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inFOCUS Quarterly

Summer 2014

America's Global Withdrawal

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Protesters Gather in Islamabad as Talks Fail

Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan's largest opposition party, pulled out of talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday, calling on him to resign. Khan's actions set the stage for continued political turmoil as thousands of anti-government activists gathered outside government buildings in Islamabad.

Each side blamed the other for the breakdown of talks meant to resolve allegations of fraud during elections in May 2013. Khan's party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said that it has exhausted all its political options to contest the poll and is now calling for mass civil disobedience. Sharif, on the other hand, suggested establishing a judicial commission to investigate the alleged vote rigging.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Hamas Fires at Israel, Jerusalem Responds

Terrorists in Gaza violated a ceasefire on Tuesday, launching rockets at Israel eight hours before a the temporary truce was set to expire. The IDF responded with renewed airstrikes on Hamas terror targets.

By Wednesday night, Israeli officials estimated over 150 projectiles had been fired from the small coastal enclave. Long range rocket launchings prompted warning sirens across central Israel, including Jerusalem. One rocket hit a highway in the Tel Aviv, but no injuries were reported. In response the IDF's Homefront Command reopened bomb shelters within approximately 50 miles of Gaza.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Erdogan Wins Turkish Presidency

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey's first direct election for President on Sunday, allowing him to embark on further constitutional reform. The polarizing Prime Minister will be sworn into his new role on August 28th, with his ruling Islamist AK party nominating a successor.

According to preliminary results, Erdogan secured about 52% of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff election. Local opinion polls had expected Erdogan to win, outpacing two other contestants from Kurdish and Nationalist parties. In a victory speech to the nation, the Prime Minister struck a more reconciliatory tone declaring the start of a new era in Turkish history and a pledge to embrace all citizens.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

New Turmoil in Baghdad While IS Advances

Troops and tanks surged into Baghdad's Green Zone over the weekend, following new infighting between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and recently elected President Fuad Masum. The latest political turmoil in Iraq came as Islamic State (IS) militants took control of Jalawla, near the Iranian border.

Late last week, President Masum signaled his intent to nominate Haider al-Abadi, a member of Maliki's "Rule of Law" party, as Prime Minister. But in a televised address on Sunday night, Maliki suggested he would use his current authority to stay in power for third term. The Prime Minister threatened Masum with legal action if Abadi's nomination continued forward and suggested the Army could be called on to "protect the constitution." Shortly thereafter, Maliki repositioned troops loyal to him close to government buildings, establishing additional roadblocks and checkpoints. Western officials expressed concern over a looming coup.

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By Michael Johnson  |  August 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Russia Bans Some Food Imports from Europe

Moscow banned certain food imports from the West on Thursday in retaliation for recently imposed U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia. The move escalates the Kremlin's row with the West over the Russian government's arming of Ukrainian separatists.

According to a speech given by Prime Minister Medvedev, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree stopping the import "of beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products"  from the EU, U.S., Australia, Canada, and Norway for one year.

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By Yael Rein  |  August 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Lebanese Army Agrees to Ceasefire with Sunni Militants

The Lebanese Army agreed to a ceasefire with Sunni jihadists on Wednesday, allowing militants to withdraw from the besieged city of Arsal in northeastern Lebanon. As part of the deal, Sunni militants will release all captured government troops within 24 hours.

Clashes began on Friday after the Lebanese Army arrested the commander of a Syrian Islamist group, Imad Ahmad Jomaa. According to the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, Jomaa admitted to planning a large terrorist attack against Lebanese Army bases. Jomaa's sympathizers, including terrorists from Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front, responded by attacking the Lebanese troops stationed in the area, subsequently gaining control over large parts of Arsal.

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By Yael Rein  |  August 6, 2014 at 5:17 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

U.S. General Killed in Afghan "Insider" Attack

On Tuesday, a man dressed in an Afghan Army uniform opened fire on NATO troops at Camp Qargha military base west of Kabul. An American general was killed and 15 other NATO soldiers were wounded.

The shooting occurred in a secure facility where Afghan officers are trained under international observation. Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said that the attacker appeared to be a member of the Afghan Army and had worked in Camp Qargha for three years. Armed with a light machine gun, the assailant also injured three senior Afghan officers, including the camp's commander, Gen. Ghulam Sakhi. According to the Pentagon Press Secretary the U.S. general was "one of if not the highest ranking deaths" in the war in Afghanistan.

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By Yael Rein  |  August 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

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