World News Brief, Wednesday February 9

Leaders promise term limits as tens of thousands return to Egypt's streets (+ analysis and background); North and South Korea hold talks about talks; Suu Kyi asks West to rethink Burma sanctions; Hague in Tunis says changes must be "irreversible"; and more

Top of the Agenda: Protestors and Mubarak Locked in Test of Wills

Tens of thousands of peaceful protestors surged back into Egypt's central square on Tuesday to break a stalemate with the government of President Hosni Mubarak and bring an immediate end to his thirty-year regime (WashPost). In an effort to appease the opposition, newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman announced the creation of two committees to oversee constitutional changes that would open presidential eligibility rules and impose term limits--a move some observers see as the first concrete steps to reform (Haaretz). Since the protests began over three weeks ago, Mubarak has appointed a vice president for the first time, reshuffled his cabinet, and stated that he will not seek another term as president (CNN) in September. However, some experts suggest Mubarak is relying on classic stalling tactics in dealing with dissidents. Leading opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, stand firm in their demands for Mubarak's immediate ouster and remain skeptical of the regime's efforts at negotiations (Guardian) and its call for “normalcy.” Analysts say the government is unable to remove the protestors forcefully, so its strategy is to diminish the movement's status.

In recent comments, US President Barack Obama implied that positive steps (BBC) are being made: "Egypt has to negotiate a path, and I think they're making progress." The protests in Egypt have inspired Iran's opposition (NYT) to challenge the hard-line leadership to permit peaceful protests.


As Egypt's opposition movement urges new protests, the Egyptian army has emerged as a key player in questions about a replacement government for President Mubarak, says expert Bruce K. Rutherford.

By playing the role of both arsonist and firefighter, the Egyptian government has forced protestors fleeing the regime to seek refuge with the regime, possibly ensuring its survival, writes Joshua Stacher in Foreign Affairs.

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 and South Korea Open Talks

In their first dialogue since Pyongyang shelled a South Korean island, military officers from the two countries held preliminary talks (Yonhap) to lay the foundation for a higher-level summit. Seoul remained firm in demanding an apology for the North's aggressions last year.

Myanmar: Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged the international community to reevaluate the economic sanctions (BBC) imposed on the regime following military junta abuses. Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in November after Myanmar's first election in twenty years.



- UK Foreign Secretary to Tour Mideast
- US-Pakistan Diplomatic Freeze over Murder Suspect


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