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February 2008



World


Dozens Die in Suicide Bombing (Feb. 1): Nearly 100 people die when two women suicide bombers attack crowded pet markets in eastern Baghdad.

Serbian President Is Reelected (Feb. 3): Incumbent Boris Tadic, a pro-Western leader who favors joining the European Union and closer ties with the U.S., defeats Tomislav Nikolic, of the hardline nationalist Radical Party, in the second round of presidential elections. Tadic takes 50.5% of the vote to Nikolic's 47.7%.

Israel Hit By First Suicide Bomb in Over a Year (Feb. 4): The militant group Hamas claims responsibility for the attack that kills one person in Dimona. A second attacker is shot and killed by police.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Warns of Al Qaeda Threat (Feb. 5): Mike McConnell tells the Senate Intelligence Committee that al-Qaeda has improved its recruiting and training techniqes and has produced a new group of Western operatives that could carry out an attack in the U.S.
Inquiry Concludes Bhutto Died of a Head Injury (Feb. 7): Scotland Yard investigators report that former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto died of an injury to her skull. They say she hit her head when the force of a suicide bomb tossed her. Bhutto's supporters, however, insist she died of a bullet wound.

Bomb Kills Top Hezbollah Leader (Feb. 12): A top Hezbollah millitary commander, Imad Mugniyah, who is thought to be behind a series of bombings and kidnappings in the 1980s and 1990s, is killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria. Mugniyah was one of America's most wanted men with a price tag of $25 million on his head. Hezbollah accuses Israel for arranging his death.

Panamanian Investigators Release Report on Mass Poisoning (Feb. 14): The Panamanian government reports a precise death toll for the 2006 poisoning for the first time. Investigators conclude that at least 174 people were poisoned resulting in 115 deaths. The death toll may be higher, however, since many cases in remote areas of the country were probably not reported.

Kosovo Declares Independence (Feb. 17): Three months after negotiations between the European Union, Russia, and Washington on the future of Kosovo end in stalemate, Kosovo's prime minister Hashim Thaci declares independence from Serbia. Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica says he would never recognize the "false state." International reaction is mixed, with the United States, France, Germany, and Britain indicating that they planned to recognize Kosovo as the world's 195th country. Serbia and Russia, however, call the move a violation of international law. (Feb. 18): The United States and several other nations, including Britain, Germany, and France, recognize Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state.

Dozens Die in Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan (Feb. 17): About 80 people are killed and nearly 100 injured when a suicide bomber attacks at a crowded dogfight near Kandahar. A local police chief Abdul Hakim Jan is among the dead. It is the worst suicide attack since 2001.

Castro Resigns as President of Cuba (Feb. 19): Fidel Castro, who temporarily handed power to his brother Raķl in July 2006 when he fell ill, permanently steps down after 49 years in power. (Feb. 24): Raķl Castro succeeds his brother, Fidel, as president of Cuba. He says that there will be few changes made in governing and that he will consistently consult Fidel when making decisions.

Musharraf Suffers Resounding Defeat in Elections (Feb. 18): President Pervez Musharraf's party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, which has been in power for five years, loses most of its seats in Parliamentary elections. The opposition Pakistan People's Party, which was led by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto until her assassination in December 2007 and is now headed by her widow, Asif Ali Zardari, wins 80 of the 242 contested seats. The Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, takes 66 seats. Musharraf party's wins 40. His defeat is considered a protest of his attempts to rein in militants, his coziness with President Bush, and his dismissal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. (Feb. 21): The Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N say they will form a coalition government and exclude Musharraf and members of his government.

Dozens of Shiite Pilgrims Are Killed in Suicide Attack (Feb. 24): At least 52 people, who were headed to the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala to celebrate Arbaeen, are killed in the attack at a rest stop. (Feb. 25): In the second day of attacks against Shiite pilgrims, at least four people are killed by suicide bombers.

Kenyan Government and Opposition Reach Power-Sharing Deal (Feb. 28): Agreement, hashed out over protracted negotiations between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, creates a prime minister position, which will be filled by Odinga. In addition, cabinet positions will be divided between the two rivals.




