December 17, 2012

World Dispatches

BEIRUT

Syria’s vice president admits government victory unlikely

Syria’s longtime vice president said Sunday that his regime and the rebels are both going down a losing path after 21 months of civil war, a rare admission by a top government official that President Bashar Assad’s victory is unlikely.

The comments by Farouk al-Sharaa came as an Islamist faction of Syrian rebels captured an infantry base in the northern city of Aleppo, and Syrian warplanes blasted a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, killing eight people and wounding dozens, activists said.

Al-Sharaa told the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar that neither the rebels nor the Assad regime can “decide the battle militarily.” It appeared to be an attempt to show that the rebels are not the solution to the Syria conflict, and their victory might bring chaos to the country.

TOKYO

Conservative party appears to be winning election

Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in a landslide election victory Sunday after three years in opposition, according to unofficial results, signaling a rightward shift in the government that could further heighten tensions with China, a key economic partner as well as rival.

The victory means the hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will get a second chance to lead the nation after a one-year stint in 2006-2007. He would be Japan’s seventh prime minister in six-and-a-half years.

Public broadcaster NHK’s tally showed the LDP, which ruled Japan for most of the post-World War II era until it was dumped in 2009, won 294 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament. Official results were not expected until Monday morning.

PYONGYANG, North Korea

Leader and his late father lauded after rocket firing

North Korea parlayed the success of last week’s rocket launch to glorify leader Kim Jong Un and his late father on Sunday, the eve of the first anniversary of his death.

The successful firing of the rocket on Wednesday – ostensibly to place a satellite in space – was a clear sign that Kim will continue carrying out his father Kim Jong Il’s policies even if they draw sanctions and international condemnation.

The West sees the rocket as a thinly disguised way of carrying out U.N.-banned tests of long-range missile technology.

There are concerns also that in upcoming weeks, Pyongyang will press ahead with a nuclear test, necessary in the march toward building a warhead small enough to be carried by a long-range missile.

At a somber memorial service Sunday, North Korea’s top leadership eulogized Kim Jong Il and his son, who is certain to have gained national prestige and clout by going ahead with the rocket launch.

CARACAS, Venezuela

Chavez allies dominate in gubernatorial elections

Allies of President Hugo Chavez won a sweeping victory in the country’s gubernatorial elections Sunday, capturing at least 19 of 23 states, the country’s electoral chief said.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles held on for a re-election win in Miranda state, one of three opposition candidates who won, according to the preliminary results.

Going into the vote, the opposition held the governorships in eight states, and it lost in five of those states according to the results announced by National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena.

Jorge Rodriguez, campaign manager for the pro-Chavez camp, hailed the victory saying it represented “the map painted red” – the color of Chavez’ socialist party.

– From news service reports

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