May 22, 2014 6:04 AM EDT

Former Army Chief Poised to Become Egypt’s President Less than a year after Egypt’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted by the country’s armed forces, the general who seized power last summer is poised to assume the Middle Eastern nation’s highest office following elections that begin on May 26.

Former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is promising to bring stability and ensure security after three years of political and economic tumult sparked by the Arab Spring protests, which led to the fall of the longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. On May 21, Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling public funds in one of a number of cases against him.

Only one candidate, veteran activist Hamdeen Sabahi, has dared to challenge al-Sisi. But the odds are stacked against him. Expatriates who voted earlier in May overwhelmingly supported al-Sisi.

While a cult of personality has developed around the former army chief, it’s unclear whether political stability will cure the country’s ills. Unemployment, for example, remains stubbornly high at above 13%. The government has pledged structural reforms to spur growth, but much needed cuts to food and fuel subsidies risk spawning renewed protests in a country where a significant chunk of the population lives in poverty. Meanwhile, tourism revenue, a cornerstone of the economy, is still half what it was in 2010.

The nation also faces a deepening rift between the military and supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, who represent up to a tenth of Egypt’s 87 million people. Al-Sisi’s sometimes violent push to suppress both the group and Islamists in general has led to reprisals, including the shooting of three policemen in Cairo on May 20, but there is no sign that the state will relent in its crackdown.

“Egyptians love stability,” says Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist and activist. “But then as time goes by, the regime grows heavy-handed and [is] tempted into autocracy.”

THAILAND

‘The army intends to bring peace to the beloved country of all Thais.’

GENERAL PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, the army chief, after declaring martial law on May 20; the military insisted that the intervention–which followed months of political unrest–was not a coup, but Thailand’s caretaker government said it did not have prior notice of the move

POLL

THE E.U.’S APPROVAL RATINGS

The Pew Research Center asked people across seven European Union nations about their views on the alliance ahead of parliamentary elections May 22–25. Here’s a sample of those who said they viewed it favorably:

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

72% Poland

66% Germany

54% France

52% U.K.

34% Greece

Three Essential Facts About

The U.S. Cybercrime Charges Against Chinese Officials

On May 19, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the criminal indictment of five members of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on 31 counts of cybertheft, cyberespionage, conspiracy and fraud against major U.S. companies.

• THE CONTEXT

Private and state actors steal as much as $300 billion in intellectual property a year from U.S. companies in what Western officials describe as the largest theft in human history. The U.S. regularly complains to China and has long threatened retaliation.

• THE ALLEGATIONS

From 2006 to 2014, the U.S. says, five members of a signals-intelligence arm of the PLA’s general staff hacked into the computers of Westinghouse Electric, Alcoa, U.S. Steel and other companies, stealing trade secrets like power-plant designs, business strategies and acquisition plans, among other crimes.

• THE FALLOUT

The U.S. has never before charged foreign officials with cybercrimes, and Beijing summoned the U.S. envoy to China to decry “fabricated facts” and warn of “serious damage” to U.S.-China ties. FBI Director James Comey said the U.S. would fight cybercrimes with “all legal tools at our disposal.”

In the Homestretch

BRAZIL

A boy cycles down a street in Manaus, one of the host cities for the 2014 World Cup, on May 17. The soccer championship will be held in 12 cities across Brazil from June 12 to July 13. As preparations continue, some have criticized the heavy spending on the tournament. The country has seen a series of sometimes angry protests in recent months, calling for the money to be diverted to improving public services.

The Explainer

U.S.-Russian Space Spat: The Quarrel Over Ukraine Goes Cosmic

What Happened

Stung by sanctions, Russia said it would quit ferrying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020 and halt sales of rocket parts to U.S. manufacturers.

Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft

Why It Matters

Now that American space shuttles have been phased out, the U.S. needs Russia to get its astronauts to orbit. Some U.S. rocketmakers also use Russian engines.

The U.S.’s Atlas V rocket

Why It Doesn’t

Russia needs the cash it gets from its orbital taxi service–over $70 million per seat–and the U.S. can certainly build its own engines, as it did during the Cold War.

The International Space Station

What’s Next

Not much. This is Russian bluster. Private companies are fast restoring American space capability, and the space station is set to be mothballed in 2024 anyway.

SYRIA

162 THOUSAND

Approximate number of people killed in the Syrian conflict, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition nonprofit

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RELIEF

The U.S., Britain and other donors pledged $606 million to help avert famine in South Sudan, adding to earlier pledges of $536 million

SCIENCE

Paleontologists in Argentina say they have found fossils of the largest known dinosaur, a 66-ft.-tall herbivore

VIOLENCE

China evacuated thousands of its nationals from Vietnam after a territorial dispute spawned deadly anti-Chinese riots

TERRORISM

Two bombs killed at least 118 people in the Nigerian city of Jos in the latest suspected attack by Boko Haram, the group that kidnapped roughly 280 schoolgirls in April

This appears in the June 02, 2014 issue of TIME.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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