Arab League observers met by protesters in Homs as Syrian peace deal begins; At least 30 killed in clashes the day before (+ analysis); North Korea calls for for economic investment; World leaders label Nigeria Christmas bombings "cowardly" and "senseless"; More Russian protests draw out Putin; Brazil's economy now bigger than Britain's; and more
Top of the Agenda: Arab Monitors in Syria
Fifty Arab League observers arrived in Syria on Monday night to monitor the implementation of a peace deal (NYT) by President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian leader has committed to an Arab League plan to halt a nearly ten-month-old crackdown on anti-government protesters and opposition forces.
The monitors traveled Tuesday to the city of Homs, where activists said at least thirty people were killed (BBC) in clashes with Syrian security forces a day prior. Around thirty thousand Syrians protested (Telegraph) on the streets of Homs as the observers visited, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The Arab League plan requires the Assad regime to withdraw its troops from towns (al-Jazeera) and residential districts, cease violence against civilians, and release jailed political prisoners.
The increasing resort to violence signals the likely fall of Syria's Bashar al-Assad and could trigger shifts in the regional balance of power away from Iran, says Middle East expert Dennis Ross in this CFR interview.
President Bashar al-Assad is ruthless and resilient, and Western-led military intervention in Syria would be a disaster, writes Mehdi Hasan in the Guardian.
The Arab revolts of 2011 offer the Arab League a new opportunity to pursue necessary reforms, increase legitimacy, and prove its relevance, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
North Korea Calls for Implementation of Inter-Korean Agreements
North Korea called on the South to enact inter-Korean economic accords (NYT), an approach abandoned when President Lee Myung-bak came to power. The announcement came as former South Korean first lady Lee Hee-ho led a delegation to the North to pay its final respects to former leader Kim Jong-il.
In this media call, CFR's Scott Snyder and Paul Stares discuss the death of Kim Jong-il and its impact on the country's future, regional stability, and U.S. policy.
JAPAN: The government announced it would ease its 1967 arms export ban (BBC), allowing Japan to develop military equipment with other countries and supply arms for international humanitarian missions.
World leaders condemn Christmas bombings in Nigeria
Putin open to "dialogue" with Russian protesters
Brazil overtakes UK as 6th largest economy