Competitive Exams: Current Affairs July to September 2008

Current Affairs 2008 (July-September): World

World July 2008

USA Agrees to End Immunity for Contractors in Iraq (July 1): Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari says private security contractors, like Blackwater USA, whose employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007, will no longer be immune from Iraq's laws. The negotiations are part of a security agreement being worked out between the two countries.

Violence Is on the Upswing in Afghanistan (July 1): According to the Pentagon and icasualties. Org, June 2008 was the deadliest month for USA and coalition troops since the American-led invasion began in 2001. There were 45 reported fatalities during this period when coalition trooop numbers reached a high point (July 7). More than 40 people are killed and about 130 wounded in a suicide bombing outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Four Indian diplomats died in the blast. It is the deadliest suicide bombing since the US-led invasion began in 2001.

Hostages Are Freed in Colombia (July 2): After being held for nearly six years by FARC rebels, 15 hostages, including three USA military contractors and French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, are freed by commandos who infiltrated FARC's leadership.

Serbia Forms a New Government (July 7): Parliament approves a new government composed of the Democratic Party, led by President Boris Tadic, and the Socialist Party, formerly led by Slobodan Milosevic. The Democratic Party's Mirko Cvetkovic becomes prime minister and Ivica Dacic, who heads the Socialist Party, will be deputy prime minister and interior minister. The government vows to tame the nationalistic fervor that has raised concern internationally, particularly when Kosovo declared independence in Feb. 2008. Cvetkovic also says Serbia will reach out to the West and join the European Union.

Peacekeepers Are Attacked in Sudan (July 8): Seven UN peacekeepers die and 22 are wounded in Darfur when their convoy is ambushed by men in trucks and on horseback.

The USA and the Czech Republic Sign Deal on Missile Shield (July 8): After lengthy negotiations and much debate, the Czech Republic agrees to allow the United States to deploy on its land an antiballistic missile shield. Russia strongly objects to the accord and views the system as a threat. USA officials say the shield is meant to deter an attack from Iran. Czech lawmakers must approve the deal.

Iran Test Fires Missiles (July 9): The Revolutionary Guards fire nine long-and medium-range missiles, which could reach parts of Israel. A commander of the Revolutionary Guard says, The aim of these war games is to show we are ready to defend the integrity of the Iranian nation. The United States and Israel both condemn the move.

Gunmen Attack USA Consulate in Turkey (July 9): The gunmen open fire on Turkish security guards outside the consulate. Three police officers and the three assailants are killed in a gun battle.

Sanctions on Zimbabwe Fail to Pass (July 11): China and Russia block a US-led effort in the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe (July 25). President Bush expands existing USA sanctions against Mugabe, companies in Zimbabwe, and individuals.

Negotiators Reach Deal on Verifying North Korean Disarmament (July 12): The US, China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Japan announce that international inspectors will visit North Korea's nuclear facilities to check documents and speak with personnel to confirm that it has shut down its main processing facility at Yongbyon. In return, North Korea will receive financial and energy assistance.

Several USA Troops Are Killed in Afghanistan (July 13): Nine USA soldiers die and at least 15 NATO troops are wounded when Taliban militants boldly attack an American base in Kunar Province, which borders Pakistan. It's the most deadly assault against USA troops in three years.

International Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Sudanese President (July 14): Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, formally charges Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, with genocide for planning and executing the decimation of Darfur's three main ethnic tribes: The Fur, the Masalit, and the Zaghawa. Moreno-Ocampo also says Bashir purposefully targeted civilians and used rapes, hunger, and fear to terrorize civilians. Many observers fear that Bashir will respond to the charges with further violence.

Israel and Lebanon Carry Out Prisoner Exchange (July 16): Israel releases five Lebanese prisoners, including Samir Kuntar, who killed an Israeli policeman, a man, and his young daughter in 1979. Lebanon, in turn, returns to Israel the bodies of two soldiers who were captured in a 2006 cross-border raid into Israel. The raid, carried out by the militant group Hezbollah, resulted in what is now considered a disastrous invasion of Lebanon.

