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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
February 5, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Iranian President Makes Historic Visit to Egypt

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to attend an Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit, in a trip that marks the first visit (al-Jazeera) of an Iranian president to Egypt since the 1979 Iranian revolution. Ahmadinejad is set to meet with Egyptian officials and politicians during his three-day visit, which underlines a thaw in relations (al-Arabiya) since Egyptians elected an Islamist head of state last year. Still, Egypt has responded cautiously to Iranian efforts to revive ties, which have been complicated by the two nations' opposing positions over the Syrian conflict.

Analysis

"Although this visit has been officially described as 'routine,' its significance will not be lost on Egypt's allies in the West and elsewhere in the region. They have differences with Iran over its nuclear program and its influence in Syria and over Shia Muslim groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon," writes Yolande Knell for the BBC.

"Whether Sunni Islamic movements such as the Salafis and Gulf States like it or not, rapprochement between Iran and Egypt is possible due to a deeply shared history. But with Egypt being pulled in different directions post-January 25th and a profound Gulf influence, there is no telling when the old allies will rekindle relations officially again," writes Holly Dagres for Ahram Online.

"Morsi's rise to power out of Egypt's own revolution complicates his ability to pursue better ties with Iran when it is seen as suppressing a revolution in Syria. Cairo is home to the offices of the main Syrian opposition council, which has a strong presence of members of the Brotherhood's Syrian chapter," writes Aya Batrawy for the Associated Press.

 

PACIFIC RIM

China Targets Japanese Ship with Radar

Japan's defense ministry today claimed a Chinese patrol boat had targeted one of its naval vessels with radar designed to calculate a weapon's firing range (Bloomberg), amid heightened maritime tensions between the two Asian powers.

CHINA: U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said Tuesday that mainland China should turn to Hong Kong for inspiration on governance, expressing caution over hopes for reform (AFP).

CFR's Brian Killough discusses the Catch-22 of modern Chinese foreign policy in this blog post.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

First Victims Testify In Delhi Rape Case

The male companion of the female victim at the center of a Delhi gang-rape case appeared before a fast track court (TimesofIndia) to testify about the December incident that left the twenty-three year old student dead, while sparking a national uproar over sexual violence in India. He was the sole witness.

BANGLADESH: Deadly riots broke out across Bangladesh after a court sentenced a senior Islamist opposition leader to life in prison (Australian) for mass murder during the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Former Iranian Prosecutor Arrested

Saeed Mortazavi, a former Iranian prosecutor and close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was arrested Monday (al-Jazeera), in a move that could be connected with Mortazavi's former role as a judicial official in a dispute between Ahmadinejad and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

 

AFRICA

Chad Army Enters Kidal

Roughly eighteen-hundred soldiers from Chad entered Kidal, the last major town in northern Mali under rebel control, after French-led forces took control (BBC) of Kidal's airport last week. Meanwhile, UN, European and African officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss the crisis.

In this blog post, CFR's John Campbell argues that the war on terrorism is underway in the Sahel-Sahara region of West Africa.

COTE D'IVOIRE: A French tanker was hijacked off Côte d'Ivoire (RFI) in apparent act of piracy, government officials confirmed today.

 

EUROPE

Six Party Talks With Iran To Resume

Six world powers will hold a new round of nuclear talks (Reuters) with Iran in Kazakhstan in late February, the European Union announced today. Western powers allege Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, a claim Tehran adamantly denies.

In this CFR interview, Daryl Kimball says Iran could be more flexible in the next set of discussions.

EU: A report commissioned by European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said the ECB will need to more than double its manpower (FT) to put the eurozone's nascent banking union into practice.

 

AMERICAS

Colombian Rebels Holding Two Germans

Rebels from Colombia's leftist National Liberation Army say they have captured two men they believe to be German spies (DeutscheWelle), marking the second time the group has taken foreign hostages this month. Colombia's largest rebel group, the FARC, is currently in peace talks with the government.

VENEZUELA: The son of Venezuelan opposition leader Claudio Fermin was murdered in Caracas (LAHT), prompting the interior ministry to launch an official investigation today.

 

 

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