January 15th, 2008 04:35 EST
World Chronicle: January 14
KHARTOUM, Sudan. The Sudanese government shows international organizations that they are not welcome in the country. News agencies informed on Monday that an aircraft with the Sudanese army insignia bombed rebel positions in western parts of Darfur, killing three civilians. The attack, which was mounted on Sunday, significantly hampered the work of humanitarian agencies operating in the region, cutting off thousands of people in so-called “no-go zone” from food and medicine. The governmental spokesperson refused to comment on the incident.
Although African Union soldiers protect the people of Darfur, the number of peacekeepers is inappropriate to the extensive needs. As violent clashes between governmental forces and rebels intensify, hundreds of thousands of civilians are forced to seek refuge across Darfur and neighboring countries. The Sunday attack shows, however, that despite promises from Khartoum that it would stop military actions; the situation in war-shattered Darfur is still volatile.
MAPUTO, Mozambique. Great floods caused by continuing rains have made thousands of people homeless in the southeastern African country of Mozambique. Governmental officials announced that up to 200,000 people would have to move to safer areas as the waves of water keep sweeping the infrastructure off the flooded parts of the country. As weather forecasts for the region are unfavorable, it is feared the catastrophe may spread to other countries. “If this happens, southern Africa will certainly face major flooding with potentially catastrophic consequences,” the Agence France Press cites Peter Rees of the Red Cross.
CARACAS, Venezuela. Although he is constitutionally banned from running for re-election, President Hugo Chavez refuses to retire in 2012. After losing a referendum that would have guaranteed him an endless presidency, this time, the controversial head of state called on his allies to initiate a broad-support movement that could amend the constitution. “I'll leave that to you. It's not up to me now. I played and I lost,” Chavez said, as cited by the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the world media gossip that Chavez may soon marry top model Naomi Campbell. Campbell, age 38, interviewed the Venezuelan president last month and said she was touched by his kindness and intelligence. It seems that January is a month of presidential weddings.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. The visit of Pakistan's President Musharraf to the southern city of Karachi was cut short when a bomb killed over nine people and injured dozens more. According to witnesses, the bomb was fixed to a motorbike and was detonated in front of a textile factory, one of the biggest employers in the city. It remains a mystery why perpetrators chose that place, as both Musharraf and his political opponent, who arrived in Karachi shortly before the explosion, held their rallies far away from the factory.
A month before parliamentary elections, terrorists intensify their actions. The figures provided by the Agence France Press show that over 800 people have been killed in Pakistan in less than 14 months. The deadliest incident took place in November 2007, when nearly 140 civilians lost their lives.
NEW DELHI, India. As the political situation in neighboring Pakistan remains unstable, India plans to arm itself. Around $2.5 billion are up for grabs for a potential arms producer, which would make the best offer for the Indian central government. The country's defense ministry wants to upgrade its army with 140 medium caliber artillery guns – equipment that may substantially improve India's capability to protect its volatile borders. Among the favorites are companies from the United States, Great Britain, France, and Russia.
Although arms producers from around the world greedily rub their hands together over the prospect of a profitable contract, their governments are not as happy. Both India and Pakistan possess nuclear warheads, and a purchase of arms from one side usually spurs the same move from the other. The two countries have waged several wars; the most recent one was fought over Kashmir.
PARIS, France. Women sighing for French President Nicholas Sarkozy may need some extra anti-depressants. According to one newspaper's online edition, people shouldn't be surprised to see a ring on “Sarko's” finger since he ceased to be a bachelor last Thursday. According to the website, the lucky girl was an Italian ex model, Carla Bruni. The ceremony was to take place on Thursday evening inside the Elysee Palace, the official residence of French presidents. Some gossip columnists, however, have been speculating that the couple will not say “yes” until February, before Sarkozy's visit to Great Britain. According to the British etiquette, only a married couple can spend the night in the same bedroom.
The romance between Sarkozy and Bruni caught many by surprise. Paparazzi began to take pictures of the couple only a few weeks after the French president divorced his second wife. In other words, Paris competes with Caracas as the world capital of love.
MOSCOW, Russia. The British Council – an organization that promotes the English language and culture – may soon disappear from Russian cities. According to news agencies, the Kremlin plans to stop issuing new visas for the Council's workers as the agreement between Russia and Great Britain forbids the former to officially expel the institution. Moscow accuses the British Council of meddling into Russia's domestic policies and spying for Great Britain.
The diplomatic relations between Great Britain and Russia have been at their worst since 10 Downing Street demanded the extradition of a prominent Russian businessman. The businessman with close ties to Vladimir Putin was said to have played an important role in the fatal poisoning of the former KGB spy and critic of the Russian government, Alexander Litvinienko.
MIDDLE EASTJERUSALEM, Israel. Israel is changing its policy towards Iran into a more aggressive one. According to the Associated Press, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday that he left “all options open” in dealing with Iran, accused by both Israel and the United States of harboring nuclear ambitions. Although Tehran claims its program is purely for peaceful reasons, some countries remain highly distrustful of the Iranian plans.