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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 30, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: EU Envoy Visits Mohammed Morsi

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was allowed to meet deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi for two hours on Monday (Reuters), marking the first time an outsider has been given access since the army overthrew and jailed Morsi a month ago. Ashton said he was in good health, although she revealed little else about their conversation. Egypt's authorities say Morsi is being investigated for charges including murder (al-Jazeera), allegedly stemming from a 2011 jailbreak during the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Political turmoil has divided Egypt, which has seen hundreds of thousands protest for and against military rule.


"The ready acceptance by liberals and pluralists of a coup in the name of democracy is understandable, but at best they are playing with fire. General Sisi's democratic credentials remain suspect, and the champions of a new and more open Egypt have now given him a powerful argument with which to deflect virtually any criticism," writes CFR's Steven Cook for the New York Times.

"Washington's silence on this matter is deafening, particularly after its recent attempts to reinterpret its previously unqualified support for Egypt's first free and fair presidential election in its history. Having walked back its support for Egypt's elected president, Washington now makes urgent but plaintive requests for good behavior all around that hardly register in Cairo," writes Geoffrey Aronson for Al-Monitor.

"Egypt needs to restore stability and security by starting with a de-escalation of the mass demonstrations, which importantly, must not be accomplished by force. Today's unravelling violence might seem to provide for a short term solution, yet, entangling, intractable problems will arise," writes Marwan Bishara for al-Jazeera.



Chinese Media: No Summit With Japan

China's state-run media have downplayed (AFP) the prospect of any potential summit with Tokyo after a Japanese official raised the possibility on Sunday, underscoring tensions over a historic maritime dispute in the East China Sea.

CFR's Sheila Smith delves into the East China Sea dispute in this article.

CAMBODIA: Cambodia's government dismissed calls by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party for an international inquiry into allegations of fraud (Reuters) in Sunday's parliamentary elections. The government said it wanted parliament to approve a new cabinet quickly.



Pakistan Taliban Raids Prison

Taliban fighters attacked a prison (al-Jazeera) in northwest Pakistan, freeing around 250 prisoners after a gunfight with security forces that killed at least twelve people. The security breach comes as polling to elect Pakistan's new president began on Tuesday (Dawn).

INDIA: The Reserve Bank of India said steadying the rupee (Bloomberg), which has depreciated by roughly 10 percent in the past six months, has become the priority for monetary policy.



Tunisia's Government Refuses to Step Down

Tunisian prime minister Ali Larayedh said his government will not step down (BBC), despite opposition anger over the murders of two leading politicians by suspected Islamist militants. The murder of prominent secular opposition figure Mohamed Brahmi last week sparked demonstrations.

This CFR article discusses Tunisians' attempts to reconcile the role of religion in what had been a staunchly secular society.



Zimbabwe Faces Wednesday Vote

Zimbabwe prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai called for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's resignation, saying he does not trust it to conduct free and fair elections on Wednesday (NewZimbabwe). Tsvangirai faces President Robert Mugabe and two other candidates for the presidency.

SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa's presidency said that former leader Nelson Mandela remains in a critical but stable condition (SAPA) in a hospital in Pretoria, where he spent his ninety-fifth birthday on July 18.



Spain on Economic Mend in Second Quarter

Second quarter data showed that Spain's GDP contraction eased to 0.1 percent from April to June, an improvement from the previous quarter's 0.5 percent figure. Spain also saw the first drop in unemployment (Reuters) in two years, prompting Economy Minister Luis de Guindos to say that the recession was over.

RUSSIA: Russian anticorruption blogger and opposition figure Alexei Navalny has revived his campaign (FT) for Moscow's mayoral post six weeks before the September 8 vote. Navalny was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of embezzlement on July 18, but was released by an appellate court until the end of his appeal hearing.



Pope Remarks on Gay Priests Draw Scrutiny

Upon ending his first overseas trip, Pope Francis made widely reported remarks (LAT) about the role of gay people in the Roman Catholic Church, saying: "If a person is gay, seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?" The comments came aboard the pope's flight home from Rio de Janeiro.

UNITED STATES: Bradley Manning, the U.S. army private who confessed to leaking state secrets to WikiLeaks, will face his verdict on Tuesday (Guardian). Manning faces a possible sentence of life in military custody.



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