March 29th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Roundup: Arab League meets in Baghdad to discuss Syria

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

Arab League foreign ministers met in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad today for a summit, during which they backed a UN peace plan (al-Jazeera) to end Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's year-long crackdown on anti-government protesters and army defectors. The six-point peace proposal, which calls for a temporary cease-fire between government and rebel forces, was developed by the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan. Syria's Assad formally accepted Annan's plan earlier this week, and faces growing international pressure (NYT) to implement the deal.

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Analysis

"There's no reason to believe he'd have agreed, on Tuesday, to accept Annan's plan if he didn't believe it offered him a possibility of ending the crisis while remaining in power. Still, for all its flaws, Annan's plan is the only game in town. And matching the strongman in playing it might be key to the opposition's prospects in the weeks and months ahead," writes TIME's Tony Karon.

"The hope is that when–not if–the proposals are effectively stymied by Syria, the unanimously approved UN 'statement' by which the Annan proposals were launched might then be passed as a 'resolution.' More 'progress.' But a feckless statement will not be any more effective for having become a resolution," writes Robert Grenier for al-Jazeera.

"The last Arab League Summit held in Baghdad was in 1990, just months before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Since then, Iraq has effectively been out of the Arab fold–on account of war, sanctions, occupation and sectarian strife. This week's event marks a major milestone for Iraq and is the most tangible sign of its potential re-emergence as a regional player," writes CFR's Meghan L. O'Sullivan in an op-ed for Bloomberg.

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PACIFIC RIM

U.S. Suspends Food Aid to North Korea

The United States suspended food aid to North Korea due to Pyongyang's planned missile launch (al-Jazeera) in April, a U.S. Defense Department official said. The United States had agreed last month to provide North Korea with food assistance in exchange for a partial nuclear freeze and missile test moratorium.

Pyongyang is grappling with whether to choose international legitimacy or domestic political consolidation, says CFR's Scott A. Snyder in this CFR Interview.

CHINA: The government approved new financial reforms (WSJ) in the southeastern city of Wenzhou, allowing private lenders to operate as investment companies to help provide financing to small and medium-size enterprises, a move that could be indicative of future national financial reforms.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

BRICS Leaders Meet in New Delhi

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are in New Delhi today for the fourth annual BRICS summit. The top priority for the five emerging markets is the creation of a new development bank (AFP) that could function as a counterweight to the World Bank.

CFR's Stewart M. Patrick analyzes the BRICS and their prospects for success on the world stage on his blog, The Internationalist.

PAKISTAN: Armed militants shot and killed eight people (Dawn) in two separate incidents in southwestern Balochistan province today, one of which targeted minority Shiites, and the other, UN workers.

MIDDLE EAST

Covert U.S. Strikes on the Rise in Yemen

Covert U.S. military strikes targeting alleged militants in Yemen have matched the level of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, a new report by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism found. There were five U.S. attacks in Yemen this past month, compared with three drone strikes in Pakistan.

Targeted killings have become a central component of U.S. counterterrorism operations around the globe, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

AFRICA

West African Leaders Travel to Mali

Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States are expected in Mali today to hold talks with Capt. Amadou Sanogo (BBC), who ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré in a coup last week. Mali's neighbors have called on Sanogo to reverse the coup, even as thousands of Malians protested in the capital of Bamako Wednesday against "foreign interference."

ETHIOPIA: Sudanese and South Sudanese officials (al-Jazeera) are meeting in Addis Ababa to negotiate an impasse to the "escalating security situation" over oil resources along the countries' shared border, the African Union confirmed.

EUROPE

European, U.S. Economies Decoupling

The European and U.S. economic trajectories will deviate (WSJ) in the first half of 2012 as the U.S. economic recovery accelerates, while European growth is hindered by strict budget cuts, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a new report.

SPAIN: Labor unions are carrying out today a general strike over labor law reforms (Guardian) proposed by the newly elected center-right government of Mariano Rajoy. The strike comes a day before the government is expected to unveil a contested austerity budget meant to rein in Spain's deficit.

The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

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AMERICAS

Pope Calls for 'Authentic Freedom' in Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI called on Cubans to "exercise" their "authentic freedom" (NYT), during an outdoor Mass in Havana's Revolution Square on Wednesday. At the same time, Benedict criticized the longstanding U.S. economic embargo on Cuba.

