World News Brief, Friday February 4

Protesters clash in Cairo for a second day as opposition rejects talks; Cyclone Yasi causes less destruction than expected; 20,000 Yemenis reject president's offer to stand down in two years; Haiti election creates anxiety; Euro countries to announce debt package; and more

Top of the Agenda: Cairo Clashes Enter Second Day

The violence in Egypt's capital continued for a second day, as gunfire targeting protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square (FT) brought the death toll to six. The bloodshed marks a tenth day of protests and an extension of Wednesday's heated standoff between anti-government protesters and allies of President Hosni Mubarak. According to reports, the army initially made little effort to prevent the pro-Mubarak faction from marching on opposing activists, but eventually it intervened with rounds of warning fire. Some opposition supporters claim the pro-government camp was paid (BBC) by the regime and allowed into the square by the military. In a joint statement (WSJ), leaders from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain denounced the violence and urged for a transition to begin immediately. Egypt's newly appointed prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, apologized for the attacks on protestors (CNN) and said Mubarak has asked him to investigate the security chaos.

There have been reports that some opposition groups have accepted an invitation to hold negotiations (Haaretz) with Shafiq, but the Muslim Brotherhood--which is officially banned--and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei rejected the gesture. In an al-Jazeera broadcast, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said, "We demand that this regime is overthrown and we demand the formation of a national unity government (Reuters) for all the factions."


Former secretary of state James A. Baker says the crucial US alliance with a politically stunted Egyptian regime poses major difficulties for the Obama administration as it tries to balance US values with national interests.

Whatever change follows Egypt's political turbulence, any new government will have to confront the country's rampant unemployment, cronyism, and other factors impeding growth and development, in addition to constitutional reform, says CFR's Isobel Coleman.

This issue guide provides a range of background and analysis on the protests in the Middle East and North Africa.


This CFR Contingency Planning Memo discusses political instability in Egypt and assesses the possibility of a troubled leadership succession or an Islamist push for political power, the implications for the United States, and policy steps the US government might take.

Read a collection of Foreign Affairs articles on Egypt, including essays by Anwar el-Sadat, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Fouad Ajami.


PACIFIC RIM: Queensland Assesses Cyclone Damage

Residents of Queensland began to assess the impact of Cyclone Yasi, the largest storm to hit the region in living memory. The category five storm caused far less destruction than was expected because it landed away from major population centers (Guardian).

Indonesia: Prosecutors charged Abu Bakar Bashir, a top Muslim cleric and founder of the radical Jemaah Islamiyah movement (NYT), with coordinating and financing a terrorist group in the northern province of Aceh. If convicted, Bashir could face the death penalty.

Read CFR's profile of Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, the group allegedly responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings.



- Dueling Protests in Yemeni Capital
- Haiti Awaits Election Results
- Leaders to Unveil Debt Crisis Strategy


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