"Months after the uprising against him erupted in March last year, many Syrians still entertained the hope of a miracle transformation in Mr Assad. Perhaps the revolution was his opportunity to push aside the nasty men in his regime, including his brother Maher, a top military chief, they figured. They were dismayed to see the president defending the brutality of his security forces and insisting that they were fighting terrorists," writes the Financial Times' Roula Khalaf.
"And one year on from the first protest--which soon spread south to Deraa where people rallied in support of dozens of children tortured for writing anti-Assad graffiti--Assad is still at the helm, challenging the 'Arab Spring' narrative of people power and defying predictions that his days are numbered," writes Reuters' Dominic Evans.
"Both activists and analysts agree that the best possible solution would be a kind of internal coup, where Alawites and other regime stalwarts start to pull their support. Already there have been signs of cracks. The Druze minority sect has started to stand against the regime, as have significant numbers of Christian priests and leaders who have historically stood with the regime," writes TIME's Aryn Baker.
East Timor President Defeated
East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential election after coming in third place. He vowed to step down in May (al-Jazeera) following a runoff election between the two remaining candidates.
A gunman opened fire outside a Jewish secondary school in the southwest French city of Toulouse this morning, killing three children and one adult (Guardian) before fleeing on a scooter. President Nicolas Sarkozy called the incident an "abominable drama."
CUBA: Police arrested dozens of opposition activists (BBC) calling for the release of political prisoners over the weekend, a week ahead of a visit to the country by Pope Benedict XVI.
Under President Raul Castro, Cuba has begun economic and political reforms while bolstering ties with Brazil and the Vatican. But Washington has failed to seize on opportunities for expanding relations, says CFR's Julia E. Sweig in this CFR Interview.
Obama's Political Strategist Defends Energy Policy
Obama's political strategist David Axelrod said Sunday that more domestic drilling will not cause gas prices to "go down magically" (CBS). U.S. oil production has risen 12 percent during the Obama administration, Axelrod said, but the administration has also doubled the use of renewable energy and increased fuel efficiency standards for the first time in three decades.
On CNN Sunday, GOP candidate Rick Santorum said he would impose tougher sanctions on Iran, which he considers the biggest national security threat, and faulted President Obama for not aligning with the pro-democracy movement early in his presidency to help topple the regime.