February 24th, 2012
10:13 AM ET

Roundup: Annan named envoy on Syria; 'Friends of Syria' gather in Tunisia

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

The United Nations and the Arab League appointed former UN secretary general Kofi Annan to be a joint special envoy on Syria. Annan has been charged with finding an "inclusive political solution" (al-Jazeera) to the Syrian regime's deadly year-long crackdown on anti-government protesters and opposition forces. The decision comes as diplomats from more than sixty countries are meeting in Tunis for a "Friends of Syria" conference, which is expected to call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cease all violence and allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Both the opposition Syrian National Council and the National Coordination Committee are participating in the talks.

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"Unlike in Libya, Russia's support of Assad has until now seemed solid. And unlike the Libyan rebels last year, several Syrian opposition figures say they oppose Western military intervention. The U.S., European and Arab diplomats converging on Tunis for Friday's meetings are instead focused on tightening Western sanctions and increasing their support for opposition groups," writes TIME's Vivienne Walt.

"Tunisia's approach to the Syrian uprising is also a sign of a more self-confident country seeking to reposition itself overseas as well as at home. With Syria facing a long, grim battle ahead, Egypt's revolution only half-complete, and Libya too preoccupied with internal strife to play much of a regional role, Tunisia is slowly starting to flex its modest but newly democratic muscles," writes Alex Warren on ForeignPolicy.com.

"Western powers will need to start preparing the groundwork for backing their diplomatic carrots with increased sticks. This means that the policy, reiterated yet again last week by NATO secretary general Anders Rasmussen, rejecting force or assistance with UN-mandated humanitarian assistance, must be reversed," writes CFR's Robert Danin on his blog "Middle East Matters."

Rudd to Challenge Gillard for Australian Labor LeadershipPACIFIC RIM

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, ousted by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2010, will challenge Gillard in a Labor party leadership ballot (Australian) on Monday. Rudd said he wanted to "finish the job" the Australian people elected him to do in 2007. Rudd resigned as Gillard's foreign minister this past week.

JAPAN: The U.S. Treasury Department announced a freeze on U.S.-owned assets controlled by Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest Japanese organized crime syndicate (WSJ).


Pakistan Urges Taliban to Engage in Afghan Peace Talks

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called on the Taliban and other Afghan militant groups to participate in peace talks with the Afghan government. Taliban leaders have begun preliminary negotiations with U.S. officials in Qatar (AFP), but have officially refused to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.

Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants, that threaten the stability of Pakistan as well as the region, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

AFGHANISTAN: Hundreds of Afghans protested against the burning of Qurans at the U.S.-run Bagram Air Base, as demonstrators marched on the presidential palace chanting "Death to America" (al-Jazeera). Twelve Afghans and two U.S. soldiers were killed in this week's protests.


U.S. to Try Hezbollah-Linked Prisoner in Iraq

The Obama administration approved military commission charges (NYT) against a Lebanese man and suspected Hezbollah operative accused of killing U.S. troops in Iraq. The U.S. military said it was working with Iraq to have the defendant, Ali Musa Daqduq, transferred to the U.S. military tribunal system.


Deadly Airstrike Hits Somalia's Al-Shabaab Militants

An airstrike hit a convoy of vehicles in southern Somalia, killing six al-Shabaab Islamist rebels (RTT). Neither the United States, which maintains an air base in neighboring Djibouti, nor Kenya, which launched a military operation against al-Shabaab last year, has confirmed or denied involvement in the attack.

Targeted killings have become a central component of U.S. counterterrorism operations around the globe. Despite pointed criticism over transparency and accountability issues, analysts say the controversial practice seems likely to expand in the future, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

MALI: Around 130,000 people have been displaced by fighting (BBC) between the Azawad National Liberation Movement–so-called Tuareg rebels–and government forces in northern Mali, the United Nations said.


Draghi Warns Eurozone Against Backtracking on Austerity

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi warned indebted eurozone countries that there is "no feasible tradeoff" between implementing tough austerity measures (WSJ) and economic structural overhauls, amid concerns that austerity is limiting economic growth for beleaguered euro members.

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

SPAIN: Iñaki Urdangarin, the son-in-law of King Juan Carlos (NYT), will appear in court on Saturday–the first royal in modern Spanish history to do so–over allegations that he and his business partners embezzled $7.7 million in public funds.


Manning Charged in WikiLeaks Case

U.S. Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified military reports and diplomatic cables to whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, was formally charged with aiding the enemy (Politico) and violating the Espionage Act during the first day of his court martial. Manning, who could face life in prison, deferred entering a plea.

