Top of the Agenda: Syria Blocks UN Monitors amid Fresh Clashes
Syrian government troops and civilian supporters yesterday blocked unarmed UN monitors from investigating an alleged massacre that took place west of Hama, opening fire on the peacekeepers (NYT). Today, government forces reportedly cracked down on rebels in Homs. UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged that his peace plan for Syria was failing, while saying the Syrian government had the "first responsibility" (al-Jazeera) to rein in the escalating violence.
"As Syria's periphery descends into chaos, observers may be missing a more subtle deterioration of Assad's authority at the center of his regime. The Syrian capital of Damascus, whose commercial center has been seen as immune from the nationwide unrest,is increasingly turning on the Assad regime -- and widening unrest in the heart of the city now appears to be only a matter of time," writes Julien Barnes-Dacey for ForeignPolicy.com.
"I urge [U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] to come back from her travels and go to the Oval Office. That's where the end to this barbarism in Syria will begin," writes CFR's Elliott Abram on his blog, "Pressure Points."
Spain is expected to officially seek financial assistance from the EU--the fourth eurozone country to do so since the sovereign debt crisis came to a head two years ago--during a conference call between eurozone leaders on Saturday. Spain is facing an increasingly unsustainable banking crisis (Guardian).
EUROPEAN UNION: Interior ministers moved to allow states that are part of the EU's passport-free Schengen area to reinstate some border controls (WSJ), including an emergency mechanism for identity checks.
UK Accuses Argentina of Imposing Falklands Blockade
Mexico's presidential election campaign, culminating in elections next month, have focused on social and economic issues yet the foremost challenge facing the next president is the battle against the drug cartels, says Robert C. Bonner in Foreign Affairs.
Romney Champions 'Economic Freedom'
In a speech in Boston, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Thursday he plans to fix the U.S. economy with lower taxes, looser regulations, increased trade, and more domestic energy production.
A Fox News poll released Thursday finds voters trust Romney more than President Barack Obama on economic issues, including cutting government spending, while Obama's biggest strengths remain foreign policy and fighting terrorism.