Must-Reads from Around the World: March 15, 2012

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Syrian President Bashar Assad speaking during a Ramadan Iftar banquet in honor of Muslim clergymen, in Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2011. (Photo: SANA / EPA)

Assad Emails — The Guardian exclusively releases a cache of correspondence purportedly between Syrian President Bashar Assad, his wife Asma and a small inner circle. They show the leader took advice from Iran on how to handle the country’s uprising, that he was briefed in detail about the presence of western journalists in the Baba Amr district of Homs and how he made light of promised reforms.

AfPak Supplies  Pakistani daily Dawn reports how the heads of ruling coalition parties and the chiefs of the army, air force and ISI agreed Wednesday that a joint session of parliament, likely held March 19, would decide on military supplies to NATO forces through Pakistan. “It is learnt that the committee would recommend to the government to secure ‘better’ terms for reopening the supply routes,” it says.

E.U. Blues  As Croatia and now Serbia continue to line up at Europe’s enlargement door, Foreign Policy bluntly asks the question: Why would anyone want to join the E.U.? “The European Union is flailing, feckless, and fundamentally undemocratic,” argues Alan Sked, a professor of international history and a former convener of European studies at the London School of Economics.

Understanding Afghanistan  The New York Times questions if, after 10 years of conflict, Americans have learned anything about the nation’s people. Comparing the reactions to February’s Koran burning incident and the recent mass killing of Afghan civilians by, allegedly, a U.S. solider, the author cites the key disconnect, “Americans still fail to grasp the Afghans’ basic values. Faith is paramount and a death can be compensated with blood money.”

Fallen Star — Former political darling Bo Xilai was removed from his post as the Communist Party chief of the Chongqing municipality Thursday. Party mouthpiece China Daily reports Bo has been stripped of all his posts including secretary and municipal committee member. The ousting poses succession problems as China will experience its largest political transition in years with President Hu Jintao and other elders handing over power, Reuters explains.

Defining DNA The Atlantic tackles Israeli identity politics, wondering if genetics answer the question of what makes someone Jewish? The debate of whether Jewishness is cultural or biological also begs the Palestinian question. “On the family tree of humanity the two peoples are surprisingly close, or so says science,” Jeff Wheelwright writes.