Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Long lines of voters turned out across Egypt to cast their ballots in the country's first parliamentary election since the fall of Hosni Mubarak (NYT). The historic vote comes as a revitalized protest movement has clashed with the ruling military council in recent days, demanding an immediate handover to a civilian government.
The governing Supreme Council of Armed Forces has rejected protester calls to cede its leadership in the near term, saying it would follow through on its road map for transferring authority (al-Jazeera). The military never set a precise date for handing over power to civilian administration, only pledging that presidential elections would be held before the end of June 2012.
Analysts expect the new parliament to have strong Islamist representation led by the Muslim Brotherhood (BBC). Forty-one protesters have been killed and more than two thousand have been wounded in violence leading up to the election.
Egypt's military appeared to be pursuing a divide-and-rule approach to defuse mass protests ahead of today's planned polls, but this may backfire, says CFR's Steven A. Cook.
With fresh political violence erupting ahead of elections, Shibley Telhami points to new polling data showing Egyptians are concerned that the military is attempting to undo the gains of the revolution.
This Backgrounder notes the divide in views over whether the Muslim Brotherhood will choose a path of moderation or extremism.
Arab League Sanctions Syria
The Arab League approved economic sanctions against the government of embattled President Bashar al-Assad (NYT)–an unprecedented move by the regional bloc against a member state. The decision follows Syria's failure to abide by the terms of an Arab League peace treaty agreed to earlier this month.
Investigation into Borneo Bridge Collapse
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has ordered an investigation into the collapse of the Mahakam II Bridge (al-Jazeera) in Borneo on Saturday. The cause of the tragedy, which killed at least eleven people, was not immediately clear.
CHINA: Beijing proposed increased military relations with Myanmar (Reuters) just days ahead of a scheduled visit from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In recent weeks, Chinese officials have claimed the U.S. diplomatic push in the Asia-Pacific region is an attempt to encircle China.
CFR's Josh Kurlantzick discusses the improving U.S-Myanmar relations, and suggests the Obama administration watch several markers to see that reform in the country is continuing.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Fears over Souring U.S.-Pakistan Relations
A NATO airstrike that killed twenty-four Pakistani soldiers in a border region on Saturday has further heightened tensions between the United States and Islamabad (BBC). While NATO apologized for the attack, public anger in Pakistan is fueling calls for the country to sever all ties with Washington.
AFGHANISTAN: The Pakistani government has halted military supplies destined for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan following a deadly NATO airstrike (Bloomberg). Islamabad shut down the border for ten days in 2010, and the Pentagon has been looking for alternate routes since.
Congo Holds Historic Vote
The Democratic Republic of Congo is holding its second presidential and parliamentary election since the country emerged from war in 2003. Incumbent Joseph Kabila is one of eleven presidential contenders competing in an election beset by logistical problems (CNN).
MOROCCO: Morocco's Justice and Development Party, a moderate Islamist political group, dominated the country's parliamentary elections (AP), another indication that religious-based groups are profiting most from the Arab Spring's democratic changes.
Guyana to Elect New Government
Voters in Guyana (BBC) are set to elect a new government in a poll pitting the People's Progressive Party against long-time rival the People's National Congress. National politics have been largely split along ethnic lines since independence from Britain in 1966.
UNITED STATES: Police in Los Angeles are set to begin arresting Occupy LA protestors (LAT) who violated a 4 a.m. deadline to leave parts of the downtown area. Hundreds of Occupy activists gathered at City Hall after the deadline passed.
The international Occupy movement faces crackdowns in several cities, but continues to spur public discourse over economic inequality. But there is sharp debate over how to translate protest into policy changes.
OECD Cautions on Eurozone Contagion
OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan said European leaders must provide "credible and large enough firepower" to curb the sell-off in the eurozone sovereign debt market (FT) or risk a severe recession. The organization representing the world's richest countries cut its half-yearly forecasts and said growth in Europe was approaching stall speed.
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.
BELGIUM: Belgian lawmakers struck a deal on a budget for 2012, prompting hopes the country can form a coalition government and end a seventeen-month old political stalemate (DeutscheWelle). Belgium has had a "caretaker" government since June 13, 2010, when parliamentary elections produced an impasse between the country's Dutch and French speakers.