USA Envoy Participates in Talks with Iran (July 19): Iran's chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, meets with representatives from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China. Iran, however, does not commit to a proposal that calls on Iran to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for a freeze on further sanctions against Iran. William Burns, the USA under-secretary of state for political affairs, attends the meeting and is the highest-ranking member of the Bush administration to meet with a representative from Iran.

Sunni Bloc Returns to Iraqi Government (July 19): Parliament approves the nomination of six Sunni ministers to the cabinet. The ministers are all members of Tawafiq, a Sunni political party, who had boycotted Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's government for a year.

Government and Opposition Leaders Meet in Zimbabwe (July 21): In a historic meeting, President Robert Mugabe, who recently won a controversial presidential election that was marred by brutal voter intimidation and outright rigging, and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who won the first round of voting and dropped out of the second round amid increasing violence against him and his supporters, agree to end the political violence and engage in talks to form a government of national unity.

Serbian Leader Is Arrested After 13-Year Manhunt (July 21): Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb president during the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, is charged with genocide, persecution, deportation, and other crimes against non-Serb civilians. Karadzic orchestrated the massacre of almost 8, 000 Muslim men and boys in 1995 in Srebrenica. He was found outside Belgrade. He altered his appearance and had been openly practicing alternative medicine in Serbia. The arrest will likely bring Serbia closer to joining the European Union (July 30). Karadzic is transferred to The Hague to await trial (July 31). Karadzic appears before the war crimes tribunal for the first time.

India's Government Survives a Confidence Vote (July 22): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wins the vote, 275 to 256, with 11 members of Parliament abstaining. Singh recently lost the support of Communist parties as he sought to seal a deal that has the USA providing India with nuclear technology and fuel for civilian purposes.

Iraqi President Vetoes Election Law (July 23): President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, vetoes legislation, passed by Parliament, that governs upcoming provincial elections. Kurdish legislators had boycotted the vote in Parliament in a dispute over the status of the northern city of Kirkuk, which they claim should be part of the Kurdish enclave.

Two Bombs Explode in Istanbul (July 27): At least 15 people die and more than 100 are wounded in a double bombing in a crowded neighborhood in Turkey's largest city. Terrorism is suspected.

Dozens Die in Ethnic Fighting and Suicide Attacks in Iraq (July 28): As Kurds in Kirkuk protest part of an election law that they fear will dilute their political power in the city, a female suicide bomber kills 17 people and wounds dozens. Kurds blame Turkmen militants for the bombing, and in response began attacking Turkmen. About a dozen people die in the violence. In Baghdad, three females, including two suicide bombers, kill 32 Shiite pilgrims.

Israeli Prime Minister to Resign (July 30): Ehud Olmert, who is under investigation for fraud, bribery, and breach of trust, announces he will step down once a new party leader is selected in September.

Turkey's Ruling Party Survives Legal Challenge (July 30): Turkey's 11-member Constitutional Court falls one vote short of banning the Justice and Development party for violating the country's secular constitution. The court does rule, however, to reduce by one-half the party's public financing.

Wife of Former Thai Leader Is Sentenced to Prison (July 31): Pojaman Shinawatra, the wife of Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to three years in jail. Thaksin himself faces corruption charges.

World August 2008

Policemen Are Killed in Terrorist Attack in China (Aug. 4): Chinese officials say two members of the East Turkestan Independence Movement, a Muslim group based in western China, drive a truck into a group of police officers who were jogging, then throw explosives and stab them. Sixteen police officers die and another 16 are wounded. The attack raises concerns about the upcoming Summer Games.

Military Officers Stage a Coup in Mauritania (Aug. 6): The top four military leaders depose Prime Minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar and President Sidi Mohamed Ould Sheik Abdallahi in a bloodless coup. Some of the same military leaders were involved in the 2005 coup that brought Abdallahi to power. In recent months, the country's legislature has criticized Abdallahi's handling of rising food prices and accused the government of corruption.

Iraqi Parliament Fails to Pass Election Law (Aug. 6): The failure to pass the law will likely force the postponement of provisional elections that were scheduled for October. Hopes dim that provincial elections will be held in 2008. The elections are seen as vital to moving Iraqi's rival ethnic groups toward reconciliation. Kurds dominate the city, which also has a large population of Turkmens and Arabs, and have resisted any attempts to dilute their control through a power-sharing plan.

