World News Brief, Wednesday August 8

Egypt promises crackdown after massacre of 16 police by Islamists; China's top leaders gather for leadership transition meeting; Gu Kailai to go on trial for murder of British businessman; 1300 Syrian refugees flee to Turkey overnight; food inflation reaches high in Latin America; and more

Top of the Agenda: Egypt Faces Pressure to Capture Sinai Gunmen

Egypt called Islamist gunmen who killed sixteen police near the Israeli border "enemies of the nation" and promised to launch a crackdown (Aljazeera) following the massacre that has strained Cairo's ties with Israel and Palestinians. Egyptian security and military officials said at least two helicopter gunships arrived in the border town of El-Arish to join the hunt. Egypt and Israel say Islamist fighters from the Sinai and Palestinian allies from the Gaza Strip are active in northern Sinai, attacking Egypt's security forces and staging attacks across the border into Israel.


"The Sinai is a crucial early test for [Egypt's President Mohamed] Morsi, a former Muslim Brotherhood member whose government is strengthening ties with Hamas but is also trying to keep more radical Islamist elements at arm's length. Anger is sharpening among many Egyptians over the persistent violence in the peninsula, which is harming tourism and exposing Cairo's inability, or lack of will, to rein in radical elements," says Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times.

"In the security vacuum that ensued since Hosni Mubarak's ousting, militant groups from Gaza and elsewhere swarmed into the Sinai Peninsula, quickly establishing a mini-Afghanistan on the Mediterranean. Amongst the sand dunes and jagged mountains, these militants found fertile breeding ground for their extremist ideology, quickly radicalizing the native Bedouin tribesmen who were long considered second-class citizens under the Mubarak dictatorship," writes Daniel Nisman in the Wall Street Journal.



Top Chinese Leaders Gather for Conclave

China's top leaders have gathered (WSJ) for an annual conclave in the beach resort of Beidaihe to hammer out major decisions for the economy amid a political scandal and a sensitive once-a-decade leadership transition, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

CHINA: Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, will go on trial Aug. 9 for the murder of a UK businessman (BusinessWeek). Bo's downfall has focused attention on corruption among China's ruling elite.

Gu Kailai's trial is sure to focus international attention on the unfairness of prosecution on the mainland, writes CFR's Jerome A. Cohen.



1300 Syrian refugees flee to Turkey

Food inflation reaches high in Latin America



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