- Ten nations expel Syria's diplomats over Houla massacre
- U.S. says that military intervention in Syria would lead to 'chaos and carnage'
- Syria's instability continues to spread into Lebanon
- Turkey to boycott Europe when Greek Cypriot becomes president
- Housing prices fall to new lows
Ten nations expel Syria's diplomats over Houla massacre
The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and the Netherlands took coordinated action on Tuesday by simultaneously expelling their Syrian diplomats, following a gruesome massacre that the United Nations said involved close-range shootings of scores of children and parents in their homes. The moves came after the killings Friday in Houla, a collection of farming villages in Syria's Homs province — one of the deadliest single events in a 15-month-old uprising against Syria's president Bashar al-Assad that has killed thousands. AP
U.S. says that military intervention in Syria would lead to 'chaos and carnage'
The coordinated expulsion of Syrian diplomats from ten countries was symbolically impressive, but it's not clear that it will make any difference whatsoever. According to the White House, all options are still on the table, but:
We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action. We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage.
Syria's instability continues to spread into Lebanon
With the "Kofi Annan Peace Plan" now in such shambles that it's hard to find anyone willing to vouch for it (beyond the remark, "It has to work, because it's the only thing we have"), we now have to see what Syria's neighbors are going to do. The conflict is feeding into sectarian tensions throughout the Mideast, as al-Assad's regime uses Alawite militias to slaughter Sunni civilians. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already providing money and weapons to the Sunni opposition in Syria.
But perhaps more significant is the growing instability within Lebanon. There are frequent gunfights in Tripoli, Lebanon, near the border with Syria, and Lebanese Sunnis cross into Syria to fight with Shia militants. Tensions in Lebanon shot up early last week when a busload of Shia Lebanese citizens were kidnapped, presumably by Sunnis, in Syria, as they traveled back to Lebanon from a religious pilgrimage to Iran. The women and elderly men were released immediately, but 11 Shia men are still being held. This situation has raised tension so much that even Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who is normally doing everything he can to stir up violence, last week called for calm, a statement so uncharacteristic of him that it brought a smile to a lot of lips, including mine. Daily Star (Lebanon) and Daily Star
Turkey to boycott Europe when Greek Cypriot becomes president
The European Union presidency rotates through the member countries in six-month terms, and beginning July 1, the president of Greek Cyprus will be president of the EU. Turkey and Greece fought a very bitter proxy war in Cyprus in the 1970s, causing Cyprus to be split into Greek and Turkish regions. However, Turkey does not recognize Greek Cyprus, and so, for six months beginning July 1, Turkey will terminate all negotiations to become a member of the European Union. European Parliament President Martin Schulz is calling this decision unacceptable:
I take note that a candidate state says to us we will not negotiate during the presidency of a member state of the European Union. But I criticize this. This is not possible and I have to take note of that as well.
Housing prices fall to new lows
According to a report released on Tuesday, all three of the S&P/Case-Shiller housing price index composites fell to new post-crisis lows in the first quarter, with the national composite sliding a whopping 2% in the first three months of 2012. There was a brief upward burst of prices in 2011, leading financial experts and pundits to declare that housing prices had "bottomed," and that the crisis was over. These are the same experts who were saying in the mid-2000s decade that there was no housing bubble because "Everyone has to live somewhere." These are the same experts who have been declaring a bottom every month since 2007. But Tuesday's figures indicate that the housing bubble collapse still has a long way to go. Forbes