Morsi identifies a 'counterrevolution'
CAIRO, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Egypt President Mohamed Morsi said "counterrevolution" forces are trying to sabotage the country and are hampering Egypt's economic development.
"The counterrevolution is being led by remnants of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime to obstruct everything in the country," he said at the Azhar Conference Hall in Cairo during a celebration to honor the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
Morsi's comments came ahead of Friday demonstrations that saw thousands gather in Tahrir Square to mark the two-year anniversary of the protests that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak after three decades of rule. The demonstrators shouted many of the same slogans used against Mubarak at the current government.
Ahram Online said Egypt's economy is struggling, largely due to political turbulence.
He asked the Egyptian people to work to create an economy suitable for investment.
Morsi's speech Thursday came one day before the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, which ousted Mubarak and helped Islamists take control of the country, Ahram Online reported.
Despite aid, Mali can't defend itself
BAMAKO, Mali, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Despite years of training by U.S. forces and alliances with other African nations, Malian troops are unprepared to battle Islamic militants, officials say.
Diplomats say the insurgents would have already overrun the country if French troops and warplanes hadn't intervened, The New York Times reported Friday.
Disgruntled about the inadequacies in the Malian military, government troops in the north rebelled last year. Taking advantage of the unrest, militants moved in and overwhelmed the rebels.
Now, Malian military officials say hundreds of government troops have defected to the militants, some of whom are affiliated with al-Qaida in the Islamic Mahgreb.
Officials say al-Qaida behind attack
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. officials said they believe al-Qaida operatives were responsible for the attack and hostage-taking at a natural gas plant in Algeria last week.
Officials said al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb was behind the attack, and may have done so with the help of fighters loyal to Moktar Belmoktar, a terrorist leader who has claimed responsibility for the Algerian attack.
CNN said if the two factions reunited for the attack, it would indicate cooperation and communications among al-Qaida affiliates in North Africa.
Officials said they believe some of the attackers came into Algeria training camps from Libya and the attack was relatively sophisticated.
"It took planning to select and case the facility, and coordinate to attack it. They had to penetrate the perimeter security and take hostages. That doesn't just happen," one official told CNN.
Israel may rank high on Kerry's agenda
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- One of John Kerry's first trips, should he be approved as secretary of state, will be to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Israeli officials say.
If the plan is confirmed, it would indicate President Obama's desire to relaunch peace talks in the region that have been on hold since 2010, Haaretz newspaper reported Thursday.
Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton largely focused her diplomatic attentions on the Far East, rather than the Middle East, after she was sworn in four years ago, The Hill said.
Kerry, a five-term senator, addressed the need to spark resumption of the talks during his confirmation hearing Thursday.
"We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs.
Arizona reconsiders license ban
PHOENIX, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Arizona lawmakers are reviewing a state law that denies driver's licenses to young people who recently received immigration relief and work permits.
In August, Gov. Jan Brewer issued an executive order banning driver's licenses to some youths who had qualified for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The DACA program was created by President Barack Obama to protect some youths who are in the country illegally from deportation and allows them to live and work in the United States for two years.
The Obama administration issued new guidelines this week that stated anyone accepted into the program is deemed "lawfully present" in the country.
As of this week, just three states, Arizona, Nebraska and Michigan, were still denying driver's licenses to those qualifying for the program.