Top of the Agenda: Mubarak to Be Transferred to House Arrest
Egypt's deposed leader Hosni Mubarak is expected to be freed from prison and placed under house arrest (AP) on Thursday after more than two years in detention. The development comes after a week of violence as Egypt's new army-backed rulers cracked down on supporters of the ousted president, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi. In reaction, the European Union announced Wednesday it would suspend the export of weapons (al-Jazeera) and some goods out of concern they might be used for internal repression. The measure comes amid reports that Washington has quietly suspended aid to the country—a claim the White House has denied (Guardian). Mubarak had ruled Egypt for thirty years until he was overthrown in 2011 in a popular uprising.
"I am under no illusion that cutting off $1.3 billion a year in annual U.S. military assistance would cause the Egyptian army to mend its ways; the rich Persian Gulf autocracies, such as Saudi Arabia, are providing more than enough money to offset America's contribution. But at the very least a suspension of U.S. military aid would lessen our complicity in whatever horrors befall Egypt next and heighten our credibility," writes CFR's Max Boot for the LA Times.
"Officials say the administration has already delivered the majority of the $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt for the current fiscal year. A small amount could still be yanked because of the July 3 ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi or the bloody crackdown last week by the military-backed interim government. Those are the funds that are in question," writes Anne Gearan for the Washington Post.
"It is inconceivable that the Brotherhood will take any part in Egyptian politics in the near future. But how will Egypt accommodate the two or three hundreds of thousands of members of the organization in Egypt?" writes Wael Nawara for al-Monitor.
Bo Xilai Defends Himself at Trial
Fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai defended himself (Reuters) at his trial on Thursday, saying he was framed in a bribery charge against him and admitted to it against his will during interrogation. The former Chongqing Communist Party chief is expected to be found guilty.
This CFR Backgrounder explains the Bo Xilai case and its impact on the Chinese Communist Party.
BRUNEI: Twelve Pacific Rim countries began the nineteenth round (KyodoNews) of talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Brunei on Thursday, aiming to conclude a free trade deal by the end of this year.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
India Warns China
India cautioned China that crossborder military incursions could damage bilateral ties (PTI). The Indian ambassador to China also expressed concerns about Beijing's plans to build new dams on the Brahmaputra River.
PAKISTAN: Pakistan and Thailand agreed to enhance (Dawn) defense cooperation, according to a joint statement issued at the end of Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's visit to Islamabad.
France Says 'Force' Could be Used in Syria
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday that France could pursue military options if allegations that chemical weapons were used during an attack on Wednesday in rebel-held areas near Damascus are proven (AFP). The main Syrian opposition group claims that as many as 1,300 people were killed in the attack.
CFR's Stewart Patrick discusses chemical weapons in Syria in this blog post.
Robert Mugabe was sworn in (BBC) on Thursday for a seventh term in office as Zimbabwe's leader. The ceremony had been delayed by a court petition filed by his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, over allegations of electoral fraud.
NIGERIA: The U.S. State Department is investigating a report (ThisDay) that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was killed by Nigerian troops. Washington had offered a $7 million bounty for Shekau.
German chancellor Angela Merkel tried on Wednesday to tamp down debate (FT) in her reelection campaign over the need for a new bailout for Greece. Her remarks come after Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, admitted that Greece would need another bailout next year.
UNITED KINGDOM: Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo further fueled his country's spat with the U.K. over Gibraltar by insisting that an artificial reef must be removed (Guardian) as a precondition of any settlement.
Bradley Manning Sentenced to 35 Years
A military judge sentenced Bradley Manning, who gave more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks, to thirty-five years (NYT) in prison, marking the longest sentence ever handed down in a case involving a leak meant to bring public scrutiny to government secrets.
ARGENTINA: Latin America's largest airline, Latam, said that Argentine authorities evicted it (MercoPress) from its hangar at Buenos Aires' airport. The Chilean-and-Brazilian-owned carrier is the main competitor to Argentina's state-run Aerolineas.