Top of the Agenda: Bomb Explodes Near UN Convoy in Syria
A roadside bomb hit a Syrian military truck that was driving behind a UN convoy near the southern city of Deraa today, wounding at least three soldiers (BBC). Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood--the head of a UN mission monitoring the implementation of a fraying UN-Arab League cease-fire between government troops and opposition forces--and the eleven other UN observers in the convoy were not hurt. Meanwhile, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, warned yesterday of arms smuggling between Lebanon and Syria, while saying the region is "at the brink of the abyss of war" (al-Jazeera).
"But while all the intervention scenarios carry major risks, passivity in the face of the conflict's escalation promotes a radicalization of the opposition. The growing incidence of suicide bombings and other evidence of jihadist involvement are giving Western governments pause. For now, though, international involvement is limited to Annan's cease-fire efforts and the 30 monitors on the ground to oversee its implementation," writes TIME's Tony Karon.
"It is not failing because the U.N. observers have been slow to deploy, or even because Assad has yet to implement a single point from Annan's six-point plan. The fundamental reason for Annan's failure is more basic than that: His plan is flawed because it was formulated on the misguided belief that the Assad regime will ever stop using violence against domestic protesters and negotiate with them in good faith," writes Salman Shaikh for ForeignPolicy.com.
U.S. Criticizes China for Expelling Reporter
The United States said it was "disappointed in the Chinese government" (WSJ) over its decision to not renew the accreditation and visa of Al Jazeera English's Beijing correspondent, while U.S. officials apparently raised the issue with their Chinese counterparts.
MYANMAR: Authorities granted Aung San Suu Kyi a passport (BBC) for the first time in twenty-four years. The pro-democracy leader is expected to visit Norway next month to accept the Nobel Peace Prize that she won in 1991.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistan Rebuffs U.S. Criticism
The United States is making Pakistan a scapegoat for its apparent failure to crush the militant insurgency in Afghanistan, Pakistani Lt. Gen. Khalid Rabbani told the Associated Press yesterday in response to comments by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging Pakistan to crack down on extremism.
Pakistan has emerged as a terrorist sanctuary for some of the world's most violent groups, including al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and homegrown militants that threaten the stability of Pakistan as well as the region, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
An informant working for Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency and the CIA infiltrated al-Qaeda by pretending to be a would-be suicide bomber (LAT). The double agent obtained from al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen a newly designed bomb--currently being examined by FBI officials--meant to target a U.S.-bound aircraft.
KENYA: British national Jermaine Grant appeared in a Mombasa court today over allegations he was planning a bomb blot (BBC) in conjunction with the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabaab. The trial was adjourned until Thursday.
Greece Struggles to Form Government
Leftist leader Alexis Tsipras, whose anti-austerity Syriza party placed a close second in Sunday's parliamentary elections, is set to meet later today with the heads of Greece's governing socialist and conservative parties in an effort to form a coalition government, even as fresh elections are expected within weeks (WSJ).
Since 2006, the Mexican government has been in embroiled in a bloody drug war, which has failed to significantly curb trafficking, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
Candidates Still Talking About the Economy
In Michigan Tuesday, GOP presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney said the United States was on a path of "the greatest economic divergence of the last hundred years," shortly before sweeping three more GOP primaries. Romney also took to the airwaves (Fox News) Tuesday night, saying the United States should work to take down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and "communicate our strength, our determination, and indicate if people want to be friends with America, they're going to have to hold to the principles that we find dear."
Republican Senator Richard Lugar, a major figure inthe national security, arms control, and foreign policy realms, lost his bid for reelection (DailyBeast)against a Tea Party-backed candidate in the Indiana primary.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.