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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 31, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Egypt Continues Brotherhood Crackdown

Police entered al-Azhar University, one of Islam's top religious institutions, to disperse students protesting in support of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi as the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other opponents of Egypt's generals continues (BBC). Human Rights Watch said a draft law on protests would give the police the power to ban demonstrations, and would severely restrict the ability of political parties and nongovernmental organizations to assemble (DailyNews). Meanwhile, a fifty-member panel that's amending the constitution written by the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies will likely preserve Islamic law provisions and grant greater powers to the military, despite the dominance of secular and liberal politicians on the panel (AP).


"Four months ago, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi carried out a coup in Egypt that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi and imprisoned the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hardly a day now passes without some indication of how the new Egyptian regime seeks to erect a military-police state, crushing those who dare oppose it," the Financial Times writes in an editorial.

"The White House under Obama worked for the coming to power of the Muslim Brothers in 2012 in the context of an understanding that the latter would protect American interests in the Middle East and across the Muslim world. The dilemma that will confront the White House in the near future will be the election of a new Egyptian president who would possibly be inspired by the ideals of the Nasser era. And maybe this is the reason why the Americans insist on an all-inclusive democratic process," Hussein Haridy writes in Ahram.

"By removing their patronage from the Brotherhood and throwing their full support behind the Egyptian military—and other regimes bent on crushing the Brotherhood—the Saudis may be pushing the movement to become both more extreme and more sharply anti-monarchical, threatening the Islamic legitimacy of all the Arab monarchies," Vali Nasr writes in the New York Times.


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Asian Anger Over U.S. Spy Reports

Chinese and Southeast Asian governments demanded an explanation from the United States and its allies over reports that American and Australian embassies in the region were being used for Washington's secret electronic surveillance program (AP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the U.S. surveillance program.

JAPAN: The Bank of Japan will continue to expand the monetary base by as much as $711 billion, and predicted the country will hit its inflation target in 2015 (Bloomberg).

This CFR Backgrounder explains Abe's economic vision for Japan, dubbed Abenomics.



Pakistan Says Drones Killed Sixty-Seven Civilians Since 2008

The Pakistani government said that sixty-seven civilians were killed by U.S. drone strikes since 2008, just 3 percent of the 2,227 people it says were killed overall, an assessment that drew criticism from groups that have investigated deaths from the attacks (al-Jazeera).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and resilience of the Taliban.

INDIA: India's new central bank governor said his country's $280 billion in foreign reserves will prevent a repeat of the 1991 balance of payments crisis (BBC).



Syrian Chemical Weapons Equipment Destroyed

Syria has destroyed or rendered inoperable all of its declared chemical weapons and mixing facilities, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Damascus met a major deadline in the disarmament program (AFP).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the history and use of sarin.



IMF Warns of Financial Shock Risk in Africa

The International Monetary Fund warned that sub-Saharan Africa is becoming "increasingly vulnerable to global financial shocks" as economies in the continent intensify their reliance on foreign investors (FT).

NIGER: Rescue workers in Niger found the bodies of eighty-seven people who died of thirst trying to cross the Sahara in what officials say was an attempt to migrate for work (Guardian).



Russia Targets Dagestan Insurgents

Russia is collecting saliva samples from conservative Muslim women in the North Caucasus in order to identify body parts if they become suicide bombers. The move coincides with President Vladimir Putin's plan to check Dagestan's Islamist insurgency ahead of the Sochi Olympics (Reuters).

GERMANY: The U.S. Treasury Department identified Germany's export-driven growth model as a major factor for the weakness of the eurozone and the global economy (WSJ).



Fed Extends Bond-Buying Stimulus

The Federal Reserve will continue its $85 billion a month bond-buying program to stimulate the U.S. economy, which is hindered by high unemployment, a slowdown in the housing market, and uncertain fiscal policy (LATimes).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the role of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

UNITED STATES: The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communication links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers, augmenting a court-ordered program that gives the agency access to Google and Yahoo user accounts (WaPo).



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