Competitive Exams: Current Affairs October to December 2008
Current Affairs 2008 (October-December): World
World October 2008
Iraq Takes Control of Awakening Councils (Oct. 1): The Iraqi government takes command of 54, 000 mainly Sunni fighters from the US, which had been paying the fighters for their support. The fighters, members of awakening councils, turned against al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia in 2007 and began siding with the US
Russian Peacekeepers Are Killed in South Ossetia (Oct. 3): Two days after European Union observers arrive in Georgia to monitor Russia's pull-out of troops from the troubled region, a car bomb explodes in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, killing seven Russian peacekeepers (Oct. 8). Complying with the cease-fire agreement brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in early August, Russia starts removing troops from buffer zones surrounding the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The withdrawal is observed by 200 European Union members.
Anti-government Protests in Thailand Become Deadly (Oct. 7): Two people are killed and more than 400 wounded in fighting between security forces and anti-government protesters. Demonstrators, tyring to prevent the inauguration of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, barricade lawmakers inside the Parliament building.
Ukraine's President Dissolves Parliament (Oct. 9): After weeks of political turmoil that saw the collapse of his pro-Western coalition, President Viktor Yushchenko signs an order to dissolve Parliament and calls for new elections. The vote is scheduled for Dec. 7, 2008; it will be the third parliamentary election since Yushchenko took office in 2004.
USA Revises Estimate of Civilian Deaths in Afghan Raid (Oct. 8): The New York Times reports that an inquiry by the USA military found that more than 30 civilians and fewer than 20 militants were killed in an Aug. 22 raid by coalition forces on the western village of Azizabad. The USA initially said between five and seven civilians and up to 35 militants died, but the Afghan government said as many as 90 Afghan civilians, 60 of them children, died in the attack.
USA Removes North Korea from Terrorism List (Oct. 11): North Korea agrees to give international inspectors access to its nuclear plant at Yonbyon and to continue disabling its plutonium-processing facility. In exchange, the USA State Department removes the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Sudan Arrests Militia Leader Wanted by The Hague (Oct. 13): Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, also known as Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman, who has been named by the International Criminal Court as a suspect in the murder, rape, and displacement of thousands of civilians in Sudan's Darfur region is arrested by Sudanese police. He is not, however, handed over to the ICC.
Canadian Prime Minister Is Reelected (Oct. 14): The Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, defeats the Liberal Party in national elections. The Conservatives, however, fail to win a majority in the House of Commons and will form a minority government, the third in four years.
Iraq and the USA Complete Draft of Security Agreement (Oct. 17): Draft agreement, outlined in the media but not publicly released, calls for all USA troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, depending on the conditions in Iraq. Plan also gives USA military personnel immunity from Iraqi law except for serious premeditated felonies committed outside their duty status. Iraq will have jurisdiction over private USA contractors, however (Oct. 21). Members of the Iraqi cabinet say they will not approve the agreement without amendments.
Taliban Insurgents Engage in Grisly Attack (Oct. 19): Fighters pull as many as 30 men from a bus traveling in Kandahar and behead them. A Taliban spokesman says the passengers were members of the Afghan National Army. The Afghan government denies the claim, saying the men were civilians traveling to Iran to seek work.
USA Troops Launch an Air Attack into Syria (Oct. 26): American Special Operations Forces kill a leader of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia in a helicopter attack in Syria, near the Iraqi border. USA officials say the militant, Abu Ghadiya, has smuggled weapons, money, and fighters into Iraq from Syria.
President of Georgia Dismisses Prime Minister (Oct. 27): Mikheil Saaksahvili replaces Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze with Grigol Mgaloblishvili, Georgia's ambassador to Turkey. The move comes about three months after Georgia's war with Russia that devastated Georgia's infrastructure.
Fighting Intensifies in Congo (Oct. 27): After capturing the major army base of Rumangaboebel, rebel forces in the northeast part of the country who are loyal to a Tutsi general, Laurent Nkunda, advance toward Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. Angry civilians attack UN peacekeeping troops, frustrated that they were not able to thwart the rebels. About 250, 000 civilians have fled their homes since a peace accord fell apart in August (Oct. 29). The rebels stop outside of Goma and declare a cease-fire.
Peaceful Regions of Somalia Rocked by Bombings (Oct. 29): At least 28 people are killed in five suicide-bombings in northern Somalia. Somali officials cast blame on the militant Islamic group Shabab, which has been battling the transitional government. The highest death toll is in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway northern region of Somaliland.
Petraeus Takes Over as Head of Central Command (Oct. 31): Gen. David Petraeus will oversee military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran, and other countries.
