Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Flight from Northwestern Syria
After taking the northwestern rebel town of Jisr al-Shughour yesterday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army rounded up hundreds (Reuters) of civilians in nearby villages before advancing toward Maarat al-Numaan, another anti-government stronghold in the province.
By official counts, nearly seven thousand Syrians have fled (WSJ)across the border into Turkey since the government began a renewed assault on a three-month pro-democracy uprising. Thousands more wait to cross over from the Syrian side.
The burgeoning refugee crisis, coupled with reports of deadly violence by the Syrian government, has led Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to publicly endorse European efforts to sanction Syria (al-Jazeera) with a UN Security Council resolution.
The unrest in northern Syria is also exposing sectarian tensions (NYT) between the Sunni Muslim majority and minority Alawite sect, of which Assad is a part.
On Foreign Affairs, Michael Bröning, Tony Badran, Mara E. Karlin, and Andrew J. Tabler discuss the increasingly brutal crackdown in Syria, the durability of the Assad regime, and the reaction of the U.S.
The Guardian's Chris Doyle discusses the reasons why foreign intervention in Syria would not be welcomed as it was in Libya.
The FT's Gideon Rachman argues that the West's reluctance to intervene militarily in Syria–coupled with serious NATO deficiencies–will ultimately allow Syria to get away with its brutal crackdown.
MIDDLE EAST: Qaddafi Shells Misurata Oil Refinery
Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces bombed an oil refinery (Guardian) in the rebel stronghold of Misurata, disrupting fuel lines and delivering a setback (Reuters) to rebel plans to march on the capital, Tripoli.
In a recent op-ed for Foreign Policy, Daniel L. Byman and CFR's Matthew Waxman discuss six reasons why it's been so difficult to get Qaddafi to quit.
PACIFIC RIM: Vietnam Issues Military Decree
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued an official decree outlining the country's military draft policy in the event of war, amid escalating tensions with China over the potentially oil-rich South China Sea. However, China claims it will not use force (BBC) to resolve the maritime dispute.
China: Inflation rose in May to a three-year high (Reuters) of 5.5 percent, prompting the country's central bank to raise bank reserve ratios for the ninth time since October. Inflation is a top priority for China, which is worried that rising prices could undermine its economy.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA: Rising Inflation in India
The wholesale price index in India–Asia's third largest-economy after China and Japan–rose 9.06 percent in May from a year earlier, a result of skyrocketing food and commodity prices (WSJ). As in China, India's central bank will likely be forced to tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates again.
Nepal: Five years after the end of a decade-long civil conflict between the Nepalese military and Maoist insurgents, the country's army hasdestroyed the last minefield (BBC) in Nepal, making it the second country in Asia, after China, to become mine-free.
AFRICA: North and South Sudan Agree to Demilitarization Plan
Following African Union-led peace negotiations, north and south Sudan have agreed "in principle" to demilitarize (al-Jazeera) the disputed, oil-rich Abyei region and allow Ethiopian peacekeeping troops to monitor the area.
South Africa: Julius Malema, the Youth League leader of the African National Congress, the country's largest political party (Reuters), is campaigning to limit President Jacob Zuma's reign to one term and dramatically alter the country's policies, including farm seizures from whites without compensation and the nationalization of mines.
In his blog Africa in Transition, CFR's John Campbell discusses the"bad blood" between Malema and Zuma.
AMERICAS: Volcanic Ash Grounds Dozens of Flights
Volcanic ash from Chile's erupting Cordon Caulle volcano (AP), which has prompted the evacuation of four thousand people, continues to force the cancellation of flights throughout South America and across the Pacific Ocean in Australia and New Zealand, grounding thousands of passengers.
United States: Republican presidential candidates took part in a New Hampshire debate, where they focused on U.S. economic problems (BostonGlobe) and leveled steady criticism of President Barack Obama, in particular over job creation and healthcare policy.
EUROPE: Greek Credit Worst in World
Standard and Poor's downgraded Greece's credit rating yesterday from B to triple-C, just two notches above default. The move, which classifies Greece as the lowest rated country in the world (FT), comes as the European Union is hammering out plans for a second Greek bailout package.
Daniel Gros of the Centre for European Policy Studies tells CFR.org that a second Greek bailout alone will not solve Greece's financial situation and will only "push the can a little further down the road."
Italy: In a rebuke of embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (DerSpiegel), Italians voted in a national referendum against nuclear energy, the privatization of the country's waterworks, and a law that would shield the head of government from judicial oversight.