World News Brief, Thursday July 11

Egypt starts work on forming transitional government; Chinese exports and imports fall; Tokyo identifies growing security risks in region; brand-new $34 million US military headquarters built in Afghanistan will never be used; Somali pirates convicted in US court; and more

Top of the Agenda: Egypt Begins Forming Transitional Government

Egypt's new interim prime minister, liberal economist Hazem el-Beblawi, has set to work forming a transitional cabinet (Reuters), as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was named vice president and head of foreign relations. Both are leaders of the National Salvation Front, the secular coalition that led protests against ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and initially expressed reservations about the constitutional decree proposing a "roadmap" for the post-Morsi transition (AhramOnline). While violence has abated since Monday, the Muslim Brotherhood rejected offers to join the cabinet (al-Jazeera). Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $8 billion in aid to bolster the transitional government (NYT), seeking to boost their regional influence while undermining their rivals Qatar and Turkey.


"The record of military-led transitions elsewhere has been poor: democracy may be proclaimed to be the coup's raison d'être, but the transition stops there. Moreover, in this case, the Egyptian army appears far more interested in protecting its enormous economic interests than it is in securing the benefits of a civilian government responsive to its citizens," writes Alvaro de Vasconcelos for Project Syndicate.

"The whole reason the [U.S. Foreign Assistance Act] exists is to deter a coup like this one--which is why it would be terrible policy to wink at its violation. If we wanted the president to decide which coups he liked, we wouldn't need the law. It is supposed to tie the president's hands, forcing the U.S. to support democratic values and to guide militaries like Egypt's that rely on U.S. aid," writes Noah Feldman for Bloomberg.

"If the U.S. cuts aid now when it refused to do so after Morsi's grab for absolute power, it will permanently alienate the millions of Egyptians who believed, with good reason, that Morsi was attempting to turn himself into an Islamist Mubarak. And these Egyptians -- the ones who demonstrated against Morsi last week -- are precisely the sort of liberals (or, at least, anti-fundamentalists) the U.S. should be cultivating," writes Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg.



China Slowdown Illustrated by Trade Data

Chinese exports and imports both fell in June (WSJ), reflecting weak demand and contributing to expectations of a prolonged slowdown. Despite growth dropping to nearly 7.5 percent, the lower threshold of the government's target, Premier Li Keqiang said there would be no new stimulus.

JAPAN: In an annual government defense report (NYT), Tokyo cited growing national security risks in the region, including the potential for hostilities with China over maritime disputes and the threat from North Korea's nuclear program.


Work continues on US military HQ in Afghanistan that will never be used

Somali pirates convicted in US court

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