Suspect Convicted in First Military Trial at Guantanamo (Aug. 6): Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was Osama bin Laden's driver, is convicted of providing material support for terrorism. He's acquitted, however, of the more serious charge of conspiracy. It is the first military trial held at Guantanamo (Aug. 7). Hamdan is sentenced to 66 months in prison, of which he has already served 61 He may, however, spend more time in jail, as the Bush administration has the authority to imprison detainees during the war on terror.

Violence Breaks Out in Breakaway Region in Georgia (Aug. 7): Fighting breaks out after Georgian soldiers attack South Ossetia, a breakaway enclave in Georgia that won de facto independence in the early 1990s. Separatists in South Ossetia retaliate, and about a dozen troops and civilians die in the battles. Fighting between the two sides has been sporadic since Mikheil Saakashvili was elected president of Georgia in 2004 and sought to resume control over the region (Aug. 8). Russia enters the fray, with troops and tanks pouring into South Ossetia to support the region (Aug. 9 and 10). Russia intensifies its involvement, moving troops into Abkhazia, another breakaway region, and launching airstrikes at Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. In addition, Russian airstrikes in Gori, Georgia, kill about 1, 500 civilians. The fighting prompts thousands of people in South Ossetia to flee their homes (Aug. 11). Russian troops enter Georgian territory and briefly take control of a military base in Senaki (Aug. 12). Russian president Medvedev orders an end to military action in Georgia, although sporadic fighting continues. Saakashvili also says he will withdraw Georgian troops. Leaders of EU nations, the United States, and NATO have warned Russia to end the conflict in Georgia (Aug. 13). France brokers a deal between Russia and Georgia that calls on both sides to end the fighting and use of force, open routes in the battle areas for the flow of humanitarian aid, and withdraw troops to the positions they held before the conflict. Later in the day, President Bush sends USA troops on a humanitarian mission to Georgia. He also warns Russia that if it doesn't observe the cease-fire, the country risks its standing in the diplomatic, political, economic, and security structures of the 21st century. In addition, Russian tanks occupy Gori, a strategic town 40 miles from Tbilisi, and hundreds of Russian soldiers cross the border into South Ossetia (Aug. 14). Poland, after months of stalling, agrees to allow the United States to install an antimissile system on its soil. The move by Poland is seen as a strategic one intended to defend itself from the threat of a similar incursion by Russia and to establish closer ties with the West. Russia says that Poland now risks retaliation (Aug. 16). Russian president Dmitri Medvedev signs a revised cease-fire, but Russian troops remain in Georgia. Georgia demands that a provision in the original agreement be amended to allow only those Russian peacekeepers who were in Georgia before the hostilities began to remain. The deal is tentative at best (Aug. 19). Russian troops slowly begin to withdraw from Georgia (Aug. 20). USA Secretary of State Condelezza Rice and Poland's Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski sign a deal in Warsaw for an American missile-defense base in Poland. Rice stresses that the missile system, which is scheduled to be in operation by 2012, is defensive and aimed at no one (Aug. 26). Russian president Medvedev unilaterally recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent regions. The USA and its allies denounce the decision (Aug. 29). Russia and Georgia sever diplomatic ties from each other. It is the first time Russia has cut off formal relations with one of its former republics, which gained independence in 1991.

Pakistan Government Seeks to Impeach Musharraf (Aug. 7): The governing coalition, led by Asif Ali Zardari, of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, says it will immediately initiate impeachment proceedings against President Pervez Musharraf on charges of violating the constitution and misconduct. The charges stem from his actions in November 2007, when he suspended the country's constitution and fired Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the other judges on the supreme court (Aug. 18). Musharraf resigns as president. Not a single charge can be proved against me, he says, adding that he was stepping down to put the country's interests above personal bravado. Muhammad Mian Soomro, the chairman of the senate, is named acting president (Aug. 25). Nawaz Sharif withdraws his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, from the governing coalition, saying he could no longer work with Asif Ali Zardari. He says Zardari went back on pledges to restore Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to his role as chief justice of the supreme court and to work with Sharif to select a presidential candidate. Instead, Zardari says he will run.

