World News Brief, Wednesday October 23

Syria policy creates rift between US and Saudi Arabia; China intends to maintain power over Tibet; North Korea has 130 hovercraft in water, leader has observed training sessions aimed at South Korea; Bahrain boosts supply of tear gas; Obama admits frustration at government health insurance site; and more

Top of the Agenda: Saudi-U.S. Rift Seen Over Syria Policy

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief, told European diplomats the kingdom will scale back its cooperation with the United States to arm Syrian rebels and work instead with allies such as France and Jordan in an effort to topple the Assad regime (Gulf News). Secretary of State John Kerry met in Paris with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, to calm tensions in the long-standing alliance and advocated the advantages of membership in the UN Security Council, which Riyadh spurned after being elected to a seat last week (Reuters). The United States reportedly cancelled delivery of drones to Turkey, highlighting another rift in U.S. relations with a Middle Eastern ally (JPost).


"The main driver for the Saudis in this is rolling back Iranian influence. Most people see this in a sectarian light: the Saudis are Sunni, the Iranians are Shia, Bashar al-Assad is a Shia. But I think that for the top levels of the Saudi decision-making structure, the sectarian issue is not nearly as central as the pure balance of power logic," says Gregory Gause in a CFR Interview.

"As we saw from the debate here in late August/early September, there's not a lot of enthusiasm about the United States getting directly involved in Syria. So there is no agreement at all with Turkey on this major issue," says Senior Fellow Steven Cook in a CFR Interview.

"Has Turkey, a member of Nato for 61 years, parted company with the west? It is a question Turkey's allies have begun to face. Three issues have converged to create the doubt: Ankara's decision to buy a Chinese missile defense system; its alleged ambivalence towards al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Syria; and, most recently, allegations that Turkey betrayed Iranians spying for Israel to Tehran," writes Daniel Dombey in the Financial Times.


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China Stays the Course on Tibet Policy

Beijing intends to continue its rule of Tibet, a policy paper released Tuesday indicated, dispelling the notion that President Xi Jinping, whose father had close ties to the Dalai Lama, would take a softer line on the restive region (Reuters).

SOUTH KOREA: North Korea has about 130 deployable hovercrafts in its coastal water and its leader has observed naval training sessions aimed at South Korea (Yonhap).

CFR's Scott Snyder explains in this blog post South Korea's maritime interests and security concerns.


Bahrain boosts supply of tear gas

Obama frustrated by slow US government healh insurance site

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