World News Brief, Wednesday September 12

UN human rights commissioner calls on international community to take "protective action" in Syria; China sends patrol boats to disputed territory in East China Sea; Chinese vice president misses third meeting with foreign dignitary in a week; Al Qaeda second-in-command reported killed in Yemen; Somalia elects new leader; and more

Top of the Agenda: UN Rights Chief Criticizes Syria Violations

In an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay faulted both the Syrian government and opposition for potentially committing war crimes and crimes against humanity (al-Jazeera), while calling on the international community to take "protective action." Pillay said alleged human rights violations by both sides in Syria's eighteen-month-old uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad should be referred to the International Criminal Court. Her comments come amid a continued stalemate in the Security Council, with China and Russia adamantly opposed to Western efforts to sanction Assad and call for his ouster.


"Since March 2011, Bashar Assad has been trying to suppress an uprising that has become a civil war. For the most part, his fellow Alawites have stuck by him in the increasingly bloody fighting. But not all. Sect members are increasingly breaking rank, as defections swell along with mounting uneasiness about the government's crackdown against what started as a peaceful protest movement," writes Steven Sotloff for TIME.

"I see it developing into a protracted civil war. Additionally, neither side has the wherewithal to deliver a knock-out punch to the other side. Therefore the conflict will continue to devolve into this sort of haphazard war without defined fronts--being fought from city to city, with parts of cities being controlled by the opposition during the evening and then retaken during the day by the regime," says David W. Lesch in this CFR Interview.



China Sends Patrol Ships to Disputed Islands

The Chinese government today sent two surveillance vessels to "assert the country's sovereignty" (WSJ) in the East China Sea near the disputed Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, a day after Japan confirmed plans to purchase some of the islands from private owners.

In this article, CFR's Sheila A. Smith examines the way in which the 2010 crisis emerged between Japan and China.

CHINA: Vice President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party's presumptive new leader, yesterday missed his third meeting with a foreign dignitary in a week, prompting a flurry of speculation over his sudden disappearance from the public stage (NYT).



Al Qaeda second-in-command killed in Yemen

Somalia elects new leader

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