"Obama appears set to still not use the word 'coup' so as to retain his freedom of maneuver to resume the military aid should Egypt's behavior improve. But in ramping down the assistance now, he is acknowledging the obvious: the military seizure of power this summer from a democratically elected, albeit anti-democratic, government has not gone very well," writes CFR Senior Fellow Robert Danin.
"The danger in suspending aid to Egypt, above all other dangers, is that Obama, by signaling that he will act aggressively against Arab autocrats, might provide Islamists with a glimmer of hope at a time when they're generally back on their heels. Certainly, the opponents of such American friends as the king of Jordan would be pleased by this latest act of an administration that many already believe is naive about the nature of Islamic terrorism," writes Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg.
"A smart policy would be to try to use whatever influence the U.S. has left to broker disputes, but the Obama Administration hasn't done this since Mubarak's ouster. Now it seems to be giving up the little leverage it has in Cairo. The good, fuzzy feeling in Washington may prove fleeting," writes in the Wall Street Journal in an editorial.
China Overtakes U.S. as Top Crude Importer
China has overtaken the United States as the world's largest importer of crude oil (FT). Beijing is trying to curb demand; most analysts expect that its oil consumption, currently at 2.9 barrels per person per year, won't reach the United States' level of 21.5 barrels.
This CFR Backgrounder explains how hydraulic fracturing has enhanced U.S. energy security.
VIETNAM: U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and his Vietnamese counterpart signed a deal on civilian nuclear power at the East Asian Summit in Brunei on Thursday that will allow American firms access to Vietnamese markets while committing Hanoi to not enriching uranium (AP).
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
UK Troops Deploy for Final Major Mission in Afghanistan
Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped from a Tripoli hotel on Thursday and freed a few hours later, underscoring the weakness of the state just a few days after the U.S. captured a suspected al-Qaeda operative in the capital (al-Jazeera). The abductors were allegedly among the government-aligned militias that provide security.
Expert Stephen Vladeck explains the legal process facing the captured Abu Anas al-Libi in this interview.
Rights groups did not expect Azerbaijan's Wednesday elections to be free and fair, but authorities turned it into farce by releasing the results a day before voting started. President Ilham Aliyev, who took over from his father a decade ago, "won" in a landslide (WaPo).