Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across Egypt on Tuesday, with several hundred spending the night in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest President Mohammed Morsi's assumption of expanded powers in one of the largest rallies (AlJazeera) since the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak. Morsi backers say the decree was needed to protect the gains of the revolution against a judiciary with deep ties to the Mubarak era, while the opposition claims the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a part, has "hijacked" the revolution (BBC). Senior judges have been negotiating with Morsi about the restriction of his new powers, and Egypt's prime minister will chair a cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation.
"The constitutional assembly, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, has suffered significant attrition as about 25 percent of members—mostly progressives—have resigned in protest at the way the Islamists are dominating the process. Along with members, the assembly has been losing credibility; rumors abound that the judiciary was planning on dissolving it. But Morsi must realize that he can't just decree stability. Indeed, undermining the country's existing rule of law could be the most destabilizing path," writes CFR's Isobel Coleman.
"Morsi and his supporters may be right in suspecting that old regime stalwarts within the administration are trying to thwart a transition to democracy. But they are equally guilty of pursuing a narrow Islamist agenda. The decision to protect the controversial constituent assembly – packed with Islamists and their supporters – from any legal challenge, seems to provide evidence for that," writes Magdi Abdelhadi for the Guardian.
"All opposition factions are now rallying under the same slogan; no negotiation and no talks until Morsi takes back his decrees. Yet achieving this may lead the opposition to fracture yet again, say analysts," writes Nour Samaha for Al Jazeera.
China Addresses Passport Row
China's foreign ministry downplayed the placement of a new map (Reuters) in its passports that depicts claims to disputed maritime territory after the United States said it would raise concerns with Beijing over the issue and the Philippines and Vietnam condemned the new passports. India responded by issuing visas stamped with its own version of borders.
THAILAND: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote (WSJ) on Wednesday following a three-day debate conducted by the opposition, as well as public protests against the influence of Shinawatra's brother, an ousted former prime minister.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistan Tests Ballistic Missile
Pakistan on Wednesday test fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile that could hit targets inside India (PTI). The country has tested a wide range of nuclear-capable missiles this year in an effort to strengthen its nuclear arsenal to counter India's conventional superiority. AFGHANISTAN: Marc Grossman, special U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, will step down from his post (WashPost) in December. Grossman took the position after Richard Holbrooke, who had inaugurated the job, died in December 2010.
Bombs Rock Syrian Capital
Two explosions in Syria killed at least thirty-four people (AlJazeera) Wednesday morning in the capital's eastern Jaramana district, populated mostly by Christian and Druze minorities. The opposition said the attacks—the fourth in the area since August—could have been orchestrated by the regime to turn minorities against opposition groups.
This CFR Issue Guide outlines Syria's escalating crisis.
DRC Rebels Agree to Goma Withdrawal
The M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to a peace plan that will see their withdrawal (TheNewTimes) from the strategic eastern towns of Goma and Sake, according to a rebel official. The rebels, who captured Goma last week, had said that they intended to topple President Joseph Kabila's government.
SIERRA LEONE: The Sierra Leone People's Party, the country's main opposition party that won 40 percent of parliamentary seats in recent elections, said it will boycott parliament and local councils (BBC) unless its concerns about the allegedly fraudulent recent elections are addressed.
Spanish Banks Win EU Bailout
The European Commission approved the Spanish government's plans to restructure four troubled banks (Bloomberg) that were nationalized after experiencing heavy losses on loans to homebuyers and property developers. The EU decision will allow Spain's rescue fund to receive as much as 100 billion euros to stabilize its banking system in the first half of December.
TURKEY: NATO inspected military installations in a province in southeastern Turkey as part of its surveying of potential sites that could deploy Patriot missiles (AP).
Obama Meets With Peña Nieto
U.S. President Barack Obama met with Mexico President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto in the Oval Office Tuesday, pledging close cooperation (ABC) on issues like trade and immigration reform. Vice President Joe Biden will be leading the U.S. delegation to Peña Nieto's inauguration on December 1.
CFR's Shannon O'Neil discusses Mexico's economic transformation and deepening ties with the United States in this op-ed.
ARGENTINA: Fitch Ratings agency downgraded Argentina's credit rating from B to CC with a negative outlook (MercoPress), seeing "probable default" if the country misses its payment to holdout investors, who are suing to recover the full value of bonds that Argentina stopped paying in 2002.
GOP Introduces Senate Immigration Legislation
Two retiring GOP senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona, introduced an immigration bill yesterday that would give legal status to qualifying undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, reports Politico.
Amidst talks with Republicans on the fiscal cliff, President Obama is holding a series of events "to rally the public to pressure Congress to support his agenda, an approach that helped him win passage of a payroll tax cut extension and prevented interest rates on millions of federal student loans from doubling last summer," reports the Associated Press.