Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week Review: January 9 - January 15

A summary of what happened in the world over the last week.

January 10

USA. "Thank you New Hampshire. Today we have written history," said Mitt Romney to a cheering crowd after winning the New Hampshire primary. Jon Huntsman came third and Rick Santorum only fifth. Mitt Romney, strong of his extremely well performing fundraising machine, is now looking at the primary in South Carolina on January 21.

January 11

Iran. Another scientist, Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan, has been killed, the fourth over the last two years. Tehran accuses the governments of the USA and Israel to be behind the killing.

Pakistan. President Yousuf Raza Gilani critized the leaders of the army, General Pervez Kayani, and of the military intelligence services, General Shuja Pasha, for participating in a public judicial inquiry, violating the Constitution. ISPR released a statement saying that "This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the Country." Mr. Gilani has also sacked his Defence Secretary.

January 12

Afghanistan. Live Leak posted a video of American troops urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. The Pentagon promised an investigation and both US authorities and the Taliban commented that this incident would not jeopardize the peace talks. In the meantime the Washington Post reported the intention of the US to get back on good terms with President Karzai after the frictions following the agreement between the US and the Taliban that would allow the latter to  open a political office in Qatar.

Haiti/UN. After two years from the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti and its people, the country is still in desperate conditions and it is becoming more and more evident that the international community has failed to keep its promises. And the reasons for this failure are, of course, hard to establish. A report was released today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. See blog post.

Nigeria/UN. The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Nigeria's political and religious leaders to make all necessary efforts to stop the spiralling sectarian violence unleashed by the Boko Haram group. See blog post.

January 13

EU. European leaders described Standars & Poor's downgrading of nine eurozone countries as 'political' and 'inconsistent', and China claimed the move cast doubt on the credibility of credit ratings agencies. The downgrades – especially of Austria and France – will put pressure on the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), which has already been used to rescue Portugal and the Irish Republic. The EFSF is guaranteed by the eurozone governments, and therefore relies on their creditworthiness. See article on

Hungary/EU. Hungary Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, announced that his government is ready to review its controversial law on the Central bank, considered by EU institutions as contrary to the European Treaties. Mr. Orban, however, rejected other remarks by the European Commission regarding the independence of the judiciary and the authority for the protection of privacy. The changes to the law on the Central bank is a precondition to start negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

Italy. The Costa Concordia, which was carrying more than 4,000 passengers, experienced trouble a few hundred metres from the tiny Tuscan holiday island of Giglio. An evacuation operation, involving helicopters and rescue boats, was immediately launched as the vessel began to take on water and list to the right.

January 14

Lebanon, UN. The United Nations will maintain its “strong and unwavering” commitment to Lebanon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged as he began an official visit to the country. Lebanon marks Mr. Ban’s first trip abroad since beginning his second term as Secretary-General on 1 January. The country is home to the Organization’s third-largest peacekeeping operation, as well as the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

January 15

Israel/US. The United States and Israel have decided to postpone an upcoming, large-scale joint naval exercise because of growing tensions with Iran. Officials said the war games, originally scheduled for May and named "Austere Challenge," would not happen until later in the year. Read Los Angeles Times report.

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