Must-Reads from Around the World: March 20, 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)

More Syria Leaks – Al Jazeera reveals details from confidential Syrian intelligence and security documents handed over by one of the government’s most trusted officials who recently fled to Turkey. The trove shows President Bashar Assad’s strategy to suppress anti-government protests, including orders to stop protesters from getting into Damascus and detailed security plans for crushing protests in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib, as well as warnings about countries trying to influence Syrian diplomats to defect and indications the government spied on last year’s Arab League monitoring mission in Syria.

Environmental Fallout – Thailand’s the Nation exposes the costs of the country’s development on fragile ecosystems. “More than a third of all coral reefs near coastal areas around the country have been destroyed by sediment from land developments to build hotels, resorts and private homes,” it writes. The worst-hit Andaman coast, home to resorts like Phuket, has seen half its reefs degraded.

Eyes on Islamabad – Pakistan’s Dawn reports on the start of a three-day joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, summoned by President Zardari after last year’s U.S. helicopter raid killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, to debate future American ties. It includes the presentation of a key all-party Parliamentary Committee on National Security report with recommendations for the strained relationship.

Deadly Anniversary – A series of coordinated attacks across Iraq marked the ninth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion and raisef concerns as Baghdad prepared to host the Arab League summit next week, the BBC reports. At least 46 were killed and hundreds wounded in Tuesday’s violence.

Euro No – The Washington Post explores Poland’s acceptance of all things E.U. — except the euro. The Polish economy – supported by the zloty – is now the fastest growing of the 27 member countries. In the face of euro zone troubles, newer members such as Poland and the Czech Republic are no longer racing to accept the euro. “The attraction is somewhat less; the risks are somewhat more,” Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told the newspaper.

African Investment Foreign Policy examines China’s African building boom. In addition to fully funding the $200 million African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there are soccer stadiums, office space and other multi-million dollar projects in the works. A slideshow also illustrates China’s big investments across the continent.