The Syrian army began a crackdown (al-Jazeera) on the northern rebel town of Jisr al-Shughu in retaliation for the alleged murder of 120 government security personnel earlier this week. Thousands of Syrians fled the town (BBC) in anticipation of government reprisals, with over two thousand people reportedly taking shelter in southern Turkey.
At least five thousand armed troops (Guardian) with dozens of tanks descended on the town, which has become the new focal point of anti-government protests in the country. One Syrian refugee reportedly told the New York Times, "They are also burning the harvest and livestock on the streets . . . and troops are shooting everyone who comes along their way."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, called the Syrian government's actions an"atrocity" (KhaleejTimes), while reiterating that Turkey will keep its borders open to Syrian refugees.
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The New Yorker's Steve Coll looks at the past decade of oppressive ruleby the Assad regime and argues that the time for Washington to negotiate has passed.
In an op-ed for the Guardian, Hayder al-Khoei argues that Iraq, once repressed by another Ba'athist regime, should support the uprising in Syria.
Leon Wieseltier argues in the New Republic that the international community must do more to oust Assad.
MIDDLE EAST: NATO Bombs Tripoli
NATO war planes stepped up air strikes (al-Jazeera) against Moammar Gadhafi strongholds in the Libyan capital, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the Libyan leader's "days are numbered."
On his blog Politics, Power and Preventive Action, CFR's Micah Zenko analyzes the consequences of a civil war stalemate in Libya, arguing for increased humanitarian aid to end the impasse.
ASIA PACIFIC: Rising South China Sea Tensions
Vietnam accused China of destroying a seismic survey boat in the South China Sea, while China said that Vietnam had "gravely violated" its sovereignty (BBC) and warned its neighbor to stop looking for oil in the ocean without Chinese permission.
China: The commerce ministry announced that China will help to develop two economic zones (FT) in North Korea close to the Chinese border, signaling Pyongyang's effort to grow the country's sluggish economy.
In The Atlantic, CFR's David S. Abraham discusses China's plans foreconomic domination.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Pakistan Soldiers Kill Unarmed Man
Pakistani authorities are investigating video footage that allegedly shows five of the country's soldiers gunning down an unarmed man (al-Jazeera), further undermining confidence in the country's military following the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden.
India: Maoist rebels set off a bomb (TimesOfIndia) in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, killing ten police officers.
AFRICA: Thousands Flee Fighting in Sudan
Over ten thousand people were displaced by fighting (Reuters) between Sudanese government forces and armed groups in the border state of Kordofan, weeks before the southern part of the country is set to secede from the north.
CFR's John Campbell examines the dispute between north and south Sudan.
South Africa: African leaders will meet in Johannesburg this weekend to advance the creation of a unified trade bloc (Bloomberg) that would run from Cape Town to Cairo.
AMERICAS: Chile is 'Gateway' for China
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping arrived in Chile–China's "gateway to Latin America"–to meet with President Sebastian Pinera and sign numerous bilateral agreements, following record 2010 trade figures (MercoPress) between the two nations worth over $25 billion.
United States: In a split verdict, a Pakistani-American businessman from Chicago was found guilty of providing financial support to anIslamic militant group (Reuters) responsible for the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai but not guilty of taking part in the acts.
EUROPE: Germany Calls on Private Creditors to Aid Greece
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told Parliament that Greece will need another financial bailout (DeutscheWelle) to meet its debt obligations, but that private creditors must take cuts to help ease the crisis, a position the European Central Bank strongly rejects.
Germany: Health officials in Germany on Friday identified the probable source of the deadly E. coli outbreak as contaminated sprouts and have lifted the warning on cucumbers and other produce.
The unfolding events in Syria and Libya are keeping us in suspense. Although NATO and its allies have degraded the military capabilities of the government forces in Libya considerably, Gaddafi still shows himself defiant and resilient. The ruling elite in Syria on the other hand has shown itself intransigent and quells all protests with violence.
Both parties want to show the world how brave and determined they are to fight till the bitter end. It would have been their right had the rest of world not seen this differently. The mantra is, for the sake of peace and protection of civilians, any action, like the targeted killing of Gaddafi s deemed appropriate and proportionate. No wonder the incumbents in Libya and Syria would rather die as martyrs than sharing the fate of Hosni Mubarak.
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