World News Brief, Wednesday February 1

West and Arabs unite to force al-Assad to step down – Russia says no (+ analysis); EU leaders agree to cede Budget powers to Brussels – UK and Czech Republic say no; Who wants to talk to the Taliban now?; Atomic Energy Agency approves Japanese stress tests; China crackdown on Buddhist monastries; and more

Top of the Agenda: Western, Arab States Pressure Syria as Russia Resists

Western and Arab states are pushing for the implementation of a UN Security Council Resolution that would call on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down and cease a nearly eleven-month violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and opposition forces. However, Russia continues to block UN action (al-Jazeera), warning that such a resolution would put Syria on a "path to civil war." At the same time, the Free Syrian Army, comprised of military defectors, continues to battle Syrian security forces in suburbs outside the capital of Damascus.


"Each side claims a monopoly on the truth, making it harder to really understand what is happening on the ground, especially journalists relying on unverifiable amateur footage from inside the country, government-escorted minders on the other side, statements from exiled opposition members and Syrian government officials who rarely grant journalists interviews," writes TIME's Ayman Mohyeldin.

"Military action would satisfy the understandable desire to do something--anything--in the face of terrible suffering. But it is unlikely to bring the conflict to a quick or satisfactory end, not least because opponents of the regime are divided. Dissidents have formed clashing camps and defectors follow rival officers," notes the Economist.

"The clichéd refrain that the Arab uprisings are about 'them' and not 'us' seems to treat Western powers as innocent bystanders, which they aren't and haven't been for five decades. International factors have been critical in the majority of countries facing unrest. In short, US support for democracy matters and will continue to matter for the foreseeable future," writes Shadi Hamid at The Atlantic.



IAEA Approves Japan's Nuclear Stress Tests

The United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency said Japan has been adequately conducting reactor safety checks at its nuclear plants, but said companies need to develop "comprehensive accident management programs" (al-Jazeera) in the event of a nuclear disaster.

CHINA: A senior government official ordered tighter security at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Sichuan province and a crackdown on anyone involved in "separatist, destructive, and criminal" activities (BBC). The move comes a week after a deadly clash between ethnic Tibetans and Chinese security forces.



EU leaders agree to cede Budget powers to Brussels

Afghanistan govt seeks parallel talks with Taliban

Romney & Gingrich promise to repeal healthcare law on 1st day


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