Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning human rights
violations and calling for the end of violence in Syria. The resolution was
overwhelmingly approved with 137 yes votes, 12 no votes, and 17 abstentions. China
and Russia voted against the resolution, having previously vetoed a similar
resolution in the U.N. Security Council. Russia maintained that the resolution was
"unbalanced" because it only targets government violence and excludes the opposition.
Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said China is against foreign military
intervention and forced regime change (he is scheduled to visit with Syrian officials
to discuss a separate peace initiative). While the U.N. assembly's resolution is
non-binding, it has significant symbolic value and further isolates the
Syrian regime. According to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan
Rice, "it sent a clear message to the people of Syria -- the world is with you."
It is modeled after an Arab League plan which calls for President Bashar
al-Assad to step down. Meanwhile clashes
continue throughout Syria, with extreme
regime violence in Homs, which has lasted over two weeks. Human rights
groups have estimated that the number of deaths attributed to the crackdown has
exceeded 7,000 since the beginning of the uprisings about 11 months ago.
- After reporting covertly in
Syria for a week, renowned New York Times journalist Anthony
Shadid died, reportedly from an asthma attack, as he and his
photographer were en route to Turkey.
- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood threatened
to "review" the 1979 peace
treaty with Israel if the United States withholds assistance in
reaction to trials of NGO workers.
- After an investigation, an Iraqi
judicial panel released non-binding findings that Vice President
Hashemi was involved in 150 attacks on security officials and Shiite
- The suspect list has grown as
Thailand continues the investigation
of bombings targeting Israeli diplomats, although both the accused Hezbollah
and the Iranian government have denied involvement.
celebrated the one-year anniversary of the start of the revolution that saw the
fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi, but the country remains crippled by insecurity
ahead of June polls.
Arguments & Analysis
'Postscript: Anthony Shadid, 1968-2012' (Steve Coll, The New Yorker)
"In 2003, the Iraq war was brewing and Shadid wanted to be in Baghdad,
working independently, when it began. Shadid was married at the time,
with a small child at home. As the "shock and awe" bombing began and the
future of Saddam Hussein's regime fell into doubt, he arranged a
conference call to explain, as a low-key country lawyer might, why he
should be allowed to remain on the ground and assume the risks ahead. He
persuaded; his work from Iraq was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the first
of two he won during his career, and became the basis for his first,
excellent book, "Night Draws Near." The foreboding and ambivalence that
the characters he wrote about expressed was striking at the time, but as
the years have passed and Iraq's initial crisis has yielded to the
ambiguous mess we know today, it is evident that the middle-class,
unofficial, urban Iraqis he chronicled had envisioned their own future
very accurately. As in so many other cases, Shadid was willing to sit
still, away from the main story, and listen. He will be missed; his work
'A long march' (The Economist)
"Across the region the Brotherhood has worked hard, through years of
painstaking social work and uphill political battles, to enter the
corridors of power. "It was like a stake tethering a water buffalo,"
recounts one of the Ikhwan's new parliamentarians in Egypt, who like
many of his colleagues suffered jail and exile under the previous
regime. "The government kept hammering it into the ground but we just
kept on digging it out." Such patient dedication bodes well for the new
rulers' ability to address the deep social and economic maladies
afflicting most Arab countries. The Brotherhood's rise through the
ballot box and civil action marks a hope that Islamism's reform-minded
mainstream might yet prevail over the impetuous and increasingly
abortive rush to arms that has characterised revolutionary Islamist
groups, from the assassination of Egypt's leader Anwar Sadat in 1981 to
'A violent New Year in Iraq' (Michael Knights, The National Interest)
"The United States should publicly reverse this uncritical acceptance of
Maliki's behavior. The White House should have put Maliki on warning
during his mid-December visit to Washington, and the next U.S.
ambassador to Iraq should take a tougher line from the outset. The
administration may be only temporarily backing Maliki to maintain
stability in Iraq and to keep the country out of the headlines in this
election year. Even so, both of these outcomes are more likely if Maliki
is looking over his shoulder instead of running rampant."
--Tom Kutsch & Mary Casey