Due to the inability of the political parties within Lebanon to agree on a successor, the office of the President became vacant when President Michel Suleiman stepped down on Saturday. This is just the effect of a political system which requires cooperation between many parties with different interests for the government to function. This problem of cooperation has been accentuated by differing views on how Lebanon should approach the civil war in neighboring Syria, and what role, if any, it should play. It is not clear how long it will take before an election is held but Lebanon has gone months without a president in the past.
For the past year the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) along with P5 + 1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council accompanied by Germany – have been leading talks with Iran geared towards curtailing its nuclear program for fears that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Though breakthroughs had been made in the past, talks had recently reached a roadblock. However, with the release of information by Iran on their “exploding bridge wire detonators” it seems that the negotiations may continue.
Insurgents armed with rocket propelled grenades and machine guns attacked the Consulate General of India late on Friday. None of the consulate staff were injured during the nearly nine hour attack, during which Indian and Afghan soldiers gunned down the attackers. The Indian government is suspicious that the Pakistani government may have had something to do with this attack due to the fact that ISI (Pakistani intelligence service) has had roles in previous terrorist attacks on India. This may throw a wrench in the warming of relations sought by newly elected Indian Prime Minister Modi.
The attack began with a large car bomb followed by the storming of the parliament compound by multiple militants. The insurgents were repelled and killed by members of the Somali Security Forces and members of the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia. At least 15 people were killed in the assault, though most of those deaths were insurgents.
On Saturday the Japanese Defense ministry claimed that Chinese jets had passed within 100 feet of a Japanese reconnaissance flight within an air defense zone claimed by both countries. Japan’s protection has been guaranteed since World War 2 by the United States through a document known as the US Japan Cooperation and Collective Security Agreement. As a challenge to the recent Chinese claim of the air defense zone, and in defense of its ally Japan, the United States flew two unarmed B-52 heavy bombers through the area a few months ago without incident. However, this is the first time that China has asserted its right to the air though a show of force, and could signal a worsening of relations between the two countries.
An explosion rocked the central Nigerian city of Jos today killing 3 people. This is the latest round of attacks against the Nigerian government and the second attack in Jos just days after dual car bombs killed 118 people there. No group has taken responsibility for the attack yet but most of the recent attacks have been conducted by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram who gained worldwide infamy last month with their kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian school girls.
Ex-Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the violence that has rocked the central African country. He was convicted of being behind the 2003 attack of a village in northern Congo in which hundreds villagers were brutally killed – many with machetes that Katanga helped obtain.
For Memorial Day President Obama made a surprise visit to American troops still stationed in Afghanistan. To this date 2120 American service men and women have lost their lives in operations within Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001.
Liu Han a billionaire thought to have ties with the former Chinese security chief has been sentenced to death for “organizing and leading mafia style murder”. It is thought to be part of a wider crackdown on corruption and Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief.
Petro Poroshenko, a chocolate tycoon, is projected to have won the Ukrainian election outright, beating out his primary contender, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Poroshenko is pro-western and will most likely be willing to work closely with the European Union and the West in helping deescalate the unrest in Eastern Ukraine.