Bashar al-Assad lashes out at Arab League in rare TV address, refuses to step down; Arab League key to getting Syria sanctions through UN; Aung San Suu Kyi to run for parliament in Burmese elections; China and South Korea agree aim of "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula"; Greece pressured to settle private debt deals or miss EU bailout; Iran's latest uranium enrichment is "further escalation" says US; and more

Top of the Agenda: Assad Criticizes Arab League

In a rare televised address, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lashed out at the Arab League's efforts to bring an end to the Syrian regime's deadly ten-month crackdown on anti-government protesters. He also accused "foreign conspirators" (al-Jazeera) of destabilizing the country and refused to step down. Still, Assad said he would not expel Arab League observers from Syria, who are currently monitoring the implementation of an Arab-brokered peace plan.

Analysis

"The Arab League mission has been declared a failure for multiple reasons: the insufficient number of observers to cover all the 'hot spots'; the questionable integrity of the head of the mission, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi; and the observers' heavily monitored movement by security forces, which limits their ability to 'observe,'" writes Amal Hanano on ForeignPolicy.com.

"There's really one reason that Bashar al-Assad gave another speech today. It's the same reason that in the last fortnight his regime has staged bombings meant to resemble terrorist attacks and blamed them on everyone from al-Qaida to the United States, Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian opposition. The reason is this: his regime is finished and he knows it," writes Michael Weiss on the Telegraph's blog page.

"Arab League members should insist that the United Nations Security Council--stymied for months by Mr. Assad's enablers, Russia and China--condemn his behavior and impose tough sanctions of its own that would also bring pressure to bear on his allies. And they should lean on Turkey, which promised sanctions against Damascus, to follow through," argues a New York Times editorial.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Aung San Suu Kyi to Run for Parliament

Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said she will run for a seat in the country's new parliament in April after the military-backed civilian government (NYT) last week cleared the way for her National League for Democracy party to participate in the by-election.

In a meeting conducted via video conference with CFR, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses recent changes in Burma, her decision to rejoin the political system, and Burma-US relations.

CHINA: Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met in Beijing today, where they agreed to develop closer economic ties and work towards the "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" (Yonhap).

 

ELSEWHERE:

 

Germany and France  put pressure on Greece

US says Iran's uranium enrichment amounts to "escalation"

Daniel Ortega signs on for third term in Nicaragua

 

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.

 

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