World News Brief, Thursday June 6

Syrian army has taken control of strategic town of Qusayr; Malaysia calls for South China Sea development; violent clashes in Burma have spread to Malaysia; Turkish deputy PM apologises for crackdown on protesters; drone strikes must end, says new Pakistan PM; and more


Top of the Agenda: Syrian Army Takes Strategic Town

The Syrian army has taken full control of the strategic town of Qusayr (BBC), near the Lebanese border, with the help of fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The military leader of the Free Syrian Army said earlier that rebels were prepared to take the conflict inside Lebanon in pursuit of Hezbollah. Meanwhile, France and the UK (Guardian) confirmed that medical samples smuggled out of Syria tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, and have submitted the evidence to a UN investigation. The claims come just after a new report from a UN commission of inquiry on human rights abuses also cited evidence of chemical weapons use. U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Syria that use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line."


"British intervention in Afghanistan was aided not only by a far higher degree of domestic financial and political support than can be garnered for Syria, but was driven by the political will and economic clout of the United States, the world's unchallenged superpower at that time. In spite of that commitment, we have remained in Afghanistan for over a decade with a dubious record of success. What hope for a Syrian intervention – whether military or humanitarian?" writes Mark Field for the Telegraph.

"[Political support] could not alone have saved Assad had he not been able to count on perhaps the most vital if often overlooked source of power at his disposal--the unexpected cohesion of Syria's military, especially its army. Despite a large number of defections, the Syrian military remains one of the largest and best trained forces in the Arab world, at around 290,000 strong," writes Brian Stewart for CBC.

"Opening a discussion on [Assad's] departure will be unrealistic because this is simply something he will not want to discuss. It's also something the Russians will not want to discuss, and given the opposition's lack of unity, and given the fuzziness of the Obama administration--its priority is not to get caught up in the Syrian situation--the advantage will ultimately turn to those who have clear ideas: the Russians, Iranians, and Syrian [loyalists]," says Michael Young in this CFR interview.



Malaysia Calls for South China Sea Development

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called for territorial claimants in the South China Sea to jointly develop resources to avoid conflict (Bloomberg), siding with China's push for joint development of the waters. Vietnam and the Philippines reject such an effort.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines the escalating territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

MALAYSIA: Violent clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in Burma have spread to Malaysia (MalaysianInsider), killing four Myanmar nationals and injuring another eight.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick discusses Myanmar's alarming civil unrest in this Expert Brief.


Turkish deputy PM apologises for crackdown on protesters

Drone strikes must end, says new Pakistan PM


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