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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 8, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Pro-Morsi Protestors Fired Upon as Egyptian Political Order in Flux

Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters  

Asmaa Waguih/Courtesy Reuters

Egyptian soldiers are said to have opened fire on Muslim Brotherhood protestors Monday during a sit-in outside the Republican Guard officers' club, where deposed president Mohammed Morsi is believed to be held. The violence leaves forty-three civilians and one security officer dead (NYT) one day after the Brotherhood vowed to broaden its protests. Meanwhile, a power vacuum in Cairo persists: after indications that Mohamed ElBaredei, a secular liberal who is internationally respected but has a weak domestic base, would be appointed prime minister, Salafi party al-Nour pulled out of negotiations (AP) for the interim civilian administration. In a bid to mitigate violence, U.S. diplomats urged Muslim Brotherhood officials to continue to participate in the political process.


"Few in Washington are sorry to see Morsi go. But few believe that this process, a mass uprising culminating in a military coup, will restore stability or lead to a more democratic outcome. The Muslim Brotherhood performed atrociously in power, but the real problem was always the weakness and illegitimacy of the political institutions. If the coup and uprising solve the first at the expense of the second, then the political reset will fail," writes Marc Lynch in Foreign Policy.

"Having ceded the revolutionary and moral high ground to the Salafis, the [Muslim Brotherhood] is no longer in the vanguard of the Islamist movement. Even in the realm of parliamentary politics, the same outsiders who for decades portrayed the Brothers as political geniuses now describe them as bumbling naïfs compared with the Salafis," writes William McCants for Foreign Affairs.

"Egyptians aren't the only ones watching. The rise of political Islamism during the so-called Arab Spring was in many ways a reaction to the repression of Islamists under the various secular regimes they helped topple in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Their rise was like a recoil after the restrictions on their political participation were lifted," writes Rania Abouzeid for the New Yorker.



Chinese Ex-Minister Sentenced for Corruption

China handed down a suspended death sentence for former rail minister Liu Zhijun, who was convicted of bribery and abuse of power (Reuters) in April. The sentence typically results in life imprisonment. The case demonstrates President Xi Jinping's commitment to cracking down on rampant corruption, which, he has said, may jeopardize the Communist Party's survival.

CHINA: China mourned two teenage girls on a school trip killed in the Asiana Airlines crash (SCMP) at San Francisco International Airport Saturday. Chinese nationals made up a large portion of the passengers on the South Korean flight.



Explosions at Buddhist Holy Site in India

Bombs exploded Sunday at the Mahabodhi Temple (Times of India), a Buddhist holy site, and nearby monastery in Bodh Gaya, in eastern India. The group Indian Mujahideen, which is sympathetic to Rohingya Muslims in the Buddhist-Rohingya conflict in neighboring Myanmar, is suspected to be behind the attacks. One person has been detained.

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials arrested Zakaria Kandahari (NYT), an interpreter thought to have tortured and killed civilians while employed by U.S. Special Forces. Kandahari had been detained on an American base but escaped in January.



New Syrian National Coalition Leader Expects Saudi Weapons

Ahmad Jarba was elected president of the Syrian National Coalition on Saturday (Reuters). The group, which is based outside of Syria and seeks to coordinate factions, has been leaderless since April. Jarba said he expected Saudi Arabia to provide advanced weapons to rebel fighters, and would not participate in the Geneva conference unless rebels' military positions improved.



Mali Lifts State of Emergency on Eve of Elections

With elections scheduled for the end of July, Mali lifted its state of emergency (al Jazeera), which had been in place since January, when French troops drove out al-Qaeda-linked groups that occupied the north.

NIGERIA: Boko Haram, an extremist Islamist group, is suspected of killing twenty-two students (BBC) in the northeastern state of Yobe Saturday. The group targeted two schools in the region in June. Secondary schools were ordered closed.

CFR's Nigeria Security Tracker documents and maps violence in the country that is motivated by political, economic, and social grievances.



Financial Regulations Obstacle to U.S.-EU Trade Deal

With U.S.-EU negotiations on what would be the world's largest free trade agreement set to begin this week, the Obama administration is preparing for battles over financial regulatory convergence (FT). The White House fears a deal could be used by U.S. banks to circumvent the Dodd-Frank law and by Europe to delay reforms.

CFR's Edward Alden discusses how the Edward Snowden affair has affected trade talks with Europe in this blog post.

ITALY: Pope Francis celebrated mass on the Silican island of Lampedusa (Reuters), laying a wreath for the thousands of African migrants who have died trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean island port.



Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia Offer Snowden Asylum

Venezuela said that the NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who remains in Moscow's airport, had until Monday (NBC) to decide if he would take up the offer. For Snowden to leave for Caracas, he would have to receive travel papers from embassy officials and travel by way of Havana to avoid arrest en route (LAT).

CANADA: A train carrying seventy-two carloads of crude oil in southeastern Quebec derailed and exploded Saturday (Bloomberg), killing at least five and leaving forty unaccounted for. The incident comes amid debate about the Keystone XL pipeline.



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