Opposition activists killed at pro-Assad rallies; EU extends Syria sanctions as analysts say US failing to act; UN Sec-Gen wins second term; Bahrani Shia rebels get life imprisonment; Greek PM narrowly wins no-confidence vote; Sudan threatens to cut off pipeline; and more
Top of the Agenda: Syrian Unrest Continues
Syrian workers and students were forced to attend rallies (CNN) in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad this week, said Ammar Qurabi, chairman of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.
Thousands of pro-Assad supporters turned out in Damascus, Homs, and other cities yesterday. But the rallies were disrupted by violence, as government forces fired on opposition activists (NYT), killing at least nine.
Despite evidence that the gatherings were staged by the government, Assad still maintains the support of Damascus and Aleppo's upper-middle class merchant families (WSJ), as well as that of the Christian minority.
Meanwhile, EU states agreed to extend sanctions (Reuters) against Syria that will target at least four firms "linked to the military and the suppression of dissent."
On ForeignPolicy.com, Tony Badran argues that the United States has leverage with Assad, but it has simply chosen not to use it.
In a Financial Times editorial, Robert Shah says that the Assad narrative has run its course and the show is up for the Syrian president.
The Assad dynasty appears to be on a long path to collapse, posing new challenges to the Obama administration's efforts to break the axis of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, says Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
PACFIC RIM: Japan and US Postpone Military Base Transfer
Japan and the United States agreed to drop a 2014 deadline for moving a US military base on Okinawa Island (JapanTimes) that would see the transfer of eight thousand US troops to Guam.
South Korea: The UN General Assembly unanimously approved a second term (Yonhap) for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, who is considered a strong ally of the United States.