World News Brief, Thursday April 28

UN denounces Syrian violence, but US discounts Libya-style intervention (+ analysis & multimedia); Italy and France look to close EU borders fearing Arab influx; Human rights abuses to be probed in Libya; Harvard lawyer elected to replace Dalai Lama; and more

Top of the Agenda: International Pressure on Syria

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon denounced the Assad regime's violent response to protests and called for an independent investigation into the killings surrounding the recent nationwide crackdown (BBC). Members of the UN Security Council have yet to agree on a joint declaration on the matter. According to diplomats, the council is set to resume negotiations on a statement (WSJ) that would include a condemnation of violence, a call for restraint, and support for a UN investigation into civilian deaths.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates also denounced the Syrian crackdown, but appeared to discount an intervention in Syria. Members of the EU will discuss the potential for sanctions (Guardian) against the Assad government, including asset freezes and travel restrictions. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that it was "not too late" for President Bashar al-Assad to enact reforms, despite the hundreds of protestor deaths. Analysts claim the remark draws a sharp distinction between in the western treatment of the Assad and Qaddafi regimes (NYT), and underscores the strategic regional importance of Damascus.


Even as Syrian protesters call for the immediate ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, US allies in the region prefer he hold on to power given their fears that a post-Assad Syria might empower Iran, says Middle East expert Jon Alterman.

In this analysis for al-Jazeera, M. Yaser Tabbara writes on the Syrian public's dissatisfaction with Assad's "illusions of reform" and the collective hope of an alternative to the current regime.

In this article for, Hisham Melhem writes that analysts assumed that the administration of the Western-educated Assad would lead to a reformed and modernized Syria. Assad's actions reveal that this optimism was simply wishful thinking.


In this podcast, Michele Dunne at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace discusses efforts by the international community to curb the increasing violence in Syria, continue military engagement in Libya, and convince Yemen's President Saleh to step down.


PACIFIC RIM: Japan Debt Outlook Cut to 'Negative'

Standard and Poor's rating agency reduced its outlook on Japan's sovereign debt (Bloomberg), from "stable" to "negative" amid concerns over rising reconstruction costs following last month's natural disasters.

Tibet: Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard-educated legal expert, was elected to lead Tibet's government-in-exile (CNN), replacing the Dalai Lama who said last month he was relinquishing his political role.



- UN to Begin Probe in Libya
- Crocker Top Choice for Afghan Post
- Calls to Restrict EU Borders


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