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Monday, July 1, 2013

Egyptian Army Gives Morsi Ultimatum

On the second day of nation-wide protests, the army gave President Morsi 48 hours to resolve the situation and “meet the people’s demands.” While the army did not state what these demands were, its vocal support of the protesters suggests that it would demand Morsi’s departure. This puts “huge pressure” on Morsi to find a compromise with the protesters and definitively undermines his power and authority as president. Since millions are out on the street demanding his resignation and Morsi has publicly declared he has no intention of resigning, military intervention seems inevitable, especially because this is the army’s second ultimatum. The previous one expired Sunday; this renewed ultimatum seemed spurred by the sheer number of protestors and the increasing spats of violence. Marchers have been fired upon by Islamists and Sunday night, protestors attacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and after hours of fighting, breached its walls, looted it and set it on fire.

U.S. Spying Angers European Allies

Newly-released documents revealed that the NSA is spying not only “enemies” of the U.S., but allies as well, like the European Union mission in New York City and its embassy in Washington D.C.  The agency used an extraordinary range of spying methods, including bugs on electronic devices, taps into cables and specialized antennae to pick up transmissions. The French, Italian, Greek and embassies are among the 38 “targets.” Der Spiegel reported that the NSA taps half a billion phone calls, e-mails and texts each month in Germany alone. European leaders reacted with outrage, hinting that the revelations may derail the U.S.-E.U. trade talks scheduled to open next week. Some EU policymakers want the talks to be frozen until the United States clarified its actions while Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office opened inquiries into the NSA’s actions to determine if any German laws had been breached. President Obama tried to allay worries by suggesting that the intelligence agencies from all countries do the same thing.

 Afghanistan-Pakistan Ties in Tailspin

The same day that British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Pakistan to facilitate peace talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan, three bombings killed 45 people and injured over 85. No one has claimed responsibility for the event, but all three attacks happened near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border where the Pakistan Taliban operates. Rising tensions and distrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan are hindering peace talks with the Taliban, who are primarily based in Pakistan. Pakistan’s participation is crucial because of the sway it holds over the Taliban, which it tacitly supports by refusing to launch military campaigns in North Waziristan. Both Cameron and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif emphasized the importance of peace; but since the two countries still dispute the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Pakistan has fired missiles into disputed areas that Afghanistan currently claims, and the death toll of Afghan security forces continues to escalate, a functional peace deal is still far away.

Hong Kong Marchers Demand Democracy

Tens of thousands took to the streets in Hong Kong to participate in the annual protest demanding that China uphold its pledge to hold free and fair elections in 2017. The protest occurs on the anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China and the marchers were undeterred by the typhoon-level rains that lashed around them. Pro-democracy groups say that reform has been slow and worry that Beijing will interfere in the nomination process, thereby excluding opposition candidates. Younger activists in particular have become increasingly politicized, identifying themselves as citizens of Hong Kong rather than Chinese nationals. During the days leading up to the protest there were unusual signs of tension, with masked men burning thousands of copies of an anti-China newspapers.

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