World News Brief, Thursday February 10

Egypt protests gain ground as workers join in (+ analysis of Pakistan comparisons, US dilemma); North-South Korean talks collapse on first day; Berlusconi refuses to stand down despite evidence; US Patriot Act fails vote; and more

Top of the Agenda: Egypt's Protests Gaining Ground

Pro-democracy demonstrations are gaining momentum in Cairo (al-Jazeera), with some protestors moving from Tahrir Square to set up camp in the area beyond the parliament buildings. Protestors are demanding the Egyptian assembly's immediate dissolution, and the cabinet building in Cairo has been evacuated. The largest crowd of protesters in two weeks piled into the square and into Cairo's streets yesterday and today, as workers joined protestors (NYT) and went out on strike. As pressure for free and fair elections grows, some democracy advocates worry that a ballot slated for September (WashPost) could set back the country's reform movement.

Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which are concerned about the events in Egypt, asked the United States not to pressure Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak (NYT) too hard. According to a poll (LAT) by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 57 percent say the Obama administration is handling the situation in Egypt "about right." Republicans are less likely than Democrats or independents to give the president high marks.


High food prices, lack of jobs, and widespread corruption are as rampant in Pakistan as they are in Egypt. Analysts warn against a return to military rule in search of stability and recommend Islamabad press for greater economic reforms.

With food prices at historic levels, unrest is mounting around the world, particularly in import-dependent regions like the Middle East. CFR's Laurie Garrett says to meet demand going forward, countries will need to enhance food production and efficiencies.

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.

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


The anti-government protests in Egypt will likely mean a greater political role for the Muslim Brotherhood, analysts say. But this Backgrounder notes the divide in views over whether the Islamist group will choose a path of moderation or extremism.

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: North-South Korea Military Talks Collapse

Military talks aimed at easing tension between North and South Korea broke down after no progress (KoreaHerald) Wednesday, officials in Seoul say. The talks were the first since the North shelled a South Korean island in November, killing four people. The two sides failed to reach a consensus over the agenda for higher-level talks.

This CFR Contingency Planning Memo says further provocations by North Korea, as well as other dangerous military interactions on or around the Korean peninsula, remain a serious risk and carry the danger of unintended escalation.

Taiwan: Taiwan has detained a senior general on suspicion of spying for China (BBC), the highest ranking officer involved in alleged espionage in decades. Taiwan's defense ministry says Major General Lo Hsien-che was recruited by China in 2004 while he was stationed in Thailand.



- Trial Sought for Italian PM
- US House Rejects Patriot Act Extension


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