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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
January 25, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Egypt's Revolution Anniversary Underscores Divide

Hundreds of youth clashed with Egyptian police in Cairo on Friday on the second anniversary (al-Jazeera) of the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak and brought about the election of President Mohammed Morsi, whom protesters accuse of attempting to consolidate power in the new democracy. The anniversary showcased the increasing divide (Reuters) between Islamists and secular parties, as well mounting frustration around Egypt's freedom of expression and independence of the judiciary. The government is also being blamed for a deepening economic crisis.


"No doubt, human dignity – or the lack thereof – acted as a catalyst for the Egyptian Revolution as much as it did in the case of Tunisia. Yet two years on, for Egypt at least, the quest for human dignity appears far from over," writes Sherief Tarek for Ahram Online.

"[I]n historical terms not all is bleak: Egypt might become more democratic than before. The fact that Egypt has become more Islamic does not mean it cannot become a democracy, as attested by other Islamic regimes like Turkey and Indonesia," writes Elie Podeh for Haaretz.

"Based on everything I have seen and read, thus far the Brothers have continued to use the language of democratic change, but they have dealt with internal challenges through a variety of authoritarian means. To be sure, it is still early in Egypt's transition, but there is reason to be concerned that the Brotherhood/FJP/Morsi are setting the trajectory of Egyptian politics on a non-democratic course," writes CFR's Steven A. Cook on his blog.


Pacific Rim

China, Japan Seek To Cool Tension Over Islands

China and Japan sought to ease tensions from a mounting territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands on Friday as Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping told a Japanese envoy he would "seriously consider" a summit (KyodoNews) between the two countries.

CFR's Elizabeth Economy writes President Obama a letter about top priorities for U.S. policy toward China and Asia in this blog post.

NORTH KOREA: Following its threat to the United States, North Korea warned on Friday of attacking South Korea (Yonhap) if it participates in UN-led sanctions against the country.



India Disappointed With Headley Sentence

India expressed disappointment Friday with the thirty-five-year sentence (HindustanTimes) given to David Headley, an American who admitted his role in the 2008 Mumbai bombing that killed 166 people in the country's financial capital. India's external affairs minister said Headley would have received a harsher sentence if tried in India instead of the United States.

PAKISTAN: At least thirteen militants were killed during a clash between outlawed militant groups (Dawn) Friday in the Khyber tribal region's Tirah Valley.



Foreigners Told to Leave Benghazi

Libya's interior ministry criticized warnings by British, German, Australian, and Dutch governments alerting citizens to leave Benghazi, Libya (al-Jazeera), citing threats to Westerners in the country's second-largest city where the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi began.



U.S. Admits Mistakes in Mali

The U.S. military commander in Africa said the Pentagon made mistakes (BBC) in its training of Malian troops now fighting Islamists in the north. The general spoke after reports surfaced of abuses by Mali government troops taking part in the French-led counteroffensive.

This CFR Backgrounder traces the origins and evolution of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has expanded its presence in Mali's ungoverned north.

NIGERIA: Officials say suspected Boko Haram fighters beheaded three people (AP) in a northeastern Nigerian city.



Greece Breaks Up Metro Strike

The Greek government forcibly returned striking metro employees to work, sparking intense protests in Athens (Guardian) as other transport workers walked out in solidarity and unions condemned the move as resonant of "authoritarian rule."

EUROPEAN UNION: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said at the World Economic Forum that policymakers are still waiting for signs of an uptick in the euro economy (Bloomberg) despite improved conditions in the financial markets.

CFR's Charles Kupchan discusses Europe's troubled politics in this interview.



John Kerry Sails Through Confirmation Hearing

U.S. Senator John Kerry, likely to be confirmed as the next secretary of state, said during his confirmation hearing (WashPost) that the war in Syria may drag on indefinitely and that Iran may rebuff peaceful efforts to scale back its nuclear program.

BRAZIL: Brazilian and European leaders called on Thursday for the conclusion of a free trade agreement (MercoPress) between the European Union and Latin American trade bloc Mercosur



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