Egypt President Ousts Generals
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi pushed back against the nation’s military in a series of surprising moves yesterday. In one, he sent his Defense Minister, the Army Chief of Staff, and a few other generals into retirement. In another, he reversed an army-issued constitutional declaration that left him virtually powerless as the country’s elected leader. The military has effectively been ruling since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, but an Islamist attack in Sinai that left 16 agents dead at the Israel border dealt the army’s credibility a serious blow. It’s unclear whether the generals will respond. There has been no reaction so far, and some experts say Morsi’s decision is entirely constitutional. Morsi is the former head of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country, but has since distanced himself from the group, saying he plans to be a President to all Egyptians.
Syrian Rebels Call for No-Fly Zone
Syrian rebel leaders called for foreign support today, asking for the creation of no-fly zones and safe havens near the borders with Jordan and Turkey. Rebels also said they shot down one of the government’s planes in Eastern Syria, though President Bashar al-Assad’s regime claims that the fall was due to a technical fault. Assad’s forces have been using heavy artillery in Aleppo, but also in Damascus, which the opposition is trying to retake. The government said they would welcome a dialogue with the rebels, on the condition that it be supervised by President Assad. King Abdullah II of Jordan said last week Assad could seek to create an Alawite enclave in the country if he continues to lose ground.
Ryan on Campaign Trail After VP Nomination
Congressman Paul Ryan was in Iowa today, campaigning as the Vice-Presidential Nominee for the Republican ticket. U.S. Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney announced him as his running mate on Saturday morning. Ryan, 42, has been a House representative for Wisconsin for 14 years, and is the head of the Budget Committee. A fiscal and social conservative, he has little foreign policy experience, but he drafted a series of budget proposals that all aim at shrinking the U.S. deficit through cutting spending and closing tax loopholes. In a controversial proposal, he drafted a Medicare overhaul in which the federal government would hand lump sums to the elderly so that they can choose from private health insurers, essentially creating a voucher system. The Romney campaign hopes his youth, eloquence, and bold ideas will be a breath of fresh air, and that he will help reframe the debate on the economy, President Barack Obama’s weak point. So far, polls suggest his nomination hasn’t affected the way voters feel about Romney, although Ryan himself did enjoy a boost in public opinion. Learn more about Ryan here.
Greek Economy Shrinks for Ninth Straight Quarter
Greece’s economy shrank for a ninth quarter, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said today. Gross domestic product fell by 6.2 percent, following a 6.5 percent contraction in the first quarter. This is the 14th quarter of recession in the last 15 for the Hellenic Republic. Harsh austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund means that the country cannot get back to growing again, and this in turn makes it more difficult for the nation to repay its debts, a vicious circle that could cause Greece’s exit from the monetary union. Even still, there’s hope. Yearly industrial production rose for the first time in four years last June, and the government beat its deficit-reduction goal in the first seven months of 2012. Economists also expected the GDP to shrink by 7 percent.
Iran Earthquakes Kills 306
Two earthquakes in Northwestern Iran killed 306 people on Saturday and injured 5,000. Iranian officials said as many as 17,000 were displaced, prompting the United Nations and countries like the U.S. and Russia to offer humanitarian help. Less than a day after the catastrophe, the authorities announced the end of the search and rescue efforts, saying that all those who needed to be helped were helped, even as experts disagreed that was the case. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided not to cancel a trip to Saudi Arabia and left on Monday morning, as planned, drawing criticism from the press. Residents in Varzaqan and Tabriz said that state television also minimized the damage in its reporting.