Top of the Morning: Meles Zenawi Dies; Obama Raises Prospect of Syria Military Intervention

Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service–DAWNS Digest.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Dies

There has been much speculation about his health, so this should not come as a shock. The man ran Ethiopia with an iron fist, pushing through health and development projects while stifling internal dissent. “Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s longtime prime minister, who oversaw substantial economic growth and turned his country into a staunch counterterrorism ally of the United States but whose harsh treatment of dissidents and journalists drew sharp criticism, died on Monday, state news media reported. He was 57. Mr. Meles, who had led the East African nation since 1991, died of an infection in an overseas hospital late on Monday night, according to state television, which did not say where the hospital was or what Mr. Meles had been treated for. Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn will be sworn in as Mr. Meles’s successor after an emergency meeting of Parliament, said a government spokesman, Bereket Simon. Mr. Bereket said on Tuesday that ‘everything is stable and everything will continue as charted by the prime minister,’ according to Reuters. Mr. Meles had not been seen in public in several weeks, and his health had become a subject of considerable speculation, especially after he failed to attend an African Union summit meeting last month in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Mr. Bereket said Tuesday that Mr. Meles had been ill for a year.” (NYT http://nyti.ms/PaOfiU)

Obama Raises Prospect of Intervention over Syria’s Chemical and Biological Weapons Stockpiles

At an impromptu press conference at the White House yesterday, President Obama raised the prospect of intervention in Syria for the first time. He said an American “red line” would be Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons being moved or falling into the wrong hands. “It was Obama’s most explicit language to date on the prospects for military intervention, and he warned Syria not only against using its unconventional weapons, but against moving them in a threatening fashion. ‘We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is (if) we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,’ Obama said. ‘That would change my calculus. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama told an impromptu White House news conference. He acknowledged he was not ‘absolutely confident’ the stockpile was secure. (CNN http://bit.ly/PaOMRY)

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