The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon has the week off, so my good friend and colleague Stewart Patrick pinch hit in his place. We discussed Egypt’s tumultuous transition, the UN Security Council’s discussions on African conflicts and the protection of journalists worldwide, and the talks between North and South Korea to reopen the Kaesong industrial complex.
- Egypt faces a rocky future in the wake of the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president. The ouster has split the Egyptian public, with Morsi’s opponents calling the action a popular revolt and his supporters insisting it was a coup. The new government, headed by interim prime minister Hazem el-Beblawy, a liberal economist, faces the tough challenge of bridging that divide and getting the country to a new constitution and elections in six months. The good news for el-Beblawy is that Persian Gulf countries have loaned Egypt $12 billion and the country’s energy shortages have eased for the time being at least. The bad news is that Egyptians who support Morsi see these positive economic developments as evidence that Morsi’s opponents in the Egyptian military and business community actively sought to sabotage the Muslim Brotherhood government. That raises fears that some Morsi supporters will sour on democracy and turn to violent extremist action.
- The UN Security Council will be looking at ongoing conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan, and Congo next week. In Somalia and South Sudan, security problems are compounded by deep-seated corruption. The UN peacekeeping missions in each country have struggled to make a difference. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to chair the discussion about Congo. (Secretary Kerry gets to chair the meeting because the presidency of the Security Council rotates among its members every month, and this month it is the United States’ turn.) Secretary Kerry is hoping to use the meeting to push for implementation of the peace deal struck back in February to limit the horrific fighting that has been going on for years involving the Congolese government and various rebel groups.
- The UN Security Council will also be addressing the question of whether and how to protect journalists worldwide. The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that over the past two decades nearly one thousand journalists have been murdered or killed in combat or while on dangerous assignments. International law does not currently accord journalists a special protected status; many people think it should. The question, however, is complicated by the fact that in a world of blogs, tweets, and other social media, it can be difficult to determine who exactly qualifies as a journalist.
- North Korea and South Korea are set to resume talks over possibly reopening the Kaesong industrial complex. North Korea shut down the complex, which is located on the North Korean side of the Thirty-Eighth parallel and employed 53,000 North Koreans when it was running, back in April as tensions between the two Koreas escalated. Tensions have subsided since then, either because Pyongyang always planned to repeat its past practice of rushing to the brink and then retreating, or because an alarmed and irritated Beijing made it temper its belligerence. The negotiations over Kaesong are likely to be fractious, partly because that’s the North Korean way and partly because South Korean president Park Geun-hye has to worry that many of her supporters think that reopening the Kaesong complex only helps keep Kim Jong-un in power. North Korea had also proposed holding talks on family reunification, but just today it retracted its offer.
- Stewart’s Figure of the Week is zero. My Figure of the Week is Lee Yoon Hye. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.
For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:
Egypt’s transition turmoil: Steven Cook argues that “Egyptians will not have a full democracy until they bring the military under civilian control.” The Guardian reports that President Morsi was offered immunity from prosecution if he voluntarily resigned his post. The New York Times writes about the growing separation between ordinary Egyptians as families split over politics. The New York Times also reports that President Morsi’s opponents in the Egyptian bureaucracy and business community may have actively sabotaged his policies, thereby helping fuel public opposition to his government.
UN Security Council: The Economist reports that the UN is about to send troops into battle for the first time to combat “murderous anarchy” in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN News Centre claims the UN Mission in South Sudan has made progress but still needs to address insecurity, human rights violations, and institution building. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports twenty-two journalists have been killed so far in 2013, with two being killed in Egypt during the protests of the last two weeks.
North and South Korea talks: The New York Times reports North and South Korea agreed on their desire to reopen the Kaesong complex and scheduled talks for next week to discuss logistics. The BBC writes that the Kaesong complex is home to more than one hundred twenty South Korean businesses employing fifty-three thousand North Koreans. Bloomberg says North Korea is open to talks with the United States if the United Nations military command in South Korea, led by the United States, is dissolved. Agence France Presse reports that North Korea has retracted its offer to hold talks with South Korea on family reunification.