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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
February 1, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Egypt's Rivals Hold Meeting as Opposition Plans More Protests

Egyptian opposition forces arranged a rare meeting (al-Jazeera) of political forces on Thursday that included representatives of secular leftist and liberal groups as well as the Muslim Brotherhood. While the meeting condemned the ongoing violence, it failed to resolve some of the most divisive issues the country faces, including whether Egypt's president, Mohammed Morsi, would form a national unity government or amend the country's newly approved constitution. The opposition planned mass protests (Reuters) again for Friday. Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers are questioning the $1.5 billion a year aid package (Bloomberg) to Egypt.


"El Baradei is calling for something bigger than just dialogue. He's calling for an actual national unity government, something that he's called for before. This is probably not going to get a lot of traction with Morsi and his people," says CFR's Steven Cook.

"The last few days are an indictment of the opposition political leadership for many things – but not because of the outbreak of violence or the inability of the state to suitably manage that violence. Only the governing powers of the past two years can be held to account in that regard – the reforming and restructuring of the institutions of the state should have been the first priorities of any post-Mubarak regime," writes H.A. Hellyer for The Globe and Mail.

"National interest is certainly important, but the Salafi movement also has an incentive to settle scores with the Muslim Brotherhood, which refused to forge a coalition with it after the parliamentary elections," writes Zvi Bar'el for Haaretz.



Highway Blast Kills 26 in China

At least twenty-six people in China's Henan province died when a truck carrying fireworks exploded and destroyed part of an elevated highway (SCMP). The Lianhuo highway is a major national route running east to west across central China.

CAMBODIA: Cambodia mourned its revered former king Norodom Sihanouk, who died of a heart attack in Beijing in October and had ruled the country for six decades (AFP).



Suicide Bomb Near Peshawar Kills Dozens

A suicide bomber targeting Shias during Friday prayers killed at least twenty-two people outside a mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. The town, part of Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan, has been rife with sectarian violence (Dawn).

This CFR Crisis Guide delves into Pakistan's complex evolution and competing factions.

INDIA: The family of the Delhi gang rape victim has sought to speak with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to express frustration (HindustanTimes) over the ruling that deemed the sixth accused to be a minor.

CFR's Isobel Coleman outlines three things to know about the case in this video.



Biden to Meet Syrian Opposition

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will meet with Syrian opposition leader Mouaz Al-Khatib during a European trip, marking what would be the highest-level U.S. meeting with the opposition (al-Arabiya). Biden will also discuss U.S. concerns about the conflict with Russia.

CFR's John Bellinger talks about UN rules and Syrian intervention in this op-ed.



Mali Interim President Rules Out Talks

Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore, ruled out talks (RFI) with Islamist groups trying to take over the north, but said he would meet Tuareg activists. The remarks came after France called for peace talks. Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande is set to visit the country on Saturday.

RWANDA: Germany has unblocked $26 million of suspended aid (NewsOfRwanda) to Rwanda after withholding the funds over UN accusations that the country was backing the M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo.



Bombing at U.S. Embassy in Turkey Kills Two

At least two people were killed after a suicide bomber detonated a device at the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey (AP). The bomb was reported to have exploded inside the security checkpoint.

ARMENIA: Paruyr Hayrikyan, an Armenian presidential candidate, was wounded in a shooting in Yerevan in what appeared to be a politically motivated assassination attempt (RFE/RL).



Blast Kills 25 in Mexico City

An explosion in the basement garage at the headquarters of Pemex, the state oil giant of Mexico, killed at least twenty-five people and injured dozens. The cause is still being investigated (LAT).

COLOMBIA At least nine people died in clashes between Colombia's FARC rebels and the government as the latest round of peace talks begins in Cuba (BBC).



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