World News Brief, Tuesday April 26

Syrian military uses tanks against protesters leaving little room for compromise (+ analysis); Renewed pressure for Japan PM to quit; Leaked documents pull back curtain on Gitmo; France tightens border controls after Italy does deal with Tunisians; and more

Top of the Agenda: Syrian Tanks Moves into Deraa

The Syrian military advanced into the southern city of Deraa (BBC), the town where activists originally launched their calls for political reforms last month. Witnesses report that security forces fired openly on protestors, and that five people may have been killed. Al-Jazeera reports that military forces are also leading crackdowns in the Damascus suburb of Douma and the coastal city of Jableh. This is the first time that Syria has deployed tanks (FT) against the protesters since the demonstrations began in March. Analysts say both sides' positions have now hardened and the standoff is unlikely to be ended by a negotiated solution of further reforms.

State security forces and armed militias known as al-shabbiha have killed hundreds and led house-to-house raids in search of activists in the last month. Over a hundred people died in nationwide crackdowns (NYT) over the weekend that began with protests after prayers on Friday. Foreign journalists have mostly been banned from Syria, making it impossible to confirm reports (Deutsche-Welle) on the ground. In addition, electricity and communication lines have been cut off in many of the locations occupied by regime forces.


In this transcript from CFR, Mohamad Bazzi discusses the implications of the violent anti-government protests in Syria.

Mideast expert Fouad Ajami writes that it is unlikely that the Qaddafis and Mubaraks could have entertained thoughts of succession for their sons had they not seen the ease with which Syria became an odd creature (WSJ)—a republican monarchy.

On his CFR blog Pressure Points, CFR's Elliott Abrams examines the Obama administration's response to the violent crackdown by the Assad regime.

This article from the New York Times suggests the crisis in Syria represents a “moment of truth” for President Bashar al-Assad, and will test his willingness to impose reforms on his Baath Party.


PACIFIC RIM: Japan PM Under Pressure to Quit

After his ruling party's losses in local elections on Sunday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan faces new demands to step down, as he struggles to contain a nuclear crisis (Reuters) and find ways to finance post-quake reconstruction.

Japan's ability to rebound from its triple disaster in March will require more than just rebuilding; it will demand restructuring in areas from energy and farm policy to decentralization of power, write Brian P. Klein and CFR's David S. Abraham.

North Korea: Former US President Jimmy Carter, who will visit North Korea (AFP) this week with a group of other retired state leaders, said the trip would focus on food shortages, human rights, and denuclearization.



- France, Italy to Work Out Immigrant Dispute
- Leaked Gitmo Docs Offer New Insights


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