Global Public Square

Friday Roundup: Taliban bombings rock Pakistan academy

Reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Executive Summary

– Taliban Bombings Rock Pakistan Academy

– Syria Locks Down Ahead of Protests

– Victims Claims Plan Approved by Japan

– HIV Breakthrough Protects Partners

Top of the Agenda: Taliban Bombings Rock Pakistan Academy

Two suicide attackers detonated bombs at a paramilitary academy (BBC) in the Pakistani frontier, killing eighty and injuring over a hundred. The attacks targeted newly trained cadets at the Frontier Constabulary, which is used to police the regions bordering the country's tribal areas.

A Taliban spokesman said the suicide assault "was the first revenge for Osama's martyrdom. Wait for bigger attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan" (al-Jazeera). However, senior police officials doubt the Taliban's claims of responsibility, and suggest the operation was carried out by a splinter militant group working out of the local mountains of the Mohmand region (NYT) .

Authorities say the death toll is still climbing, and might end up becoming the deadliest attack on law enforcement in recent years. Analysts claim the violent episode is likely to feed Pakistani ire over the unilateral U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden, which has been depicted as a brash violation of state sovereignty (WSJ).

The national anger in Pakistan has been matched by frustration among some U.S. officials who have raised calls in Congress to significantly reduce the billions of dollars a year Pakistan receives in American aid.

Analysis:

Osama bin Laden's death has fueled renewed debate about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, with some experts and lawmakers in Congress calling for a speedier pullout schedule and less funding.

For the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace, George Perkovich writes that Washington should end its reliance on the Pakistani security establishment so that it can more effectively promote civilian political and economic development in the country.

In this op-ed for CNN.com, CFR's James M. Lindsay discusses three potential options for the Obama administration in Afghanistan, including "staying the course," partial but quick withdrawal, and a full drawdown.

This blog post from the Economist discusses a recent public opinion poll administered by the Gallup organization in Pakistan.

 MIDDLE EAST: Syria Locks Down Ahead of Protests

The Syrian military began closing off entire areas, including checkpoints and roadblocks, in several cities, where mass anti-government protests (AP) are expected to occur after Friday prayers. Human rights observers say that nearly eight hundred people have been killed and thousands arrested since the uprising began in mid-March.

On his CFR blog Pressure Points, Elliott Abrams discusses seven theories to explain failed U.S. policy in Syria.

Egypt: Thousands of activists congregated in Cairo's Tahrir Square to rally against sectarian strife and express solidarity for Palestinian unity. Some demonstrators have called for a march to neighboring Gaza over the weekend to protest the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories (al-Jazeera).

With Israel facing a regional democratization movement, a unity pact between Hamas and Fatah, and a possible UN vote on Palestinian statehood, Netanyahu should offer a swap of territory in return for Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state, says Israel expert David Makovsky.

PACIFIC RIM: Victims Claims Plan Approved by Japan

Japanese authorities approved a plan to help Tokyo Electric Power compensate victims of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant (Reuters) by issuing special-purpose bonds to help finance a claims fund. This will allow the company to remain solvent and will prevent uncertainty in the financial markets

China: Close to forty people were injured when a former employee detonated a gasoline bomb at a bank in China's northwestern Gansu province (LATimes).

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Communist Rule Ends in West Bengal

The opposition group Trinamool Congress ended thirty-plus years of Communist rule (FT) in West Bengal after emerging victorious in Indian state elections. Analysts claim the region and its capital Calcutta have suffered a decline under Communist leadership compared with the rapid growth of cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. 

AFRICA: Several Killed in Uganda Clashes

Up to five opposition protestors were killed in the capital of Kampala (al-Jazeera) after attacking cars carrying African leaders at the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni. Since the presidential election, the opposition, including candidate Kizza Besigye, has led a series of demonstrations against high food and fuel prices.

Djibouti: The International Criminal Court (AP) reported Djibouti to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during an official visit. The court has requested all nations attempt to apprehend al-Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes and genocide.

AMERICAS: HIV Breakthrough Protects Partners

Significant findings from a recent HIV/AIDS report (USNews) show that people with HIV can reduce the risk of passing it to their sex partners by over 90 percent if they begin antiretroviral treatment when their immune system is still relatively healthy.

United States: Some GOP congressmen, including Tea Party-supported freshmen, claim Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is exaggerating the dangers of not raising the nation's debt limit (WSJ) before August 2. The lawmakers suggest the deadline can be pushed back if Treasury takes further extraordinary measures.

EUROPE: First-Quarter Growth Surprises Eurozone

The seventeen-nation Eurozone economy (BBC) grew by 0.8 percent in the first quarter, up from 0.3 percent in the previous. Looking at individual countries, economists say the figures highlight the "two-speed" nature of the region's growth–with countries like Germany and France moving ahead of other lagging economies.

Spain: Thousands of mourners attended funeral mass for the nine people killed in the earthquake that struck the southern city of Lorca (DeutscheWelle). The Spanish government is rapidly trying to accommodate thousands of homeless still stranded by the disaster.

To receive daily updates in your inbox, sign up for CFR.org's Daily News Brief here.