Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Palestinian militant group Hamas freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after holding him captive for five years (NYT) in the Gaza Strip. The move was part of an agreement between Hamas andIsrael, which will release over one thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit.
Shalit was initially handed over to Egyptian officials at the Rafah border crossing (al-Jazeera) betweenGaza andEgypt, and then transported toIsrael's Tel Nof air base.Israel has so far freed 477 Palestinian prisoners as part of the deal.
Shalit, who was captured in 2006 during a cross-border raid by Hamas, said he hoped the prisoner swap would "advance peace" (LAT) between Israelis and Palestinians.
Egypt's transitional military government is credited with engineering the deal (Guardian), despite the country's deteriorating relations withIsrael following the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in February.
As momentous as the release of Shalit and 477 Palestinian prisoners may be, it is unlikely to be a game-changer–or a milestone on the road to peace, writes TIME's Tony Karon.
There is no way around the contradictions inherent in Israel's decision to free over one thousand prisoners in order to liberate Shalit, writes CFR's Elliott Abrams in The Weekly Standard.
In this CFR Video, CFR's Robert Danin identifies the winners and losers in the deal brokered betweenIsrael and Hamas to secure Shalit's release.
This CFR Crisis Guide offers an in-depth, multimedia look at the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflictand its geopolitical repercussions.
Clinton Visits Tripoli
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the Libyan capital of Tripolion Tuesday to meet with Libya's ruling National Transitional Council, promising humanitarian aid and military equipment (NYT). Clinton arrived a day after NTC fighters claimed to have taken Bani Walid, one of two remaining strongholds of ousted leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
North Korea, U.S. Hold Talks over War Remains
North Koreaand the United Statesare holding talks in Bangkokon resurrecting a joint operation to recover the remains of U.S. troops (BBC) killed during the Korean War. The countries will also meet inGeneva next week to negotiate resuming multilateral talks to end the North's nuclear weapons program.
This CFR Independent Task Force Report identifies three elements of an internationally coordinated response to the threat posed byNorth Korea.
SOUTH KOREA: President Lee Myung-bak called on parliament to speedily approve a free-trade agreement (Yonhap) with theUnited States. The long-stalled deal was approved last week by the U.S. Congress.
Even though Presidents Lee and Obama reaffirmed bilateral relations and celebrated congressional approval of a long-pending free trade deal, they must now focus on difficult challenges ahead, includingNorth Korea andChina, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistani Minister Calls on Taliban to Disarm
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Pakistanwill only hold peace talks (ExpressTribune) with insurgent groups if they put down their arms first. If negotiations fail, the government will launch military operations in the tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan. Meanwhile, militants in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region ambushed Pakistani paramilitary troops in a gun battle (AFP)that killed nine soldiers.
Pakistan's stability is of great consequence to regional and international security. Examine the roots of its challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and explore some plausible futures for the country with this CFR Crisis Guide.
Al-Shabaab Threatens Retaliation as Kenyan Troops Advance
The Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabaab threatened to attack Kenyaunless it withdraws from Somalia. Kenyan troops entered southern SomaliaSunday with tanks and helicopters (al-Jazeera), and are advancing toward the al-Shabaab stronghold of Afmadow.
This CFR Backgrounder offers a profile of the al-Shabaab Islamist militant organization based in southernSomalia.
LIBERIA: Former Liberian rebel leader Prince Johnson (Reuters) said he will support President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in next month's presidential runoff.
Venezuelan Supreme Court Blocks Opposition Leader
The Venezuelan Supreme Court upheld a decision to bar a prominent opposition politician, Leopoldo Lopez, from running for office due to corruption charges, disqualifying him from challenging President Hugo Chavez (MercoPress) in the country's October 2012 presidential election.
CHILE: The government is requiring close to sixty thousand eighteen-year-olds to report for military duty (AP) within one month, blaming a nationwide student protest movement for reducing the number of volunteers in the armed forces.
Germany Downplays EU Summit
Ahead of a weekend summit, where European leaders are expected to outline a comprehensive plan for the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis, Germany warned that a "definitive solution" (NYT) would not emerge and that any plan could take months to implement.
G20 finance ministers are pressing their EU counterparts to provide a comprehensive plan forstabilizing the eurozone and easing fears of contagion, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
SPAIN: International representatives, including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, held a conference in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastian, where they called on the Basque separatist group ETA to end ongoing violence (DeutscheWelle).