Bolivian President Survives Recall Referendum (Aug. 10): Evo Morales wins 63.5% of the vote, which was an attempt by Podemos, an opposition party, to remove him from office. Morales has garnered criticism from some lowland provinces for his policies, including the acceptance of financing from Venezuela.

Al-Qaeda Increases Its Strength and Threat (Aug. 12): Ted Gistaro, the USA government's senior terrorism analyst, says that by forging closer ties to Pakistani militants, al-Qaeda is more capable of launching an attack in the United States than it was a year ago. The Pakistani militants have given al-Qaeda leaders safe haven in remote areas to train recruits.

Several Lebanese Soldiers Are Killed in Bombing (Aug. 13): A bomb left on the street explodes and tears through a bus carrying Lebanese troops, killing 15 people, nine of them soldiers. No one claims responsibility for the attack, but some think the bombing may be in retaliation for the army's 2007 fighting against an al-Qaeda linked Islamist group in Tripoli.

Shiite Pilgrims Are Targeted in Several Attacks (Aug. 14 − 16): About two dozen worshippers are killed in three separate attacks as they make their way toward Karbala to celebrate the birthday of 9th-century imam Muhammad al-Mahdi. Iraqi officials blame al-Qaeda in Iraq for the attacks.

Nepal Elects Maoist Prime Minister (Aug. 15): Nepal's Constituent Assembly elects Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, known as Prachanda, over Sher Bahadur Deuba, a member of the Nepali Congress Party who served as prime minister three times. In a compromise, the Maoists say they will not hold posts in the party's armed faction and will return private property it seized from opponents.

Taliban Launches Major Attack in Afghanistan (Aug. 18 and 19): As many as 15 suicide bombers backed by about 30 militants attack a USA military base, Camp Salerno, in the eastern province of Khost. Fighting between USA troops and members of the Taliban rages overnight. No USA troops are killed. In another brazen attack, 10 French paratroopers are killed and more than 20 are wounded in an ambush by about 100 militants about 30 miles east of Kabul.

Dozens Die in Blasts in Algeria (Aug. 19): At least 43 people are killed when a suicide bomber drives an explosives-laden car into a police academy in Issers, a town in northern Algeria (Aug. 20). Car bombs explode at a military command and a hotel in Bouira, killing a dozen people. No group takes responsibility for either attack, Algerian officials say they suspect Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is behind the bombings.

Taliban Launches Double Suicide Bombing in Pakistan (Aug. 21): More than 60 people are killed in a twin suicide bombing at the Pakistan Ordnance Factories, a complex of 16 buildings in the town of Wah that employs 20, 000. The Taliban says the attack is in retaliation for the military's recent campaign against militants in the region of Bajaur.

Iraq and the USA Agrees on Timeframe for Troop Pullout (Aug. 22): The USA says it will withdraw combat troops from Iraqi cities by June 2009, followed by the removal of all combat troops by the end of 2011 as long as Iraq is stable and secure. The draft deal is part of a security pact that governs USA involvement in Iraq.

Coalition Airstrike Kills Dozens of Civilians in Afghanistan (Aug. 22): As many as 90 Afghan civilians, 60 of them children, die in an attack in the western village of Azizabad. It is one of the deadliest airstrikes since the war began in 2001, and the deadliest for civilians. The USA military refutes the figures, which were confirmed by the UN, claiming that the airstrike was in response to an attack by militants and killed five civilians and as many as 25 members of the Taliban.

Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Elected Speaker of Parliament (Aug. 25): Lovemore Moyo, of the Movement for Democratic Change, is elected to the powerful post of speaker of parliament, 110 to 98, prevailing over the candidate of President Robert Mugabe's party, ZANU-PF.

North Korea Announces It Has Stopped Disabling Nuclear Reactor (Aug. 26): The country says that it will also resume work at the complex in Yongbyon unless the United States removes North Korea from its list of nations sponsoring terrorism. The USA says that North Korea will remain on the list until it gives inspectors access to locations suspected of being nuclear sites.

China and Iraq Sign Oil Contract (Aug. 28): As part of the $3 billion deal, the China National Petroleum Corporation will provide Iraq with technical advisers, workers, and equipment to develop the Ahdab oil field. If approved by Iraq's cabinet, it will be the first foreign oil contract implemented by Iraq since 2003. China will not share in profits derived from production of oil from the field.

