Monday Briefing | February 20

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A newly built refugee camp is pictured in front of a building which was destroyed by an air strike last November in Hammam Ali, south of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Stories to Follow:

 Push to reclaim western Mosul

After liberating much of eastern Mosul from Islamic State control from October to late-January, Iraqi and Peshmerga forces have launched an offensive aimed at reclaiming the western part of the city. Leaflets dropped by the Iraqi Air Force have presented Islamic State forces with an ultimatum to either surrender or confront lethal force. An estimated 5,000 I.S. fighters remain embedded amongst 650,000 civilians in the western Mosul. The U.N. warns that these civilians are at “extreme risk,” and that an exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees will exacerbate resource scarcity. Mosul, which is Iraq’s second largest city and the I.S.’s last major stronghold, has been under I.S. control since 2014.

US deploys carrier to South China Sea amid rising tensions

The US Navy has deployed the U.S.S. Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to the South China Sea for “routine” patrols with the aim of monitoring and protecting freedom of navigation. This deployment follows a week of training exercises conducted by Chinese naval forces in the contested waters. Tensions in the US-China relationship have flared up during recent months over issues of artificial island building, disputed territorial claims, and the incoming Trump administration’s communication with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. In recent days, however, President Trump has reiterated his support for the One China policy during a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Closer analysis of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s written remarks on the issue of the South China Sea have also downplayed the incendiary nature of his verbal testimony during his confirmation hearing.

TPP is dead. Long live TPP?

While President Trump’s executive order signaling U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership will likely kill the deal in its current form, two new reports released this week stressed the need for US economic integration within the Asia-Pacific. The Peterson Institute of International Economics points to Republican support for free trade agreements, the symbolic downgrading of US leadership in the region vis à vis China, and the favorable economics of T.P.P. as reasons why a hasty exit in favor of bilateral agreements should be reexamined. The Center for Strategic and International Studies released a similar report in which they stated that, outside of the economic losses, failure to pass T.P.P. would be a “severe blow to U.S. credibility and leadership in the region. It would translate into a diminished American role in establishing rules and norms that will govern the twenty-first-century economy, undermining U.S. competitiveness and economic success.” Competing multilateral frameworks, such as R.C.E.P. or the F.T.A.A.P., are complicated in their own right and should not be misunderstood as T.P.P.’s “nefarious challenger.”

 This Week in JPI:

Political Analysis | Turkish Women’s Rights Struggle During state of Emergency by Clare Busch

A week ago the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, began a referendum campaign to support a bill that could transform the country’s parliamentary system into a presidential one, which could keep Erdogan in office until 2029. The possibility of a stronger presidency with Erdogan at its head could augur a challenging path for activism in Turkey. Women’s rights groups say their work has become even more difficult since the July coup attempt, with organizations divided by politics and critics facing an even harder fight for women’s issues. Read More…

 Happening this Week:

Conflict, Security, and Development Series – Spring 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm | The Puck Building 295 Lafayette Street New York, NY

Each Tuesday, the Conflict, Security, and Development Series will examine new research, discuss creative policy approaches, and highlight recent innovations in responding to the challenges of security and development in conflict and post-conflict situations. RSVP here.

 The French Resistance in Transnational Perspective

Friday, February 24, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm | La Maison Française 16 Washington Mews New York, NY

Sponsored by the Institute of French Studies and the Elihu Rose Fund for Modern Military History, this conference will feature speakers and scholars from NYU, Princeton University, the University of Toronto, and more. It will be conducted in English. More information may be found here.

 In Your Free Time:

With Spring Break right around the corner, look forward to spending some well-earned free time outside of the classroom. The New York Flamenco Festival will be taking place next month from March 9-12 at the New York City Center. Get your tickets early and learn more about this event here. Additional flamenco performances, blending traditional and innovative styles, will be taking place at Joe’s Pub at the Public, near NYU.

A dual program, focusing on the makings of modern Israel and ongoing political tensions regarding occupied territory, playing at Film Forum will be showing The Settlers and Ben-Gurion: Epilogue.

This week’s Monday Briefing is brought to you by Andrew Keough.

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