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February 17, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

Who’s in the News

McCain to lead delegation to Egypt (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is leading a congressional delegation to Egypt this weekend and will meet with the head of the Egyptian military in an effort to resolve the crisis over the prosecution of American NGO workers in Cairo, he said Wednesday.   McCain said he will meet with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), a man he has known for 25 years, but insisted he was “not Bill Richardson,” the former New Mexico governor who has periodically served as an unofficial envoy, swooping in to foreign capitals to rescue Americans held by hostile governments.   McCain explained that he had no intention of demanding the NGO workers’ immediate release or negotiating with the Egyptian government directly.

Postscript: Anthony Shadid: 1968-2012 (Steve Coll, The New Yorker)

“He [Anthony Shadid] had many gifts and was an exceptionally graceful, easy, and generous man, but among the qualities that distinguished his work was the sheer commitment of it,” Coll writes. “When he came to the Washington Post about a decade ago to serve as a correspondent, I was working as an editor at the paper. I asked a standard job-interview question about his goals in the years ahead, and he provided one of the most striking, emphatic answers I can recall from countless discussions of that type: He intended to move to the Middle East, to chronicle in every dimension possible the upheavals in Arab societies that would inevitably follow the September 11th attacks, and to do nothing else, professionally. If we, the Post, would facilitate this ambition, he would be grateful, but that was the only job he was interested in or would be for years to come, he said. It is rare for anyone—never mind a writer—to possess such clarity. And Shadid carried out his plan exactly as he said he would, just not for the full measure of years that we would have wished.”

World Bank President Robert Zoellick tells board he will step down June 30 (Associated Press)

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said Wednesday he is stepping down, raising the possibility that a non-American might be chosen for the first time to head the 187-nation lending organization.  Zoellick, 58, informed the board he will leave June 30 at the end of a five-year term, during which he led the bank’s response to the global financial crisis.  In a statement, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner praised Zoellick’s leadership at the World Bank and said the administration would put forward a candidate for the World Bank board to consider as his replacement.  Geithner’s comments did not indicate whether the administration would be willing to back a non-American for the top job at the World Bank.

Smart Power

Afghanistan to seek foreign aid (Ashish Kumar Sen, Washington Times)

Afghanistan’s government hopes to persuade foreign countries to pledge funds that are key to keeping progress in the country on track, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States said Wednesday.  Afghanistan’s international partners will gather in Tokyo in July for a conference at which they are expected to pledge economic aid.  A recent estimate by the World Bank found that Afghanistan will face a shortfall of about $7 billion a year from the end of 2014 until 2024.  A global recession and rampant corruption in Afghanistan have slowed the flow of financial aid.  U.S. combat troops are expected to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Politics/Foreign Policy

The Woman Behind Egypt’s Crackdown On Aid Groups (Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR)

The attacks of Faiza Aboul Naga — a holdover from the regime of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — have made her a hero to many Egyptians who believe she is defending their country’s honor. But the threat she poses to billions of dollars in U.S. aid and international loans could make her power short-lived.  Aboul Naga, minister of planning and international cooperation, has warned Egyptians time and again about what she sees as the danger foreigners pose to her country.

See also: a letter signed by 29 aid groups and NGOs detailing the Egyptian military’s treatment of them. (The Arabist)

Bill would tie foreign aid to cyber crime (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

A major new cyber-security bill set to move through Congress this month would enable the secretary of state to condition foreign aid on countries’ action to counter cybercrime and cyber-espionage.  On Feb. 15, senators introduced the Cyber-Security Act of 2012, a massive piece of legislation that represents the culmination of years of work in Congress to put together a new regime for public-private cooperation on combating the growing threats on the Internet. One section of the bill directly links cybercrime in foreign countries to U.S. foreign assistance to those governments.