Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US President Barack Obama on Friday, as the two nations discussed the best course of action to take with regards to Iran. While the US has been making progress with the reputed, ‘country on a mission to acquire nuclear weapons,’ Israel has made threats to preemptively strike Iranian nuclear facilities. This action would not only violate international law without UN sanctioning; but could not be claimed as being enacted in self-defense as most experts believe Iran to be lacking WMD or the capability to deliver them.
The BBC reported earlier this week that if this was carried out the Hamas Islamic political entity that controls parts of the Gaza Strip (disputed territory next to Israel) would not take action. This is now being disputed by senior Hamas official, Mahmoud al-Zahar (as reported by intelligence agency STRATFOR), that Hamas would, “retaliate with utmost power against Israel and any other complicit party if Israel invades Iran.” It’s a very delicate situation which could balloon into a much bigger crisis if Israel attacks without cause, leaving the US and its NATO allies to decide how to respond in both the Gulf region and the Mediterranean.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, at least 200 people died due to a number of explosions on Sunday in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. The blasts, which were the apparent result of a fire breaking out in an arms depot, was strong enough to shatter windows and cause panic across the river in neighboring Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The reaction is understandable due to the amount of corruption and foul play seen in both of these African nations.
The Russian elections took place on Sunday with former President and current PM Vladimir Putin being re-elected for a third term (served previously 2000-08). This comes as no shock to the rest of the world with recent Duma (parliament) election protests. The Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) who Russia invited to monitor the election, noted that irregularities in voting came predominantly from “restrictive candidate requirements,” and “state resources mobilized in (Putin’s) support.” While it’s refreshing to see that actual tampering and possibly no fraudulent behavior in terms of polling booths, it’s most likely due to the fact that intimidation by following the status quo is often much stronger than given credit for. Putin and his party, United Russia, don’t need to rely on low-level sabotage to win an election; they allow their reputation and their allowance of foreign observation to do it for them.
It may not be a fair election, but it does speak to the influence this man has over a country that was just as much an empire 20 odd years ago. Protests are new for the citizens, largely spurred by the younger generation who didn’t grow up in the Soviet Union. With that, a fair amount of the population is used to taking orders and following in line; the mentality to speak your mind, or run for office as an independent candidate was once a very dangerous option for a potential politician. This is evident in the fact Putin commanded 63.64 percent of the vote, a far cry from the nearest candidate’s 17.14 percent. With current President Dmitry Medvedev taking on the PM role, Putin has everything he needs as he goes forward with a renewed focus. It will be interesting to watch how this may strain US relations.
Last week North Korea agreed to suspend nuclear enrichment in exchange for food aid. This week the isolated state was back to trading threats with South Korea as King Jong-un visited soldiers who were potentially involved in a 2010 attack on one of South Korea’s islands. This exchange, while largely symbolic (the Korean War of the 1950’s ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty), saw the North attempting to provoke over lack of respect given to recent leader’s Kim Jong-Il’s death. To which South Korean Defense Minister responded that any provocation would be met with “devastating retaliation.”
Eels invaded a small town in New Zealand due to heavy rainstorms in the region. This follows a recent trend of flooding in the Australasian region as of late. Hope the hobbits are fine.
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