World September 2008

Japanese Prime Minister Resigns (Sept. 1): Yasuo Fukuda, who has been in office barely a year, announces that he will step down when his party, the Liberal Democrats, select his successor. In June 2008, the upper house of Parliament, which is controlled by the opposition, censured Fukuda, citing his mismanagement of domestic issues. The lower house, however, supported him in a vote of confidence (Sept. 22). Taro Aso, a conservative and former foreign minister, is elected president of the governing Liberal Democratic Party (Sept. 24). The lower house of Parliament elects Aso as prime minister. He promises to restore the flagging economy.

USA Transfers Control of Once Troubled Province to Iraq (Sept. 1): The Iraqi military and police assume responsibility for maintaining security in Anbar Province, which was until recently the cradle of the Sunni insurgency. More than 1, 000 members of the USA military have been killed in the province.

Thai Government Declares State of Emergency When Protests Turn Violent (Sept. 1): One person is killed and dozens are wounded in fighting between supporters of an opposition group and pro-government demonstrators. For more than a week, thousands of protesters, called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), have staged a sit-in outside the government buildings in Bangkok, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej. Pro-government groups launched counterdemonstrations (Sept. 2). Prime Minister Samak declares a state of emergency (Sept. 3). The military and police do not enforce the state of emergency. In a press conference, army commander Gen. Anupong Paochinda declares neutrality in the conflict. We are not taking sides, he says. If the nation is the people, we are the army of the people (Sept. 9). Samak is forced from office when Thailand's Constitutional Court rules that he violated the constitution by being paid to appear on the cooking show Tasting and Complaining. Somchai Wongsawat, the first deputy prime minister, becomes acting prime minister (Sept. 14). Acting prime minister Somchai ends the state of emergency, which has disrupted the tourism industry (Sept. 17). Parliament elects Somchai prime minister, 298 to 163.

USA Report on Civilian Deaths in Attack on Afghans Conflicts With Other Accounts (Sept. 2): A USA military report on the number of civilian casualties incurred in an August airstrike by USA troops on a village in Azizabad finds that five to seven civilians and 30 to 35 Taliban were killed. The UN and the Afghan government, however, say as many as 90 Afghan civilians, 60 of them children, died.

USA Troops Attack Militants in Pakistan (Sept. 3): In its first acknowledged ground attack inside Pakistan, USA commandos raid a village that is home to al-Qaeda militants in the tribal region near the border with Afghanistan. The number of casualties is unclear.

Governing Party Wins Parliamentary Elections in Angola (Sept. 5): In the country's first elections in 16 years, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) wins about 82% of the vote in the legislative election. The opposition, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), takes 10%.

Bhutto's Widower Is Elected President of Pakistan (Sept. 6): Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, wins 481 out of 702 votes in the two houses of Parliament to become president. Zardari, who served 11 years in prison on charges of corruption, faces the overwhelming task of rooting out members of al Qaeda and the Taliban, who control much of the country's tribal areas. He also promises to improve the relationship between Parliament and the presidency.

International Regulator Allows India to Buy Nuclear Fuel (Sept. 6): The Nuclear Suppliers Group, comprised of representatives from 45 countries, votes to allow India to buy nuclear fuel for its reactors as long as it uses the fuel for civilian purposes only. The USA Congress must approve the agreement. The opposition party in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is against the deal, calling it a nonproliferation trap. Nuclear trade deal could be scrapped if India uses the fuel for its weapons program.

Canadian Prime Minister Calls for Early Elections (Sept. 7): Stephen Harper requests that Parliament be dissolved and sets national elections for Oct. 14. He hopes to win enough votes to hold a majority in Parliament; he now heads a minority Conservative government.

Three Convicted in Terrorism Plot (Sept. 8): Three men, out of eight who were on trial, are found guilty in a British court of conspiracy to commit murder. The defendants were arrested in 2006 for trying to use liquid explosives to blow up seven planes that were traveling from the UK to the USA and Canada. They are acquitted of the more serious charge of preparing acts of airborne terrorism.