Under President Raul Castro, Cuba has begun economic and political reforms while bolstering ties with the Vatican, even as Washington has failed to seize on opportunities for expanding relations, says CFR's Julia E. Sweig in this CFR Interview.

BRAZIL: Former president Lula da Silva's treatment for throat cancer (BBC) was reportedly successful. Da Silva vowed to "return to political life."

CAMPAIGN 2012

Romney's Sharp Words on Russia

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was chided from afar (Reuters) by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for his repeated statement that Russia is the "number one geopolitical foe" for the United States. Romney made those remarks in response to a reported exchange between Medvedev and President Obama, in which Obama asked for "space" on missile defense until after the election.

In spite of recent positive economic news, U.S. voters continue to be worried about the economy more than anything else, a new Gallup poll shows. Out of fifteen issues currently facing the nation, the economy and gas prices lead the list for voters that say they personally worry "a great deal" about both.

On the campaign train in Wisconsin, Rick Santorum said he is concerned about the ability of small business owners to stay in business and remain competitive under the new healthcare law (WXOW).

Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy, check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.

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Topics: Daily Roundup • Syria

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. war criminal

    Thos arabs are war criminal, they all are responsible of 9/ 11 attacks, they are helping hamas to attack israel, they are helping hizboallah terrorists to kill people, helping syrian shiia thugs of bashar al asad to kill 14000 people, sending weapons to africa and terrorists around the world, destroying peace in bahrain, lebanon, syria and iraq, killing the kutrds and sunni , killing other minorities in iran , iraq , arab prisons is full with presioners, they practice motaa and taqeya lies and evil islamic practice.

    March 29, 2012 at 10:14 am | Reply
  2. matt a

    More meetings, and yet nothing changes about Assad's tactics. " I think what we have here is a failure to communicate."
    –Cool Hand Luke.

    March 29, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
  3. ....iraq=syria=iran=russia=evil

    ..................
    1. al-Assad IS in serious trouble. Obama was one of the first world leaders to call explicitly for al-Assad's ouster. ALL THE WORLD CONDEMN AND SANCTION HIM and we must keep doing it until he fall and then bring him as a war criminal along with russian leaders we must attack russian interest every where, they have blood in there hands.

    2. Force is only answer aganist syria now.along with Hizboallah, terrorists must be hunted down, Yes, the Pentagon is reportedly preparing "detailed" contingency options for U.S. military action in Syria. That's what militaries do, and it's only prudent for the United States to monitor chemical weapons sites and eavesdrop on the regime's communications. It's also a good idea for the president to have a full understanding of what his options are and the risks and costs involved.

    3. The U.S. intelligence community is concerned about hizboalla ,iran and iraqi shiia terrorists presence in Syria of fighters from Iraq's shiia branch, who are thought to be behind a spate of bombing attacks in Damascus and Aleppo.

    4. . If al-Assad is to fall, the pillars that prop up his regime must first be removed. Iran and Russia, both of which continue to send weapons and advice, if not more, must be convinced that a post-al-Assad Syria is something they can at least live with. Both countries have met with members of the Syrian opposition, indicating they want to explore their options. Perhaps

    5. Ignoring China. and use the human right tickets aganist them, make it tough for china to buy and sale to any memebers , china love money and will leave asad if there are economic snaction aganist this evil communist regime.

    6. Focusing exclusively on the Syrian National Council he;p them, arm them , finance them, get no fly zones in multiple areas so they can get weapons and supplies, they are already in civil war , so no worries we can safe civilians , al asad already kilkled 14,000 civilians, and more than 132 000 in prison, killing daily.

