December 7th, 2011
03:18 PM ET

Roundup: Syria's Assad denies responsibility for crackdown

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied ordering a deadly crackdown (ABC) against anti-government protesters during a rare interview, with the United States' Barbara Walters. Assad reportedly said that he is not in charge of Syria's armed forces and that the regime does not kill its own people.

The United Nations estimates that approximately four thousand people (Telegraph) have been killed during the Syrian government's nine-month crackdown.

Assad's regime has become increasingly isolated–diplomatically and economically–by the West, the Arab League, and neighboring Turkey. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for the first time with Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the opposition Syrian National Council (WSJ), in Geneva on Tuesday.

At the same time, the Obama administration returned its ambassador (BBC) to Syria in an effort to pressure the Assad regime to withdraw its forces from cities facing an ongoing assault.

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In a letter to the Arab League, Damascus provides counteroffers to the regional sanctions–but on its own terms. TIME's Rania Abouzeid asks if Syria can outlast this rare united front by its neighbors.

Syria is faced with an increasing number of international sanctions for its bloody crackdown against protesters. In this CFR Interview, CFR's Mohamad Bazzi says the crises facing the regime are unprecedented, but the regime doesn't appear to be giving in.

In this Weekly Standard op-ed, CFR's Max Boot says U.S. leadership is needed to galvanize a coalition for effective action against the Assad regime in Syria.


Muslim Brotherhood Claims Run-Off Win

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said it won a majority of run-off races in Egypt's parliamentary election (BBC), winning thirty-six out of fifty-six seats. Official results are expected on Thursday.


China's President Tells Navy to Prepare for Warfare

Chinese President Hu Jintao called on the country's navy to make "extended preparations" for warfare, amid ongoing territorial disputes (BBC) in the South China Sea and a U.S. military buildup in the Pacific. The announcement came as senior U.S. and Chinese military officials hold annual talks in Beijing.

In the New York Times, Mark Landler discusses the competition for offshore oil in the South China Sea, among other waters, where countries in a naval arms race rush to secure their share of energy resources.

SOUTH KOREA: U.S. and South Korean officials resumed talks to revise a 1974 treaty that prohibits the latter from enriching uranium and reprocessing spent nuclear fuel in support of its nuclear power industry (NYT).


Pakistani President in Dubai for Medical Treatment

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari flew to Dubai on Tuesday to be treated for a heart condition, amid rising expectations within the U.S. government that Zardari may resign (FP).

AFGHANISTAN: A roadside bomb (al-Jazeera) killed nineteen civilians in southern Helmand province, a day after fifty-nine people were killed in twin explosions at Shia shrines.


Congo Delays Vote Results

Election results in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were postponed by forty-eight hours because of technical difficulties (Reuters). Preliminary results showed President Joseph Kabila in the lead, but the opposition has threatened to reject that outcome, potentially triggering more violence.

The international community–and many Congolese–are afraid that the contested elections and refusal to accept the results could reignite Congo's civil war, writes CFR's John Campbell in his blog, Africa in Transition.

ETHIOPIA: Two Swedish journalists on trial (AFP) in Addis Ababa denied accusations that they received training by the outlawed rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front, and said they only met with the group for professional purposes


Colombians March Against FARC

Thousands of Colombians demonstrated against the guerrilla group FARC, demanding the release of eleven police officers and soldiers. The rebel group responded with a promise to free some of the hostages (MercoPress).

BRAZIL: A decline in consumer spending caused the country's economy to contract in the third quarter, with economists predicting that growth could slow (NYT) to at least 3 percent for 2011.


Greek Parliament Passes Austerity Budget

Greek lawmakers approved a 2012 austerity budget that forecasts a revenue increase of €4.5 billion and public spending cuts of €5 billion, measures considered necessary to rein in Greece's sovereign debt crisis (DeutscheWelle) and maintain EU-IMF support.

RUSSIA: Protesters challenging this past weekend's parliamentary election results vowed further demonstrations (CNN) against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, even as the Kremlin arrested two hundred and fifty people.

The sharp drop in support for the ruling United Russia party reflects growing public discontent with Putin's decision to seek the presidency again next year, says analyst Maria Lipman in this CFR Interview.


Republicans Divided over Pay Roll Tax

Republicans in Congress are split over whether to extend the pay roll tax cut (WashPost) to help spur the economy, with Tea Party members hesitant to add to the federal deficit. Republicans are unlikely to vote on a GOP-sponsored proposal until next week.

IMMIGRATION: The number of illegal immigrants (USA Today) arrested at the U.S. border with Mexico dropped for the sixth straight year, to the lowest level since the Nixon administration. Analysts say this may shift the debate on illegal immigration to focus on those immigrants already in the United States.

Renewing America is a special CFR project focused on the domestic underpinnings of U.S. global competitiveness, including the debt and deficit, infrastructure, education, innovation, trade, and corporate regulation and taxes.

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Syria

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Gorbachev stood up and urged for a re-run of the parliamentary election, as it was rigged and marred by fraud. The young and urban protesters want to stay in Russia and help modernise their country. Russia has vast resources and the citizens could have a good life, if equal chances and opportunies are available for the everybody. Putin should ask his grown-up daughters and their contemporaries, whether they are proud of Russia, as it is.

    December 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  2. Adnan Khan

    With no disrespect to Al Assad, but for some reason I doubt he is telling the truth. It is only a hunch. He very well may be telling the truth.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  3. Adnan Khan

    Fareed, I think you need to have Al Assad on your show.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Good idea! Fareed should travel to Damascus and get Assad on his show.

      December 8, 2011 at 5:24 am | Reply

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