World News Brief, Wednesday November 21

Hillary Clinton on way to Middle East to try to defuse Gaza crisis; South China Sea dispute dominates ASEAN summit; China appoints new leader in Chongqing, once led by disgraced Bo Xilai; former Sarkozy ally to head French opposition party; EU partially acknowledges new Syrian coalition; and more

Top of the Agenda: Clinton to Visit Middle East as Gaza Crisis Escalates

U.S. President Barack Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East on Tuesday in an attempt to defuse the escalating conflict (NYT) in Gaza, where UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also set to visit this week for peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Clinton will meet with leaders in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Cairo, marking the Obama administration's most forceful engagement (AP) in the weeklong conflict that has killed more than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis. While Egypt has been trying to broker a cease-fire with the help of Qatar and Turkey, a decision on whether to launch a ground invasion (Haaretz) of Gaza was put off by at least a day after Israel decided Monday to give Egypt more time.


"For years Hamas has been in an axis with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. Yet now it relies on strong alliances with Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar. Hamas will want these powers to back it in its new armed struggle. But these three states should push Hamas down the road of restraint and reconciliation," writes a Financial Times editorial.

"The recent call from some western leaders for a 'de-escalation' of the crisis by asking Hamas to stop firing the rockets and pleading with Israel not to wreck 'international support' only shows impotence. There is a clear lack of leadership from Western leaders, particularly the U.S. administration," writes Muhammad Abdul Bari for Al Jazeera.

"Those who refused to condemn the attacks on Israeli citizens have no right to condemn Israel's response to establish peace and quiet for its citizens. This is the basic obligation of any sovereign nation, and we will continue taking any action necessary to achieve this aim," writes Danny Ayalon for the Guardian.



South China Sea Dominates ASEAN Agenda

U.S. President Barack Obama urged Asian leaders on Tuesday to quell tensions (Reuters) in the South China Sea and other disputed maritime areas but stopped short of backing allies Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam in their disputes with China.

CHINA: China appointed Sun Zhengcai as Communist Party chief in Chongqing (AP), the city once led by disgraced politician Bo Xilai. The city's outgoing chief Zhang Dejiang was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee.

This CFR Backgrounder tracks the Chinese Communist Party.



Former Sarkozy ally to head French opposition party

EU partially recognises new Syrian coalition


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