World News Brief, Thursday May 2

Obama recommits to closing Guantanamo; Japan wants to sell nuclear infrastructure to Middle East; Malaysia to hold elections this week; anti-Muslim violence in Burma destroys mosques and kills at least one person; three British soldiers killed in roadside bombing in Afghanistan; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama Renews Vow to Close Guantánamo

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he would recommit himself to closing the Guantánamo Bay prison (NYT), an initiative that had once figured heavily into his campaign but gained no momentum in his first term. The president vowed to try again to persuade Congress to lift restrictions on transferring inmates, saying it was not sustainable to keep Guantánamo open. The military base has been rocked by a widening hunger strike (Guardian) involving at least 100 of its 166 prisoners, twenty-one of whom are being force-fed, and many of whom have been held for more than eleven years without trial.


"There is no doubt that Congress - both parties - played a significant role in the ongoing travesty by limiting Obama's options, and it deserves much of the blame. But for the reasons documented here, Obama deserves his own share of the blame, and it is substantial," writes Glenn Greenwald for the Guardian.

"[The] Pentagon has failed to set up a promised new system for reviewing the cases of prisoners that Mr. Obama ordered established more than a year ago—which means that Guantánamo inmates are receiving less review of their cases than they did during the Bush administration. It's little wonder that many have grown desperate enough to try starving themselves to death," writes a Washington Post editorial.

"It mocks American standards of justice by keeping people imprisoned without charges. It has actually hindered the prosecution and imprisonment of dangerous terrorists. Even if Guantánamo seemed justified to some people in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, those justifications are wearing thin. It is unsustainable and should be closed," writes a New York Times editorial.



Japan Vows Nuclear Infrastructure Exports to Middle East

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to promote exports (KyodoNews) of Japan's nuclear infrastructure to the Middle East in a bid to tighten economic ties with the region. Abe, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, will also visit the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

MALAYSIA: Malaysia faces tightly-contested national elections Sunday, when voters will choose between opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and the ruling National Front coalition (Reuters).



Burma Sees More Anti-Muslim Violence

At least one person died in central Burma after Buddhist gangs (al-Jazeera) set fire to hundreds of homes and attacked two mosques, marking the latest anti-Muslim violence to plague the Southeast Asian nation since late March.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick delves into Myanmar's troubles in this op-ed.

AFGHANISTAN: Three British soldiers were killed (Independent) in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan, underlining the continued danger as the UK prepares its 2014 drawdown.

CFR's Stephen Biddle discusses Afghanistan's looming security test in this new interview.

 This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on