World News Brief, Friday June 14

93,000 killed in Syria since start of civil war, says UN; Edward Snowden tells Chinese newspaper that US has been hacking into Chinese computers for years; Mugabe fast-tracks electoral change; Putin announces new electoral party in Russia; and more

Top of the Agenda: UN Raises Syrian Death Toll to 93,000

The United Nations announced that almost 93,000 people (BBC) have been killed in Syria since the start of the civil war two years ago, representing a rise of more than 30,000 since the UN last issued its figures covering the period until November 2012. The agency added that the statistics are still an underestimate, as many deaths go unreported. Meanwhile, fighting over the past few days has targeted the Shia community, highlighting the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict. U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said on Wednesday that a political solution (al-Jazeera) ending the war was still being debated, as Washington weighs the option of arming rebels.


"[T]he strategic, economic, and human consequences of a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria are hard to predict. The costs—for regional instability, budgetary overstretch, and U.S. lives—could be gargantuan. And they need to be weighed against the likelihood (and benefits) of 'success'—something the administration has yet to define," writes CFR's Stewart Patrick on his blog.

"The latest figures from the UN show clearly that the Syrian conflict is by far the bloodiest and most enduring of all the Arab uprisings. It's the only one that's mutated into a full-scale, heavily militarized civil war," writes Jim Muir for the BBC.

"Iran has extended two credit lines with a total of $ 4 billion to Assad, and Russia has been silent on Hezbollah's role. With Assad gaining ground, it is very unlikely that Russia would cede to major compromises such as an agreement in Geneva to be enforced later under a Chapter VII resolution at the Security Council," writes Joyce Karam for al-Arabiya.



Obama, Abe Stress East China Sea Security

U.S. president Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe renewed their commitment to dialogue in the East China Sea, where Tokyo and Beijing are mired in a territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands (VOA).

CFR's Sheila Smith discusses the potential for a Sino-Japanese clash in the East China Sea in this Contingency Planning Memo.

CHINA: Edward Snowden, the ex-CIA employee who leaked the report about NSA surveillance, told a Chinese newspaper that the U.S. government had been hacking (SCMP) into computers in Hong Kong and the mainland for years.


Mugabe fast-tracks electoral change

Putin announces new electoral party

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