World News Brief, December 8

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denies ordering crackdown against protesters; UN says 4000 people have been killed during the nine-month government crackdown; China to make "extended preparations" for warfare amid ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea; US and South Korea in talks to revise 1974 nuclear power treaty; Pakistan's Zardari receives treatment for heart condition in Dubai; Greek parliament passes austerity budget; and more

Top of the Agenda: Syria's Assad Denies Responsibility for Crackdown

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied ordering a deadly crackdown (ABC) against anti-government protesters during a rare interview, with the United States' Barbara Walters. Assad reportedly said that he is not in charge of Syria's armed forces and that the regime does not kill its own people.

The United Nations estimates that approximately four thousand people (Telegraph) have been killed during the Syrian government's nine-month crackdown.

Assad's regime has become increasingly isolated--diplomatically and economically--by the West, the Arab League, and neighboring Turkey. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for the first time with Burhan Ghalioun, the leader of the opposition Syrian National Council (WSJ), in Geneva on Tuesday.

At the same time, the Obama administration returned its ambassador (BBC) to Syria in an effort to pressure the Assad regime to withdraw its forces from cities facing an ongoing assault.


In a letter to the Arab League, Damascus provides counteroffers to the regional sanctions--but on its own terms. TIME's Rania Abouzeid asks if Syria can outlast this rare united front by its neighbors.

Syria is faced with an increasing number of international sanctions for its bloody crackdown against protesters. In this CFR Interview, CFR's Mohamad Bazzi says the crises facing the regime are unprecedented, but the regime doesn't appear to be giving in.

In this Weekly Standard op-ed, CFR's Max Boot says U.S. leadership is needed to galvanize a coalition for effective action against the Assad regime in Syria.



China's President Tells Navy to Prepare for Warfare

Chinese President Hu Jintao called on the country's navy to make "extended preparations" for warfare, amid ongoing territorial disputes (BBC) in the South China Sea and a U.S. military buildup in the Pacific. The announcement came as senior U.S. and Chinese military officials hold annual talks in Beijing.

In the New York Times, Mark Landler discusses the competition for offshore oil in the South China Sea, among other waters, where countries in a naval arms race rush to secure their share of energy resources.

SOUTH KOREA: U.S. and South Korean officials resumed talks to revise a 1974 treaty that prohibits the latter from enriching uranium and reprocessing spent nuclear fuel in support of its nuclear power industry (NYT).



Pakistani president Zardari receives treatment for heart condition

Greek parliament passes austerity budget


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