World Wrap

Drone strike allegedly kills Pakistani Taliban’s number two

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
May 29, 2013

Drone reportedly kills Pakistani Taliban’s second-in-command, Switzerland unhinges bank secrecy, and prominent economist flees Kremlin probes. Today is Wednesday, May 29, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Wali-ur-Rehman (C), deputy Pakistani Taliban leader, who is flanked by militants speaks to a group of reporters in Shawal town, that lies between North and South Waziristan region in the northwest bordering Afghanistan, July 28, 2011. REUTERS/Saud Mehsud

U.S. drone allegedly kills major Pakistani Taliban operative. A U.S. drone strike killed the Pakistani Taliban’s deputy commander, according to security officials.

Wali-ur-Rehman had been poised to succeed Hakimullah Mehsud as leader of the Pakistani Taliban, a senior army official based in the South Waziristan region had said in December… The Pakistani Taliban are a separate entity allied to the Afghan Taliban. Known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), they have launched devastating attacks against the Pakistani military and civilians.

Neither the Pakistani Taliban nor Pakistan’s government has confirmed the death of Wali-ur-Rehman, and ten others who were killed or hurt remain unidentified. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry condemned drone strikes, calling them counterproductive and a violation of “national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law.” In a piece for Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Micah Zenko explains how President Obama’s recent counter-terrorism speech makes drone policies more confusing.

Bad news for wealthy American tax-evaders. Switzerland plans to create a legal basis for Swiss banks to settle investigations by U.S. authorities into how they helped Americans avoid paying billions in taxes:

Switzerland’s tradition of bank secrecy has helped make it the world’s biggest offshore financial center, with $2 trillion in assets. But that tradition has come under heavy fire since the financial crisis as cash-strapped governments around the world have clamped down on tax evasion, with authorities probing Swiss banks in Germany and France as well as the United States.

The legislation allows banks to turn over new information on their clients and staff. Switzerland’s decision follows roughly two years of negotiating with U.S. authorities over tax disputes.

Prominent economist flees Putin’s Russia. A major Russian government adviser and economist abandoned his posts and fled the country, sources told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday:

Sergei Guriev was among the most prominent of a series of Russians to leave the country over the past year since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency and his government embarked on a new crackdown on critics. Mr. Guriev departed as investigators probed his role in a case linked to the controversial prosecution of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the people said.  But while Mr. Guriev frequently attacked the Kremlin for its repressive tactics and publicly supported the regime’s opponents, he was long considered a loyalist, regularly participating in top-level government advisory panels and conferences, as well as the boards of state companies.

Authorities were investigating Guriev for his role in drafting a 2011 report for a Kremlin human-rights panel on Khodorkovsky’s controversial conviction for fraud and money-laundering. Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.

Nota Bene:  Russia blames the United States for “odious” resolution condemning the Syrian government.

Standouts:

Tag-targeting drones - Germany may use small drones to deter graffiti artists. (The New York Times)

Spilled drink debacle - A Chinese teenager was ‘handcuffed’ for spilling water on a Communist Party car. (BBC)

Gangs talk truce - Honduras is backing truce talks between its two most violent gangs. (CNN)

BRIC break - Reuters columnist Ian Bremmer explains underappreciated tensions between China and Brazil. (Reuters)

Al Qaeda’s corporate throwdown - Al Qaeda’s North African branch sent a scathing letter to a militant for failing to turn in expense reports and ignoring their calls. (The Associated Press)

From the File:

  • Buddhist mobs attack Muslim homes for second day in Myanmar; one dead
  • Opposition in Syria slams coalition in exile ahead of peace talks
  • Suicide bomber, gunmen attack Red Cross office in Afghanistan
  • India, Japan seek early agreement on civil nuclear pact
  • Bosnian Croat leaders jailed for 1990s ethnic cleansing

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