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Monday, November 25, 2013

Preliminary Nuclear Deal Reached with Iran

On Sunday, negotiators announced a preliminary nuclear agreement with Iran, in which some EU sanctions would be lifted in return for increased access to Iran’s nuclear sites and the curbing of some of its nuclear activity. The deal only lasts for six months and can be reversed if its terms are not met.

The deal allows Iran to keep the central elements of its uranium program while preventing it from enriching at the level needed for nuclear arms. It also gives inspectors daily access to Iran’s two key nuclear sites. In return for its cooperation, Iran will receive around $7 billion in “limited, temporary, targeted and reversible [sanctions] relief” while a permanent agreement is sought. EU sanctions against Iran could be eased as early as December.  In America, however, Congressmen are tripping over themselves to preemptively discredit the deal and threatening to raise new sanctions as soon as they’re back in session.

It was also revealed that the US and Iran had held a series of talks – which paved the way for this agreement – that were kept secret even from their allies. Now, world leaders have to turn an interim accord into a comprehensive, longterm agreement.

Syrian Government and Opposition to Meet

For the first time in the span of Syria’s 3-year-old civil war, Syria’s government and opposition have agreed on a date to meet for peace talks on January 22nd in Geneva, with the goal of agreeing upon a mutually acceptable transitional government. A full list of participants has not been decided on, nor did the UN specify who would be representing Syria’s opposition at the talks.

Nevertheless, a spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition – a major political opposition group – made it clear that the group would only attend the talks if the Assad regime met its preconditions: the release of prisoners and the relief of besieged towns, and, of course, that President Bashar al-Assad has no role in the transitional government.

Thai PM Invokes Special Powers in Face of Protests

Thailand’s prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra has invoked an emergency law authorizing officials to seal off roads, impose curfews and ban the use of electronic devices in designated areas after demonstrators seeking to remove her from power occupied parts of the finance and foreign ministries. She emphasized, however, that force would not be used against the protesters. It was the second day of demonstrations by tens of thousands of people, triggered by a controversial amnesty bill that opponents say would allow her brother, ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, to return to Thailand without serving time in jail for corruption.

The amnesty bill had failed to pass the Senate earlier this month, but it reignited simmering political divisions, as it could allow human rights abuses, like the killing of civilian protesters, to go unpunished.

Dominican Citizenship Law Affects Caribbean Community

Caribbean leaders will hold a special emergency meeting to discuss a recent court ruling in the Dominican Republic that could strip citizenship rights from hundreds of thousands of migrants and their descendants. The Dominican Republic has applied to be part of the 15-member Caribbean Community, which includes outspoken critics of this law, including Haitian President Michel Martelly.

Almost 300 Haitians have been deported to Haiti from the Dominican Republic since Sunday, after an elderly Dominican couple was slain during a burglary and a mob retaliated by killing a Haitian man. Many of the deportees had initially gone to a police station seeking refuge, while others were simply rounded up in the streets.

Afghanistan Security Pact in Doubt

Afghan president Hamid Karzai rejected the recommendation of an assembly of Afghan dignitaries, as he continued to refuse to sign a security pact with American that would allow thousands of US troops to stay in the country after the 2014 withdrawal. Afghan security forces, however, are entirely dependent on American military aid. At the conclusion of the loya jirga, Karzai said he was forbidding any further counterterrorism raids on Afghan homes, which would basically end almost all US combat operations in Afghanistan.

In other Afghanistan news, Human Rights Watch has claimed that Afghan government officials have proposed reintroducing the public stoning of adulterers.

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