Nation


Pakistani Winning Party Meets with Islamists to Build Anti-Musharraf Coalition VOA 29 Feb 2008 -- The party of slain former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is trying to convince Islamist politicians to build a stronger coalition against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

US Urges Pakistan's Moderate Political Parties to Work Together VOA 28 Feb 2008 -- The United States is urging the moderate political parties in Pakistan that made significant gains in recent parliamentary elections to work together to form a coalition government.

AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN: Most Pakistani refugees return home IRIN 28 Feb 2008 -- Most of the Pakistani families that had fled sectarian violence in Pakistan by seeking refuge across the border in southeastern Afghanistan earlier this year have returned to their homeland.

U.S.: Intelligence Chief Assesses Security Threats From Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan RFE/RL 28 Feb 2008 -- It has been more than six years since U.S. forces entered Afghanistan to battle the Taliban and help establish a stable central government.


Pakistani Military Battling Swat Insurgency Pins Hopes on New Government VOA 26 Feb 2008 -- Last year much of Pakistan's scenic Swat valley had been taken over by a band of Islamic militants.

US Senator: If Afghanistan Fails, Pakistan Could Follow VOA 26 Feb 2008 -- U.S. Democratic Senator Joseph Biden says Washington must focus on securing Afghanistan because if it fails, then neighboring Pakistan could be next.

Pakistani Sharif urges Musharraf to say 'goodbye' IRNA 26 Feb 2008 -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday urged President Pervez Musharraf to say 'goodbye' to power as the people have given verdict against him.


Suicide Bomb Kills Eight in Pakistan VOA 25 Feb 2008 -- Authorities in Pakistan say that a suicide bomb attack on a military vehicle in the garrison city of Rawalpindi has killed at least eight people, including a senior army general.

Taliban Calls for Peace Talks With New Pakistan Government VOA 24 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan's Taliban militants say they are willing to talk with the parties expected to form the country's new government, but only if military operations against militants and terrorists end in the tribal regions.

Elections Prove Islam, Democracy Are Compatible, Expert Says RFE/RL 23 Feb 2008 -- Fatah had long been considered the political voice of the Palestinians.

Victorious Opposition Looks To Shift Strategy Toward Militants RFE/RL 21 Feb 2008 -- Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, on the United States, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been a key ally in the U.S. war on terror.

Pakistan Opposition Leaders Agree to Form New Government VOA 21 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan's two main opposition parties say they have agreed to work together to form a new government after winning general elections Monday.

Analysis: U.S. Scrambles to Remake Pakistan Policy cfr.org 20 Feb 2008 -- The unstinting support Washington has lent to Pakistanís President Pervez Musharraf throughout the past year of tumult has led to something of a crisis for U.S. policy toward Pakistan.

Pakistani President Calls for 'Harmonious Coalition' Following Opposition Election Wins VOA 20 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is calling for a "harmonious coalition" in the new national assembly, which is now dominated by opposition parties.

Pakistan's former ruling party chief defeated IRNA 19 Feb 2008 -- In a major upset, Chief of the former ruling Muslim League (PML-Q) Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain lost his seat to his rival of the Pakistan Peoples Party, according to unofficial results.

Early Returns in Pakistan Election Indicate Big Wins for Opposition Parties VOA 19 Feb 2008 -- Political allies of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf are conceding defeat in Monday's general elections.

Pakistan Opposition Parties Predict Election Wins VOA 18 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan's opposition parties are predicting strong gains in national and provincial elections today.

Pakistan Focuses on Vote Count Following Largely Peaceful Poll VOA 18 Feb 2008 -- Pakistanis are expressing relief that national elections were largely peaceful, but there is tension and skepticism about the vote counting process.


Crucial Elections in Pakistan on Monday VOA 17 Feb 2008 -- Voters in Pakistan will go to the polls Monday in one of the most crucial elections in the nation's history.

Suicide bomb attack kills 37 in Pakistan's tribal region: official IRNA 16 Feb 2008 -- At least 37 people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack near the election office of Pakistan Peoples Party in the country's tribal agency on Saturday, the local official said.

