US to cut cash aid and military hardware transfers to Egypt; China now world's top crude oil importer; US and Vietnam sign civilian nuclear power deal; UK troops deploy for final big mission in Afghanistan; Libyan PM kidnapped and released; Azerbaijan election results announced before the vote; and more
Top of the Agenda: U.S. to Partially Cut Aid to Egypt
The Obama administration decided to suspend cash and military hardware transfers to Egypt while maintaining assistance for security and counterterrorism operations (LAT) after a three-month-long review of U.S. policy. Cairo condemned the move, which signaled Washington's discontent with the Egyptian military's violent crackdown on supporters of the ousted, democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi (BBC). The U.S. State Department stressed that the decision wasn't permanent and could be reversed if progress was made toward establishing an inclusive government (AP).
"Obama appears set to still not use the word 'coup' so as to retain his freedom of maneuver to resume the military aid should Egypt's behavior improve. But in ramping down the assistance now, he is acknowledging the obvious: the military seizure of power this summer from a democratically elected, albeit anti-democratic, government has not gone very well," writes CFR Senior Fellow Robert Danin.
"The danger in suspending aid to Egypt, above all other dangers, is that Obama, by signaling that he will act aggressively against Arab autocrats, might provide Islamists with a glimmer of hope at a time when they're generally back on their heels. Certainly, the opponents of such American friends as the king of Jordan would be pleased by this latest act of an administration that many already believe is naive about the nature of Islamic terrorism," writes Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg.
"A smart policy would be to try to use whatever influence the U.S. has left to broker disputes, but the Obama Administration hasn't done this since Mubarak's ouster. Now it seems to be giving up the little leverage it has in Cairo. The good, fuzzy feeling in Washington may prove fleeting," writes in the Wall Street Journal in an editorial.
China Overtakes U.S. as Top Crude Importer
China has overtaken the United States as the world's largest importer of crude oil (FT). Beijing is trying to curb demand; most analysts expect that its oil consumption, currently at 2.9 barrels per person per year, won't reach the United States' level of 21.5 barrels.
This CFR Backgrounder explains how hydraulic fracturing has enhanced U.S. energy security.
VIETNAM: U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and his Vietnamese counterpart signed a deal on civilian nuclear power at the East Asian Summit in Brunei on Thursday that will allow American firms access to Vietnamese markets while committing Hanoi to not enriching uranium (AP).
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
UK Troops Deploy for Final Major Mission in Afghanistan
Britain's Seventh Armored Brigade has deployed to Helmand in southern Afghanistan to pack up equipment ahead of the British pullout next year. The mission is expected to be the final major operation of UK forces in Afghanistan (BBC).
PAKISTAN: Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year, was awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov human rights prize (AFP) on Thursday.