    .7- attack syria now alonmg with hizboallah as they are hiding chimechal weapons and stash and make the region un stable, attack them now and save millions of civilians later, attack them now and that will make it easy to get red of iran later. we all must be united to get red of those evil fregiemes, dont be silent SILENCE IS A CRIME, HITLER MUST NOT COME BACK AGAIN and he is a life and well as long as IRAN AND SYRIA THUGS ARE COMMITTING CIVILIAN KILLING.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  4. ....iraq=syria=iran=russia=evil

    IRAQ IS AN EVIL REGIEME, NON DEMOCRATIC STOLE THE ELLECTION FROM DR AYAD ALAWAI WHO WON..
    IRAQI GOVERNEMT TAKE ADVISE AND ORDERS FROM IRAN. IRAN CONTROL IRAQ AND SYRIA THOSE THUGS SHIIA KILLERS PUT BY USA ARE AN EVIL AND WORSE THAN AL QAYEDA. IRAN HELPING AL QYEDA TO ATTACK USA AND IRAQI.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  5. ....iraq=syria=iran=russia=evil

    NORI AL HALEKI AND MOQTADA AL QATHER WA KUL AL JOBANA AL KHAWANA 3OMALA2 IRAN ARE EVIL KILLERS, WHY THE ARABS GO TO AN EVIL COUNTRY THOSE SHIIA DONT LIKE ARABS, WE SHOULD ALL ISOLATED THEM

    March 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  6. j. von hettlingen

    Not everybody was there in Bagdad. Missing were those from the Gulf States. Present were Sudan's butcher Bashir, Tunisia's new president, Palestine's Mahmoud Abbas, Libya's NTC-head, Kuwait's Emir, Lebanon's Suleiman and a president from Comoros.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Reply
    • Lionel Mandrake

      And what is your point Zippy!

      March 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Reply
  7. ./...FK THE SHIIA MOVE YOUR SHRINES AND ALL THAT SHI T WITH IT

    Iraqi government orders closure of Saddam’s tomb, transfer of remains
    Wednesday, 28 March 2012

    Many believe that the Iraqi government feared the rise in the number of people visiting Saddam Hussein’s tomb Saddam Hussein’s tomb in his hometown al-Awja. (Al Arabiya) inShare.6By Al Arabiya

    The Iraqi government sent an official order to late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s clan, ordering the closure of his tomb and the transfer of his remains.

    The chief of al-Bu Nasir clan, Hassan al-Nada, said he received a letter from the police headquarters in the northern province of Saladin, where Hussein was born.

    “This letter, issued from the Ministry of Interior, orders us to close the tomb and find somewhere else to house the remains of Saddam Hussein,” Nada told the Iraqi news website al-Sumaria News.

    Nada added that the governor and the head of the Provincial Council in Saladin interfered in resolving the issue and talked to the central government into repealing the order.

    Nada attributed the decision to the increased numbers of visitors and the way this makes the government apprehensive about the rising popularity of the late president.

    “The hall adjacent to the tomb is frequented by a lot of people who come to attend weddings or funerals, but very few actually visit Hussein’s tomb. The government thinks all these numbers go to the tomb.”

    To avoid clashes with the central government, Nada explained, both the clan and the Provincial Council have decided to close the hall until further notice.

    “But to order the closure of the tomb is strange, especially since it houses the bodies of other Iraqi presidents like Abdul Rahman Arif and Abdul Karim Qassim.”

    According to a source in the Saladin police, security forces surrounded on January 22 Saddam Hussein’s tomb, which is located in the late president’s hometown al-Awja, and prevented people from entering while threatening to arrest anyone who does.

    Ahmed Abdul Jabar, Saladin’s first deputy governor said that the provincial administration told local police to withdraw and leave the matter to the central government.

    “The province is currently holding negotiations with Baghdad to reach a compromise in order to avoid creating unnecessary problems,” he said.

    However, Abdul Jabar added, the Interior Ministry still insists that the order be carried out.

    “We received a confirmation of the order two days ago.”

    In 2009, the Iraqi cabinet officially banned any individual or organization from visiting the tomb of late president who was executed in 2006 for committing crimes against humanity.
    MOVE YOUR STUPIS SHRINE ALI AND HUSSAIN AND ALL THOSE FK EVIL MUSLIMS

    March 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  8. ./...FK THE SHIIA MOVE YOUR SHRINES AND ALL THAT SHI T WITH IT

    FK U SHIIA THUGS U R KILLING THE CHRISTEANS KURDS AND MINORITIES, FK HUSSAIN AND ALI AND AL KAHMENI FK AL SESTANI AND ALL YOUR STUPID EMAMS

    March 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Hey you, is there any way that you can express your hatred for the Shiites without using that filthy Tea Party lingo above? Leave that kind of lingo for the right-wing, uncouth, uneducated, war-loving Tea Partiers, please!

