November 28th, 2007 13:38 EST
World Chronicle: November 28
MOGADISHU, Somalia- In response to last night's attacks on Ethiopian forces in Mogadishu, the authorities in Addis Ababa (together with its puppet Somalian government) have launched a wide-scale offensive against Islamic rebels. As the BBC reports, at least six Ethiopian military bases were targeted late Tuesday night by the insurgents. So far it remains unknown whether there were any casualties, although witnesses claim to have seen at least one body.
Ethiopian troops are reported to be patrolling the streets of the Somalian capital, searching for the members of the Islamic insurgency. Although Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi repeatedly said he would pull his troops out from Somalia by the end of 2007, the latest renewal of the fighting may postpone the withdrawal.
Ethiopian forces arrived in Somalia in 2006 when the weak government was ousted by Islamic forces. With a tacit US support, the Ethiopians managed to win control over most of the country; however, the corrupted and bickering Somalian government has been unable to bring stability to Somalia which has seen no peace since 1991.
The United Nations warning that as many as 60 percent of the Mogadishu residents could have left the capital-- 200,000 this month alone-- after the fighting between the Ethiopia-backed governmental forces and Islamic rebels intensified.
CARACAS, Venezuela- Days before the December 2 referendum, which is to decide whether to grant President Hugo Chavez new prerogatives, the capital city throngs with protesters. News agencies report that more than 300 people gathered at the Catholic University in Caracas to voice their disapproval of the planned constitutional amendments that would allow Chavez to run for office as many times as he wishes and significantly extend presidential powers. The Associated Press quotes one demonstrator as saying, “We students will keep coming out onto the street to demand freedom and democracy.”
At the same time, around 5,000 people packed into Caracas' largest stadium as a show of support for Chavez. The president, who arrived in the stadium, asked the Venezuelan people to vote “yes” in the referendum in order to “open the path to a new nation.”
Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999. Elected as the candidate who pledged to fight corruption, he quickly managed to monopolize Venezuela's political scene and introduce autocratic rule. If his amendments to the constitution are approved in the referendum, Chavez will be able to stay at the helm of the country for an indefinite period.
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan- After nine months at the helm of the government, Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev was dismissed today by the president. Although the official reason given by the presidential office was that the action was in response to Atambayev's personal request, a close aide to the prime minister told the Associated Press that Atambayev had fallen at odds with the president because “he was interfering with efforts to manipulate the upcoming elections.”
In March 2005, the autocratic president, Askar Akayev, was forced to flee Kyrgyzstan after a bloodless coup led by the current head of state, Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Although Bakiyev scored almost 90 percent in the presidential election soon after the coup, the support began to wane when it turned out that he was unable to resolve the country's most burning problems: staggering economy and corruption. In 2007, Bakiyev nominated Atambayev to placate the opposition which demanded the president step down.
Although Kyrgyzstan lacks vast natural resources, it is an important point on the map of Asia. Both Russia and the United States have military bases there.
VIENNA, Austria- A new conflict in the Balkans is looming large, with Serbia and its rebellious province of Kosovo being, seemingly, unable to reach a compromise before the December 10 deadline. At a last-chance conference held in Austria, neither side was ready to resign from any part of its ambitious plans, leaving any possibility open-- an armed conflict not excluded. The conference was supervised by the European Union, the United States, and Russia-- all the powers that have interest in the Balkans. The Associated Press quotes a US representative as saying, “We regret that the parties were not able to find a solution that was acceptable to each other, despite their hard work and the careful exploration of all the options.”
Kosovo remains an integral part of Serbia although the majority of its citizens are Albanian nationals. It has been under U.N. supervision since 1999, when the US-led coalition ended the brutal war waged by Serbia's president Slobodan Milosevic against the Albanians from Kosovo.
While the European Union and the United States lean toward granting independence to Kosovo, Russia supports Serbia's integrity. The Kremlin worries that after the example of Kosovo, its own republics may insist on breaking with Moscow.
BEIRUT, Lebanon- General Michel Suleiman seems to be Lebanon's only hope to end one of the most severe political crises in years. Today, Suleiman received support from the country's main political party-- the Future Movement-- and only the constitution prevents him from becoming the next president. However, as one Future Movement politician admitted in an interview given to the Associated Press, “We declare our acceptance to amend the constitution in order to reach consensus on the name of the army commander, Gen. Michel Suleiman.”
The political crisis began last Friday when the two main parties-- the US-backed Future Movement and pro-Syrian Hezbollah-- could not reach an agreement necessary to elect the next president. When the deadline passed, the incumbent head of state introduced the emergency rule, which the government has refused to acknowledge.