Four protesters die in Syria as Foreign Minister insists "there is no crackdown"; Intellectuals and activists seek peace at Damascus meeting (+ analysis); Palestinians turn to UN for statehood support; Karzai accuses Pakistan after attacks on Af-Pak border; Khmer Rouge trials begin; and more
Top of the Agenda: Syrian Dissidents Meet in Damascus
Following another violent weekend, more than 150 Syrian intellectuals and activists (VOA), including some of the country's most prominent opposition figures, are meeting in Damascus to discuss how to end the current violent upheaval and initiate a peaceful transition to democratic rule. Syrian security forces continued their crackdown on protestors (AFP), with another four civilians killed, as a protest group called for demonstrators to expect "a volcano" later this week in the city of Aleppo. Syria's foreign minister told CNN that "there is no crackdown" and that violence was being fueled by extremists financed outside Syria.
The violence in northwestern Syria has driven more than eleven thousand refugees into neighboring Turkey (NYT), where the Red Crescent, a local version of the Red Cross, said that seventeen thousand more were waiting to cross the border. Hundreds have also reportedly crossed into Lebanon (Ennahar). Some fear Syria's turmoil is starting to spread (CSMonitor) to northern Lebanon, where there have been deadly clashes between Alawites and Sunnis.
The direction of events in Syria depends on the cohesiveness of government security forces. If the army remains united behind Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, the crackdown will continue, says this Jerusalem Post analysis.
The United States has leverage in Syria that it's choosing not to use, including recalling its ambassador, writes Tony Badran on ForeignPolicy.com.
"This other Syria is appearing (NYT) before our eyes to remind us that it cannot be forever set aside, that its people did not spend the decades of the Assads' rule asleep, and that they aspire, like all people, to live with freedom and dignity," writes human rights activist and journalist Mohammad Ali Atassi.
PACIFIC RIM: Khmer Rouge Trial Begins
Four top leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime (SMH) begin trial at Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court for committing genocide between 1975 and 1979.
Thailand: Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warns the country may face renewed political instability (BBC) if the next government allows his predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return from exile. Thailand has experience political turbulence since Thaksin was ousted in a military coup five years ago.