Syria on Deadline — Even as Syrian activists reported fresh rounds of shelling Wednesday, the U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan expressed cautious optimism that the Syrian regime would honor the April 12 ceasefire plan. Analysts however remain skeptical. The April 10 deadline for the withdrawal of Bashar al-Assad’s forces from major Syrian cities has passed without much change on the ground. As the international community goes back to the drawing board to recalibrate its diplomatic efforts, Foreign Policy explores the options available to them – and indeed, to Assad himself.
The Xilai Show — In a dramatic twist in the tale of high-flying Chinese politician Bo Xilai – who was unceremoniously removed from office last month – Xinhua news service reported late Tuesday that his wife is under investigation for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. While this saga of crime and politics has caught the public’s imagination, an op-ed in The New York Times by Jonathan Fenby of research group Trusted Sources argues that it is essentially a sideshow that distracts from the larger problems China faces under its current leadership.
Border Wars — The fighting between Sudan and South Sudan intensified as the South Sudanese took control of an oil field along the contested border Tuesday. The BBC reports that the government of Sudan will use “all means” to respond, sparking fears of a return to war. Agence France-Presse reveals reports of forced recruitment into the South Sudanese army along the border, is resulting in those conscripted being of a younger age. “In the first conscription they were not looking for children, but the last conscription they were taking everybody,” a worried mother told the news agency.
Euro Zone Bargain Hunting — As housing prices fall, investors looking for inexpensive vacation homes are flocking to the Greek Island of Rhodes. German newspaper Die Welt explores the surge in Germans, Austrians and Swiss seizing the opportunity to buy cheap, as home prices on the island fell 30%. But complex home ownership laws means that “any purchase involves convoluted research into property rights,” the newspaper concludes.
Just Say No — The war on drugs will weigh heavily on discussions at the Summit of the Americas this weekend. The Washington Post reports that the Latin American leaders, including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, are ready to discuss concrete alternatives to the decades-old legislation that favors criminalization. After 40 years with little impact in the rate of drug usage and escalating violence in the region, will there now be a change?