World at a Glance
Unrest in Ivory Coast
This week's world news focused on unrest and clashes in Ivory Coast,
killing including alleged beheadings of UN staff in Afghanistan and
rebel forces re-capturing Ajdabiya and the oil-refining towns of Ras
Lanuf and Brega from pro-Muammar Qaddafi forces. Reports from Down Under
suggest that Australians have emerged on top as the world's most envious
people in a tally of the seven deadly sins.
Clashes in Abidjan
As reported by Reuters, several dozens of "people left a district of
Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan last Sunday, a day after gun
battles erupted forces backing two presidential rivals.
Residents of the northern Abobo district said clashes between forces
loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and those supporting his
rival Alassane Ouattara continued most of Saturday, but had died down on
"People are starting to leave because they fear more combat," said
Issa Dembele, a resident of Abobo. "Personally, I'm preparing to
evacuate my own family."
The United Nations estimates that around 200,000 people - most of
Abobo's population - have left in the past two weeks.
International sanctions such as a ban on European ships using Ivorian
ports, together with the near-collapse of the local banking sector, mean
supplies of Ivory Coast's cocoa to world markets have virtually dried
Around 400 people have already been killed in post-election violence
according to the United Nations, while some 450,000 Ivorians have fled
their homes for fear of attacks. Around 90,000 have sought refuge in
Libya rebels retake Ajdabiya
After rebel forces retook Ajdabiya and the oil-refining towns of Ras
Lanuf and Brega, it seemed that Muammar Qaddafi's troops might crumble
fast in the face of Western air attacks. But that hope was fleeting. At
a hastily assembled conference in London on March 29, attended by nearly
40 delegations representing the international coalition that is
enforcing UN Security Resolution 1973, the turn of events on the ground
saw Libyan government forces dramatically regain the initiative. And
that prompted a more sober assessment of the rebels' progress.
A day earlier, General Carter Ham, the American officer who was
running operations in Libya until NATO assumed command, had warned: "The
regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily. The regime
possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air
power is the major reason that has not happened." The General added that
apart from some "localised wavering" there had so far been only a few
cases of military or government officials defecting to the opposition.
Crisis in Syria
Syrian President Bashar Assad is under intensifying fire, but refuses
to retreat. The protests that started in the southern city of Deraa on
March 18 have spread and the regime of President Assad has so far been
determined to crush them. Since March 25, when many thousands of Syrians
again took to the streets for the second Friday in a row, more than 40
people were killed, raising the death toll in two weeks to more than 100
and many more have been arrested and tortured.
UN staff killed in Afghanistan
According to Reuters sources, "Afghans protesting the burning of a
Koran by an obscure US pastor over-ran a United Nations compound on
Friday and killed at least seven international staff in the deadliest
ever attack on the UN in Afghanistan.
Thousands of demonstrators flooded into the streets after Friday
prayers and headed for the UN mission in usually peaceful
Mazar-i-Sharif, a city slated as safe enough to be in the vanguard of a
crucial security transition.
The governor of Balkh province said insurgents had used the march as
cover to attack the compound, in a battle that raged for several hours
and raises serious questions about plans to make the city a pilot
project for security transfer to national forces.
The New York Times provides more details on the incident. "The dead
included ...four Nepalese guards and three Europeans from Romania,
Sweden... Early reports, later denied by Afghan officials...that at
least two of the dead had been beheaded.
The attack was the deadliest for the United Nations in Afghanistan
since 11 people were killed in 2009, when Taliban suicide bombers
invaded a guesthouse in Kabul.