Chatter: Damascus bombing, the aftermath




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Need to know:
The crisis in Syria looks very, very different today. 

Yesterday's bombing at the National Security headquarters in Damascus was unprecedented. It killed President Bashar al-Assad's defense minister, his brother-in-law and his top security advisor. It was the equivalent of a bomb going off in the White House Situation Room packed with the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility and a major blow to Assad's regime. But for the moment, there are far more questions than answers. How were rebels able to penetrate the highest levels of security? Why was Syrian state media the first to report that they had? How should other countries react to what appears to have been the assassination of government members by armed radicals? And, most crucially: what will happen next?

GlobalPost put those questions and others to correspondents and analysts in Syria, the Middle East and beyond; find their answers here

Want to know:
Lest we forget that the rest of the Middle East ain't such a party either: at least seven people were killed by a bomb on an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria yesterday, in an attack that Israel has blamed on Iran.

And now, Bulgarian authorities say a man carrying American ID was most likely the bomber. His body was found among the others, and on it a Michigan driving licence and passport. The FBI and CIA have examined them; early reports say the papers are fake.

Israel has accused Lebanese Hezbollah of carrying out the attack at Iran's instigation, the same team that Jerusalem accuses of targeting Israelis abroad before. Iran calls the allegations "ridiculous." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assures that he "will respond forcefully to Iranian terror."

Dull but important:
A veteran member of Egypt's old guard is dead: Omar Suleiman, the former head of Hosni Mubarak's intelligence services, who has passed away in the US.

Suleiman was 76. He died unexpectedly this morning in a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, where he had gone for medical tests.

A general, he headed the Egyptian intelligence services for almost 20 years. He was appointed Mubarak's vice-president in January 2011, less than two weeks before he would announce the strongman president's departure.

Suleiman went on to seek to become Egypt's first democratically elected president earlier this year, but failed to secure enough signatures to run.

Just because:
More than 7,000 people died in the cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti two years ago. Many Haitians blame the United Nations and their peacekeeping forces, who were stationed in the country after its devastating earthquake.

Last November, 15,000 affected Haitians joined together to file a legal complaint against the UN, in which they assert that peacekeepers from Nepal allowed sewage to contaminate a tributary of Haiti's longest river.

Seven months later, their case sits idle and the UN denies responsibility for bringing cholera to the country. GlobalPost looks at why the process has stalled – and what hope remains for the ordinary Haitians asking one of the world's largest organizations for compensation.

Strange but true:
Forget that military shake-up business; the North Korean mystery (and oh, there are so many) that's really been preoccupying us this week is: who is Kim Jong Un's new lady?

Ever since she started appearing next to El Kim at public events and on state newspapers' front pages, speculation has been rife as to who this young, attractive woman could be. 

Thankfully for us, South Korea's intelligence services turn out to just as gossip-hungry, and much better placed. They inform us that the femme in question is Hyon Song Wol, former leader singer of something called the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band, and Juliet to Kim's Romeo. They apparently dated for 10 years before being split up by Kim Jong "Kill Joy" Il. 

Who knows if any of that's true. But we predict a sudden rise in sales of the Bochonbo's back catalogue – and with hits like 2005's "Excellent Horse-Like Lady," no one could deserve it more.