Assad launches another "ferocious" attack on Hama, while Amnesty accuses him of crimes against humanity; Qaddafi forces kill five in Misurata; Reports: Russian officials say Qaddafi may be willing to step down; Bitter irony – Somalis fleeing drought drown in Red Sea; Portugal's credit rating slashed to junk status; New Thai PM focuses on economy; and more
Top of the Agenda: Syrian Security Forces Target Hama
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad unleashed government security forces (WSJ) on the central Syrian city of Hama, killing over a dozen anti-government protesters and wounding at least forty. The crackdown came as opposition figures received an invitation from the Assad government to join in a so-called national dialogue next week.
Hama, which endured a brutal government crackdown by Assad's father in the early 1980s, has become a key center of peaceful dissent (NYT) in Syria, contributing to the government's uncertain strategy over how to proceed against the protesters.
France called on the United Nations (Reuters) to adopt a stronger stance against Assad's "ferocious armed repression," even as government troops continued a campaign of arrests in towns to the northwest of Hama near the Turkish border. Human rights groups say at least five hundred people have been detained across Syria in the past few days.
In a new report, Amnesty International accused Syria of crimes against humanity (BBC), documenting cases of torture, deaths in custody, and arbitrary detention. Amnesty called for a UN-backed investigation into the ongoing violence against anti-government protesters.
As Syrian dissidents try to end the current violence, there is mounting concern in the West over the consequences of growing unrest in a region already roiling with protest, explains this CFR Analysis Brief.
Violence committed by thugs loyal to Assad has prompted thousands of Syrians to flee to Lebanon and Turkey. Sources in the country describe growing opposition to a system based on nepotism and secret police. Meanwhile, pockets of rebellion are continuing unchecked, writes Der Spiegel.
Assad's regime is in jeopardy, and while its demise would trigger short-term violence, a better government would ultimately emerge, argues the Economist.
PACIFIC RIM: Japan's Reconstruction Minister Resigns
Japanese Disaster Reconstruction Minister Ryu Matsumoto resigned Tuesday, just a week into his new job, after insulting two governors (JapanTimes) on a visit to the disaster-torn Tohoku region. Matsumoto's resignation is a blow to embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has faced calls for his own resignation in the aftermath of the country's nuclear crisis.
Thailand: Thai Prime Minister-Elect Yingluck Shinawatra will hold a strategy meeting today on revitalizing the country's bruised economy, as business leaders worry (Reuters) that her populist wage policies will trigger high inflation.
CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick provides an overview of Sunday's Thai elections and what Yingluck's victory means for the country five years after the military coup that deposed her father, Thaksin Shinawatra.