World News Brief, Thursday August 30

Five thousand Syrian refugees flee to Turkey a day; Japanese and North Korean officials meeting today for first direct talks in four years; South Korea plans to develop cyber weaponry to prepare for potential attack by North Korea; South Africa's mining minister seeks to reassure investors after deadly clashes at mines; Mitt Romney officially chosen as Republican nominee for US President; and more

Top of the Agenda: Growing Number of Syrian Refugees Flee to Jordan, Turkey

The number of Syrian refugees fleeing political unrest (NYT) to Jordan more than doubled to more than ten thousand people last week from the week prior, while refugees escaping to Turkey have reached around five thousand per day, the United Nations refugee agency said yesterday. The influx of Syrian refugees to neighboring countries comes amid a Syrian military assault on opposition strongholds in and around the capital of Damascus that has left hundreds of people dead, including many civilians. Meanwhile, a coalition of Syrian opposition activists presented a report--The Day After Project--in Berlin, outlining a democratic transition of power if President Bashar al-Assad's regime were to collapse.


"So Iran is playing for keeps. It is ironic that while so many in the West derided the notion of a 'Shia crescent' when it was first raised by Jordan's King Abdullah, that notion is believed in Tehran--and believed to be worth killing and dying for. It is true that Iran's backing for the bloody Assad regime will increase its unpopularity in the Arab world, but Tehran's rulers must have concluded that power in Damascus is worth whatever it costs," writes CFR's Elliott Abrams on his blog Pressure Points.

"Our collective excitement at the possibility that the Assad regime will be destroyed, and the Iranian ayatollahs weakened in the process, is blurring our vision and preventing us from seeing the rise of al-Qaeda in Syria. In March of this year, jihadis mounted seven attacks against Assad. By June, they had led 66 "operations," and over half of these were on Syria's capital, Damascus," writes CFR's Ed Husain for the National Review.



Japan, North Korea Hold Talks

Japanese and North Korean government officials are meeting today at the Japanese embassy in Beijing for their first direct talks in four years (BBC). The two countries, which do not have formal diplomatic ties, are expected to discuss the return of the remains of Japanese nationals who died in the north of the Korean peninsula during WWII.

SOUTH KOREA: The government plans to develop offensive and defensive cyber warfare weaponry (Yonhap) in order to prepare for a potential cyberattack by North Korea's military, the South Korean Ministry of Defense announced today.

This CFR Crisis Guide provides a multimedia overview of the dispute between North and South Korea.



South Africa's mining minister seeks to reassure investors after deadly clashes

Republicans formally endorse Mitt Romney for US President


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