20-Feb-12 World View

20-Feb-12 World View

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • North Korea’s new leader threatens South Korea over military exercises
  • Egypt recalls ambassador to Syria over ongoing violence
  • Detention of pro-democracy workers threatens U.S.-Egypt relationship
  • Eurozone finance ministers set to approve Greece bailout on Monday


North Korea’s new leader threatens South Korea over military exercises

South Korea’s military announced Sunday that it will hold “routine” live-fire drills early this week near the Yellow Sea border islands with North Korea. The drills near the five border islands are set for Monday. One of the South Korean islands, Yeonpyeong, was shelled by North Korea in November 2010, killing five South Koreans, and marking the first North Korean attack on South Korean territory since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The North’s military denounced the planned drills as a “premeditated military provocation” against the North and vowed to “promptly make merciless retaliatory strikes” if the South violates its territorial waters during the drills:

“Once the group of traitors starts a reckless military provocation in those waters…and in case just a single column of water is observed in its territorial waters, the (North’s) Korean People’s Army will promptly make merciless retaliatory strikes.

Yonhap (Seoul)


Egypt recalls ambassador to Syria over ongoing violence

Because of the ongoing violence in Syria, Egypt recalled its ambassador to Syria on Sunday. This comes two days after Egyptians and Syrians protested in front of the Syrian embassy in Cairo, demanding the recall of the ambassador, and a week after the Arab League called to halt diplomatic cooperation with Syria. In response, Syria withdrew its own ambassador to Egypt. Bikya Masr (Cairo) and Gulf News (UAE)


Detention of pro-democracy workers threatens U.S.-Egypt relationship

Egypt has set February 26 as the date on which trial will begin for 43 pro-democracy workergs, including 19 Americans, includ Sam LaHood, son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. They’ll be tried on charges of illegally operating and funding foreign nongovernmental organizations in an effort to create unrest in Egypt. A number of U.S. senators and representatives have reacted to the accusations by threatening to cut $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid to the Egyptian military. Essam El-Erian, a senior member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and head of the foreign affairs committee in the People’s Assembly, said that cutting aid would abrogate the U.S. treaty would the Egypt, and would allow Egypt to review its peace treaty with Israel:

“We (Egypt) are a party (to the treaty) and we will be harmed so it is our right to review the matter. The aid was one of the commitments of the parties that signed the peace agreement so if there is a breach from one side it gives the right of review to the parties.”

The 1979 treaty made Egypt the first Arab state to forge peace with Israel and underpinned Washington’s relationship with Cairo during Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, during which the Brotherhood was officially banned. LA Times and Al-Ahram (Cairo)


Eurozone finance ministers set to approve Greece bailout on Monday

The meeting is set for Monday at 3 pm, Brussels time. That’s when the Eurogroup – the eurozone finance ministers — will meet to decide whether to approve the next €130 billion bailout of Greece. And after weeks of dithering, finger-pointing and recriminations, it now appears that the desperate politicians in Europe will approve the bailout, even though nobody really believes that it will solve Greece’s problems, or that Greece will implement all the commitments it’s had to make to get the agreement. Each of the leading Greek politicians has signed a letter promising to continue meeting commitments if his party wins the April elections, but just to be sure, the Eurogroup is debating a proposal to turn the screws a little harder: Under the proposal, the bailout money will be placed into a special “escrow account.” The escrow account would give legal priority to debt and interest payments over paying for government services. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who has called Greece a “bottomless pit,” said:

“There is agreement within the Eurogroup that there will be such a special account, or ‘escrow account’ in jargon, for the disbursement of the second aid package. The account ensures a priority for debt reduction.”

Such a requirement would be an unprecedented intrusion into a sovereign state’s fiscal affairs and could ultimately see Greece force to pay interest on its debt rather than teachers, doctors or other government employees. AP