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NightWatch 20130709

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For the night of 9 July 2013

South Korea-North Korea: Update. On Tuesday, a small team of South Koreans crossed into North Korea to check communication and power lines. It was the first time South Koreans had entered the zone in two months.

On Wednesday, around 100 delegates, including dozens of government officials and businessmen and engineers, entered North Korea to begin formal talks.

Comment: Thus far, preparations are proceeding without disruption for the 10 July meeting of North and South Korean representatives.

Russia-Syria: Update. Russia's envoy to the UN handed over evidence which indicates Syrian rebels used sarin gas in an attack in March. Vitaly Churkin said Russian experts had been to the scene of an attack at Khan al-Assal near Aleppo in March and had gathered firsthand evidence.

Comment: The purpose and effect of the Russian evidence is to create reasonable doubt. That can only be targeted at the US president to thwart US arms aid to the Syrian rebels.

Egypt: Security. No reports of clashes resulting in casualties were published in main stream media on 9 July. Egypt did not descend into chaos, as the Wall Street Journal proclaimed yesterday.

Political. The Tamarrud (Rebel) movement's spokesman said that the movement was not consulted by interim President Mansour about the 33 articles in his decree.

Comment: Feedback from one Brilliant and insightful Reader observed that Tamarrud should be careful about what it wishes for. There are no neutral politicians in Egypt and none who can resist authoritarian practices. They simply and obviously do not know how to practice the politics of inclusion. Issuing decrees written in secret with contributions from appointed advisors is Mursi's way. There seems to be little learning going on in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood also rejected Mansour's presidential decree on the transition. This means there will be more clashes.

Mansour blundered again today by announcing a "One Nation' national reconciliation initiative, again crafted in secret and sprung on the public at night.

Comment: In this second phase of the shrinking Egyptian revolution, such a plan should have emerged from consultations with the key parties, not the key advisors. Mansour's skill in governing is no better than Mursi's. He uses identical tactics.

Egyptian politicians need to learn that they need to consult with the factions before they start issuing decrees, assuming they are serious about national reconciliation.

Interim president Mansour appointed liberal economist Hazem El-Beblawi Egypt's new prime minister. According to al Ahram, El-Beblawi is a former finance minister and member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. Al-Beblawi's first action was to announce that he would offer cabinet posts to members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Comment: Mansour consulted the factions in selecting a prime minister, apparently reluctantly because his first choices were rejected. El Beblawi offered the Brotherhood cabinet positions before he offered them to those factions who supported the military coup.

Special comment: Egypt is adrift. The transitional plan cannot work because Mansour appears no more capable of governing as a coalition leader and no more innovative than Mursi. This interim government will only last if it can make rapid, even limited, progress in fixing the economy. The amount and duration of shortages might now measure the lifespan of the Mansour administration.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $8 billion to assist Egypt. They made pledges during the Mursi interregnum but did not honor them. This time they are more likely to do so because they prefer authoritarian military rule in Egypt over the Brotherhood.

The amounts are large, but not enough to make Egypt whole. Egypt will need that amount of aid every month for at least a complete growing and a robust tourist season in order to stop the economic collapse. Then it will need the debts forgiven.

End of NightWatch for 9 July.

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