Afghanistan: Analysts Mixed On Pakistani Elections' Impact On Regional Security RFE/RL 16 Feb 2008 -- There are no signs of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgency abating along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Analysis: A Crucial Vote in Pakistan cfr.org 15 Feb 2008 -- Many have expressed hope that Pakistanís February 18 parliamentary elections (ElectionGuide.org) will bring political stability to a country torn by militancy, emergency rule, and political upheaval.

PAKISTAN: Schools in Lahore face bomb threats ahead of polls IRIN 15 Feb 2008 -- As uncertainty continues in the run-up to next week's potentially violent elections in Pakistan, a new wave of fear and panic has been created by a series of threats to schools in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab Province.

Pilot killed as Pakistan Air Force fighter plane crashes IRNA 15 Feb 2008 -- A pilot was killed as French-made Mirage fighter plane of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crashed near the city of Sargodha in eastern Punjab province on Friday, the PAF said.

Pakistan Prepares for Crucial Elections VOA 15 Feb 2008 -- Voters in Pakistan go to the polls Monday in one of the most crucial elections in the South Asian nation's 60-year history.

PAKISTAN: Apprehension palpable ahead of 18 February elections IRIN 14 Feb 2008 -- With just days to go before the general election, colourful flags and election banners flutter in the winter breeze across towns and cities in Pakistan.

Pakistan's President Promises Free, Fair Elections VOA 14 Feb 2008 -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is pledging that next week's parliamentary elections will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful.

Pakistani Police Announce Breakthrough in Bhutto Assassination Probe VOA 13 Feb 2008 -- Pakistani police investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto say two suspects in custody have confessed to helping the suicide bomber who carried out the attack.

Pakistan test-fires short range nuclear-capable missile IRNA 13 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan on Wednesday conducted test of a short-range nuclear-capable missile during military exercises, the army said.

PAKISTAN: Gearing up for another Afghan repatriation drive IRIN 13 Feb 2008 -- As the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) gears up for another Afghan repatriation drive, it is clear that fewer Afghans could return home from Pakistan this year because of continuing insecurity in Afghanistan and the fact that there will be no special UN assistance for unregistered refugees as in 2007.

Pakistan army says top Taliban commander arrested IRNA 12 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan army said on Monday that the security forces have arrested top Taliban commander Mulla Mansoor Dadullah.

Pakistan Nuclear Officials Kidnapped, Ambassador to Afghanistan Missing VOA 12 Feb 2008 -- Police officials in Pakistan say two nuclear energy officials have been kidnapped in the northwest near the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan Deploys Troops Prior to Elections VOA 12 Feb 2008 -- Tens of thousands of troops are fanning out across Pakistan in an effort to improve security before next week's parliamentary elections.

Pakistani Officials Arrest Top Afghan Taliban Commander VOA 11 Feb 2008 -- A former top Taliban commander was critically wounded and captured by Pakistani security forces Monday after a shootout near the border with Afghanistan.

Top US Military Officer Visits Pakistan's Northwest VOA 10 Feb 2008 -- The top U.S. military officer met with Pakistani military commanders in the North West Frontier Province Sunday.

US Military Chief: Terrorists Threat to US, Pakistan VOA 09 Feb 2008 -- U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida have found safe haven in Pakistan and represent a threat to both the United States and Pakistan
Pakistan Denies US Claims of Bin Laden, Mullah Omar Whereabouts VOA 09 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan is dismissing an assertion by a U.S. official that the leaders of al-Qaida and the Taliban are operating out of that country's remote tribal areas.

Suicide Bombing in Pakistan Leaves At Least 20 Dead VOA 09 Feb 2008 -- Authorities in Pakistan say a suicide bomb attack at an election rally in northwestern Pakistan has killed at least 20 people.

Scotland Yard Says Suicide Bomb Blast Killed Bhutto, Not Bullet VOA 08 Feb 2008 -- British investigators from Scotland Yard have concluded that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed as the result of a suicide bomb blast and not an assassin's bullet.

Pakistan Finally Understands Terror Danger, Gates Says AFPS 07 Feb 2008 -- Pakistan only recently has realized that terrorists on its border with Afghanistan pose a significant threat, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a news conference here today.

Mullen to Discuss Security Issues During Pakistan Visit AFPS 07 Feb 2008 -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff departed for Pakistan today to discuss security issues with Pakistani military officials, a senior U.S. military officer told Pentagon reporters here.

