Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In a significant turnaround, Russia proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the ongoing violence (DeutscheWelle) in Syria by both the Syrian regime and anti-government protesters. The resolution criticized the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its "disproportionate use of force," but did not call for sanctions against the regime.
Western diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, welcomed the shift in Russian policy (al-Jazeera), but said its resolution did not go far enough. In addition to ruling out sanctions, Russia said it would not authorize any military interference in Syria in the future, citing the recent violence in Libya as a precedent (RUVR).
Meanwhile, the armed insurgency (NYT) against the Assad government is growing. On Thursday, military defectors launched an attack on Syrian forces in and around the city of Dara'a, killing at least twenty-seven soldiers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
In Eurasia Review, Theodore Karasik analyzes Russia's policy towards Syria, which he says is contingent firstly on "Russian pride."
A young writer living in Syria's capital city shares some observations of the uprisings and subsequent crackdowns happening across the country in a New York Times blog.
Activists in Syria's capital are using covert methods to show their opposition to Assad's continuing rule, writes Basma Atassi on al-Jazeera.
Iran Warns Afghanistan on U.S. Drones
Iran warned that it would consider any further U.S. drone flights launched from Afghanistan (NYT) into Iranian airspace a hostile act by the Afghan government. The announcement came just weeks after Iran captured a U.S. surveillance drone on its soil.
The Economist's Newsbook blog examines the evolving role of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in U.S. counterterrorism strategy.
EGYPT: Protesters clashed with military police (al-Jazeera) in Cairo after an activist said he had been detained and beaten up by police near the parliamentary building.
Disputed Land Project Suspended in Rebellious China Village
Authorities in the southern Chinese village of Wukan announced a controversial land swap deal, which fueled an open revolt (WSJ),is being put on hold. At the same time, a senior local official said police would "strike hard" at the protesters if they do not surrender.
JAPAN: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant (BBC), damaged during the March earthquake and tsunami, had been brought to a "cold shutdown condition" and that reactors at the plant were stable.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistan Accuses NATO in Shooting Incident
Pakistani officials claimed NATO forces were aware that they were firing on Pakistani forces (al-Jazeera) near a military checkpoint along the Afghanistan border during a friendly fire incident that killed twenty four Pakistani soldiers last month.
PAKISTAN: The U.S. Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, which includes a freeze of $700 million in aid (ExpressTribune) to Pakistan, paving the way for President Barack Obama to sign the bill into law as early as this weekend.
Pakistan's stability is of great consequence to regional and international security. Examine the roots of its challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and explore some plausible futures for the country with this CFR Crisis Guide.
Ouattara's Ruling Coalition Wins Ivory Coast Elections
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's party won a majority in parliamentary elections (AFP), the country's first vote since last year's disputed presidential poll fueled months of violence that left three thousand people dead.
SOUTH SUDAN: The UN World Food Program said it is seeking nearly $100 million in food aid (SudanTribune) to help the 2.7 million people in South Sudan affected by crop failures and violence with neighboring Sudan.
Major U.S., European Banks Downgraded
Credit rating agency Fitch downgraded major U.S. and European financial institutions, including Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, and Credit Suisse. Fitch was third major U.S.-based rating agency (CNN) to do so since September.
U.S.-based rating agencies have been under intense scrutiny following S&P's unprecedented downgrade of U.S. debt in August, and by European officials for allegedly accelerating the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
ARGENTINA: President Cristina Fernandez said the Argentine economy expanded 9.3 percent (MercoPress) in the third quarter of this year, its fastest pace since 2003.
Russia to Join WTO
At a ceremony in Geneva today, Russia is set to become the last member of the G20 (BBC) group of leading economies to join the World Trade Organization.
Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization could alter its global economic standing and boost trading partners. But experts say Moscow must restructure its economy to benefit from joining the club, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
Government Shutdown Averted
Congressional leaders reached an agreement (WashPost) on Thursday night on a $1 trillion spending agreement for federal agencies for the coming year after resolving a dispute over provisions to extend the payroll tax provision.
MEDICARE: Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Republican Congressman Paul Ryan outlined a bipartisan plan for Medicare and healthcare reform (WSJ). The Wyden-Ryan plan is centered on the use of competitive bidding to encourage competition between Medicare and private insurance companies.
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