World News Brief, Wednesday February 15

Claims Syrian troops have killed 500 in Homs in past ten days; UN to consider Arab Laegue plan for Assad to hand over power to vice president; Moody's downgrades six Euro countries; Bipartisan US group urges China to back Iran sanctions; Obama unveils new Budget; Maldives leader wants peace, former president demands new elections; and more

Top of the Agenda: UN Rights Chief Criticizes Security Council

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the Security Council's failure to pass a resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's eleven-month crackdown on anti-government protesters and opposition forces had emboldened the regime to launch an "all-out assault" on Homs (al-Jazeera). Syrian troops have allegedly killed more than 500 people in the city over the past ten days.

Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly is expected to consider a non-binding resolution that would back an Arab League plan calling for Assad to hand over power to his vice president, paving the way for the formation of a unity government. The Arab League has also called for a joint Arab-UN peacekeeping mission to Syria. Russia, which vetoed the Security Council measure along with China earlier this month, said it could not support a peacekeeping mission until all sides in Syria cease the violence.


"If anything, liberal interventionists now seem to feel they have the wind at their backs because of the acceptance by the United Nations of the so-called 'responsibility to protect' (R2P) doctrine, which has been widely touted as resolving many of the ethical and operational problems that accompanied previous iterations of humanitarian intervention," writes David Rieff on

"Characteristically, the interventionists aren't holding themselves to higher account; they're blaming President Obama. To them, it's all about his failure to act. But the president is moving sensibly and with due dispatch to restrain Assad's killings. He's squeezing the dictator economically and isolating him diplomatically," writes CFR's Leslie H. Gelb in Newsweek.

"Whereas the vetoed UN resolution explicitly ruled out military intervention in Syria, the Arab League yesterday crossed one of its traditional red lines and paved the way for a possible non-Arab intervention into a fellow Arab state," writes CFR's Robert Danin on his blog, "Middle East Matters."



Former Officials Appeal to China over Iran Sanctions

A bipartisan group of former national security advisers, the Partnership for a Secure America, released an open letter to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the start of his US visit, urging him to support economic sanctions efforts by the United States and EU (NYT) targeting Iran's nuclear program.

CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy discusses Xi's visit to the United States in this China Daily op-ed.

JAPAN: The Bank of Japan said it will expand its asset-purchase program (WSJ) to $838 billion by increasing its purchases of Japanese government bonds, in an effort to tackle deflation and jumpstart the country's weak economy.



Moody's downgrades six eurozone countries, warns France & Britain

Maldives leader promises order, ex-leader wants elections

Obama Budget promises more cuts, more taxes & more growth


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