World News Brief, Friday March 20

Arrests in Tunisian museum attack; Beijing and Tokyo officials meet to discuss maritime security; former Thai PM to go on tiral for alleged involvement in rice subsidy scheme; UN to monitor school safety in Pakistan; fresh strife between Kiev and Moscow; and more


Tunisian Authorities Make Arrests in Museum Attack

The Tunisian president’s office said nine people had been arrested (ABC News) in connection to Wednesday’s attacks at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, which rocked this country in the forefront of "Arab Spring" reforms. Unidentified gunmen opened fire (AP) at the museum, killing twenty-three, including several foreign tourists, and injuring dozens of others. No group has taken responsibility for the attack. Civil society groups are planning a silent protest (Guardian) on Thursday to denounce the attack. Tunisian lawmakers were debating (BBC) anti-terrorism legislation at the time of the attack, as tension in neighboring Libya heats up with clashes between rival governments and militants loyal to the self-declared Islamic State. The attack is Tunisia's deadliest since an al-Qaeda suicide bombing in 2002 that killed twenty-one.

"The small north African country also has a serious jihadi problem—as was grimly illustrated by Wednesday’s bloody Tunis museum attack. Mounting mayhem in neighbouring Libya is part of the problem as hardline Islamist militants have managed to cross porous borders or have smuggled weapons to like-minded extremists such as Ansar al-Sharia, which has branches in Tunisia and elsewhere across the Maghreb region," writes Ian Black at the Guardian.
"President Essebsi should invite the leaders of Ennahda and other political movements to the presidential palace in order to speak with one united voice, on the same stage, with one unifying mission: a stable, peaceful, democratic Tunisia that will not deviate from its course, turn to extremism, or be tempted by authoritarianism when terrorists attack. This is an opportunity for the Tunisian political elite to show clearly and resolutely that their Arab Spring will not wither in the face of cowardly violence," argues Brian Klaas in Foreign Policy.
"It is strongly in America’s interest to see Tunisia’s pluralist, democratic approach to government succeed. We know from experience that economic stagnation and hopelessness can sow the seeds of radicalization—while economic prosperity can strengthen the forces of moderation and progress. This is Tunisia’s moment. And if its leaders seize it, the country can be a model of peace and prosperity not only for North Africa but for the entire world," write Madeleine Albright and Penny Pritzker in Al Jazeera.


Beijing, Tokyo Hold First Security Dialogue in Four Years
Chinese and Japanese defense and foreign affairs officials met (Kyodo) in Tokyo on Thursday and are expected to consider a maritime communication mechanism intended to avoid accidental and inadvertent clashes at sea. Thursday's talks are the first formal bilateral security exchanges since January 2011, signaling a thaw in relations between Beijing and Tokyo.
CFR's Sheila A. Smith explores the nuances of Chinese-Japanese relations in her new book Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China.

THAILAND: The supreme court said it would (Bangkok Post) hear the trial of former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for her alleged involvement in a costly rice subsidy scheme. The first hearing will be held on May 19.


UN to monitor school safety in Pakistan

Fresh strife between Kiev and Moscow

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