World News Brief, Wednesday December 12

New instability threats in Mali; China will surpass US as world's largest economy in 2020s; North Korea fixing technical problems with long-range rocket; Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey hold summit; Egypt braces for more violent protests; and more

Top of the Agenda: New Instability Threats in Mali

Mali Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra resigned from office (BBC) on Tuesday hours after being arrested by soldiers who were behind a military coup in March, further complicating international efforts to organize a military intervention to take back Mali's Islamist-dominated north. West African leaders have signed off on a plan (Reuters) to send 3,300 soldiers to the country to support operations, and while international powers like France are keen to back military action, the United States and the United Nations have expressed concern, saying the plan lacks necessary detail for a complex operation.


"No doubt there is a hard core of international jihadis in the Sahara. But many players have an interest in exaggerating their threat. For rebels such as Iyad ag Ghali it gives more leverage at the bargaining table. For regional governments it is an easy way of getting the U.S. to pay attention — and pay dollars to train and equip their soldiers. Better still, the international community may finance their peacekeepers," writes Alex de Waal for the New York Times.

"Cheick Modibo Diarra had put himself in a dangerous position in recent weeks. He had lost popular support—if he ever had it—as well as the backing of most of the political class and, more importantly, the High Islamic Council, a key player in this crisis," writes Thomas Fessy for the BBC.

"Junta soldiers critical of Bamako's allegedly weak response to a Tuareg rebellion in the country's north led a coup last March, but later yielded to international pressure and ceded power to civilians. Originally considered to have close links to the military, Diarra has overseen a tumultuous time in which al Qaida-linked militants have usurped the northern rebellion and overrun the northern half of the country," writes France24.



China to Outpace U.S. as Top Economy

China will surpass the United States as the largest economy in the 2020s (AFP), according to the National Intelligence Council in its first assessment in four years, adding that the United States will likely be the "first among equals," rather than a lone superpower, by 2030.

CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy lays out Xi Jinping's three steps to a clean China in this blog post.

NORTH KOREA: North Korea removed its long-range rocket (Yonhap) from the launch pad to fix technical problems that forced the extension of its launch window by a week.


Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan hold summit

Egypt braces for more violent protests

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