World News Brief, Thursday May 15

UN special envoy to Syria resigns in frustration; anti-China mob sets fire to foreign-owned factories in Vietnam; Japan reconsiders constitutional use of force; Afghan Taliban appoints new commander; Nigeria ready to negotiate for return of schoolgirls; and more 

International Diplomacy on Syria Falters

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon accepted on Tuesday the resignation of special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi (NYT), who cited frustration with the moribund Geneva diplomatic process weeks ahead of elections called for by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Diplomatic backers of the Syrian rebels are set to meet in London on Thursday, but fractures appeared in their ranks as French foreign minister Laurent Fabius criticized Washington's decision last year to forego airstrikes while claiming that the Syrian government continued to wage chemical attacks (France24). Also on Tuesday, opposition leader Ahmed Jarba was at the White House. Both sides said the meeting was productive, but the administration again voiced reluctance to provide the antiaircraft weaponry that the Syrian opposition says is necessary to counter government airstrikes (Daily Star). Meanwhile, civilians began returning to the old city Homs following a cease-fire and the negotiated withdrawal of rebel forces, finding the "capital of the revolution" largely destroyed beyond recognition (WaPo).


"With Brahimi's entering his last two weeks on the job, the question occupying the U.N. is what comes next for the diplomatic track. Some European powers have encouraged Ban and Brahimi to put forward their ideas for a political settlement, in an attempt to force the Security Council to adopt the plan," write David Kenner and Colum Lynch in Foreign Policy.


"For three years, the United Nations Security Council has failed to end the violence in Syria, largely because Russia and China have stubbornly blocked constructive action and protected President Bashar al-Assad. A new French-led move to have the Council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of war crimes won't end the slaughter either. But it would underscore the world's revulsion at atrocities by both sides and its insistence that those responsible be brought to justice…. There is no reason to believe Russia, at odds with the West over Ukraine, or China will back the referral. On the other hand, do they really want to protect war criminals?" writes the New York Times in an editorial.


"[The negotiated withdrawal from the old city of Homs] proved that the collective will of the Syrian people for an end to fighting will ultimately prevail. While regime loyalists viewed it as a victory for their side, the opposition activists were busy lamenting their great loss. The reality, though, was that neither side had won or lost. It was in fact a victory for the people of Homs, and Syria as a whole. That common sense and the will of the people could prevail over guns offers a glimmer of hope in this otherwise bleak and hopeless conflict. The point was poignantly driven home by the images of residents returning to their battered neighborhoods in old Homs," writes the pseudonymous Edward Dark in Al-Monitor.


Pacific Rim

Anti-China Vietnamese Mobs Torch Factories

Anti-China mobs of up to twenty thousand set fire to foreign-owned factories in southern Vietnam late Tuesday, according to officials and state media (AP). The riots come during a maritime standoff between Beijing and Hanoi that follows China's installation of an oil rig in contested waters.

This CFR InfoGuide delves into China's maritime issues in the East and South China Seas.

JAPAN: An advisory panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to endorse tomorrow broader parameters for when the constitution permits the use of force—a reinterpretation opposed by many scholars (Asahi Shimbun), as well as protestors who formed a human chain outside the legislature (Japan Times).


Afghan Taliban appoint new commander

Nigeria ready to negotiate for return of schoolgirls

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