China Faces Tough Choice Between North Korea and US
Although Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month described the U.S. and North Korea as two accelerating trains that are set for a "head-on collision," as of Wednesday, there are no indications that a U.S. military strike against Pyongyang is imminent.
President Donald Trump, however, has insisted he will no longer adhere to his predecessor's policy of "strategic patience" toward North Korea. This suggests the administration is willing to consider the possibility of military action to prevent the North from developing a nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland.
Amid this U.S. and North Korea standoff, it remains unclear whether China would respond with force to U.S. military action against the reclusive regime.
Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS organization in Honolulu, said he doubts China would take action: "The Chinese aren't going to war over a very ungrateful friend," given that the North Koreans have "insulted and undermined Chinese national interests over the last couple of years."
But some analysts say as long as any U.S. attack against North Korea aligns with China's interests, Beijing will accept the U.S. action.
Explosion Near Damascus Airport
A massive explosion in Syria early Thursday hit near the Damascus International Airport, resulting in a fire and questions about its cause.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria, said the blast did not happen at the airport itself, but could be heard within the city of Damascus 25 kilometers away.
Lebanon's pro-Hezbollah al-Manar television said the explosion was the result of airstrikes by Israeli warplanes. Reuters quoted an Israeli military spokeswoman saying, "We can't comment on such reports."
Throughout the Syrian war, which began in March 2011, Israel has made it clear it would not allow shipments of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah units fighting in Syria. Israeli forces have on multiple occasions used airstrikes or other attacks to stop such moves, with the military often declining to confirm it was responsible for the strikes. Hezbollah and Israel fought each other in the 2006 Lebanon War.
Hezbollah fighters have openly fought in Syria on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad since 2013.