World News Brief, Friday May 29

FIFA indictments continue to shock; US rebukes China's maritime ambitions; Thai protest leaders receive prison sentences; Pentagon accidentally ships live anthrax; Afghan Security Force members join Taliban; and more


U.S. FIFA Indictments Reverberate Worldwide

U.S. Justice Department charges against high-ranking FIFA officials on Wednesday have raised questions (WaPo) about the security of the global banking system and the legitimacy of upcoming World Cup events, law enforcement officials said. The investigation into racketeering and bribery charges has explanded to financial institutions (Bloomberg) allegedly involved in facilitating bribes, tax evasion, and other misconduct. Charges that the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was the subject of a $10 million bribe have led to additional scrutiny (NYT) for the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 games to Russia and Qatar. Some U.S. lawmakers issued a call to boycott Russia's World Cup (Moscow Times), and Russian President Vladimir Putin said the FIFA officials' arrests were an example of the United States meddling abroad.


"Vladimir Putin will go apoplectic on this issue. If Russia’s hosting rights are withdrawn—as they must be, and as they should have been already after his invasion of sovereign Ukraine—he will treat the legal assault on FIFA as an assault on Mother Russia itself," argues Tunku Varadarajan in Politico.

"Human rights advocates' worst fears about Qatar seemed to be confirmed as Qatar began building the infrastructure to host the Cup, and reports of migrant worker deaths started to pile up. The numbers, to the extent that we know them, appear startling: A Guardian investigation last year revealed that Nepalese migrant workers were dying at a rate of one every two days," writes Christopher Ingraham at Wonkblog.

"If nothing else, this will highlight FIFA’s authoritarian-friendly practices, tarnish their practices, embarrass their cronies, and perhaps suggest even more robust actions to heal a long-festering pustule in the world of global governance. Which, in the world of international politics, counts as a win," writes Daniel Drezner in the Washington Post.


United States Rebukes China's Maritime Ambitions

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter called for (WSJ) an "immediate and lasting halt" to China's land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea, where it has been developing a chain of artificial islands in a bid to expand its control over the highly contested maritime border area. Since early 2015, China has created nearly two thousand acres of new land mass and has begun building military infrastructure on the islands.

This blog post from CFR's Lauren Dickey and Stephen Liszewski looks at the major takeaways of China's new military strategy.

THAILAND: The leaders of Thailand's 2008 protest movement received two-year prison sentences (Bangkok Post) for leading protesters to storm the prime minister's office during a rally, a charge they deny. The protestors also face separate terrorism charges over the occupation of the Bangkok airport.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick reviews Thai politics one year after the military took power in this blog post.


Pentagon accidentally ships live anthrax

Afghan Security Force members join Taliban

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