World View: Syrian Regime Bombs Civilians with Russian Jets
This morning's key headlines from
- Syria's envoy to Cyprus defects as regime continues assault on civilians
- In dramatic escalation, Syrian regime bombs civilians with Russian jets
- China establishes Sansha City in the South China Sea
- Taiwan ready for military deployment in South China Sea
- Bond panic continues in Europe as Spanish yields surge
Syria's envoy to Cyprus defects as regime continues assault on civilians
The regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad suffered its third
defection of a senior diplomat on Tuesday when the Syrian chargé
d'affaires to Cyprus Lamia al-Hariri defected and arrived in Qatar.
Syria's ambassador to Sweden defected in December, and the ambassador
to Iraq defected two weeks ago. It's believed that other Syrian
ambassadors, including the envoys to Germany, the Czech Republic, and
Belarussia, have defected, but have not announced it publicly due to
fears over government reprisals.
Syrian envoy Lamia Al Hariri speaks to Cyprus foreign minister in February, 2012 (mfa.gov.cy)
In dramatic escalation, Syrian regime bombs civilians with Russian jets
Syrian warplanes, believed to be Russian MiG bombers, bombed
residential neighborhoods in Aleppo on Tuesday. This attack, the
first of its kind since the protests began early last year, was a
dramatic escalation of the attack on Syrian civilians, and was part of
a coordinated assault by government forces that included heavy
artillery shelling and rockets launched from military helicopters.
The assault destroyed entire neighborhoods. The BBC World Service
interviewed on resident who said, "Why doesn't Assad just use his
chemical weapons and finish us off once and for all?"
Bond panic continues in Europe as Spanish yields surge
Spain's 10-year bond yields (interest rates) continued to surge into a
higher crisis level on Tuesday, as an apparent bond panic gathers
steam in Europe. Spain's 10-year bond yields spiked up to 7.5% on
Monday, and surged higher to a record 7.64% on Tuesday. Germany's
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, meeting with Spain's economy
minister, blamed the markets for the bond panic:
"The current levels of interest rates on sovereign
debt markets don’t correspond to the fundamentals of the Spanish
Pressure is building on the European Central Bank (ECB) to "print
money" and use it to purchase Spanish bonds, in order to bring down
yields. Germany opposes such a move because it make Germany an
indirect guarantor of the bonds. German officials are already
bristling because Moody's put Germany's AAA rated debt on "negative
watch" yesterday, indicated that Germany may be downgraded because of
exposure to the euro crisis.
China establishes Sansha City in the South China Sea
In order to pursue its claims that the entire South China Sea is
China's sovereign territory, to be controlled entirely by China, a
gala ceremony marked the establishment of the city of Sansha in the
middle of the South China Sea. The Chinese flag was hoisted, the
national anthem was played, and there were military displays. Wang
Chunyan, who works for the supermarket, says she likes living there.
Huang Liangshan, a local fisherman, plans to open a small sea food
restaurant. "It will make my fishing hauls sell better," he said.
China has pretty much made it clear that any non-Chinese who insists
on fishing in the South China Sea will be killed.
South China Sea, with blue line added to show region claimed by China as part of its sovereign territory
Taiwan ready for military deployment in South China Sea
Taiwan's military is poised to deploy 120 mm mortars and 40 mm guns on
Taiping Island, part of the Spratly Island group. Taiwan claims
sovereignty over Taiping Island, as well as all the Spratly Islands,
challenging the sovereignty of China, the Philippines, Malaysia,
Vietnam and Brunei. A recent visit to Taiping Island by a government
official found that there was insufficient military weaponry on the
island to provide for a sufficient defense.
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