World News Brief, Friday February 14

Putin backs Egypt military chief's run for presidency; John Kerry's visit to South Korea, China and India hoped to ease regional tensions; China plans to curb coal consumption and reduce air pollution; five killed in Venezuelan anti-government protest; 65 prisoners released from Bagram prison over US protests; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Putin Backs Sisi for Egypt Presidency

Russian president Vladimir Putin said he was "aware" of Egypt military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's plan to run for the presidency during a visit to Moscow to negotiate a reported $2 billion arms deal, even though Sisi hasn't yet announced his candidacy (BBC). The only declared presidential candidate so far, Hamdeen Sabahi, has called for the release of political prisoners and raised concerns over a culture of fear spreading across Egypt (Reuters). Meanwhile, the crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood has reached the U.S. embassy in Cairo, where police arrested a local employee who reportedly served as a liaison between the United States and the ousted elected government in Egypt (WaPo).


"Six months ago skeptics warned the army-backed government against a blanket clampdown on dissent, whether peaceful or not. Instead, the re-emboldened security services have increasingly been hammering the whole gamut of opposition, from secular reformers to every type of Islamist. And sure enough, resentment is brewing, in slums and villages as well as in intellectual and liberal circles," writes the Economist.

"The 85m-strong society (of which 45m are under 35, and two-thirds of that group are in their teens) is being transformed. It is more connected to the world, more opinionated, daring, and commercially and socially entrepreneurial. No central power can control such a society for any significant period of time. These factors will inevitably weaken centralization," writes Tarek Osman in the Financial Times.

"It is hard to blame Egyptian elites for their predisposition to curry favor even if it violates privately held principles and beliefs. There is no reward for dissent in Egypt. It might get an activist a ringing and eloquent defense on the editorial page of the Washington Post, making him or her a Beltway hero (for a few days), but that will hardly make up for the onslaught that said activist will undoubtedly face within the Mehwar. Confronted with the choice, some brave Egyptians have spoken out, but many more have chosen instead to burnish their pro-coup credentials, calculating that it will ensure them a place (and the attendant benefits) within the new regime," writes CFR Senior Fellow Steven Cook.


Pacific Rim

Kerry Visits Seoul to Ease Regional Tensions

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began a trip to South Korea, China, and Indonesia on Thursday to ease tensions between China and its neighbors over territorial disputes and to explore ways to restart talks on eliminating North Korea's nuclear weapons (AP).

This CFR InfoGuide explains the maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.

CHINA: China plans to establish a $1.65 billion fund to aid efforts to curb the use of fossil fuels and control coal consumption with the goal of reducing air pollution (Bloomberg).


Five killed in Venezuelan protest

65 prisoners released from Bagram prison

This CFR Backgrounder explains China's environmental crisis.

 This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on