Pakistani Taliban declares ceasefire IRNA 07 Feb 2008 -- Pakistani Taliban on Wednesday announced to suspend attacks against security forces in the tribal region of Waziristan and the Swat valley in northwest, a purported Taliban spokesman said.

Backgrounder: Pakistanís New Generation of Terrorists cfr.org 06 Feb 2008
Tellis:
Pakistanís Mixed Record on Anti-Terrorism cfr.org 06 Feb 2008
PAKISTAN: Barbecued chicken still popular despite bird flu scare IRIN 07 Feb 2008 -- As chicken meat slowly cooks over a smoke-belching barbeque at one of Karachiís popular and crowded barbecue eateries, it is clear neither the owner nor its customers seem that worried about the most recent bird flu scare.

Senators Seek Analysis of U.S. Aid to Pakistan AFPS 06 Feb 2008 -- The Senate Armed Services Committee today requested a report on the effectiveness of U.S.-funded Pakistani operations against an insurgency spreading along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Taliban, Al-Qaida Threaten Pakistan VOA 06 Feb 2008 -- Military and political analysts in Pakistan are expressing growing concern that al-Qaida and Taliban-linked insurgents are now emerging from their traditional strongholds along the border with Afghanistan and are becoming a serious threat to the entire country.

Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 6 in Pakistan VOA 04 Feb 2008 -- A suicide bomber in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi has rammed his motorcycle into a bus carrying military personnel, killing at least 6 people and wounding at least 25 others.

PAKISTAN: Authorities begin taking action on bird-flu IRIN 04 Feb 2008 -- The avian flu epidemic that has swept across parts of neighbouring India has led Pakistan's Health Ministry to begin putting in place a number of preventative measures.




Business/Science/Society


Economy Loses Jobs for the First Time in 52 Months (Feb. 1): Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 17,000 jobs were eliminated in January. The figures increase fears of an imminent recession.

Microsoft Makes Hostile Bid for Yahoo (Feb. 1): In a move to challenge Google's dominance of search and advertising on the internet, software giant Microsoft offers to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion.

Tornadoes Kill Dozens in the South (Feb. 5): At least 55 people are killed and hundreds more injured after violent tornadoes rip through Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

New Module Added to the International Space Station (Feb. 9): The Atlantis delivers the Columbus science laboratory, a $2 billion module that will double the stationís zero-gravity research capacity, and Europeís most recent contribution to the ISS.

Four Art Masterpieces Stolen (Feb. 10): Three men wearing ski masks steal four pieces of artwork from the Zurich Museum in one of the largest art robberies in history. In broad daylight, the robbers took a Cezanne, a Degas, a van Gogh, and a Monet, with a combined worth of $163 million. (Feb. 18): Two of the paintings, the Monet and the van Gogh, are found in perfect condition in the backseat of an unlocked car in Zurich.

Writers' Strike Ends (Feb. 12): A tentative three-year deal with production companies is approved, ending the three-month Writers' Guild of America strike that began on Nov. 5, 2007, and cost the entertainment industry over $2 billion.

General Motors Suffers Profit Loss (Feb. 12): GM reports a $722 million fourth-quarter loss in 2007 compared to a $920 million profit in the fourth-quarter of 2006. For the whole of 2007, GM lost $38.7 billion, the largest loss in history for an automaker.

Wheat Prices Rise (Feb. 13): Due to drought and high demand from abroad, the U.S. wheat supply is the lowest it's been in 30 years. Stockpiles in 2008 are predicted to fall to 312 million bushels from 456 million bushels in 2007.

Gunman Kills Six Students in Illinois (Feb. 14): Gunman kills six students and then himself and wounds 15 more when he opens fire on a classroom at Northern Illinois University. The gunman, Stephen P. Kazmierczak, was as a former graduate student at the university.

Missile Shoots Down Satellite (Feb. 20): A U.S. missile interceptor, launched from a Navy ship, strikes down a dying satellite 130 miles over the Pacific Ocean. The satellite contained 1,000 pounds of frozen toxic fuel that could have been deadly had it landed on its own in a populated area.
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