The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed South Sudan’s independence; the proposed national dialogue between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and anti-regime activists; U.S. involvement in Iraq; and the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to California.
- Dignitaries from around the world are gathering in Juba this weekend to celebrate the birth of a new nation, the Republic of South Sudan. Next week the UN General Assembly will vote to recognize its independence and make it the UN’s newest member. Successive U.S. administrations worked hard to broker the peaceful secession of South Sudan from Sudan. The new country faces many big challenges, not the least of them being its poverty—by one count there are fewer than 100 kilometers of paved roads in the entire country—and its continuing tensions with Khartoum.
- The proposed national dialogue in Damascus isn’t likely to heal the rifts that have developed in Syria, and the minority Alawite regime led by President Bashar al-Assad looks like it intends to defend its privileged position. While many Americans hope that Assad will be swept from power, many of Syria’s neighbors worry what will happen if he is.
- Many Iraqis hope that some U.S. forces will stay in Iraq after the planned withdrawal date in December and help keep the peace. The White House has said it is prepared to keep as many as 10,000 troops in Iraq if the Iraqi government requests them. But Shiite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr bitterly opposes letting U.S. troops stay on, and so far no Iraqi leader has been willing to cross him on the issue.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is the duo of Barack Obama and John Boehner. My Figure of the Week is 108. The podcast explains why.
Reuters reports on upcoming challenges amid celebration in South Sudan. CFR’s John Campbell writes about UN peacekeeping in the fledgling state, and the Human Rights Watch releases a report on Darfur. The Los Angeles Times outlines the Syrian anti-regime group’s response to Assad’s call to dialogue. Al Arabiya highlights the possibility that Assad may be indicted by the International Criminal Court, and the Economist covers continued violent protests in the city of Hama. The Associated Press posts statistics on U.S. military deaths in Iraq, the Atlantic discusses the possibility of leaving troops in Iraq past December, and Reuters describes the development of an economic relationship between Iran and Iraq. The Washington Post provides an itinerary for the Duke and Duchess’s visit to California, while CNN makes available behind the scenes photos of their Royal Canada tour.