World November 2008
USA Airstrike in Afghanistan Hits a Wedding (Nov. 3): Afghan officials say 40 civilians are killed and nearly 30 wounded in an attack in Kandahar, a southern province. During a press conference, President Hamid Karzai urges USA president-elect Barack Obama to take measures to halt civilian casualties and instead target terrorist training centers.
Russian President Sends a Warning to Obama (Nov. 5): The day after Sen. Barack Obama is elected president of the United States, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev delivers a speech in Moscow in which he says he will deploy short-range missiles near Poland that could reach NATO countries if the USA installs a missile-defense system in Europe.
African Leaders and UN Officials Hold Emergency Meeting on Fighting in Congo (Nov. 7): As a cease-fire between the government and rebels, led by Laurent Nkunda, seems on the brink of collapse, leaders from several African nations and Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the UN meet in Nairobi. They sign an agreement calling for an immediate end to the fighting and say that if UN troops fail to protect civilians, then African peacekeepers would take over:
Iraq's Religious Minorities Receive Fewer Council Seats Than Recommended (Nov. 8): President Jalal Talabani and two vice presidents approve a bill that guarantees six seats on provincial councils to religious minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, Sabeans, and Shabaks. The UN had suggested that the groups be given 12 seats on the 440-seat council.
Bali Bombers Are Executed (Nov. 9): Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra, and Mukhlas, also known as Ali Ghufron, are executed by firing squad for their role in the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people, mostly tourists. Islamist extremists launch protests and threaten to retaliate for the executions.
China Announces Enormous Stimulus Package (Nov. 9): China's State Council says it will spend about $586 billion, or about 7% of its GDP, over the next two years on infrastructure projects, including new airports, subways, low-income housing, and rail systems.
Dozens Are Killed in Blasts in Baghdad (Nov. 10): At least 28 people die and more than 60 are injured when three bombs explode minutes apart in a neighborhood in northern Baghdad during the morning commute. Officials suspect the explosions are linked to al-Qaeda.
Taiwan's Former President Is Arrested (Nov. 11): Chen Shui-bian, who lost a reelection bid in March, is arrested and charged with corruption and money laundering. Chen, who has long asserted that Taiwan and China are separate countries, denies the allegations and claims he is being persecuted to appease China.
Iraq's Cabinet Approves Security Deal (Nov. 16): After nearly a year of negotiations with the US, the Iraqi cabinet passes by a large margin a status of forces agreement that will govern the USA presence in Iraq through 2011. The pact calls for the withdrawal of all USA combat troops by Dec. 31, 2011, and the removal of USA troops from Iraqi cities by the summer of 2009. In addition, the agreement gives Iraqi officials increased jurisdiction over serious crimes committed by off-duty Americans who are off base when the crimes occur. Iraq's Parliament must also approve the agreement (Nov. 27). The Iraqi Parliament votes, 149 to 35, to approve the status of forces agreement.
Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker (Nov. 18): The Saudi oil tanker, anchored about 480 miles off the coast of Somalia, is loaded with some two million barrels of oil, worth about $100 million. It is the first time pirates have seized an oil tanker. Piracy in the area has been occurring with increased frequency in 2008.
Protesters Shut Down Airport in Bangkok (Nov. 25): Antigovernment demonstrators, who have been protesting since August, shut down the Suvarnabhumi airport. The protesters, called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, whom they call a proxy for exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and are seeking to change the governing and electoral process that has empowered the rural majority, who PAD members say are ill educated, at the expense of the elite (Nov. 26). Thailand's army chief, General Anupong Paochinda, urges Somchai to resign and call new elections. Somchai refuses to heed Anupong's advice (Nov. 27). Prime Minister Somchai declares a state of emergency and authorizes the police and military to evict the protesters.
Terrorists Launch Brazen Attack in Mumbai (Nov. 26): More than 170 people are killed and about 300 are wounded in a series of attacks on several of Mumbai's landmarks and commercial hubs that are popular with foreign tourists, including two five-star hotels, a hospital, a train station, and a cinema. Indian officials say ten gunmen carried out the attack that was stunning in its brutality and duration; it took Indian forces three days to end the siege. India's police and security forces were ill-prepared for such an attack, which many inside India are calling their own September 11. In fact, Indian sharpshooters were not equipped with telescopic sights, and therefore withheld firing out of fear of killing hostages. Deccan Mujahedeen, a previously unknown group, claims responsibility for the attacks. Pakistan officials deny any involvement in the attacks, but some Indian officials hint that they suspect Pakistani complicity. India has been hit by an increasing number of terrorist attacks throughout 2008.
Hundreds Are Killed in Clashes in Nigeria (Nov. 28): Fighting between Muslims and Christians breaks out in Jos in a dispute over local elections. At least 400 people are killed, hundreds are wounded, and 7, 000 are forced to flee their homes. Rival ethnic and religious groups burn churches and mosques and attack each other.
