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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
January 29, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Egypt Military Chief Warns of Collapse of State

Political turmoil in Egypt heightened on Tuesday after the chief of the armed forces gave a stark warning that the current crisis could lead to "a collapse of the state" (al-Jazeera). The statement came after a large military deployment in three cities along the Suez Canal, where a state of emergency has been declared and where more than fifty people have died in six days of protests and violence. The warning sent a powerful message (Reuters) about the state of alarm in Egypt's biggest institution regarding the challenges facing Mohammed Morsi, who is struggling to fix a teetering economy and needs to prepare Egypt for an upcoming parliamentary meant to cement the new democracy.


"The absence of any post-Mubarak consensus over Egypt's governance — a situation for which the military, the Islamists and the secular opposition all bear some measure of responsibility, even if there may be considerable debate on how to apportion it — currently precludes even reaching an agreement on how to tackle mob violence on the streets. Agreeing on a package that sharpens economic pain to many millions seems a Herculean challenge," writes Tony Karon for TIME.

"The odds that Morsi will be able to turn the Egyptian economy around are not favorable, but with the help of Qatar and the West, Egypt should be able to plug enough holes to stay afloat and keep the regime in control, meaning that it is the West helping keep an anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic organization in power," writes Ariel Ben Solomon for the Jerusalem Post.

"Many here believe the soccer verdicts unfairly tainted the city. They claim security forces linked to Mubarak loyalists instigated the melee to disrupt Egypt's transition. The government in Cairo is reviled these days even by the besieged local police, who on Sunday barred Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim from funerals for two slain officers," writes Jeffrey Fleishman for the Los Angeles Times.



U.S. Lawmaker Says China Should Face Philippines

A senior U.S. lawmaker met with Philippine officials on Tuesday and said that China should agree to face the Philippines before a UN arbitration tribunal (AP) to avert a crisis over the continued territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China has yet to issue a formal response.

This CFR Backgrounder gives an in-depth overview of the territorial tensions in the South China Sea.

JAPAN: Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama began a four-day visit (JapanTimes) to China on Monday in the two countries' latest attempt to mend soured bilateral ties.



Aung San Suu Kyi Meets South Korean President

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday to discuss education and economic development cooperation, marking her first visit to the country (Yonhap).

KASHMIR: India-Pakistan trade resumed across the line of control in Kashmir, ending a twenty-day halt (AFP) in trade sparked by deadly army clashes earlier this month.



Iran Denies Blast at Nuclear Plant

Iran has denied foreign media reports of a major explosion (IBT) at Fordow nuclear facility, one of its underground uranium enrichment sites near Qom that was reported to have caused significant damage.



French-Mali Troops Look North After Retaking Timbuktu

French-Mali troops took control of Timbuktu on Monday and are now focusing on Kidal (France24) in the north, a city that Tuareg rebels say they control. Meanwhile, international donors have been making pledges toward a $950 million budget for the campaign in Mali.

CFR's John Campbell puts the Sahel crisis in context in this blog post.

NIGER: The U.S. military is planning a new drone base (WaPo) in West Africa, likely in Niger, that would expand its surveillance of al-Qaeda fighters and other militants in northern Mali.



EU Foreign Policy Chief Warns Iran

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, called on Iran on Tuesday to stop the execution of five members of the country's Arab minority who were sentenced last year on terrorism-related charges (Reuters).

NETHERLANDS: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced on Monday evening that she will step down (FT) after thirty-three years on the throne, abdicating in favor of her son, the crown prince Willem-Alexander.



Obama to Announce Immigration Reform

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to provide details of his plans for immigration reform (WaPo) during a Tuesday appearance in Las Vegas. The administration's own proposals will likely be more liberal than a bipartisan effort reached in the Senate, including a quicker path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

CFR's Edward Alden outlines five big challenges for immigration reform in this blog post.

CUBA: Cuban leader Raúl Castro was sworn in as president (MiamiHerald) of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States on Monday, sparking criticism from human rights groups.



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