Foreign Policy Briefing 6/2/10

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This summary briefing comes to us through the courtesy of Just Foreign Policy.

Tell Obama: Speak Up for the Free Passage of the Rachel Corrie to Gaza
In his speech in Cairo, President Obama urged the Palestinian people to press their claims for justice through nonviolence. Now that the Israeli military has attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, President Obama should follow through on his Cairo speech, and demand free passage to Gaza for the Irish-flagged Rachel Corrie.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/mvrachelcorrie

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Nine high-profile experts, including former weapons inspector David Kay and former Under Secretary of State Tom Pickering, said world powers should seriously consider the Iran nuclear fuel swap, Reuters reports. “We urge the so-called Vienna Group (Russia, France, the United States, and the IAEA) to seriously pursue this proposal as an opening for further diplomatic engagement with Iran on outstanding issues of concern,” the experts said.

2) Eyewitness accounts from ships raided by Israeli commandos have cast doubt on Israel’s version of events that led to the deaths of at least nine people, the BBC reports. German activist Norman Paech said he had only seen wooden sticks being brandished as troops abseiled on to the deck of the ship. Israel says its soldiers were attacked with “knives, clubs and other weapons” and opened fire in self-defense.

3) Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren and national security adviser Uzi Arad spent four hours in meetings Tuesday at the White House, the Washington Post reports. The discussions also explored ways for future humanitarian deliveries to reach Gaza without jeopardizing Israel’s security, a White House official said. Behind the White House’s message was a sense within the administration that Israel’s approach toward upholding its blockade is unworkable over the long term, and the focus now is on preventing another deadly raid at sea, the Post says. The Post notes that the latter question may be called later this week, when the MV Rachel Corrie will attempt to reach Gaza.

4) A Maryland woman lost her eye during a demonstration in Jerusalem against Israel’s naval raid on a Gaza aid flotilla when she was shot in the face with a tear gas canister by an Israeli border policeman, AP reports. An eyewitness said Palestinian youths were hurling rocks, but the woman didn’t participate in any violence and was standing at a distance.

5) Latin American countries, including Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil, strongly condemned the attack carried out by the Israeli forces against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Xinhua reports. Argentina, Mexico and Brazil called for lifting the embargo on Gaza.

Israel/Palestine
6) UN Secretary General Ban Israel’s blockade of Gaza was responsible for the deadly raid on the aid flotilla and should be lifted, Middle East Online reports. “Had Israelis heeded to my call and to the call of the international community by lifting the blockade of Gaza, this tragic incident would not have happened,” Ban said. “It would have been avoided without such tragedy, therefore I again urge Israeli authorities to lift this blockade,” Ban said.

Brazil
7) Filmmaker Oliver Stone on Tuesday praised Brazil’s efforts to mediate with Iran on its nuclear program, AP reports. Stone was in Brazil to promote his documentary “South of the Border” about progressive leaders in South America.





Afghanistan
8) Afghan police brought in by the U.S. are having trouble establishing connections with residents in Marja, the New York Times reports. Part of their problem was that many sergeants are Tajik, and do not speak Pashto, southern Afghanistan’s dominant language. [The NYT buries this extremely damning information 90% of the way into the article – JFP.]

Japan
9) Prime Minister Hatoyama, who swept into power last year with bold promises to revamp the country, then faltered over broken campaign pledges to remove a US base from Okinawa, announced he would step down, the New York Times reports.

Colombia
10) Former defense minister Santos, who has pledged to continue Uribe’s military policies, defeated former Bogota mayor Mockus in the first round of presidential elections, the Washington Post reports. Santos took 46.6 percent of the vote – or 6.7 million voters, more than double the 3.1 million who voted for Mockus.

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