World News Brief, Friday January 20

Iran helping Syria get around oil embargo, says report; Analysis – Removing Assad would weaken Iran and strengthen US, but military intervention perilous; Arab League to decide on Sunday whether to extend Syria mission; Indonesia gets rare credit rating upgrade; Italy plan major overhauls to create growth; Obama says nada to vast oil pipeline; and more

Top of the Agenda: Iran Aids Syrian Oil Exports

Iran helped Syria to hide its oil exports in order to bypass a US and European embargo, US officials discovered. Syria reportedly shipped crude oil to Iran (WSJ), which was sold on the international market, the profits of which were returned to Damascus.

The United States and the EU imposed sanctions on Syria's lucrative oil exports in the wake of the Assad regime's ongoing crackdown on anti-government activists. US and European officials think that Iran is assisting Syria in its crackdown by providing weapons, training, and intelligence, amid increasing calls for the West to intervene militarily in Syria.


"It is also hard to ignore the possibility that bringing down Assad would advance the long-standing American goal of isolating Iran. Any post-Assad government in Damascus would not likely look to Iran for support, but instead to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. That would be a net benefit for Washington and others looking to limit Iran's influence in the Arab world," writes CFR's Steven A. Cook on

"The moral outrage at the depredations of Assad's forces, as well as the fevered hopes of those hoping to change the region's strategic equation by bringing down Iran's main Arab ally are not enough, any more than hope is a plan. Military intervention in Syria has little prospect of success, a high risk of disastrous failure, and a near-certainty of escalation," writes Marc Lynch on

"The gravest challenge to intervening forces would come not from Assad's conventional defenses but from groups allied to the regime, such as Hezbollah, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and Iraqi pro-Iranian forces and Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, agents of which are already enlisted or embedded with Assad's feared Fourth Armored Division," writes Michael Weiss on



FDI Rises in Indonesia

Foreign direct investment in Indonesia increased by over 20 percent (WSJ) in 2011, a number that is expected to grow following credit rating agency Moody's decision this week to lift the country's sovereign rating back to investment grade.

CHINA: Speaking at a press conference in Washington, D.C., dissident writer Yu Jie (LAT)--who fled to the United States with his family last week--detailed the torture and harassment he endured at the hands of Chinese authorities.



Arab League to receive Syria report on Sunday and decide on extention

Italy looks to spark growth with taxi and retail reform

Obama rejects Canada-Texas oil pipeline


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