Top of the Agenda: International Pressure Builds on Syria
International envoy Kofi Annan met Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today amid mounting global pressure for a firm response to reports of a regime-backed massacre of civilians. Annan, who will try to salvage a peace plan he brokered last month, said those responsible for the "appalling" deaths of more than 100 people in Houla on May 25 must be held to account (al-Jazeera). The UN Security Council has condemned the government's use of artillery in the assault on Houla. A UN human rights spokesman today says witnesses have reported that most of those killed were executed by pro-regime militias.
"Intervening in Syria without the protection of an international consensus would be particularly risky, since the country lies in the middle of a region in flames," writes the Financial Times' Gideon Rachman.
"Those who believed the Gulf Arabs or the Turks would act effectively without American leadership may be forgiven for the error--but error it was, more and more clearly with each passing day and the deaths each day brings in Syria. We have no more excuses," writes CFR's Elliott Abrams in his blog, Pressure Points.
"Annan's cease-fire plan might be the last chance to solve the Syrian crisis in peace. All forces in Syria should honor their commitments and carry out the cease-fire to the letter. The top priority now is to prevent more civilian deaths," writes China Daily in an unsigned editorial.
Philippine Senate Convicts Chief Justice
Philippine lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to convict the country's top judge for failing to declare $2.4m in foreign currency deposits after a five-month impeachment trial (al-Jazeera). Analysts say the closely watched trial was the first of its kind to be concluded properly.
CHINA: China has ousted its former rail minister, Liu Zhijun, from the Communist Party on charges of bribery and vice. Mr. Liu was removed from his post last February amid corruption suspicions associated with the construction of the country's ambitious high-speed rail network (FT).
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
NATO Kills Senior Afghan al-Qaeda Member
NATO officials say an air strike in the Kunar Province over the weekend killed al-Qaeda's second-in-command (BBC) in Afghanistan, Saudi-born Sakhar al-Taifi. The Taliban denies these claims.
MYANMAR: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in Myanmar (NYT) for a three-day visit to boost bilateral relations, the first such trip in twenty-five years. Mr. Singh met with President Thein Sein on Monday and is scheduled to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.
Egypt's Election Violence Sparks Cabinet Meeting
The results of last week's presidential election are not what anyone expected, with neither of the two initial frontrunners qualifying for the runoff, reports TIME. Instead, results show that "the two most polarizing candidates" on the ballot--the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsiand ousted president Hosni Mubarak's former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq--will vie for the country's presidency. The results sparked violence with protesters burning Shafiq's offices, which prompted a meeting of Egypt's cabinet today to address the situation (AFP).
A leaked UN document says Rwanda has been recruiting and training fighters to assist an armed rebellion in eastern Congo (BBC). Congolese authorities are investigating the allegations, while Rwanda's foreign minister denied them as "categorical lies."
MALI: Plans to create a new Islamist state in northern Mali collapsed (AFP) just days after the Tuareg rebel movement and hardline Islamist group Ansar Dine declared their merger Saturday. The two groups said that fundamental differences led to the impasse in talks.
Support for EU Dropping
According to a new Pew poll, support for European integration has fallen sharply across the EU, but few Europeans want to abandon the euro and stricken Greeks are keenest to keep the common currency.
DENMARK: Two men with suspected links to a militant Islamist group in Somalia were arrested for an alleged terror plot (BBC), the Danish Security and Intelligence Service says. The men, who are brothers, were arrested late Monday night.
VATICAN: The Vatican widened its probe into a document leaking scandal Monday after the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested for having confidential documents in his home. He is expected to shed new light on the dozens of documents that reveal power struggles, corruption, and intrigue inside the highest levels of the Catholic Church.
ITALY: Less than ten days after an earthquake overwhelmed the Emilia Romagna region, a 5.8 magnitude quake (NYT) hit the area Tuesday morning, killing at least ten people.
China Invests in American Energy
With China eager to feed its growing energy appetite (CNN), it has spread its worldwide search for oil and other energy production to North and South America, which many analysts say may actually be good for U.S. consumers since it will likely increase supplies worldwide and possibly lower prices.
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is attempting to campaign in Ohio and other swing states (TIME) on a bad economy, which he would like to blame on President Barack Obama. This line, however, puts in him at odds with the Republican governors who seem to be echoing Obama's message of slow-but-promising progress.
Foreign Policy's Daniel Drezner predicts the first year of foreign policy under President Romney, based on every single foreign policy statement or comment the candidate has made on the campaign trail so far.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy, check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.