      March 29, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
      • habibi

        yup, we are only here to collect welfare, provide our children with a good neighborhood, good schools, convert a few suckers (oops was that in my outloud voice?), instill Sharia Law (oops I did it again, didn't I)?
        We come here and try to start fights, and try to pp everyone off, and try create troubles (I give up)

        March 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  9. j. von hettlingen

    North Korea has suffered persistent food shortages since a famine in the 1990's, and relies on foreign aid to feed its people. The planned 240,000 tonnes of food aid from the U.S. was to go to children and pregnant women.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
    • habibi

      And, are you saying that the food was not given them????

      March 31, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  10. EVIL

    DO YOU KNOW THAT SHIIA MUSLIMS ARE INBREED THEY FK THIER SISTERS AND RELATIVES UNDER MOTAA , IT IS OK IN SHIIA ISLAM TO DO THAT AND PRACTICED IN IRAN , THATS WHY THEY ARE RETARDS

    March 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  11. EVIL

    SHIIA KILLED MORE USA PEOPLE WITH HIZBOALLAH , IN SYRIA AND IN IRAN. WHY US IS SILENT?

    March 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Reply
  12. j. von hettlingen

    This idea of a new development bank, a counterpart to the World Bank is just a declaration of intent. The BRICS will never get this act together. The compete and fight each other tooth and nail at times.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Reply
    • Lionel Mandrake

      The VOICE OF DOOM hehehe...

      March 30, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  13. j. von hettlingen

    Maybe Pope Benedict XVI should travel to Tehran and visit Iran's supreme leader, Khamenei. Perhaps the two might enjoy meeting each other.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Reply
    • Lionel Mandrake

      Why would Kamany enjoy meeting the Pope?
      If you make a statement, back it up.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  14. fk u joseph

    fk u Joseph McCarthy
    and fk iran and the shiia with you fk you tea party coffee party and all usa village idiots..your predent is a half muslim and he is like iran the all help mhizboallah and syrian killers thugs fk u all

    March 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      You're obviously an avid Tea Partier here, judging by your choice of words. At least I like your candure at expressing yourself without pulling any punches.

      March 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
      • Marine5484

        I wonder just which right-wing fanatic put the bozo above to giving you that Tea Party salute, Joseph. It sounds like something that the Republicans would do. Like you said above, this guy obviously belongs to the Tea Party Movement. These conservative fanatics get nastier by the day!

        March 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
      • patrick

        Wow Joseph, anyone presents a different viewpoint from your own and you label them as "right-wing /Tea partiers".
        Go back to your imam and ask him for another card to play.

        March 30, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  15. S.V.P.YADAV

    Respected, The Editor Garu, About Syrean internal conflict, Arab league discussed in Baghdad with Respected Mr. Kofi Annan Garu. It is a very good dicession taken by Arab league. Definetly conclusion will exploded. Route wil be clear.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:17 am | Reply
    • habibi

      INSHALLAH!

      March 30, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  16. IRAN

    THE ONLY GOOD IRANIAN IS A DEAD IRANIAN...THOS ETHUGS SHOULD BE SANCTIONED, DONT ALLOW THEM TO COME TO USA LET THEM STAY IN STUPID IRAN WHERE THEY CAN PRACTICE MOTAA THE HALAL ZENA FK THEIR RELATIVES AS THE SHIIA ISLAM ALLOWED THEM TO DO IT.....SHIIAZIM= EVIL AHMEDI NEJAD IS A RETARD LOOK AT HIS FACE, HE IS AN INBREED AS MOST SHIIA ARE DUE PRACTICING OF MOTAA...

    March 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  17. FK AL MAHDI

    FK AL M AHDIN FK ALI FK AL SESTANI FK AL JA3FARI FK AL MALEKI AND MOQTADA AL QATHER FK AL MAHDI ARMY AND ALL SHIIA EMAMS FK YOUR MADRASA FK SHIIA IRAQI AND SYRIAN ALWAI SHIIA FK ALL EVIL KILLERS

    March 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      What I want to know here is, who inspired you to post the above? Was it Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, John McCain or all of the above? Please, do cut the Tea Party lingo out! Like I said before, it has no place here.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:40 am | Reply
      • habibi

        Does it have to be someone you listed, or could it be someone different?

        March 31, 2012 at 7:58 am |

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