International News Briefs

Foreign access to Iranian military complex denied

IRAN: International nuclear inspectors have been denied total access to Parchin, a restricted military complex in the Iranian desert. According to the New York Times there is suspicion that a chamber within Parchin is designed to test explosives used in atomic weapons triggers. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman denied these accusations, as well as suggestions that the government intends to rid the military complex of trace nuclear materials. Iran claims an inspection was not denied, rather an agreement was not reached about the scope of inspectors’ examination. This will complicate upcoming talks with the United Nations Security Council about Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Surprise elections in the midst of bloodshed

SYRIA: In the midst of worsening conflict, Syrian president Brashar al-Assad has announced a surprise parliamentary election will be held in May, under the country’s new constitution. According to the Mail and Guardian, opponents of the regime are calling the elections illegitimate while Assad clings to power. After recent talks with Assad, the UN Security Council is awaiting news of what the Syrian government intends to do. Meanwhile, tensions are rising within the council as Russian representatives are calling for a simultaneous ceasefire between the government and armed rebels, while western powers say Assad’s government needs to make the first move.

Tibetan self-sacrifice in protest

BEIJING: In the past year, 24 Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest ongoing oppression from the Chinese government. Self-immolation as protest began in Tibetan monasteries and has since been adopted by the public, reports the Los Angeles Times. Tensions have been rising as China tries to instill “patriotic values” in Tibetan youth through communist education and forced renouncement of the Dalai Lama. In response to the protests the Chinese government is incorrectly portraying these suicides as impulses of criminals and the mentally ill; in reality, the majority of these enraged protesters are young, educated Tibetans.

No early exit from Afghanistan after violence

AFGHANISTAN: Recent violence between Afghan forces and U.S. troops has raised questions about the safety of the current mission and gradual drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. According to the Los Angeles Times, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are rejecting ideas coalition troops will be brought out of Afghanistan early. Tensions have been rising in the area after Korans were burned at a U.S. base, and following the shooting rampage of a U.S. soldier that left 16 Afghan civilians dead. Remaining U.S. and British troops are training Afghan soldiers in the hopes the country will be able to manage its own security.

Tribal violence in South Sudan worsens

SOUTH SUDAN: Ongoing tribal violence is threatening to push the newly independent South Sudan into a humanitarian disaster. The Los Angeles Times reports that fighting between the Nuer and Murle tribes is one of several issues plaguing South Sudan, including a lack of infrastructure, a war on the disputed border with Sudan and regional claims to oil reserves. With a re-emergence of Nuer militia and the White Army, the South Sudan government has deployed 12,000 troops to disarm both sides. Former attacks of revenge left 600 Murle dead and 200 abducted after Nuer fighters descended on their unarmed camp.

Published in Volume 66, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 21, 2012)

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