January 29th, 2008 11:18 EST
World Chronicle: January 29
AFRICA: Violent Fights in Somalia Leave 20 Dead
MOGADISHU, Somalia. Around 20 people have been killed Monday night when governmental forces engaged Islamic rebels in Mogadishu, the center of a long and brutal civil war. Among the casualties were 17 civilians and two Ethiopian soldiers whose contingent supports the Somali government. According to the Associated Press, the fight broke out when Ethiopian patrols were conducting “house-to-house searches in Mogadishu's northern Hiliwa district.” It remains unknown if and how many rebels were killed as, in a city infested with weapons, it is impossible to distinguish civilians from militiamen.
The New York Times reports today that two volunteers working for Doctors Without Borders lost their lives on Monday when the car they were driving hit a landmine. The blast was so powerful that the Kenyan and French nationals died on the scene. A Somali journalist standing nearby was mortally wounded by shrapnel.
Somalia has been torn by conflicts for years. Ever since the long-time dictator, Siad Barre, was disposed of at the beginning of the 1990s, the country has turned into a war laboratory for various warlords competing for spheres of influence. In 2006, fragile stabilization was brought about by the Islamic regime; however, the US-sponsored forces of the Somali government and Ethiopia managed to regain control over most of the country's regions.
ASIA: Women Rise in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan. Five hundred women took to the streets of the Afghan southern city of Kandahar to show their support for an American woman kidnapped last week. Dressed in traditional burqas, which cover the entire figure except for a small space for eyes, the women gathered for over an hour to pray and call on the local authorities to work harder to release the American.
Cyd Mizell was abducted on Saturday by unidentified men. As a worker of the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation, Mizell won strong applause among Afghan women. Rona Tareen, the director of the Kandahar Women's Association, told the Associated Press: “She was here helping the woman in Kandahar. She was trying to get their embroidery outside of the country. Her kidnapping is against our culture and tradition. We demand that the kidnappers free her immediately.”
Until very recently Afghanistan was considered one of the most conservative countries in the world. During the Taliban regime, women had no access to education and were not allowed to leave homes without the escort of their husbands. However, with the American forces came more liberalized laws. Today's demonstration proves that the dark ages in Afghanistan are drawing to a close.
AMERICAS: Arms Race in Latin America
BRASILIA, Brazil. Brazil wants to become Latin America's first country to have nuclear submarines. According to the Associated Press, the Brazilian and French governments are finalizing the talks on Brazil's access to the nuclear technology, required to build hi-tech submarines. The same news agency was told by a Brazilian official that “any defense-related agreement that may eventually be signed with France must include the transfer of technology.”
Although Brazil has nuclear reactors and is capable of enriching fuel, it needs the French technology to produce a nuclear submarine.
Brazil's military ambitions have a long history. The first efforts were undertaken in 1979, but economic problems forced the country to call off the program. But two decades later, Brazil enjoys steady growth with the national budget increasing every year. One nuclear submarine will cost Brazil around $600 million.
EUROPE: Opposition Blocked from Presidential Race
MOSCOW, Russia. Although Dimitry Medvedev – Vladimir Putin's protégé – leads in national polls with over 70 percent and is bound to win the March presidential election, the Kremlin is not slowing down in the promotion of its candidate. Medvedev, who until December remained an obscure member of the Putin government, is now considered the most popular Russian politician, right after the incumbent president. Nevertheless, the Kremlin gives the weak opposition no chances. Last weekend, the puppet Russian electoral commission refused to accept the candidacy of former the prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov. The commission claimed that some 20,000 out of 1,000,000 required signatures presented by Kasyanov did not meet the standards and had to be rejected.
If you ask a Russian boy or girl who their role-model is, they will surely answer: Vladimir Putin. The former KGB agent-turned-president managed to win hearts and minds of his fellow countrymen on a scale comparable to the support exercised by Lenin and Stalin. The comparison to the communist times is not coincidental. Putin has made a number of comments glorifying the Soviet Union; also during his two terms, Russia has conducted imperial policies unheard of since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
MIDDLE EAST: Jail for a History Lesson
ANKARA, Turkey. Fifteen months in prison is the sentence for a Turkish professor who insinuated that Atatürk – the founding father of modern Turkey – might have not been perfect. The court, which heard Atilla Yayla's case, decided that the scholar had offended his home country by saying that the period of Ataturk's rule was “regressive in some respects.”
The hideous words were pronounced by Yayla in 2006. During his speech, the professor claimed that, although glorified by the contemporaries, Atatürk was in fact a man who made some mistakes while governing Turkey from 1925 to 1945.
In Turkey any suggestion questioning the legacy of Atatürk is regarded as a serious crime. Atatürk, who led his countrymen through the difficult post-World War I period, gave up the centuries-long Islamic tradition of the Ottoman Empire and brought about western customs. His pictures hang now in almost every home and his birthday is a national holiday.