News in Brief

February 24, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

USGLC in the News

USGLC Senior Director Ambassador Mark Green interviewed on “The Pat Snyder Show”.

Who’s in the News

How to Halt the Butchery in Syria (Anne-Marie Slaughter, New York Times)

The Friends of Syria, some 70 countries scheduled to meet in Tunis today, should establish “no-kill zones” now to protect all Syrians regardless of creed, ethnicity or political allegiance. The Free Syrian Army, a growing force of defectors from the government’s army, would set up these no-kill zones near the Turkish, Lebanese and Jordanian borders. Each zone should be established as close to the border as possible to allow the creation of short humanitarian corridors for the Red Cross and other groups to bring food, water and medicine in and take wounded patients out. The zones would be managed by already active civilian committees.  Establishing these zones would require nations like Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to arm the opposition soldiers with anti-tank, countersniper and portable antiaircraft weapons. The power of the Syrian protesters over the past 11 months has arisen from their determination to face down bullets with chants, signs and their own bodies. The international community can draw on the power of nonviolence and create zones of peace in what are now zones of death. The Syrians have the ability to make that happen; the rest of the world must give them the means to do it.

Smart Power

In Defense of America’s International Affairs Budget (Foreign Policy Initiative)

If the United States is to remain a global power, then it must sustain investments in diplomacy and foreign aid commensurate to its national security and international interests.  While it is important for elected officials in Washington to place the country on a sustainable fiscal path, slashing America’s international affairs budget is not the solution.  Rather, to do so would be a mistake of epic proportions that would irreparably damage U.S strategic and economic interests abroad.  Instead, the President and Congress should focus on reforming the international affairs budget, especially to ensure that U.S. foreign aid is used more efficiently.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Afghans flee war to face hunger, disease in slums (Nita Bhalla, Reuters)

Afghanistan’s decade-long conflict has forced more than half a million people to flee their homes — many of whom are at risk of disease, hunger and possible death in city slums across the impoverished country, Amnesty International warned on Thursday.  “Thousands of people are finding themselves living in freezing, cramped conditions and on the brink of starvation,” said Horia Mosadiq, researcher of a recent Afghanistan report.  “The Afghan government is not only looking the other way, but even preventing help from reaching them. This is a largely hidden but horrific humanitarian and human rights crisis,” she said in a statement.  Afghan officials, said the London-based group, claim those fleeing fighting are “economic migrants” and are reluctant to provide or allow aid agencies to provide proper facilities, cautious that it will lead to permanent illegal settlements.  “International donors which fund over 90 percent of Afghanistan’s total public expenditure should ensure that their humanitarian assistance addresses the needs of internally displaced people,” said Mosadiq.

‘Friends of Syria’ to Intensify Pressure on Assad as Bombardment Continues (Steven Lee Myers and Alan Cowell, New York Times)

Diplomats, government ministers and high officials gathered in the Tunisian capital on Friday for a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria” designed to put pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, a day after a United Nations panel concluded that the authorities in Damascus had ordered “gross human rights violations” as a matter of state policy, amounting to crimes against humanity.  The gathering in Tunis brought together representatives of 60 countries and international organizations.  The delegates in Tunis including United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the British foreign secretary, William Hague, plan to meet with Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, an exiled opposition group.

Fayza Abul Naga and Cairo’s Campaign Against NGOs (Stephen McInerney, Foreign Affairs)

Many observers have argued that the U.S. must maintain its assistance in order to preserve its leverage with the Egyptian military. But this crisis is exactly the moment to use this leverage. The fate of civil society in Egypt and beyond is very much at stake. If the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid can attack pro-democracy organizations with no real consequences, authoritarian governments worldwide will be emboldened to follow suit. As such, the administration should take a tougher line, making clear that military aid will certainly be interrupted unless the attacks on NGOs are halted and all charges are dropped. The White House deserves credit for having made support for civil society an important pillar of its approach to strengthening democracy worldwide. Now is the time to demonstrate the strength of that commitment.