest with a policy that critics said discriminates against Muslims. - Reuters
A Chinese graduate student has been arrested for selling intelligence material to foreigners, state media said on Wednesday, the latest in a string of espionage cases in the country. - Reuters
East Asia
North Korea has declined to send a delegation to a Mass that Pope Francis will preside over during a visit to Seoul this month, Roman Catholic officials in South Korea said Wednesday. – New York Times
Representatives from China and Taiwan have reached an agreement to restart formal negotiations on a free-trade pact that would eliminate tax on the vast majority of goods flowing between the two, Taiwan officials said Tuesday. - Reuters
Southeast Asia
Indonesia's Constitutional Court began hearing a legal challenge Wednesday lodged by presidential contender Prabowo Subianto to overturn the results of last month's election, won by Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Politicians from Cambodia's main opposition party were sworn in as lawmakers Tuesday, formally ending their nearly yearlong boycott after striking a deal last month to share power with the government. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
An historic peace settlement in the southern Philippines is at risk of breaking down as Muslim rebels accuse the government of going back on its word over a proposed law to create self-rule for the war-torn region. - Reuters
An opposition activist's claims that she was tortured in military custody were "100 percent fabricated", Thailand's ruling junta said on Tuesday, after the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an immediate investigation. - Reuters
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej will return to a Bangkok hospital for the first time since leaving it a year ago, the palace said in an announcement on Wednesday. - Reuters
Steve Cima writes: Burmese citizens have waited for generations for the opportunity to choose their own representatives. The future of politics in Burma will depend in part on political parties' efforts to organize their message and give voters a clear and informed choice in the run-up the 2015 elections. The stage is set for an electoral tussle between the ruling and opposition parties; hopefully the people of Burma will be beneficiaries of a strong campaign next year. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

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The US Defense Department’s top procurement official would like Congress to create a reserve spending account that the Pentagon could tap when a weapons program runs into costly development issues. – Defense News
The forced culling of majors from Army ranks is taking a bigger toll on black officers than those from any other ethnic group, according to Army personnel documents. – USA Today
August is the month of decision for UCLASS, the Navy’s controversial program to build armed drones that fly off aircraft carriers. At stake: whether the “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance & Strike” aircraft will be primarily a scout (surveillance) or a bomber (strike). The new Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work, delayed the Navy’s release of an official Request For Proposals (RFP) while he studied the question, with a crucial meeting in the new few weeks. – Breaking Defense
The U.S. Air Force is working to extend the service life of its fleet of C-130 combat delivery aircraft by replacing center wing boxes on some of the planes and adding new avionics, electronics and instrumentation, service officials told Military​.com. – DOD Buzz
Eyeing emerging threats amid a constrained budget environment, and consumed by the Lockheed Martin F-35’s high cost, the U.S. Air Force is already studying what the “sixth-generation” of air dominance capability for the service should be. – Aviation Week
The U.S. Army is looking to reduce the weight of its armored vehicles by 40 percent in years ahead and has reached out to industry and academia for help. - UPI
General Jim Mattis, USMC (Ret.) writes: While we will do less with a smaller military, we must not do it less well.  At the point of contact with our foes it must be made painfully clear to a globalized world audience that the size of our military notwithstanding, the quality of our troops and equipment ensures that we are at the top of the game and no one wants to take on the U.S. and our allies. This is the one constant that regardless of size America's military cannot sacrifice even as our military shrinks. – Hoover Institution’s Strategika
Kiron Skinner writes: As the only superpower, the United States provides extended deterrence for much of the world.  When its leadership fails to tie priorities to an overall strategy that can be clearly articulated and understood by domestic and international audiences, it is no surprise that chaos ensues even in countries where the White House once claimed to have helped improve security and secured sovereignty. The absence of a strategy is also why President Obama’s recent speech at West Point fell flat for many Democrats and Republicans. As a warning to adversaries, it lacked credibility. – Hoover Institution’s Strategika
Thomas Donnelly writes: Americans – and indeed, the world as a whole – get a fabulous value for their military investment. For about 3 cents on our dollar, we have gotten, at least until lately, a pretty peaceful world. Even now, by historical standards, things could be much worse. But the trends are almost uniformly bad. The world is indeed getting worse, and at an accelerating rate. The problems are metastasizing now, and a solution framed for “20YY” – the new “innovative” term of art for kicking the can down the road – is not a serious answer. – AEI Ideas
The War
The planned release of a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA’s interrogation of terrorism suspects has broken down in a dispute between the committee and the Obama administration over how much of the document can be declassified. – Washington Post
A massive U.S. government database of known or suspected terrorists contains the names of about 25,000 Americans or legal residents, which represents about 2 percent of the total number of people in the vast intelligence files. According to the National Counterterrorism Center, there were 1.1 million people, many with multiple spelling variations, in the classified database as of December 2013. – Washington Post
More than 40 percent of the people on the government’s database of possible terrorist suspects have no connection to any known terror group, according to a new report. – The Hill
Jurors should know how the government plans to execute the Guantanamo detainee accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole if he's convicted of a capital offense, his lawyer argued at a pretrial hearing Tuesday at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. – Associated Press
A Guantanamo Bay prisoner from Syria cleared for release in 2009 has seen his health deteriorate amid a hunger strike and needs urgent, independent medical examination, his attorney said Tuesday. – Associated Press
The federal government has concluded there's a new leaker exposing national security documents in the aftermath of surveillance disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, U.S. officials tell CNN.  - CNN

