I was unable to access several sites on Thursday and Friday due to internet problems, so this week’s roundup is missing several stories from these two days. Please feel free to add anything I missed in the comments below!
- The UN Climate Change Conference ended on Saturday with the new Cancun Agreements, a so-called “balanced package of decisions that set all governments more firmly on the path towards a low-emissions future and support enhanced action on climate change in the developing world”. The agreements are non-legally binding.
- Libyan leader Gaddafi is calling on African nations to join forces to create a one-million strong army to protect the continent and confront outsiders, much like NATO or China. Gaddafi has been pushing for an African unity government for years, claiming it is the only way Africa can develop without Western influence.
- Eight Darfur rebel groups have formed a coalition preparing for either peace or war. The Justice and Equality Movement, United Revolutionary Forces Front, Sudan Liberation Movement, Liberation and Justice Movement, United Resistance Front, Democratic Justice and Equality Movement, SLM and Democratic Revolutionary Forces Front have signed the alliance in London and have said they are committed to the Qatari sponsored mediation. Minni Minnawi, the only Darfur faction leader to have signed the Darfur Peace Agreement with the Sudanese government has abandoned his government office this week, announced the failure of the 2006 deal and that he is ready to do battle. Two people were killed in fighting between Minnawi’s forces and Sudanese troops in Darfur on Friday and Saturday. A UN investigation team confirmed on Monday that warplanes from the Sudan Armed Forces had attacked some locations in southern Sudan near the border this month. On Sunday, Sudan Armed Forces accused the Sudan People’s Liberation Army of entering the Abyei area with tanks, an accusation that was later denied by the chief administrator of the region. A video showing a women being whipped by Sudanese uniformed policemen has been widely circulating on the internet.
- Violence has escalated following the November 28th election in Cote D’Ivoire that saw two Presidents being sworn into power. Some 30 people were killed as opposition-backed protesters took to the streets following the call to take over the government offices and state-run television.
- A special summit on the illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Great Lakes region took place this week in Zambia. The summit is expected to adopt a number of measures to combat the illegal exploitation.
- An African Union military tank deliberately rammed into the building of a radio station in Mogadishu, Somalia on Monday. Al-Shabaab fighters have repeatedly threatened to target the radio station, but all requests for protection from AU troops have so far been ignored. At least 15 died over the weekend in Mogadishu, as fighting continued between Somali forces backed by African Union peacekeepers and Al-Shabaab insurgents. More than 100 suspected al-Shabaab militants were arrested by Puntland security forces on Wednesday.
- Eight camps in the Niger Delta were handed over to the military this week by a former Nigerian militant in an effort to prevent new gangs from emerging. The move is part of the amnesty agreement brokered by President Goodluck Jonathan.
- The UN has ordered 900 new peacekeepers to a remote location of the DR Congo in an attempt to head off a much feared Christmas attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA killed more than 1,000 adults and children at Christmas in 2008 and 2009, and kidnapped hundreds more.
- The ICC has named six members of parliament in Kenya as major perpetrators of ethnic-based crimes against humanity from the post election violence of 2007-8. The prosecutor has asked for summonses instead of requesting arrest warrants.
- Israel has begun to build a new separation wall, this time in an effort to keep migrants from Africa out. The new wall will go along the Egyptian border with Egyptian support.
- Two separate weapons caches were found in the southern Osh region of Kyrgyzstan on Sunday and Tuesday in private homes. On Wednesday, it was announced that three political parties, the Respublika party, the Social Democratic Party and the Ata-Jurt Party, have agreed to form a governing coalition.
- The chief of the South Korean army resigned this week, reportedly over a property investment. The General was only named to his current post in June. The Defense Minister resigned only weeks ago following the shelling from North Korea. South Korea ran the country’s biggest-ever evacuation drill on Wednesday, in an attempt to prepare the citizens for a possible attack by North Korea.
- Protests over low wages in the garment industry in Bangladesh have left at least 3 people dead and dozens others injured. Police are said to have fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd during demonstrations. Security forces captured five outlawed militants following a gunfight during a raid of a hideout on Monday. Several bombs, explosives and bomb making materials were found.
- Maoist-led New People’s Army guerrillas raided and torched equipment at a copper and gold mine in the southern Philippines ahead of the Christmas ceasefire. Police suspect the rebels were raiding companies who refused to pay extortion money.
- On Saturday, Pakistani security forces killed five suspected militants in the Swat valley and security forces killed another four militants in a clash that erupted after insurgents attacked a military check post near the Afghan border. A bomb exploded on a school bus in Peshawar on Monday. The blast killed a passer-by and wounded at least four people. Also on Monday, security forces killed three suspected militants and wounded five in the northwest after they attacked a paramilitary post. On Tuesday, militants killed two Pakistani soldiers and wounded six more in Ghalanai and gunmen attacked a Sufi shrine killing two caretakers in Peshawar. Militants in parts of Pakistan are increasingly targeting teachers, college professors and other school personnel, and are said to have killed some 22 teachers in the past two years over unfair advantages between educational resources in the provinces.
- At least 15 Afghan civilians were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Kandahar on Saturday. At least six ISAF soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected Taliban forces on Sunday. On Monday, an ISAF service member was killed by a homemade bomb in Kabul; Afghan and foreign troops killed more than 10 suspected insurgents in Baghlan; ISAF forces carried out an air strike in Ghor; and Afghan troops killed a number of suspected insurgents in Nimroz in an attack that killed three soldiers. Germany, the third-largest troop contributor in Afghanistan, has announced that they will begin withdrawing troops at the end of 2011 this week.
