World News Brief, Friday March 14

UN urges restart of Syria peace talks; Chinese economy cools; US investigators believe missing airliner flew four hours after last contact; Libyan PM flees; more killed in Venezuela protests; and more 


Top of the Agenda

UN Urges Resumption of Syria Peace Talks

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to the United States and Russia to help restart stalled peace talks aimed at ending Syria's civil war, which enters its fourth year this week. The conflict will be discussed at the Security Council on Thursday (Reuters). In Syria, the Assad regime is trying to absorb a public backlash by its supporters after Christian nuns who were held hostage by al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front made statements that the Nusra fighters treated them well (WSJ). Meanwhile in Iraq, the regional and sectarian implications of the war in Syria are becoming increasingly evident, as a steady stream of dead Shia fighters returns for burial in Baghdad (Guardian).


"The regime's political goals are to remain in power, restore its control over as much of Syria as it can, and render the political opposition an irrelevant exile movement. Its military goal is to reduce the armed opposition to a manageable terrorist threat. This does not imply that the opposition has to be completely eliminated or that every inch of lost ground has to be recovered. Yet the regime has never shown any intention other than to fight, and it fights essentially everywhere in Syria. It does not negotiate with the opposition, and it does not give up on any province," writes Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"Today, Syria, as we once knew it, is gone: a third of the population is displaced, over a million homes have been destroyed, and over 100,000 people are dead. Spring is no longer a season to celebrate rebirth. It is a season to mourn the death of a country's dream. Over the past three years, the Syrian people's struggle for self-determination has been called many names. But no matter the name, revolution, uprising, civil war, proxy war, complicated conflict, one fact is clear: the world has been watching genocide in slow motion," writes Lina Sergie Attar in the New York Times.

"If power and force alone are what shape foreign policy, then so be it, in Syria as in Crimea. Let's stop wasting our time by evoking international law and principles in a world that seems so little disposed to ensuring they prevail or, worse, that cites international law as an excuse to avoid taking any humanitarian action whatsoever," writes Michael Young in Lebanon's Daily Star.


Pacific Rim

Chinese Data Show Economy Cooling

China's industrial output, retail sales, and investment growth weakened more than expected in the first two months of 2014, signaling difficulties for the government to hit its 7.5 percent expansion target this year (Bloomberg).

MALAYSIA: U.S. investigators suspect that the missing Malaysia Airlines plane flew for about four hours after it reached its last confirmed location, adding to the mystery of what happened on that flight (WSJ).

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick explains in this article why the Malaysian government and its state-owned airline have been so quiet about the missing flight.


Libyan Prime Minister flees 

More killed in Venezuela protests

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