World News Brief, Friday March 9

Syria's deputy oil minister defects from President Bashar al-Assad's regime and joins opposition; Chinese official accuses Uighur militants of having ties to Pakistan; Myanmar's military-backed government is holding peace talks with rebels; US investigates alleged drug running in Afghan air force; video on Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony goes viral; and more

Top of the Agenda: Syrian Regime Official Defects

Syria's deputy oil minister, Abdo Husameddine, said he was defecting from President Bashar al-Assad's regime and joining the opposition, in a video posted on Youtube today (Guardian). Husameddine cited Assad's "brutal" year-long crackdown on anti-government dissenters, saying he did not want to die "servicing the crimes of this regime" (AP). His announcement came as UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is visiting the country and meeting with government officials in an effort to pave the way for greater humanitarian aid to the "devastated" city of Homs. Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, the joint UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, cautioned the international community against military intervention in Syria ahead of his arrival there this weekend.


"That is where Kofi Annan comes in. His job is to convince a reluctant Putin that he stands much to gain both in Syria and internationally by working for an end to the violence and a political process that will perforce require the departure of Assad, whose bloodshed has simply robbed him of the legitimacy to continue ruling in Syria," writes CFR's Robert M. Danin in his blog, Middle East Matters.

"Putin would rather 'share' Syria with the United States and the European Union than be left out completely, as is the case with Libya. To do that, one thing has to happen: The Americans and Europeans have to ask for his help, and they have to do so nicely," writes Sami Moubayed for Eurasia Review.

"Unlike Gaddafi's Libya, which disintegrated very quickly, the Ba'athist state continues to function. Assad may, therefore, equate his regime with those of Algeria, Iraq and his father's that survived an uprising," write Chris Phillips for the Guardian.



China Accuses Uighur Militants of Pakistan Ties

Militant separatists from Xinjiang province's large ethnic Uighur Muslim community have numerous links to Pakistan-based militant organizations (Hindu), a senior Chinese official alleged. Beijing has previously accused Uighur separatists of being part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants, that threaten the stability of Pakistan as well as the region, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

MYANMAR: The military-backed civilian government is holding peace talks with rebels (BBC) from the ethnic Kachin community after decades of conflict, part of a larger effort to implement political reforms and facilitate national reconciliation.



US investigates alleged drug running in Afghan air force

Video on Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony goes viral


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