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Week Ahead: More troubles in Syria and Greece

Syria crisis gets more complicated and euro crisis is far from over.

Greek violence 2012 02 12Enlarge
Protesters rallying against government austerity plans clash with riot police in front of the parliament in Athens on Feb. 12 2012. (ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — This is the week when Syria will continue to be roiled by violence and Europe will be rocked by financial turmoil over the euro zone crisis, including riots in Greece.

Syria's crisis becomes even more complicated

Syria's crisis will deepen and become more complicated this week. President Bashar al-Assad is continuing his violent attacks on the civilian population, which has killed more than 5,000 people. The Syrian economy is declining and this is going to increase suffering of the people and pressure on Assad. The Arab League, the United Nations, the United States and others are trying to figure out an effective way to pressure Assad to step down, but so far have had little success.

Al Qaeda added an unexpected twist to the situation by issuing a statement Sunday in which it supported those working to topple Assad. So that puts the US and the UN on the same side as arch-terrorists Al Qaeda.

And the Arab Spring continues to stir up the Middle East. In Bahrain, a fresh round of demonstrations have erupted.

Related: Arab League proposes joing UN peacekeeping force in Syria

Euro crisis plunges Greece into riots

The week started with riots in Greece against economic austerity measures and efforts across Europe to find a solution to the euro debt crisis.

More than 100,000 protesters massed in central Athens and some of the angry demonstrators set buildings on fire, looted shops and clashed with riot police.

Greek lawmakers early Monday approved harsh new economic cutbacks demanded by bailout creditors to save the debt-crippled nation from bankruptcy. The historic vote paves the way for Greece's European partners and the International Monetary Fund to release $170 billion in new rescue loans, without which Greece would default on its debt next month and would leave the euro zone. The severe cuts will get rid of one in five civil service jobs and reduce the minimum wage by more than a fifth.

More: Greece passes new austerity deal amid violent clashes 

 

Mali troubled by Tuareg rebels

Mali will be also be unsettled by thousands of Tuareg rebels, who had fought for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and flooded back to their home country after the dictator's demise. The armed Tuareg fighters are opposed to the Mali government of President Amadou Toumani Touré and they have formed a new group, calling itself the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA, in its French acronym).

Now fighting has erupted in northern Mali and some 30,000 Mali civilians have fled. The Tuaregs are an ethnic group who do not feel properly represented in Mali or in other neighboring countries. This is a problem that is going to continue to unsettle Mali and Niger, the countries of the Sahel (the West African area on the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert).

More from GlobalPost: Tuaregs: 5 things you need to know 

Anonymous keeps taking down big targets

You've got to hand it to Anonymous. The 'hacktivists' keep on targeting the big and the bad. Their latest victims are Germany's far right neo-Nazi groups, some of which have been responsible for a string of murders. The neo-Nazi websites are going to find it hard to operate this week.

Valentine's hearts take the plunge

It is wildly hyped by greeting card companies. It pushes red hearts and roses in everyone's faces. And it is the worst night to go to a restaurant for dinner. We're talking about Feb. 14, Valentine's Day.

Love it or loathe it, Valentine's Day has caught on around the world. And some people find innovative ways to mark the day of romance, as captured in this fun PlanetPic.

And who says a choice of romantic partner, particularly a same sex partner, makes a second class citizen? President Barack Obama's administration is pushing ahead with making gay rights integral to its foreign policy. That's something that will make waves in Uganda and many other countries this week, and for some time to come. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/opinion/columnists/120212/week-ahead-Feb%2012-19%2C%202012