World News Brief, Friday December 7

Egyptian protests turn violent; China warns Vietnam to stop oil exploration in South China Sea; former Thai president faces murder charges; Pakistan Taliban has new leader; Argentina files complaint over US limits on beef and lemon exports; and more

Top of the Agenda: Egyptian Protests Turn Violent as Crisis Intensifies

At least six people have been killed and more than 700 injured in clashes outside the presidential palace in Cairo after the Egyptian army deployed tanks to the streets (AlJazeera), where supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi fought overnight. The Al-Azhar institution, Egypt's top Islamic body, called on the president to suspend his constitutional decree after four of Morsi's advisers resigned on Wednesday, joining two other members of his seventeen-member advisory panel who have left since the crisis began. The dispute over Morsi's self-declared powers and controversial constitution, rushed through on Saturday by a constituent assembly abandoned by opposition members, threatens to unravel (FT) Egypt's fragile security, economic, and political gains since the president's election last summer.


"Much of the crisis comes from the fact that the opposition parties, the secular opposition, know that they are not going to win an election and probably know that they cannot stop the referendum. The Islamists will win the referendum, if there is a referendum, the constitution is going to be approved. So what we have now is this paradoxical situation, in the name of democracy, in which the secular opposition is trying to prevent any form of voting," says CFR's Marina Ottaway.

"Indeed, many Egyptians believe their country's constitution doesn't have to be perfect. Not right away. Getting the constitution passed may be part of a political end game by President Mohammed Morsi, but it is not the end of the process. It is the beginning of a political and social evolution," writes Ayman Mohyeldin for TIME.

"Critics say the draft was rushed through parliament without proper consultation and does not do enough to protect political and religious freedoms and the rights of women. The government insists that a referendum on the draft constitution, drawn up by a body dominated by Morsi-supporting Islamists, will go ahead this month despite strong opposition," writes John Leyne for the BBC.



China Warns Vietnam About Oil Exploration

China told Vietnam on Thursday to stop unilateral oil exploration (TheStandard) in disputed areas of the South China Sea and to cease the harassment of Chinese fishing boats in the latest territorial rift in the contentious waters. China had blamed Vietnam for expelling Chinese fishing vessels from waters around Hainan, while Vietnam contended its own fishing ships had been sabotaged.

CFR's Josh Kurlantzick re-envisions ASEAN in this blog post.

THAILAND: Former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will face murder charges over the death of a taxi driver shot by soldiers (AFP) during the 2010 "Red Shirt" rallies, marking the first charges for deaths during the mass rallies in Bangkok against Vejjajiva's government.


Pakistan Taliban has new leader

Argentina files complaint over limited beef and lemon shipments


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