Russia Agrees to Withdraw from Georgia (Sept. 8): Russian president Dmitri A. Medvedev says he will remove troops from Georgia by mid-October and will permit 200 observers from the European Union to keep watch over the conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which began on Aug. 7 when Georgia attacked the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia. Russia stepped in to defend South Ossetia (Sept. 10). Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov denies that Russia agreed to allow European Union monitors into South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Instead, he says they will work in Georgia, outside the breakaway enclaves.

Judge Drops Case Against South African Leader (Sept. 12): A High Court judge dismisses corruption charges against African National Congress leader Jacob Zuma, saying the government mishandled the prosecution. The ruling clears the way for Zuma to succeed Thabo Mbeki as president of South Africa. The judge also criticizes President Mbeki for attempting to influence the prosecution of Zuma (Sept. 20). Under pressure from leaders of his party, the African National Congress (ANC), President Thabo Mbeki says he has stepped down. Party leaders accused Mbeki of interfering in the corruption case against ANC leader Jacob Zuma. An interim president will take over until Jacob Zuma, the leader of the ruling ANC, runs for Parliament. Once a member of Parliament, Zuma is expected to become president. Mbeki served as president since 1999 (Sept. 24). Mbeki's deputy and 10 members of his cabinet also resign. Six ministers say they will not serve in a new government (Sept. 25). Parliament elects Kgalema Motlanthe, a labor leader who was imprisoned during apartheid, as president.

Several Bombs Tear Through Indian Capital (Sept. 13): Over the course of 25 minutes, five bombs explode in crowded markets in New Delhi, killing 22 people and injuring dozens. The Indian Mujahedeen claims responsibility for the attacks.

Rivals Sign Power-Sharing Deal in Zimbabwe (Sept. 15): President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who defeated Mugabe 48% to 43% in March elections but boycotted the June runoff election because of voter intimidation, will share executive authority over the country. Tsvangirai will serve as prime minister and the opposition will control 16 ministries. The governing party will control 15; Mugabe will continue as president.

Military Command in Iraq Changes Hands (Sept. 16): USA Gen. Ray Odierno succeeds Gen. David Petraeus as the commander of the multinational forces in Iraq. Petraeus, who oversaw the surge of troops into Iraq, will become commander of the USA Central Command that covers all of the Middle East.

Two Bombs Explode at USA Embassy in Yemen (Sept. 17): A car bomb and a rocket hit the USA Embassy in Yemen as staff arrived to work, killing 16 people, including four civilians. At least 25 suspected al-Qaeda militants are arrested in connection with the attack.

Dozens Are Killed in Blast at Popular Hotel in Pakistan (Sept. 20): A truck bomb explodes outside the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, killing more than 50 people and wounding hundreds. The bomb went off as government leaders, including the president and prime minister, were dining a few hundred yards away, at the prime minister's residence. A previously unknown group, Fedayeen Islam, takes responsibility for the attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Steps Down (Sept. 21): Ehud Olmert, who is under investigation for corruption, resigns as prime minister. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who was recently elected the head of Olmert's party, Kadima, is expected to succeed Olmert if she can maintain the fragile governing coalition.

Myanmar Releases Thousands of Prisoners (Sept. 23): Just over 9, 000 prisoners are released by the military government, including the longest-serving political prisoner, Win Tin. Most of those released, however, are not political prisoners. By most estimates, as many as 2, 000 political prisoners remain in detention, and activists continue to be arrested.

Iraq Passes Scaled-Down Election Law (Sept. 24): Parliament passes a much-anticipated law that calls for provincial elections to be held in early 2009. Elections had originally been scheduled for Oct. 2008. Elections in the disputed city of Kirkuk, however, are postponed until a separate agreement is reached by a committee made up of representatives from each group involved.

Car Bomb Explodes in Syrian Capital (Sept. 27): A powerful bomb, made of more than 400 pounds of explosives, kills 17 people near a Shiite shrine in Damascus. It's Syria's worst attack in more than 20 years. Terrorism is suspected.

Five Bombs Kill Dozens in Baghdad (Sept. 28): At least 27 people die and more than 80 are wounded in bombings that occur throughout the day.

Courtesy: www.infoplease.com