World December 2008
India Says Pakistan Was Behind Terrorist Attack (Dec. 1): Indian officials say Pakistani militants carried out the brazen attack on several landmarks in Mumbai that killed 173 people. The accusation further strains an already tense relationship between the two countries. Indian and USA officials say they believe the militant Islamic group Lashkar-e-Taiba was involved (Dec. 2). USA officials concur with India's accusation that Pakistani militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the attack in Mumbai (Dec. 7). Pakistani troops raid a camp run by Lashkar-e-Taiba in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, and arrest several militants, including Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the man officials suspect of organizing the attack (Dec. 11). Pakistan officials detain Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the found of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and place him under house arrest.
Court Ruling Disbands Governing Party in Thailand (Dec. 2): The Constitutional Court rules that the governing People Power engaged in fraud during the 2007 elections. The decision forces Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from power and bans party members from politics for five years. The protesters ends their weeklong blockade of Suvarnaabhumi Intnerantional Airport (Dec. 15). Parliament elects Abhisit Vejjajiva, the head of the Democrat Party, as prime minister.
Presidential Council Approves Iraqi Security Agreement (Dec. 4): The Presidencial Council, made up of Iraq's president and two vice presidents, gives final approval to the status of forces agreement that will govern the USA presence in Iraq through 2011.
Canada's Prime Minister Shuts Down Parliament (Dec. 4): Just seven weeks into his second term, Stephen Harper, in an attempt to stall a no-confidence vote, suspends Parliament until Janury 26, 2009. The move follows the formation of an alliance of three opposition parties, the centrist Liberals, the socialist New Democrats (NDP), and the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which will have enough seats to oust Harper's Conservative Party.
Blackwater Security Guards Are Charged (Dec. 8): Five employees of Blackwater Worldwide are charged with 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter. They were involved in the September 2007 shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. The incident strained the relationship between the governments of Iraq and the US
Organizers of Sept. 11 Attacks Say They Will Plead Guilty (Dec. 8): Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, suspected of being the mastermind of the attacks, and four codefendents tell the military judge at Guantanamo Bay that they want to confess to all charges of murder and war crimes. The judge, Col. Stephen Henley, tells prosecutors that they must report back on whether the suspects can be sentenced to death without being found guilty by a military jury.
Suicide Bomber Targets Meeting to Bridge Sectarian Divide (Dec. 11): Nearly 50 people are killed in the bombing at a restaurant in northern Iraq, where Kurdish leaders and members of the Sunni Awakening Councils were meeting to discuss ways to reduce tension in Kirkuk between Arabs and Kurds.
Former President of Taiwan Is Indicted (Dec. 12): Chen Shui-bian, who lost a reelection bid in March, is indicted on charges of corruption and money laundering. He is accused of pocketing millions in campaign funds. Several members of his family are also charged.
President of Somalia Fires Prime Minister (Dec. 14): President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed dismisses Nur Hassan Hussein, saying Hussein had failed to accomplish his duties. It is not clear, however, if Yusuf has the authority to make such a move (Dec. 15). Parliament passes, 143 − 20, a confidence vote in the government of Hussein (Dec. 16). Despite the vote, President Yusuf appoints Muhammad Mahmud Guled Gamadhere as prime minister. Parliament balks at the move and overwhelmingly votes to endorse Hussein for a second time.
Journalist Throws Shoes at Bush (Dec. 14): At a news conference in Baghdad, a reporter for Al Baghdadia, a Cairo-based satellite television network, hurls his shoes at President Bush and calls him a dog. The shoes narrowly miss Bush's head.
Rwandan Military Officer Found Guilty of Genocide (Dec. 18): A UN court convicts Col Theoneste Bagosora, a Hutu, of genocide for his involvement in the 1994 massacre of 800, 000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu. In 100 days, beginning in April 1994, Hutu rampaged through Rwanda and slaughtered an estimated 800, 000 Tutsi and their moderate Hutu sympathizers.
Military Launches a Coup in Guinea After Death of President (Dec. 22): Guinea's despotic president, Lansana Conte, dies after 24 years in power (Dec. 24). Junior army leaders launch a coup attempt (Dec. 26). The coup succeeds. The African Union demands a return to constitutional rule, but Senegal's president supports the new government, which is led by army captain Moussa Camara.
Israel Launches Airstrikes into Gaza (Dec. 28): Days after the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas expired, Hamas begins launching rocket attacks into Israel, which retaliates with airstrikes that killed about 300 people. Israel targets Hamas bases, training camps, and missile storage facilities.