BOLIVIA: Dozens of disabled protesters, who have been marching for higher disability subsidies (Guardian) for the past hundred days, clashed with riot police in the capital of La Paz.


Obama Defends Energy Policy

In a Florida speech, President Barack Obama defended his energy policies (WashPost) and said there are no "quick fixes" for rising gas prices. This CFR Issue Tracker shows GOP candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have made gas prices a campaign issue, calling for more oil exploration and criticizing the delay of the Keystone pipeline.

A recent AP-GfK poll (PDF) looks at how voters rate the importance of major economic, foreign policy, and national security issues. Washington Post blog "Behind the Numbers" uses the issue of Iran to examine the conflicting results of several recent polls about the degree to which U.S. voters support military action against the country.

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

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. S.V.P.YADAV

    Respected,The Editor, Arab leage what take decision on Syrian crises it is true. Respected Mr.Cofi Annan is a suitable official to negotiate on Syrian crises. Definetely Syrian govt what need that achieved. And internatinal community also accept this resolution

    February 24, 2012 at 10:34 am | Reply
  2. Barry G.


    We will see you and your wicked generals at your genocide trial.

    Then China and Russia won't be able to protect you.

    We'll be seeing you soon.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Reply
  3. iran is evil along with syria

    Retired businessman Christopher Tappin had said he was leaving the UK feeling he had fewer rights than a terrorist.

    Mr Tappin, 65, from London, is being flown from Heathrow Airport to El Paso, Texas, escorted by US marshals.

    British judges say the extradition is lawful and the European Court of Human Rights has refused to intervene.

    Mr Tappin, of Orpington, south-east London, has fought against extradition through the British courts after being charged in the US with conspiring to export batteries which could be used in Hawk air defence missiles.

    He faces a trial in El Paso and a possible 35-year jail sentence – but says that he is the victim of entrapment.

    Mr Tappin's lawyer, Karen Todner, said it was "very likely" her client would now enter into a plea agreement to reduce a sentence.

    Lawyer Karen Todner: "He will be wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs"
    "If Mr Tappin does not enter into a plea agreement and is found guilty he will have to serve the whole sentence in America, which may actually effectively be the rest of his life, rather than serving a sentence in the UK, therefore I think it's very very likely that he will enter into a plea agreement," she said.

    Last week the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene in his case. Mr Tappin, a former president of the Kent Golf Society, was ordered to present himself to Heathrow Airport to be taken to the US for trial.

    He was seen departing from his house around 08:00 GMT and arrived at Heathrow police station accompanied by his wife Elaine.

    Shortly after 10.30am, Mr Tappin's lawyer said British extradition officers had taken Mr Tappin to a plane where he was being handed over to US marshals. The flight was due to land in Texas around 16:00 local time (23:00 GMT).

    "He will be arriving in El Paso this afternoon. He will be appearing in court on Monday morning, so he will be in custody over the weekend." The earliest he could be granted bail would be Thursday or Friday, Ms Todner said.

    She urged Home Secretary Theresa May to help Mr Tappin intervene with the US authorities to ensure they did not object to bail being granted.

    Ms Todner later wrote on Twitter: "Mr Tappin has left for America. Was v distressing when he said goodbye. The extradition treaty is inhumane."

    Arriving at the airport, Mr Tappin told reporters it was "a shame, a disgrace" that he was being extradited.

    Continue reading the main story

    February 24, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, has in recent years acted as a diplomatic troubleshooter in several long-running conflicts. It will be interesting to see if he succeeds to bring an end to all violence and human rights violations, and promote a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Australia's ex-foreign minister kept saying he wanted to "finish the job" he had been elected to do. What's this "job"? Prime Minister Julia Gillard thought she was clearly the leader who can "get things done". Would the U.S. Marines still be deployed to northern Australia, when Kevin Rudd gets his job back as PM? He speaks fluent Mandrain and had lived in China.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  6. iraqi nori al maleki-bashar al asad=evil iran=hizboallah=terrorists

    بناءا على الأمر الصادر من رئيس الوزراء نوري المالكي إلى جميع الأجهزة الأمنية ستقوم جميع دوائر الأمنية والاستخبارات وأجهزة وزارة الداخلية الأمنية وقوات سوات في جميع المحافظات العراقية بشن حملات اعتقالات واسعة ومكثفة اعتبارا من ( ٠١ / ٠٣ / ٢٠١٢ ) لكبار قادة الجيش العراقي السابق والقادة الأعوان والضباط والطيارين والبعثيين والوجهاء والشيوخ الوطنيين ..

    للعلم رجاءا مع تحيات هدهد سليمان من قلب المنطقة الخضراء .

    March 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply

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