A Russian crime ring has amassed the largest known collection of stolen Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion user name and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses, security researchers say. - New York Times

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United States of America
Democrats may have agreed to participate in the Benghazi probe, but they’re not exactly treating it as a legitimate pursuit. From carping about the cost to complaining every time another panel reaches conclusions about the attack, Democrats still aren’t acting like willing investigators and call the probe part of a frivolous House GOP agenda. – Washington Times
The State Department is increasing security at key posts around the globe in anticipation of a soon-to-be-released Senate report on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques. – The Hill
Democrats seized on Rand Paul’s comments over foreign aid to Israel on Tuesday, adding to a growing chorus of criticism from those on the left who say the Kentucky senator wants to “rewrite history.” - Politico
Latin America
Bolivia's socialist president, Evo Morales, is leading in a new poll, with 52% of those surveyed saying they intend to vote for him in the October general election, enough to secure a first-round victory. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Detained American Alan Gross told his wife and daughter something they weren't expecting during a recent visit in Cuba: Goodbye…The former U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor, who's been imprisoned for nearly five years, is refusing to see visitors from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, the statement said. - CNN
A leading human rights activist in Argentina will finally meet the grandson torn from her family 36 years ago when he was kidnapped by agents of the country's right-wing dictatorship. - Reuters
Luis Alberto Moreno writes: In its early stages, critics of Plan Colombia dismissed it as expensive and unrealistic. But they underestimated Colombians' strong desire to build a fulfilling life in their own country. We were ready to reclaim our country. The serious U.S. aid program galvanized our determination by showing us that a great nation believed in us too. – Los Angeles Times

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U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
President Obama convened a giant game of “Let’s Make a Deal” between the United States and Africa on Tuesday, bringing together nearly 50 African leaders with American investors for what he promised would be a long-term partnership that went beyond extracting “minerals from the ground for our growth.” – New York Times
U.S. and African leaders on Tuesday unveiled $14 billion in commercial deals, part of a campaign to improve on a trade relationship in which the two parties still do little business together. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Policymakers at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit are hoping to come up with solutions to the “significant” security challenges that have grown over the last several years. - The Hill

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that America is losing Africa to Europe and China. – The Hill
China has invited the US to co-operate in financing and building infrastructure in Africa and other parts of the developing world, an unprecedented proposal that has potentially sweeping implications for the future of international development aid. – Financial Times
J. Peter Pham writes: The United States may be late in pulling together an Africa summit...and so many VIP motorcades will inevitably exacerbate Washington's already bad traffic snarls, but if this week's meetings and the presence of so many key actors around the capital can shift America’s focus to the new Africa and its political and business leaders, it will be worth the effort. - The Hill

Recent U.S. surveillance flights over northeastern Nigeria showed what appeared to be large groups of girls held together in remote locations, raising hopes among domestic and foreign officials that they are among the group that Boko Haram abducted from a boarding school in April, U.S. and Nigerian officials said. – Wall Street Journal
East Africa
Seeking to keep their cash-strapped government afloat, South Sudan officials huddled in June in Juba with Chinese, Malaysian and Indian oil executives to propose an emergency loan of $200 million, according to participants in the meeting. As they made the appeal, officials shared some other unwelcome news: South Sudan couldn't pay back the $1.6 billion it had already borrowed from these companies. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry both prodded rebels in the African country to engage in sputtering peace efforts on Tuesday after mediators said they failed to show up for the latest round of talks. - Reuters
Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told Reuters on Tuesday he expected a new military drive by African Union and Somali forces to start in the next few days to push al Shabaab militants from more territory. - Reuters
Demond Tutu writes: If South Sudan's leaders fail to reach out to each other and restore peace, if they fail to comprehend that our shared humanity is our greatest gift, they will forever bear the burden of this growing human disaster. – Foreign Policy
Central Africa
An opposition leader in Democratic Republic of Congo was imprisoned on Tuesday after he spoke at a rally calling on President Joseph Kabila to respect constitutional term limits and step aside in presidential elections due in 2016. - Reuters
The Central African Republic's Muslim rebels and Christian militia accused each other on Tuesday of violating a ceasefire deal signed last month, following days of clashes in the country's remote north. - Reuters
South Africa
[Nelson Mandela’s] former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, whom he divorced in 1996, is challenging Mandela’s will, demanding that the Qunu homestead and land should be hers, according to reports in South African newspapers Tuesday. – Los Angeles Times

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Obama Administration

In his handling of foreign policy, President Barack Obama has record-high disapproval ratings according to the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released Tuesday. - Politico
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) writes: Those around the world who are looking to the United States for support against intimidation, oppression or outright massacres have learned a tough lesson in the past few years: This U.S. president, despite his bold pronouncements and moral posturing, cannot be counted on. – Washington Post

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Democracy and Human Rights

Pedro Pizano writes: What today's critics fail to see is what self-described "realists" have always failed to understand. Human rights -- or, as Kissinger would refer to them, the "domestic structure" -- are not only a question of morality but also of strategy and self-interest. You see, only governments that trust their own citizens enough to guarantee their rights can be trusted by other governments. Sakharov is supposed to have said: "A society that doesn't respect the rights of its citizens won't respect the rights of others." – Foreign Policy

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Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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