World News Brief, Friday January 31

Syria to miss chemical weapons deadline; more troops to take to streets for Thailand's election; People's Bank of China investigates loophole; Russia tests new missile; head of Bangladesh's main Islamist party sentenced to death; and more 

Syria to Miss Chemical Weapons Deadline

Less than 5 percent of Syria's chemical weapons have been sent out of the country, and the government is expected to miss next week's deadline to send all toxic agents abroad for destruction, Reuters reports. The first round of peace talks between the Assad regime and its opponents concludes in Geneva on Friday, but few issues have been resolved, and the greatest accomplishment appears to be getting both sides in the same room (NYT). Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch released satellite images showing thousands of demolished buildings in rebel-held areas, and the group characterized the destruction as collective punishment by the Syrian government (Guardian).


"Had Geneva truly been an attempt to resolve the Syrian stalemate, influential nations would have insisted on the regime's adherence to the basic recommendations of the Geneva I talks in 2012, including the provision of humanitarian aid, the release of prisoners of conscience, and the cessation of Assad's relentless air strikes on civilians," writes Rime Allaf in the Guardian.

"So what does all this very preliminary evidence [data on torture practices] from Syria mean? First, that torture as a use of force is unlikely to go away, even as the regime consolidates its strength (including, potentially, in Islamist-held areas in the Kurdish north as opposition infighting continues). Second, torture is generally less prevalent in contested rural areas and is most common in urban areas under regime control," writes Lionel Beehner in the Washington Post.

"Sunni Islamists, particularly Salafis, have used six main terms to describe those that support, are on the side of, or are fighting with the Assad regime: Nusayri, rafidha, majus, Safawi, Hizb al-Lat, and Hizb al-Shaytan. Their Shiite Islamist foes have also adopted their own titles for their Sunni opponents, some of the main terms include: Nasabi, Takfiri, Ummayad, and Wahhabi. For both sides, these terms serve to paint their enemies as nothing more than infidels bent on destroying Islam. Consequently, there can only be one punishment: Death," writes Aaron Zelin and Phillip Smyth in Foreign Policy.


Pacific Rim

Thai Army to Deploy More Troops Ahead of Election

Thailand's army will increase the number of soldiers in Bangkok ahead of Sunday's election as antigovernment protesters said they would disrupt the ballot in their attempt to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (Reuters).

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick explains in this blog post why Thailand is undergoing an "unannounced coup."

CHINA: The People's Bank of China is investigating a loophole that allowed companies to overcome liquidity shortages and gain as much as $1.6 billion from the transactions (Bloomberg).


Russia tests new missile

Head of Bangladesh's main Islamist party sentenced to death

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