World News Brief, Thursday November 15

France becomes first Western country to recognise Syria's new opposition coalition; China wraps up National Party Congress; Japanese Prime Minister would hold elections next month if opposition supports electoral reform bill; Sri Lanka denies intimidating UN staff; UN denounces US 50-year embargo on Cuba; and more

Top of the Agenda: France Recognizes Syria's New Opposition

On Tuesday, France became the first Western country to formally recognize (AP) Syria's newly formed opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. While six Gulf Arab States have also recognized the coalition, the United States, the European Union, and the Arab League have so far stopped short of giving it formal recognition. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an additional $30 million of humanitarian aid to Syria (Guardian), bringing the total U.S. contribution to $200 million. Speaking in Australia, Clinton hailed the formation of Syria's new opposition coalition as an important step, and said the additional $30 million would aid access to food inside Syria and for refugees who have fled to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.


"The [French] president's remarks on reconsidering arms deliveries need to be treated with caution. Nothing will happen quickly, not least because France is bound by an EU embargo on arms deliveries to all sides in the Syrian conflict. Still the president did say that with the coalition now officially recognised, the question of arms could be re-opened - and that will be seized on by the opposition as an important advance," writes Hugh Schofield for the BBC.

"Western governments are discussing mostly non-lethal assistance which they expect will become more effective if channelled centrally through the national coalition. It remains to be seen, moreover, if Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two main weapons suppliers, will now unify their efforts instead of favoring different rebel groups. To be sure, Syria's opposition will have to prove that the new national coalition can be an inclusive and effective platform. But that will not be enough," writes Roula Khalaf for the Financial Times.

"How the new coalition's message of moderation will translate on the often chaotic Syrian battlefield remains opaque. There is no central command among the scores of anti-Assad militias. Several militant groups, some with purported links to Al Qaeda, have formed fighting units," write Patrick J. McDonnell and Rima Marrouch for the Los Angeles Times.



China Wraps Up National Party Congress

China's Eighteenth Party Congress formally closed on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet Thursday to endorse a new Politburo Standing Committee, the party's most powerful group of leaders. In a sign of initiative against corruption (WSJ), the CCP appointed Vice Premier Wang Qishan, an economic and financial policy heavyweight, to the party's antigraft body.

JAPAN: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Wednesday that he is prepared to dissolve the parliament (JapanTimes) by Friday and hold elections as early as next month if the opposition camp agrees to support an electoral reform bill.

This CFR blog post discusses how Japan's next election will be won.



Sri Lanka denies intimidating UN staff

UN denounces US embargo on Cuba



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