Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Greek Prime Minister George A. Papandreou announced that he will seek a referendum on a new EU rescue package for Greece, potentially jeopardizing a fragile agreement (NYT) that includes substantial contributions from fellow eurozone states and private creditors.
Papandreou's surprise decision comes less than a week after European leaders agreed on a comprehensive plan (WSJ) to tackle the widening eurozone sovereign debt crisis. The package included a €130 billion bailout for Greece that will see private creditors take a haircut of 50 percent; recapitalization of the continent's exposed banks; and an expansion of the temporary eurozone bailout mechanism.
A majority of Greeks remain opposed to further EU bailouts (DeutscheWelle), making a "yes" vote on the referendum far from certain. Greek citizens have been protesting for weeks over harsh EU- and IMF-mandated austerity measures, which are a prerequisite for the deal.
Global markets dropped on the news, and analysts predicted weeks of market volatility (DerSpiegel) ahead of Papandreou's proposed January vote.
Greece's decision to stage a referendum on the latest rescue package is a desperate gamble, which could go horribly wrong and impoverish not just Greeks but everyone, writes the Guardian's Michael White.
EU leaders agreed last week to significant moves to address the eurozone sovereign debt crisis that has roiled global markets. But analysts and investors are skeptical of the plan's long-term prospects, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
Libya Names New Prime Minister
Libya's ruling National Transitional Council voted to name Abdel Rahim el-Keeb (NYT), an electronics engineer, as the country's new prime minister. The move is the NTC's first step toward creating a transitional government following the death of ex-leader Muammar al-Qaddafi last month.
On CNN.com, CFR's Isobel Coleman argues that a stable, prosperous Libya undergoing a process of democratization will improve the odds of successful transitions in neighboring countries like Tunisia and Egypt.
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: The United States cut off $60 million in funding to the UN Scientific and Cultural Organization (al-Jazeera) after the organization voted to admit Palestine as a full member state. The U.S. State Department called UNESCO's move "premature."
China Launches Unmanned Spacecraft
China launched an unmanned spacecraft from the Gobi desert that is expected to dock with an orbiting module (Guardian) within two days. The mission is a significant step forward in China's efforts to build a manned space station.
SOUTH KOREA: President Lee Myung-bak travelled to St. Petersburg today for talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which will focus on a plan to link the countries with a gas pipeline (Yonhap) through North Korea.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Taliban in Kandahar Suicide Bombing
The Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the UN refugee agency (al-Jazeera) in Kandahar, which killed seven people, including three Afghan UN workers.
Though toppled from power in Kabul in 2001, the Taliban has become a resilient force active on two fronts–Afghanistan and Pakistan–explains this CFR Backgrounder.
PAKISTAN: Speaking in Istanbul ahead of an upcoming conference on Afghan security, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Afghanistan's neighbors should play a "supportive role" (APP) to help Afghanistan achieve peace, security, and territorial sovereignty.
Deadly Clashes in Sudan
The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North–rebels loyal to the recently established country of South Sudan–launched an attack on Talodi in Sudan's South Kordofan province (BBC).
GUINEA: The UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (Mail&Guardian) off the West African coast and encouraged the development of a regional framework to address the growing problem.
Targeting al-Qaeda Bomb Maker in Yemen
Following the U.S. drone strike that killed al-Qaeda's Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in September, U.S. counterterrorism officials have turned their focus on Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri (WSJ), a top bomb maker in al-Qaeda's Yemen branch.
A resurgent al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is reportedly exploiting the mounting political unrest in Yemen. This CFR Backgrounder profiles the group and discusses U.S. counterterrorism operations against its members.
MEXICO: U.S. law enforcement officials announced the arrest of seventy-six people involved in a drug smuggling operation (NYT) between Mexico and southern Arizona. All the suspects were connected with Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel.
This three-part CFR Timeline looks at the history of U.S.-Mexico relations from Mexican independence to present.
Occupy London Protesters Face Legal Action
The City of London Corporation is expected to serve legal papers to the Occupy the London Stock Exchange protesters–an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement–who are camped outside St. Paul's Cathedral (Guardian), giving them two days to vacate the premises.
Volatile global economic conditions have prompted hundreds of thousands of people around the world to demonstrate in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protesters. But the movement's potential for lasting impact stirs strong debate, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.