- South African Denel Aviation sold 12 Cheetah C supersonic fighter aircraft to Ecuador.
- On Sunday, three people were killed in Monterrey, Mexico in cartel fights; the bodies of three separate decapitated victims of drug violence were found near Acapulco; the remains of two beheaded men were found in a supermarket in Mazatlan, marked with the letter Z, a reference to the powerful Zetas drug gang; and investigators dug up five bodies in a series of mass graves in Chihuahua state. On Monday, gunmen killed the owner of a nightclub in Monterrey; six suspected hitmen died in a shootout with the Mexican Army in Diaz Ordaz, with the army seizing grenades, grenade and rocket launchers, and several armored vehicles; and suspected drug gangs burnt down a nursery school in Ciudad Juarez just before children began to arrive for failing to pay extortion money.
- Two of the top three candidates in Haiti’s presidential election rejected a plan to retally vote sheets by a new commission. Opposition parties are claiming outgoing President Preval and his protege rigged the vote. On Tuesday, candidate Michel Martelly said the second round of Haiti’s presidential election should be open to all 18 candidates rather than a runoff between the top two candidates and that the Provisional Electoral Council should be replaced.
- A Cuban dissident who helped pressure Cuban authorities to release political prisoners this year with his hunger strike, has been denied permission to travel to accept the European Parliament’s top human rights prize. The European Parliament said it would leave an empty chair to represent him at the ceremony.
- Two Palestinians were killed and an Israeli soldier wounded in an exchange of gunfire near the Gaza Strip border on Saturday. Earlier in the day, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit southern Israel without causing damage. The Israeli ambassador to the US this week announced that “settlements have never been an obstacle to making peace”, in response to the Palestinians stopping the peace talks until all building has been halted. The EU have announced that they will recognize the Palestinian state “when appropriate”, and “noted with regret” Israel’s failure to extend a moratorium on settlement construction. The US is trying to resuscitate the peace talks with its new special envoy, but has given up trying to persuade Israel to freeze its settlement construction. A damning report released on Monday by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem details the numbers of Palestinian minors who have been arrested by Israeli security in recent years, some as young as 5 years old. More than 900 rabbis from around the world have signed a letter upset at a ruling backed by scores of Israeli rabbis that forbids Jews from renting or selling property to non-Jews.
- On Saturday, gunmen killed an off-duty police officer in Mosul, Iraq; and a roadside bomb wounded three civilians in Baghdad. A suspected suicide car bomb attack on a government building in Iraq killed at least 17 people in Ramadi on Sunday, while another attack northwest of Baghdad killed at least two people; and a suicide bomber killed a man and his son and wounded three others in Baquba. On Monday, four people were killed and dozens wounded in attacks on three groups of Shiite Muslims observing Ashura; and gunmen opened fire on a police checkpoint in Mosul. On Tuesday, a roadside bomb targeting a Shiite procession killed three and wounded 18 in western Baghdad and a bomb exploded near another Shiite procession wounding 14 north of Baghdad. The US is pushing for the UN Security Council to lift restrictions on the import of nuclear technology to Iraq, despite the fact that Baghdad has not yet ratified a UN agreement on atomic inspections.
- Armed men captured seven Yemeni soldiers over two days this weekend during protests in Daleh. The abductions are said to have occurred to try and pressure authorities to free prisoners as an exchange.
- Kuwait shut down al-Jazeera in the country and has withdrawn its accreditation after it broadcast news of an opposition National Assembly member in defiance of government warnings. The station says it will continue to cover news in the country, despite its reporters being barred from working there.
- An Iranian human rights lawyer has received new criminal charges against her, for “not wearing the hijab” and “not observing Islamic standards of conduct”, added to the charges of “acting against national security”, “assembly and collusion to disrupt security” and “cooperation with the Defenders for Human Rights Centre”. The lawyer represented a number of political prisoners who were arrested during the presidential election unrest last year.
- Some 250 Russian soldiers were hospitalized, most with acute respiratory infections of unknown origin this week. A Russian human rights activist claims he was beaten for his professional activities as the head of the Voskhod human rights organization.
- The leader of Chechnya called on Chechen youths to avoid clashes with extremists following rumours of a planned confrontation between extremist groups and minorities. The tension was sparked by the death of a soccer fan shot dead in a street fight with natives of the North Caucasus.
- Two Belarusian activists working for opposition presidential candidates were attacked in Belarus on Sunday while distributing leaflets. The presidential election is to happen on December 19th.
- The German Interior Ministry ordered simultaneous raids in three states on Tuesday against Islamic groups. The groups are suspected of trying to change Germany and make it Islamic.
- Kosovo’s first general elections since Independence saw Hashim Thaci win the Prime Minister position on Sunday. The turnout was cited as some 47.8%.
- Two suspected militants and one man were killed in a raid in Daghestan on Sunday. One of the militants is said to be suspected of involvement in several August attacks in the region.
- Greek anti-austerity strokes turned violent this week, resulting in police firing tear gas outside the Greek parliament. Greek parliament has approved reforms and spending cuts that would include slashing salaries in public utilities only months after civil servants have had their wages and pensions cut.
- The Prime Minister of Kosovo was found to be the head of a “mafia-like” Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe, according to a Council of Europe report. Hashim Thaci, who just on Sunday won elections proceedings, is said to have held powerful sway over the country’s government since the 1998-9 war.