Month in review: International
Factional violence in Palestine
Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas prepares to call early parliamentary and presidential elections as a means to resolve the political impasse in the occupied territories, a move the ruling Hamas leadership condemn as an attack on democracy and a coup d'etat. The ensuing week is marked by gun battles in Gaza City, the death of three sons of a Fatah intelligence official loyal to Abbas, and an alleged assassination attempt on the life of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya as violence amongst Palestinians reaches historic heights.
The UN Security Council votes unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology, as part of an effort to pressure Tehran to halt uranium enrichment work. The resolution also includes a freeze on the financial assets abroad of 12 individuals and 10 organizations from Iran associated with nuclear programs. Iran condemns the resolution as illegal, stating that it will not affect what it claims are its "peaceful" nuclear activities, and considers altering its relationship with the international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.
The Bush administration continues to delay a decisive policy shift on Iraq, as the white house receives conflicting advice on future action. The newly formed Iraq Study Group recommends the withdrawal of the majority of American combat forces from Iraq, leaving just 70,000 American trainers, logistics experts and members of a rapid reaction force. Alternatively, top military commanders in Iraq allegedly endorse the deployment of at least 20,000 fresh combat troops. Bush is expected to make a public announcement on Iraq policy in January 2007.
A nuclear slip
General Augusto Pinochet, who overthrew Chile's democratically elected Marxist president in a bloody coup and ruled the Andean nation for 17 years, dies in a military hospital, dashing the hopes of victims of his regime's abuses that he would be brought to justice. His death sparks clashes in the Chilean capital Santiago between Pinochet loyalists and their political opponents. He was 91.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unintentionally lists Israel among those states who possess the nuclear bomb. Speaking of Iran's nuclear program, Olmert listed the nuclear armed nations around the world, accidentally adding Israel to the list. Israel, widely considered the Middle East's sole nuclear power, has for decades refused to confirm whether it possesses the atomic bomb.
Goodbye Kofi Annan
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan takes a sharp farewell swipe at US foreign policy, implying America has abandoned certain core principles in its zeal to battle global terrorism. Saying that "human rights and the rule of law are vital to global security and prosperity", Annan pleas for far-sighted American leadership for the sake of global affairs. Annan, Ghanian diplomat and seventh Secretary General of the United Nations, is set to be replaced by Ban Ki-Moon on January 1, 2007.
Saddam Hussein is hanged at dawn for crimes against humanity, marking a dramatic and violent end for a leader who ruled Iraq by fear for three decades before he was toppled by a US invasion in 2003. His death, which is aired on Iraqi television, is met with jubilation and anger from the Shia and Sunni communities respectively, and is feared will fuel the sectarian violence that already hinders efforts at forming a unified, peaceful, and democratic government in Iraq.
Photos: AFP, UN