Member of EU Syria delegation killed in Damascus; Filipino Muslim sect denies leader killed in encounter with Malaysian security forces; People's Bank of China focuses on managing risks of inflation; five die in suicide attack in Kashmir; Turkish hostages released; and more
Top of the Agenda: Member of EU Syria Delegation Killed in Damascus
A member of the European Union's delegation in Syria was killed in a rocket attack in a Damascus suburb (BBC). EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Ahmad Shihadeh, an EU policy officer, had been providing humanitarian help in Darayya, to the southwest of the capital. The EU withdrew international staff and closed its Damascus office in December amid worsening violence, although local Syrian staff remained. Shihadeh's death comes as Britain and France raise pressure (Deutschewelle) on fellow EU members to lift a ban on supplying arms to Syria, where the civil war has claimed 100,000 lives and driven more than one million refugees to neighboring countries.
"Washington's tepid involvement in Syria has created openings for other players to exploit the vacuum to their advantage. Jihadists from neighboring countries have poured into Syria. Homegrown Islamists with strict moral codes have gained power. As they increase their profile, the influence of secularist brigades willing to work with Western powers has diminished," writes Barak Barfi for Syria Deeply.
"The debate on arming the Syrian opposition is not going to go away. Non-lethal military aid looks to be the next step for some governments. The problem is that the arming debate is no simple one. More weapons may even up the contest but equally could increase the bloodshed in the short term," writes Jonathan Marcus for the BBC.
"The worry is not just that [Jabhat al-Nusra]— which has Ankara's political support and is also being armed by Turkey, according to EU diplomats — will be successful in Syria. EU officials are also concerned about what the European members of the group will do when they return to their home countries," writes Semih Idiz for Al-Monitor.
Filipino Clan Denies Death of Leader
The Muslim Filipino sect staking a territorial claim over Sabah, Malaysia, denied reports that one of its leaders was killed (WSJ) in an encounter with Malaysian security forces. Violence has continued during the month-long struggle over ownership of the commodities-rich state.
CHINA: The head of the People's Bank of China said that managing the risks of inflation was the bank's first priority (Reuters), vowing to control prices and pledging further capital market reforms.
CFR's Elizabeth Economy discusses the reforms China really needs in this blog post.
Five die in suicide attack in Kashmir
Turkish hostages released
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.