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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 10, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Egypt Begins Forming Transitional Government

Jumana El-Heloueh/Courtesy Reuters  

Jumana El-Heloueh/Courtesy Reuters

Egypt's new interim prime minister, liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawi, has set to work forming a transitional cabinet (Reuters), as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was named vice president and head of foreign relations. Both are leaders of the National Salvation Front, the secular coalition that led protests against ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and initially expressed reservations about the constitutional decree proposing a "roadmap" for the post-Morsi transition (AhramOnline). While violence has abated since Monday, the Muslim Brotherhood rejected offers to join the cabinet (al-Jazeera). Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $8 billion in aid to bolster the transitional government (NYT), seeking to boost their regional influence while undermining their rivals Qatar and Turkey.


"The record of military-led transitions elsewhere has been poor: democracy may be proclaimed to be the coup's raison d'ĂȘtre, but the transition stops there. Moreover, in this case, the Egyptian army appears far more interested in protecting its enormous economic interests than it is in securing the benefits of a civilian government responsive to its citizens," writes Alvaro de Vasconcelos for Project Syndicate.

"The whole reason the [U.S. Foreign Assistance Act] exists is to deter a coup like this one--which is why it would be terrible policy to wink at its violation. If we wanted the president to decide which coups he liked, we wouldn't need the law. It is supposed to tie the president's hands, forcing the U.S. to support democratic values and to guide militaries like Egypt's that rely on U.S. aid," writes Noah Feldman for Bloomberg.

"If the U.S. cuts aid now when it refused to do so after Morsi's grab for absolute power, it will permanently alienate the millions of Egyptians who believed, with good reason, that Morsi was attempting to turn himself into an Islamist Mubarak. And these Egyptians -- the ones who demonstrated against Morsi last week -- are precisely the sort of liberals (or, at least, anti-fundamentalists) the U.S. should be cultivating," writes Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg.



China Slowdown Illustrated by Trade Data

Chinese exports and imports both fell in June (WSJ), reflecting weak demand and contributing to expectations of a prolonged slowdown. Despite growth dropping to nearly 7.5 percent, the lower threshold of the government's target, Premier Li Keqiang said there would be no new stimulus.

JAPAN: In an annual government defense report (NYT), Tokyo cited growing national security risks in the region, including the potential for hostilities with China over maritime disputes and the threat from North Korea's nuclear program.



New U.S. Military Facilities in Afghanistan Will Sit Empty

A 64,000 square foot military headquarters in Helmand province costing $34 million is among the many facilities that U.S. contractors are working on (WaPo) even as they will never be used due to the U.S. military withdrawal next year. The military has opened an investigation into the decisions that led to the construction of the project, seen by some officials as a prime example of mismanagement.

This interactive timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.

AFGHANISTAN: Seventeen civilians were killed by a roadside bomb in western Afghanistan (al-Jazeera) Tuesday. Police attributed the attack to the Taliban.



Netanyahu Names Dermer Next Ambassador to United States

Ron Dermer, a close adviser of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was tapped to be Israel's next ambassador to the United States (NYT). An American affiliated with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, he has played a critical role in Israeli diplomacy in recent months.



Somali Pirates Convicted in U.S. Court

A U.S. federal court found three Somali men guilty of piracy, kidnapping, and murder (AllAfrica) in the 2011 deaths of four Americans sailing in the Indian Ocean. The defendants could face the death penalty. Eleven other defendants in the case previously plead guilty and were sentenced to life imprisonment.

This CFR Backgrounder explains efforts to combat maritime piracy.

GUINEA: Guinea's long-delayed legislative elections will be held September 24 (Reuters), its electoral commission said. The UN mediated the agreement in the mineral-rich country.



Russia Cracks Down on NGOs

Russian prosecutors have said 215 nonprofits engaged in "political activities" that receive overseas financing violated a contentious new law by failing to register as foreign agents (WaPo).

EUROZONE: Shareholders and junior debt holders of bailed-out banks will bear the burden of restructurings ordered by EU regulators (Reuters), the European Commission said on Wednesday, adding that banks must submit restructuring plans before receiving state support.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the history of the eurozone crisis.



Chile's Pinera Steps into Heated Abortion Debate

Chilean president Sebastian Pinera praised the pregnant eleven-year-old who has reignited the abortion debate (WaPo) for her "depth and maturity" after she told a TV interviewer she wanted to give birth. Abortions are outlawed in Chile, including for medical reasons or cases of rape.

COLOMBIA: Colombia's top administrative court ruled that the Patriotic Union, the political party affiliated with the FARC, will be allowed to compete (BBC) in next year's elections. Negotiations between the FARC and Colombian government are ongoing in Havana.



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