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World View: Syria's Assad Frees 2,130 Prisoners in Exchange for 48 Iranians

World View: Syria's Assad Frees 2,130 Prisoners in Exchange for 48 Iranians

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:

  • U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi breaks neutrality and rebukes Syria’s Assad
  • Tensions between China and Japan over Senkaku/Diaoyu continue to escalate
  • Hamas teaching Hebrew to young Palestinians
  • Syria’s Assad frees 2,130 prisoners in exchange for 48 Iranians

U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi breaks neutrality and rebukes Syria’s Assad

The nationwide television address given on Sunday by Syria’s presidentBashar al-Assad was an extraordinary spectacle, calling for oppositionfighters to give themselves up and fling themselves on his mercy, andwas, according to some commentators, a confirmation of hisdangerous state of denial. The U.N. and Arab League envoy,Lakhdar Brahimi, who has meticulously maintained a neutral stance uptill now, said that the speech was “more sectarian and one-sided” thanprevious talks and said: 

The time of reforms granted magnanimously from abovehas passed. People want to have a say in how they are governed andthey want to take hold of their own future.

In Syria, in particular, I think that what people are saying isthat a family ruling for 40 years is a little bit too long.

So the change has to be real. It has to be real, and I think thatPresident Assad could take the lead in responding to theaspiration of his people rather than resisting it.

This rebuke, calling for the end of the 40-year reign of the al-Assadfamily, represents a new change of direction for the envoy.

Brahimi, as well as his predecessor Kofi Annan, have accomplished lessthan nothing in resolving the Syrian conflict. They’ve made thingsworse by providing a cover for al-Assad, the Russians and the Chineseto continue his bloody slaughter, while pretending to be negotiating.However, whether a change in direction by Brahimi means a change indirection in Syria remains to be seen. Gulf News (Dubai) and Telegraph (London)

Tensions between China and Japan over Senkaku/Diaoyu continue to escalate

Japan’s new government, led by Shinzo Abe, is planning to spend anadditional $54.3 billion dollars for military equipment to defend theSenkaku/Diaoyu islands from claims by China. The money will be usedto acquire unmanned drones to detect incoming Chinese ships andlow-flying aircraft, as well as for missile interceptors andF-15 fighter planes. Chinese surveillance ships have been enteringthe waters surrounding the islands, prompting protests and confrontationsby the Chinese. According to one analyst: 

Now that Abe is in power – he’s known as a hardlinenationalist – and now that Xi JinPing is taking the helm of Chinafor the next 10 years, I think he’s looking to put his stake downas someone who is really a strong defender of China. So I thinkwe’re really going to see an entrenched position on both sides andit looks like there is a new normal of wars and increasing[military] expenditures that are likely for the next severalyears.

China is responding with plans to build 11 new drone bases alongChina’s coastline, and is testing eight new drone models. Accordingto a U.S. analyst, China “could easily match or outpace US spending onunmanned systems.” Russia Today

Hamas teaching Hebrew to young Palestinians

The Islamic University in Gaza City, the flagship university of Gaza’sHamas government, is offering a one-year diploma course in Hebrew, toproduce qualified teachers to introduce Hebrew studies in Gaza highschools, for the first time since the mid-1990s. There is no shortageof Hebrew speakers in Gaza, especially among older generations, whorecall a more peaceful time when Palestinians could freely enterIsrael. But since the 2000 uprising, and especially since the Israeliwithdrawal in 2005, the Gaza Palestinians and Israelis have beenalmost entirely isolated from one another. Arabic and Hebrew havemany similarities, since they’re both Semitic tongues. According toone instructor, “[Hebrew] is the language of our enemies. But it isalso the language of our neighbors.” AP

Syria’s Assad frees 2,130 prisoners in exchange for 48 Iranians

Syria’s opposition rebels are accusing president Bashar al-Assad ofconsidering Syrian civilians almost worthless, and at the same timecelebrating a major victory, after al-Assad freed over 2,130prisoners, mostly Syrian civilians, in exchange for just 48 Iraniansthat have been held by the opposition rebels. The 48 Iranians hadbeen captured by Syrian rebels and held hostage in August, and wereaccused of being Revolutionary Guards providing military help to theal-Assad regime, which Iran has denied. Since the Syrian conflictbegan early in 2011, al-Assad’s regime has slaughtered 60,000 of hisown people, almost all innocent civilians, and has jailed thousands ofothers. CNN

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