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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
August 15, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Egypt Declares State of Emergency as Death Toll Climbs

Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters  

Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Courtesy Reuters

After a military crackdown on pro-Morsi supporters in Cairo, Egyptian authorities on Thursday raised the death toll to 525 (AP), marking Wednesday as the deadliest day since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. The government declared a nationwide state of emergency as the Muslim Brotherhood announced plans (al-Jazeera) to march in the capital in protest. In reaction, the United States and other countries, including Turkey, strongly condemned the actions by the Egyptian security forces, while France and Germany (al-Arabiya) summoned Egyptian ambassadors over the violence. Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and liberal voice, resigned in protest of the use of force.


"Although virtually all political actors have leveraged the language of political reform and espoused liberal ideas, they have nevertheless sought to wield power through exclusion. This has created an environment in which the losers do not process their grievances through elections, parliamentary debate, consensus-building, and compromise -- but through military intervention and street protests," writes CFR's Steven Cook for Foreign Policy.

"The military's crackdown will inevitably lead to more violence and instability, putting at risk broader U.S. strategic interests. The Obama administration must now make the long overdue move to suspend American assistance until Egypt's government demonstrates a return to a political process," writes CFR's Isobel Coleman for USAToday.

"When the Obama administration could not call the coup d'├ętat by its name, we put on display our unwillingness to honor our own democratic creed. Egypt has long been in the American strategic orbit. When our secretary of state opined that the army was 'restoring democracy,' we gave away the moral and strategic incoherence of an administration that has long lost its way," writes Fouad Ajami for the Wall Street Journal.



China Calls in Japanese Ambassador

China summoned Japan's ambassador on Thursday to lodge a strong complaint (SCMP) after two Japanese cabinet ministers visited Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial shrine for Japan's war dead. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe sent an offering, but refrained from visiting in person.

CFR's Sheila Smith talks about Abe's diplomatic agenda in this new blog post.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korean president Park Geun-hye said Thursday that South and North Korea should hold reunions (Yonhap) for families separated by the war and establish a peace park at the border.

Expert Marcus Noland discusses the North and South's renewed progress in this interview.



India Addresses Kashmir Violence

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh asked Pakistan (HindustanTimes) on Thursday to prevent Islamic militants from using its territory. The comments, made during a speech marking the anniversary of India's 1947 independence from Britain, come as tensions rise between the longtime rivals.

BANGLADESH: One person died in Bangladesh after clashes (al-Jazeera) between police and activists supporting Jamaat-e-Islami, a major Islamic opposition political party leading a second day of strikes.



UN to Head to Syria

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Syria's government has agreed to allow the UN in the country to investigate claims of chemical weapons use (VOA) during the country's civil war. The team will stay in Syria for up to two weeks.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines the Syrian crisis and the global response.



UN Warns of Instability in CAR

The UN Security Council warned that the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic has deteriorated "dramatically" following a rebel takeover in March, and that the ongoing instability (UNNS) could spread beyond the country's borders.

SOMALIA: Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) is shuttering all of its programs (BBC) in Somalia after twenty-two years working in the war-torn country, citing continued attacks on staff.



Obama to Visit Nordic Countries

Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced that President Barack Obama will meet with Nordic leaders (AP) in Stockholm next month en route to the G20 summit in Russia. Obama will meet with leaders of Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.

GERMANY: German chancellor Angela Merkel launched her reelection campaign (BBC), giving a speech in Seligenstadt that emphasized Germany's 0.7 percent economic growth in the second quarter. Voters head to polls on September 22.



Paraguay's Cartes to Take Office

Regional Latin American leaders will gather to attend the inauguration (MercoPress) of Paraguayan president-elect Horacio Cartes on Thursday. Cartes will inherit a considerable budget deficit and political controversy with members of regional trade bloc Mercosur.

CHILE: Workers at the world's largest copper mine, Chile's Escondida, began a strike on Wednesday over pay and working conditions (Reuters). Unions have been seeking exposure ahead of the country's November presidential election.



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