National Security Brief: January 17, 2012

— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has regularly made sanctions against Myanmar a legislative issue since 2003, visited the country and met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, praising early reform and adding, “There is, however, as everyone knows, much left to be done.”

— Syria’s Foreign Ministry “absolutely reject[ed]” any plans to send an Arab peace keeping force into Syria to stop a mounting death toll from the violent conflict.

— Egyptian liberal and Islamist parties announced a power-sharing plan on Monday which, if implemented, will install a Muslim Brotherhood leader as speaker of the parliament.

— The New York Times reports that an attempt to set up a dialogue “between the Kremlin and the organizers of street protests foundered on Monday, leaving little time for the groups to de-escalate tensions before large demonstrations planned for Feb. 4 and March 11.”

— In an interview with the Washington Post, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said “we’ll cross the line sooner or later where the two-state solution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] is no longer possible, at which point the only solution is the one-state solution.” “And then,” Abdullah asked, “are we talking about apartheid or democracy?”

— Pakistan’s supreme court found Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in contempt for refusing to pursue graft charges against President Asif Ali Zardari, weakening Gilani’s standing and chances of keeping his post amid a deepening political crisis.

— Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, predicts the North Korean regime will soon collapse and reportedly describes his younger brother, Kim Jong Un, as “a joke to the outside world.”

— Western election monitors criticized the elections in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan for dropping a handful of parties and candidates from the slate at the last minute.