Daily News Brief

June 30, 2011

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

- Greece Votes on New Austerity Measures
- Haqqani Leader Killed in NATO Strike
- Egypt: Security Forces Clash with Protesters
- U.S. Drones Fire on Somali Militants

Top of the Agenda: Greek Vote Due on New Austerity Measures

Greek lawmakers are expected to pass a bill for fresh austerity measures (AP), following two days of rioting in Athens that left some two hundred people injured. Greece's international creditors--the European Union and the International Monetary Fund--have insisted the country back an austerity package and an associated implementation bill as a precondition for more aid (WSJ). More riots are expected today across the country. Greece's parliament yesterday approved a five-year, 28 billion ($40 billion) package of spending cuts and tax increases.

World stocks and the euro hit three-week highs (Reuters) after yesterday's vote, but while the vote creates some breathing space, EU officials know that the battle to save Greece and the euro is not over (Telegraph) and that the future remains in question. "We are under no illusion that we have a resolution to Greece's insolvency," Andrew Lim, an analyst at Espirito Santo investment bank in London, told the Wall Street Journal.

Analysis:

Despite the Greek parliament's approval of an austerity package, the country's enormous debt and EU countries' tortured debate over solutions raise concerns that default is unavoidable.

While the Greek crisis calls the eurozone's future into question, it will paradoxically have the effect of deepening EU integration, says economist Iain Begg.

With much of the developed world--including the UK, Japan, and the United States--facing heavy state debt burdens, the events in Greece are a glimpse into the future for many of the global economy's most important nations, writes Michel H. Shuman in TIME.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Haqqani Leader Killed in NATO Attack

NATO says it killed Ismail Jan, a top Haqqani network leader (VOA) suspected of aiding militants who attacked a Kabul hotel Tuesday, as well as several Haqqani fighters in an airstrike in Paktiya province near the Pakistani border.

The Kabul hotel attack raised the stakes even further for the nascent negotiations process. If talks looked tenuous before, they are downright fragile now, writes CFR's Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on ForeignPolicy.com.

MIDDLE EAST: Egypt Security Forces Clash with Protesters

Eight hundred and seventy people were hurt in confrontations between Egyptian security forces and civilians when a planned memorial for those killed in Egypt's revolution turned into a demonstration against the interim military government (CNN). The uprisings stymie the country's newly reformed civilian police force and threaten to delay the country's transition to democratic rule (WSJ).

Most serious observers of post-Mubarak politics believe the political situation in Egypt will remain unsettled for some time, writes CFR's Steven Cook. "There is just too much at stake and too many groups with equities in the future of Egypt for it to be any other way," he says.

Lebanon: Lebanon's state prosecutor says he has received indictments and four arrest warrants from a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri (al-Jazeera). Lebanese media speculates that those indicted could include members of Hezbollah.

PACIFIC RIM: Ex-Taiwanese President Charged With Embezzling

Former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui has been charged with embezzling $7.79 million (BBC) from a secret diplomatic fund during his 1988-2000 presidency.

Myanmar: The government told pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to halt all political activities (AFP), warning that her first national tour since being freed could spark riots and chaos. Suu Kyi says she will not suspend the tour and is waiting for the "right weather conditions."

AFRICA: U.S. Drones Fire on Somali Militants

U.S. drones fired on two leaders of a militant Somali organization tied to al-Qaeda, apparently wounding them, according to a senior U.S. military official. The strike makes Somalia at least the sixth country where the United States is using drones (WashPost), and comes as the CIA is expected to begin flying armed drones over Yemen (WashPost) in its hunt for al-Qaeda operatives.

Obama's philosophy of self-reliance for Africa also represents a desire to avoid getting enmeshed in the internal problems of the countries, writes G. Pascal Zachary in the Atlantic.

Sudan: Rival forces have agreed to withdraw (BBC) from the north-south border, leaving a twelve-mile buffer zone, ahead of the south's independence next week. The deal comes after fighting in two border areas, Abyei and South Kordofan, forced some 170,000 people from their homes.

AMERICAS: Chavez Health Causes Summit Delay

Venezuela suspended a regional summit (BBC) scheduled for July 5 amid continuing speculation over the health of President Hugo Chavez, who left the country in early June for Cuba, where he had surgery for what is said to be a pelvic abscess.

It's unclear whether Chavez is really all that ill. But what is clear is that Venezuela is in serious trouble, whether or not he returns from Cuba, writes Michael Shifter on ForeignPolicy.com.

United States: The new U.S. National Strategy for Counterterrorism (PDF) affirms al-Qaeda and its affiliates as the chief threats to the United States and outlines new steps to counter "deliberate efforts by al-Qaeda to inspire individuals within the United States to conduct attacks on their own."

EUROPE: France Supplying Weapons to Libya Rebels

France has begun supplying weapons to the Libyan rebels (Telegraph), despite the UN arms embargo, confirming on Wednesday it had dropped assault rifles into the Nafusa Mountains southwest of Tripoli. The French action is seen as a move toward direct involvement in the land war on top of the NATO air war against Muammar al-Qaddafi.