Weekly Newscast – March 28, 2014By
Dylan Okabe-Jawdat: For War News Radio at Swarthmore College, I’m Dylan Okabe-Jawdat.
Boozarjomehri: And I’m Fatima Boozarjomehri. Ukrainian military forces left Crimea earlier this week as acting-defense minister Ihor Tenyukh stepped down from office. The Ukrainian Parliament initially rejected his resignation, but ultimately named Colonel General Mikhail Kovalyov as his replacement. Tenyukh, a strong supporter of the uprising against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, rebuffed critics who labeled his response to the Russian annexation of Crimea as indecisive. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has dismissed the annexation of Crimea as illegal. Several former Soviet republics, including Albania, Estonia, and Slovenia, joined the list of the resolution’s co-sponsors.
Okabe-Jawdat: An Egyptian court has sentenced to death 529 people described as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been convicted of participating in a riot in which an Egyptian police officer was killed. The trial itself lasted less than two hours, and 400 defendants were sentenced in absentia. The judge has been accused of violating criminal law procedures by preventing defense lawyers from calling witnesses, and Egyptian legal experts believe the sentences will be overturned or reduced following the appeals process. Each death sentence must be ratified by Egypt’s grand mufti before it can be carried out, which provides a measure of hope to those affected by the ruling. 683 more people have also been put on trial this week and are still awaiting a verdict.
Boozarjomehri: Egyptian General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has announced his resignation from the military in order to run for President in Egypt’s upcoming elections. Sisi deposed Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in 2013, and he is expected to easily win the election. Although he has acknowledged the economic and political difficulties the country faces, Sisi has promised to build a, quote, “modern and democratic Egypt”. Despite the continuous crackdown on, and recent conviction of over 500 Muslim Brotherhood members, Sisi vowed that his politics would be non-exclusionary and that he would extend a hand to, quote, “all those who have not been convicted”.
Okabe-Jawdat: A pro-government militia killed at least 151 rebels in the Darfur region of Sudan this week. Several commanders of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement–or S-L-M–died in the fighting, according to a report by the Sudanese Media Center. The SLM is a rebel group that formed in 2003 in response to perceived governmental discrimination and neglect. This recent incident is the latest in a string of violent assaults on rebel groups by Sudanese government forces. Human rights groups and the United Nations have condemned the Sudanese government for the attacks, noting that over 100,000 citizens have been displaced since the violence escalated earlier this month.
Boozarjomehri: Taliban militants attacked an election commission office in Kabul this week, killing at least five people. Two suicide bombers detonated their vehicle outside the office while three other militants stormed the building, engaging in a five hour gunbattle with Afghan security officers. The victims include a provincial council candidate, two police officers, two election commission workers and five militants. This assault is the latest in the Taliban’s campaign to disrupt Afghanistan’s crucial presidential election on April 5th. The elections will decide the successor to president Hamid Karzai, marking the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history.
Okabe-Jawdat: North Korea launched two medium-range ballistic missiles earlier this week as part of a military technology test. The launch may have been timed to coincide with a nuclear security summit attended by Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Kim Min-seok, a spokesman from the South Korean defense ministry, said that the decision to launch the missiles from mobile vehicles was a clear move by North Korea to, quote, “show off its ability to attempt a surprise attack.” The defense ministry also reported that the missiles flew about four hundred and three miles into the sea between North Korea and Japan. This launch represents an escalation from the test-firing of twenty-five short-range rockets by North Korea earlier this year. A North Korean diplomat, however, has claimed that the test launches are meant to protest the continued US and South Korean military drills near the Demilitarized Zone.
Boozarjomehri: Dozens of people were killed this week as a series of attacks swept across Iraq. The deadliest attack occurred in northeastern Baghdad after a suicide bomber crashed a truck filled with explosives into a security checkpoint, killing 6 and wounding 21 others. Gunmen in Tarmiyah and Mosul, cities north of Baghdad, killed 13 soldiers and wounded 13 in separate attacks on army checkpoints. Two bomb blasts in Baghdad also killed 5 and wounded 17. In Baghdad’s Ghalibiya district, 2 bodyguards were killed and 7 wounded in an attempted assassination of Sunni lawmaker Salim al-Jubouri. Although no group has claimed responsibility for these attacks, they are similar to acts of violence by an Al-Qaeda breakaway group. These attacks come just weeks before Iraq is set to hold national elections on April 30.
Okabe-Jawdat: Three Venezuelan air force generals were arrested under charges that they were planning a coup against the current regime. None of the generals have been identified. This most recent development comes as the government has increasingly cracked down on opposition groups. Other high profile arrests have included opposition party leader Leopoldo Lopez and the mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Ceballos. These arrests followed weeks of protests in Venezuela that have left at least 34 people dead and dozens more injured. The anti-government protests have criticized President Nicolas Maduro’s administration for failing to address shortages of basic goods, increased crime, and rising inflation.
Boozarjomehri: Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, has been convicted by a New York federal court jury of, quote, “conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists”. The prosecution accused the 48 year old Kuwaiti clergyman of serving as Al-Qaeda’s mouthpiece and main recruiter, pointing to his fiery speeches in which he glorified the 9/11 attacks. Abu Ghaith, however, testified that he had never joined Al Qaeda. He also insisted that his videos were only meant to encourage Muslims to rise up against their oppressors and that the more severe threats against America were fed to him by Bin Laden himself. Abu Gaith will be sentenced on September 8th and faces life in prison.
Okabe-Jawdat: If you want to hear more from War News Radio, visit us online at War News Radio.o-r-g. This week’s newscast was written and edited by Aneesa Andrabi, Caroline Batten, Joelle Hageboutros, Allison Hrabar, Sabrina Merold, Jerry Qin, Tyler Welsh, Zoey Werbin, Chloe Wittenberg, and Rachel Yang. I’m Dylan Okabe-Jawdat.
Boozarjomehri. And I’m Fatima Boozarjomehri. Until next time, thanks for listening.