Flotilla activists returned to Turkey; US-Turkey relations harmed by flotilla reaction; Japanese finance minister leading candidate for prime minister; economic ties between US and China further hampered; UN criticises US drone attacks; international call for more EU bank transparency
Top of the Agenda: Israel Sends Flotilla Activists to Turkey
Hundreds of activists who were deported from Israel after an Israeli raid on a pro-Palestinian flotilla returned to Turkey (Guardian). The flotilla aimed to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip to transport food and other supplies to Palestinians living there. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls to lift the blockade, saying the ban prevents missile attacks on Israel and that an end to the blockade would result in hundreds of ships bringing missiles from Iran, effectively creating "an Iranian port in Gaza." The UN, Europe, and others harshly criticized Israel after its troops stormed the flotilla in international waters. Turkey's parliament called for its government to review all ties with Israel.
Obama administration officials say Israel's blockade of Gaza is untenable. The White House plans to press (NYT) for another approach to ensure Israel's security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area.
In the Christian Science Monitor, Turkey's Suat Kiniklioglu says the U.S. response to Israel's "disproportionate use of violence against innocent civilians constitutes a test case for U.S. credibility in the Middle East."
In the Weekly Standard, CFR's Elliott Abrams says whether Israel is slammed by the international community depends on whether the United States is willing to stand with it.
Israel's response to the flotilla marked another setback for U.S.-Turkish relations and could complicate the latest U.S.-brokered Mideast peace talks, says CFR's Steven Cook.
PACIFIC RIM: Finance Chief Favored as Japanese PM
Japanese Finance Minister Naoto Kan emerged as the leading candidate (NYT) to replace Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama following his abrupt resignation.
The surprise collapse of Hatoyama's government raises questions about the DPJ party's ability to lead the country, its U.S. ties, and its security policy, writes CFR's Sheila Smith.
China: China warned (WSJ) that the U.S. decision to impose duties on imports of Chinese steel gratings adds to the rising number of U.S.-initiated trade disputes against Beijing, hurting economic ties between the two countries.
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org