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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 4, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Morsi's Trial Adjourned Until 2014

The trial of Egypt's deposed president Mohammed Morsi was adjourned until January 8, 2014 (AP), after Morsi on Monday rejected the court's authority to try him and refused to wear a prison uniform as ordered by the judge. In a sign of tighter controls on speech under Egypt's military rule, well-known satirist Bassem Youssef fled the country after his show was pulled off the air a week after he poked fun of the army chief who ousted Morsi (Reuters). Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry kicked off a nine-day tour of the Middle East on Sunday with a visit to Cairo, where he affirmed that Egypt is a "vital partner" to the United States, before heading to Saudi Arabia on Monday to mend frayed relations with Riyadh (al-Jazeera).

Analysis

"Without a doubt, the government's proposed ban threatens to curtail civil society, and by extension, democracy in Egypt. As my co-authors and I discuss in Pathways to Freedom, a healthy, vibrant civil society is a critical ingredient in democracy. A cacophony of voices and demonstrations might make Egyptian politics messier, but after decades of 'tidy' dictatorial rule, an independent and outspoken civil society is just what the country needs to transition to a more inclusive political system," writes CFR Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman.

"Mr. Obama reinforced his intention to narrow his regional diplomatic focus to the Iranian nuclear deal and an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Some have read this as weakness and retreat, rather than pragmatism. We wish he had put more emphasis on Egypt and Iraq. But his priorities make sense. His task now is to reassure the allies that the United States remains committed to their security," the New York Times writes in an editorial.

"For the overwhelming majority of Arabs, the spectacle of a US remaining aloof from the brutal mauling of the Syrian people by their regime, or remaining blasť about the continued occupation in Palestine, represents an abdication of responsibility. And when a big power turns a blind eye to havoc, who else is left to defy the jeering totem of evil," Jamal Doumani writes for Arab News.

 

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PACIFIC RIM

South Korea's Rift with Japan Deepens

South Korea's president Park Geun-hye said there was no point in a summit with Japanese leaders unless Tokyo apologized for its crimes in World War II, highlighting a deepening rift as the region struggles to confront Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions (BBC).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Six Party talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

NORTH KOREA: North Korea said one of its naval vessels sank last month while on "combat duties," killing at least nineteen sailors (Reuters).

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistan Reviews Relations with U.S. After Drone Strike

Pakistan's top government and security officials are reviewing relations with the United States following the Friday drone strike that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban (Guardian). One politician called for Pakistan to block a U.S. supply line into Afghanistan in response to the strike.

This CFR Backgrounder provides an overview of Pakistan's terrorist organizations.

AFGHANISTAN: After spending nearly $7 billion since 2002 to combat the narcotics industry in Afghanistan, U.S. troops will withdraw from the country, having lost the battle against the drug trade (WaPo).

 

MIDDLE EAST

Protestors in Tehran Rally at Former U.S. Embassy

Tens of thousands of protesters chanted "death to America" and stomped on the U.S. flag and images of President Obama outside of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, in what was seen as a show of support for hardliners opposed to thawing relations with Washington (AP).

 

AFRICA

Mali Arrests Suspects in French Journalists Murder

Twelve suspects have been arrested after the killing of two French journalists in Mali, who were kidnapped and executed on Saturday in northeastern town of Kidal (AFP). The journalists travelled to Kidal to interview a spokesman for a separatist Tuareg group.

KENYA: Four men, reportedly ethnic Somalis, were charged with aiding terrorist groups in Kenya responsible for the siege of the Westgate mall that killed more than sixty people in September (DailyNation).

 

EUROPE

Kosovo Vote Marred by Violence

Violence at polling stations and weak turnout marred elections in Kosovo on Sunday. The election was the first in which ethnic Serbs were encouraged to vote by the Serbian government since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 (France24).

NETHERLANDS: The Dutch government's decision to hold U.S. mortgage securities it acquired in the 2009 bailout of ING Groep may lead to a profit of more than $1 billion (Bloomberg).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the economic crisis in the eurozone.

 

AMERICAS

Report: Doctors Aided U.S. Torture at Military Prisons

Doctors and nurses working under U.S. military order helped design, enable, and participated in "torture and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment" of terrorism suspects, according to a new report by an independent panel of military, health, ethics, and legal experts (BBC). The CIA and the Pentagon have rejected the report's findings.

UNITED STATES: The White House and top U.S. lawmakers rejected clemency for former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, and said Snowden will face justice when he returns to the United States (MiamiHerald).

 

 

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