World News Brief, Thursday January 20

Tunisian government flounders; Arab leaders to offer struggling Arab economies $2 billion; more evacuations in flood-hit Victoria; economists cast doubt on Vietnam's financial policy; Saudi leaders give up on Lebanon mediation; Karzai postpones inauguration of Afghan parliament; Baby Doc Duvalier charged with corruption and embezzlement 25 years after leaving Haiti; and more

Top of the Agenda: Tunisian 'Unity' Government in Jeopardy


Tunisia's main opposition party, Democratic Forum for Labor and Unity, refused to rejoin the nation's floundering "unity" government (al-Jazeera) and called for ousted president Ben Ali's former ruling party to be disbanded. Four of the group's members resigned on Tuesday, citing frustration that remnants of the old administration (NYT) were still present in the new government. Hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Tunis and Sidi Bouzid to support opposition demands. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi is fighting to persuade the nation that the interim government can lead the transition to democracy (Guardian), vowing to hold free and fair elections in six months.

In response to the unrest in Tunisia, Arab leaders are expected to commit a proposed $2 billion to reinforce struggling Arab economies (al-Jazeera). The pledge was made ahead of Wednesday's Arab economic summit, where leaders called for "Tunisian national unity" (Reuters). In speaking with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, U.S. President Barack Obama also expressed the "U.S. desire for calm in Tunisia" (Reuters).


In the LA Times, Jeffrey Fleishman argues that al-Jazeera's rapid-paced, visceral coverage of the Tunisian upheaval has riveted viewers across the Middle East, where many see it as a big voice in a landscape of burgeoning Arab dissent.

On his blog "From the Potomac to the Euphrates," CFR's Stephen A. Cook discusses the politics surrounding the crisis in Tunisia.

In this article for the Global Post, Mohamad Bazzi argues that U.S. silence on Tunisia proves it favors stability over democracy in Arab world.


PACIFIC RIM: Flooding Forces More Evacuations in Australia


Officials advised residents of Kerang, in the southeastern state of Victoria, to evacuate amid fears of impending flood waters (BBC). The natural disaster has struck at least fifty-eight towns across Victoria, and residents have been warned of more heavy rain to come.

Vietnam: In the wake of the country's Communist national congress (FT), economic analysts have little hope for new Vietnamese policies that will address the longstanding problems of macro-economic instability, growing inequality, waste, and corruption.



- Saudi FM Abandons Lebanon Mediation
- Court Asks for Delay to Afghan Parliament
- Charges Brought Against Former Haitian Dictator


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