National Security Brief: Caught Off Guard By Egypt

– Two surprise rulings by Egypt’s high court yesterday — to invalidate parliamentary elections and reverse a law that would have barred former president’ Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister from running for president — caught the White House and State Department, which had hailed successive steps towards democratic rule in Egypt, by surprise. “There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in response to the court rulings.

– The U.S. is headed for a record-breaking year for foreign military sales, bolstered by a $29.4 billion sale of Boeign F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, putting the U.S. arms manufacturers on target for $50 billion in international sales by the end of the year.

– From Turkey, Syrian expatriate doctors and a group of some 60 smugglers run medicine and health supplies to embattled towns hit by the forces of Bashar al-Assad’s government, whose destructive prowess was placed on stark display by U.N. accounts of a charred, abandoned town of Haffah.

– Amid pleas from the opposition for investment and signs from companies like Coca-Cola that they’re ready to get into the Burmese market, ethnic clashes in Myanmar, which long justified repression by the ruling military junta, cast a pall over a nascent transition to democracy.

– Attacks in Western Libya against international targets like a U.N. vehicle and International Committee of the Red Cross offices by suspected extremists are raising worries that some forces may seek to disrupt the upcoming vote there.