Iran/Egypt: The first Iranian leader to visit Egypt in more than 30 years, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived Tuesday in Cairo for a three-day visit aimed at improving ties between the two countries, which have long been hampered by regional rivalries and sectarian feuding.
Iran broke off diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980 after Anwar Sadat granted diplomatic recognition to Israel, and suspicions between the two countries only deepened as Hosni Mubarak cultivated ties to the West and Iran positioned itself as one of the United States' main antagonists in the region. But that calculus has been upended by the Arab Spring, which has left Iran looking for new allies in the region as its partnership with Syria flounders amid that country's ongoing civil war.
Still, the manifest difficulties of Iran positioning itself as a revitalized regional player were on clear display Tuesday in Cairo, where a Sunni religious leader leveled harsh criticism at Ahmadinejad for what he said was Shiite interference in Arab countries like Egypt and Bahrain and for discrimination against Sunnis in Iran. In a separate incident, a Syrian protester pelted the Iranian leader with a shoe, an act of protest for Iran's ongoing support of Bashar al-Assad.
Analysts expect that ties between the two countries are unlikely to warm significantly as Egypt remains heavily reliant on subsidies from Saudi Arabia and the United States, two countries loathe to see Egypt cultivate a closer partnership with Iran.
War on terror: For the past two years, the United States has been operating a secret base in Saudi Arabia from which it has launched drone strikes in Yemen. Major U.S. media organizations have known about the base for over a year but declined to reveal its existence, citing requests from the Obama administration that public knowledge of the base would damage counterterrorism operations in neighboring Yemen and undermine the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. The base's existence was revealed ahead of White House counterterror adviser John Brennan's planned testimony before the Senate Thursday, part of his confirmation process to become the next CIA director.
- Bulgarian officials said that a terrorist attack on Israeli tourists last July had been carried out by Hezbollah, raising pressure on the European Union to designate the group a terrorist organization.
- Chokri Belaid, a prominent opponent to Tunisia's Islamist government, was assassinated in front of his home.
- U.S. President Barack Obama plans to visit Israel this spring in what will be the first overseas trip of his second term.
- The British House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, sending the proposal to the House of Lords.
- At least 25 European governments participated in the CIA's extraordinary rendition program, according to a report released by the Open Society Justice Initiative.
- A gunman shot at and narrowly missed a prominent Danish critic of Islam.
- Chadian soldiers entered the city of Kidal, Mali, the last remaining major town controlled by Islamist rebels.
- France may begin to withdraw its troops from Mali within the next few weeks, according to the country's defense minister.
- A woman who accused Somali security forces of raping her was sentenced to a year in jail for levelling a false accusation and insulting a government body.
- China unveiled a package of reforms that will raise taxes on the wealthy increase workers' wages in an effort to narrow the gap between rich and poor.
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the move by a Chinese warship to lock its fire-control radar onto a Japanese frigate.
- A powerful earthquake off the coast of the Solomon Islands generated a minor tsunami wave, damaged dozens of homes, and left several people missing and presumed dead.
- A leaked memo detailed the Obama administration's legal justification for assuming sweeping powers to kill American al-Qaeda operatives anywhere in the world.
- German officials confirmed that the two men captured by National Liberation Army rebels in Colombia are two German pensioners.
- Argentina's foreign minister said that the Falklands Islands will be under his country's control within 20 years.