World News Brief, Friday August 5

UN talks tough on Syria, but falls short of concrete action; Syrian tanks keep up bombing of Hama (+ analysis); Bank of Japan intervenes to drive down Yen; China calls Japanese criticism of its naval growth "irresponsible"; Somali famine spreads to new areas; and more

Top of the Agenda: UN Condemns Syria Violence

The United Nations Security Council condemned ongoing violence perpetrated by the security forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against anti-government protesters. The council, which censured Syria by issuing a presidential statement (NYT) rather than a full-blown resolution, criticized the Assad government's "widespread" human rights violations in its attacks on civilians.

The UN statement came after months of diplomatic debate over how to address the crackdown against protesters. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice called it a "strong step" (WSJ) for the international community, but human rights groups criticized the statement for lacking any concrete actions to hold the Assad government accountable.

Meanwhile, Syrian tanks (al-Jazeera) continued to bombard the city of Hama. Human rights groups say at least one hundred and forty people have been killed since Sunday in Hama and surrounding towns.

Security forces shot and killed (BBC) at least four protesters following evening prayers Wednesday in the cities of Damascus, Deraa, and Palmyra. Anti-government demonstrators have vowed to rally every night during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


Tougher sanctions, and a united front, are the only hope of ending the killing in Syria that has taken thousands of lives, says this New York Times editorial.

The Security Council statement condemning the Syrian government is weak, but still constitutes progress, particularly because Assad will have to realize that even ally Russia is no longer willing to accept the permanent human rights violations of his military apparatus, writes Deutsche Welle's Daniel Scheschkewitz.


CFR's Elliott Abrams says in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed that civil war in Syria can be avoided if the "Assad mafia" can be separated from much of its own sectarian support.


PACIFIC RIM: Japan Moves to Force Down Yen

The Bank of Japan unilaterally intervened (FT) in currency markets Thursday in an effort to slow the fast rise of the yen, sending it down sharply against the dollar and the euro.

China: The country criticized Japan as being "irresponsible" (BBC) for issuing a defense report that warned of China's growing naval strength.

Escalating hostilities between China and its neighbors over competing claims to the South China Sea is a test of China's growing strength and a diplomatic challenge for the United States, which insists that the waterway should be open, says CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick.



- Somalia Famine Spreads
- Kosovo Rejects NATO Border Deal


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