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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 19, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Egypt to Release Mubarak as Violence Continues

Days after Egypt erupted in internal violence, the country's military announced it will release former president Hosni Mubarak from prison (Reuters) after prosecutors cleared him in a corruption case. Mubarak was arrested after a popular uprising overthrew him in February 2011, replacing him with now deposed president Mohammed Morsi in a national election. The development comes as at least twenty-four Egyptian policemen were killed in an ambush (BBC) in the Sinai peninsula. The U.S. Congress remains split over the possibility of cutting off military aid to its long-time strategic ally while the European Commission and the European Council issued a rare joint foreign policy statement saying it will "urgently review" its relations with Egypt (AP), urging the interim government to end the violence and seek a political dialogue to restore democracy.

Analysis

"Egypt is as far away from the revolutionary promise of Tahrir Square as it was in November 2010 when Mubarak staged perhaps the most fraudulent parliamentary election since they began in the late 1970s," writes CFR's Steven Cook for Foreign Policy.

"The United States and the EU have misread the ground. They underestimated the visceral Gulf and Egyptian 'deep-state' hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood, and their fervor to cripple the Muslim Brotherhood movement once and for all," writes Alastair Crooke for al-Monitor.

"Americans rightly can't stand the military street slaughters. For sure, bloody casualties will mount. But the United States has some modest chance to influence the military in right directions. It has little or no chance of saving Egypt for democracy if the Islamists return to power," writes Leslie Gelb for The Daily Beast.

 

PACIFIC RIM

South Korea, U.S. Begin Drills

The South Korean and U.S. militaries began their annual drills (AP) Monday amid signs of easing tensions on the peninsula. Pyongyang has eased its rhetoric from earlier this year, and pursued dialogues with Seoul and Washington.

Marcus Noland addresses the easing of tensions on the peninsula in this interview.

JAPAN: Japanese and Russian foreign ministers met in Moscow on Monday to resume talks on resolving a long-standing territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands (JDP).

CFR's James Lindsay discusses the Kuril Islands, among other topics, on this podcast.

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Karzai Fires Attorney General

Afghan president Hamid Karzai sacked his attorney general (Reuters) after the top legal official held an unsanctioned meeting with Taliban peace negotiators in the United Arab Emirates. The Presidential Palace had ordered him not to attend the meeting.

INDIA: India's economy tumbled again on Monday, with the rupee hitting a new low (WSJ) against the U.S. dollar despite efforts by the government over the weekend to calm investors.

 

MIDDLE EAST

UN Arrives in Syria

United Nations investigators arrived in Damascus on Sunday to begin a probe into the alleged use (NYT) of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war. The team will begin its work on Monday, following months of negotiations with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's government over where investigators could work.

CFR's Micah Zenko discusses U.S. options in the Syrian crisis in this article.

 

AFRICA

South Africa Marks Strike Anniversary

Joyce Banda, president of Malawi and Southern African Development Community chair, called on Western nations to review sanctions (Bloomberg) imposed on Zimbabwe. Sanctions against President Robert Mugabe, who was re-elected to a five-year term at the end of July, have been in place since 2003.

KENYA: Four Kenyan police officers were shot dead near the town of Garissa by suspected Somali militants (BBC). The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

EUROPE

Partner of Journalist Who Published NSA Leaks Detained

The partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who wrote a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programs by the U.S. National Security Agency, was held (Guardian) for nine hours by British authorities on Sunday at London's Heathrow airport.

SPAIN: Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, will speak with Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday about border controls (WSJ) in the disputed territory of Gibraltar.

 

AMERICAS

Argentina to Pay Bonds with Central Bank Reserves

Argentina's central bank approved the use of $2.5 billion to pay public debt through the rest of the year, a move that will further drain reserves (MercoPress) already stretched by heavy state spending ahead of the October midterm election.

MEXICO: The Mexican army captured Mario Armando Ramirez Trevino, who headed the Gulf cartel (LATimes) , Saturday morning. The Gulf cartel is one of Mexico's oldest drug trafficking organizations.

 

 

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