February 1st, 2008 10:10 EST
World Chronicle: February 1
AFRICA: European Union Mission in Chad Threatened
N'DJAMENA, Chad. The European Union has withheld deploying its peacekeeping force to Chad due to renewed fights between governmental forces and rebels. An EU official told reporters on Friday that three flights with Austrian and Irish troops and equipment had been canceled because of the tense situation in Chad. The official refrained from saying when the mission would be resumed, but added that “airplanes will not take off until the country is stable.” The European Union plans to send as many as 3,700 soldiers (most of them French, Irish and Polish nationals) to protect refugees from neighboring Sudan.
According to the Reuters news agency, the Chadian army, supported by French air fighters and logistics, managed to halt the rebels some 60 miles from N'Djamena. As insurgents are approaching the capital, more and more voices call for a power-sharing accord.
Chad has not experienced real democracy since it won independence from France in 1960. Torn by warring rebel groups and weak governments, Chad is considered the fifth poorest country in the world. The current head of state, President Deby, came to power in 1991 in a similar fashion that now may overthrow him: by organizing a military opposition and defeating governmental forces.
AMERICAS: Presidential Campaign Gets Dirty
LOS ANGELES, California. As the number of presidential contenders decreases, the campaign is getting dirtier. In the Democratic camp, New York Senator Hillary Clinton repeats her claim on almost a daily basis that spending eight years in the White House as the first lady gives her a colossal advantage over her less experienced counterpart from Illinois, Barack Obama. The black senator, on the other hand, accuses Clinton of being wrong on the Iraq war “from day one.” Both candidates also fight over whose idea to provide more Americans with free health care is better and who can bring real change to Washington.
In the Republican Party, the war in Iraq takes first place. Mitt Romney is spending the final days before February 5’s Super Tuesday – 24 states hold primaries and caucuses on that day – explaining his standing on timetables for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Not to be on the defensive all the time, however, Romney also attacks John McCain for his dubious record on economy and immigration. Who will be a tougher president on illegal immigration and keep the country's economy in reigns are the questions asked most often by Republican voters.
ASIA: Top Al-Qaeda Commander Killed in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. One of al-Qaeda’s top commanders, Abu Laith al-Libi, was killed on Thursday in an American missile attack. Together with other terrorists, al-Libi was hiding in the Pakistani mountains, which is believed to have been al-Qaeda's regional headquarters. Although no body was found, the American military confirmed that the commander was dead. One intelligence official told the AFP news agency that “Al-Libi was there at the time of the strike. No one survived, we believe he was killed.”
Al-Libi became famous in the Islamic world while fighting the Russians in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He then traveled to Libya with the purpose of eliminating the country's leader, colonel Gaddafi, and Saudi Arabia where he was caught for masterminding a terrorist attack on a U.S. office. Most recently, al-Libi was said to have been involved in the bombing of American military barracks in Afghanistan during U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's visit.
The death of al-Libi is a big success both for the United States and Pakistan. The former proves it has not stopped haunting al-Qaeda members responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington; the latter makes an important step in stabilizing the political situation before parliamentary elections scheduled for February.
EUROPE: Lolita Not For Little Girls
LONDON, England. The ignorance of literary classics causes trouble, discovered the staff of a British furniture producer. Brought up with Harry Potter as the one and only book worth reading, Woolworths shopping chains' workers seemed honestly flabbergasted at the parental outrage sparked by their latest product: a bed for six-year-old girls called “Lolita.” The Reuters news agency describes the bed as “a whitewashed wooden bed with pull-out desk and cupboard.” Only after the store found out that, for most of its customers, Lolita is a synonym for a 12-year-old girl seducing her step-father (among other men, portrayed by Vladimir Nabokov in his unforgettable novel) did it withdrew the product from the market.
“What seems to have happened is the staff who runs the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either,” one disgusted parent told the Reuters. A Woolworths representative replied: “We had to look it up on Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now.”
MIDDLE EAST: Two Women Kill Over 70 People in Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Iraq. The sweaty market sellers were the last people they saw; the plausible chirping of pigeons was the last sound they heard. Over 70 people were killed on Friday in separate suicide attacks that destroyed two popular Baghdad markets. According to the local police, both terrorists were women, with heavy explosives hidden beneath their clothes.
The first explosion took place shortly after 10 a.m. local time, in the crowded al-Ghazl market. As most Baghdad residents thought the place to be relatively safe, since the last attack occurred months ago, the market was crammed with sellers and shoppers – some of them bringing their whole families. Its popularity was probably the reason why the woman had chosen this place to take her life and the lives of at least 46 innocent civilians.
The second woman detonated her explosives about 20 minutes later. She selected a bird market where hundreds of pigeon enthusiasts were boasting about their pricey collections and bargaining for new specimens. The police reported at least 22 people dead and 65 wounded in this predominantly Shiite district.
The two Friday bombings were the deadliest since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. After a relatively calm period, when the number of rebel attacks drastically fell due to the surge of American soldiers, Islamic insurgents may intensify their activity before the 2008 presidential election in the United States.