World Week Ahead: Syria’s Rebellion; Next Steps in Libya; Haiti’s Runoff

BY Larisa Epatko  March 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM EST


Syrian children holding a flag and picture of President Bashar al-Assad at a pro-government rally in Damascus on March 25 (Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images)

Even as President Obama prepares to address the nation to discuss Libya Monday night, revolutions are roiling in other countries where the United States has greater interests and issues — Yemen and Syria.

In Syria, demonstrations for and against President Bashar al-Assad are growing as the government mulls lifting a more than 50-year-old state of emergency. And in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh reportedly has backed away from an agreement reached over the weekend in which he would leave his post.

Click: Track the day-by-day turmoil gripping North Africa and the Middle East in The Wall Street Journal’s interactive graphic.

MONDAY: President Obama addresses the nation at 7:30 p.m. ET on the U.S.’s path forward in Libya. He faced some criticism in Congress for launching military action in Libya without getting lawmakers’ consent. In his Saturday radio address, the president defended the U.S. role in the military intervention, saying “because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians … have been saved.”

On the Sunday morning talk shows, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates described how coalition strikes have protected rebels and civilians. Clinton said just as NATO was handed authority over the military operation, it would lead the civilian protection mission as well.

And Gates explained why removing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was not part of the current military mission:

“I think you don’t want ever to set a set of goals or a mission – military mission where you can’t be confident of accomplishing your objectives. And as we have seen in the past, regime change is a very complicated business. It sometimes takes a long time. Sometimes it can happen very fast, but it was never part of the military mission,” Gates said on ABC’s “This Week”.

Watch: Gates and Clinton’s full interview on ABC:

TUESDAY: The Arab League and countries involved in enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya will meet London on Tuesday to discuss how to help a transition of Gadhafi leaving power, said Clinton. She said the United Nations also has an envoy who will be “actively working with Gadhafi and those around him.”

“We have sent a clear message that it is time for him to transition out of power. The African Union has now called for a democratic transition, Clinton said, though she added that she couldn’t predict how long it would take. “But we believe that Libya will have a better shot in the future if he departs and leaves power.”

View: The BBC offers maps showing day-by-day developments in Libya.

THURSDAY: Preliminary results in Haiti’s presidential and parliamentary run-off elections are due Thursday. Whoever wins the presidency – either musician Michel Martelly, a.k.a. “Sweet Micky,” or law professor Mirlande Manigat – faces a massive reconstruction effort following last year’s earthquake. They also could find themselves at odds with the prime minister, who would come from the majority party in Parliament.

View: Time magazine displays photos of Haiti a year after the Jan. 12 earthquake demolished parts of the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

More: We’re also following developments in Japan, where high radiation levels were detected outside the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.

Watch: Bloomberg’s interview with Lake Barrett, former deputy director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management at the U.S. Department of Energy, on Japan’s nuclear crisis and how it compares to the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island near Middletown, Pa., and the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in Ukraine:

Read: The Union of Concerned Scientists provides a Frequency Asked Questions list about the nuclear crisis in Japan and photos of the Fukushima control room.

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