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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Al-Shabaab Strikes U.N. base in Mogadishu

An al-Shabaab attack on the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) base in Mogadishu, Somalia resulted in at least 22 dead. This is the first attack against U.N. facilities since al-Shabaab was driven from the Somali capital roughly two years ago. One U.N. official was not surprised by the daring of the attack, stating “This is part of the consequence of over-optimism in some Western nations that has overshadowed the need to look at deeper problems before rolling out any kind of U.N. mission.” The newly appointed Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, vowed that the U.N. would not be cowed. “The U.N. is here to help and we are here to stay.” But al-Shabaab questioned Kay’s resolve. Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen grew out of the Islamic Courts Union which lost a war against the nominal Somali government in 2006 and has since declared war on the United States, Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Al-Shabaab has also offered significant resistance to various NGOs operating in Somalia, which Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Raghe has accused of imperialist motives. Somalia has been besieged by conflict since the fall of the brutal Barre Regime in 1986. As a result, at least one million Somalians currently live in crisis conditions and more than a million more have perished.

Mali and Tuaregs Sign Peace Accord

The government of Mali has signed a peace accord with the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a Tuareg independence group. The Tuaregs have been fighting for autonomy in the north since Mali gained independence from France in 1960. Today’s agreement calls for an immediate ceasefire and the return of Kidal, a city in northern mali that was recently seized by Malian troops, to the Tuaregs. The U.N. has agreed to provide more than 12,000 peacekeepers to ensure the peace. MNLA spokesperson Moussa Ag Attaher welcomed the deal, stating “the MNLA and the High Council for the Azawad [the rebel name for northern Mali] have given everything for peace and so we accept this accord.” The accord stops short of affording full Tuareg independence, but will instead grant Azawad autonomous governance under the Malian government. Malian government representative Tiebile Drame noted this accord achieved both peace and protected the territorial integrity of Mali. “I think we can say that the biggest task is finished. We have agreed on the essentials. There is an international consensus as well as a Malian consensus on the fundamental questions, which include the integrity of our territory, national unity, and the secular and republican nature of our state.” This peace agreement comes a month before the first elections since the Malian Military ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré in 2012 for poorly handling the Tuareg rebellion.

Chile to Extradite Argentine Judge

The Chilean Supreme Court has approved the extradition of Ex-Judge Otilio Romano, who in his role as an Argentine prosecutor, is accused of human rights abuses during the so called National Reorganization Process. Two years ago, Romano fled from Argentina the day before a court announced that it suspected the judge of complicity in forced disappearances, torture, and illegal raids while serving as a state prosecutor in the city of Mendoza. Upon his arrival in Chile, he asked for political asylum, but the government there rejected his request and placed him under house arrest. The National Reorganization Process is more popularly remembered as the Argentine Dirt War, which saw more than 30,000 people killed in a bid to end left wing influence in the South American country. A brace of amnesty laws protected those guilty of human rights violations until they were annulled in 2003 and declared unconstitutional in 2005.

Brazilian Cities Ask Army to Curb Protests

Following days of protests, the Brazilian government will send the national security force into five cities, in a bid to quell increasing conflagrations. Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza and the capital, Brasilia, have each requested assistance from the National Public Security Force (FNSP) in dealing with rioting citizenry. This comes only a day after President Dilma Rousseff expressed sympathies for the demonstrators, “The size of yesterday’s demonstrations shows the energy of our democracy, the strength of the voice of the streets and the civility of our population.” Earlier this week, more than 200,000 people clamored in the street, calling for a myriad number of civil changes. While the protests started over a bus fare hike, corruption, crime, and the economy are all significant issues. Many are upset that the Brazilian government has spent large sums of money promoting the World Cup and other upcoming soccer tournaments, while the nation’s social safety net recedes. Protests have been largely peaceful, though at times police officers and protestors have exchanged rubber-coated bullets and paving stones respectively, and at one point protestors had occupied the Brazilian congress building and the mayor’s office in São Paulo.

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