Jan 7 In the US, a new Congress has convened and is about to confront President Bush's strategy regarding Iraq. A debate is taking place on what to do about US policy failures in Iraq. Those supporting Bush and favoring more troops sent to Iraq are suggesting that the US must assert its will, otherwise Iraq and the entire region will sink into an abyss. The other side of the debate is saying that a solution by Iraqis is needed, that the Bush administration trying to impose its will on the Iraqis by a troop "surge" will produce more aggravation among the Iraqis and more failure.
Jan 8 The government of Morocco is putting two journalists on trial in Casablanca, charging them with defaming Islam and damaging public morality. The journalists created an article that explored popular jokes about religion, sex and politics. Sale of the magazine containing the article has been banned.
Jan 8 The government of Morocco arrests 62 Al Qaida suspects.
Jan 9 In the US the debate about a proposed troop surge in Iraq continues, with Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute on one side and Edward N. Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the other. Luttwak compares the amount of police controlling New York City and the number of soldiers it would take to control Baghdad today and he concludes that Kagan's plan to bust down doors in Baghdad neighborhoods would not be productive. He favors continued support for the elected government in Iraq but with less exposure and fewer casualties for US troops on desert bases, in the Green Zone and such, doing what US forces can do effectively: striking at any force that gathers into an anti-government "targetable mass formation."
Jan 10 In Venezuela, President Chavez is sworn in for a third term and promises "the construction of Venezuelan socialism."
Jan 10 In Nicaragua, the former Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is sworn in as President. After his own inauguration, President Chavez flies in and celebrates with Ortega. Bolivia's president, Morales, is there, as is President-elect Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Fidel Castro sends a message of "utmost support."
Jan 10 President Bush announces his new plan for success in Iraq: the deployment of 21,500 more US troops and more economic assistance.
Jan 12 In Somalia, government troops backed by Ethiopian troops have eliminated the last stronghold of the Islamist force that has controlled part of the country for the past six months. Remnants of the Islamist force are said to be hiding in the forests on Somalia's border with Kenya.
Jan 16 Rafael Correa, an economist, is sworn in as Ecuador's new president. He proposes less involvement by the United States in Ecuadorian affairs and restructuring Ecuador's debt. Among those attending his inauguration is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who has been touring "shanty towns" in Nicaragua.
Ogun Samast, in the center
and Maqbook Ahmad
Jan 16 In a News Hour television interview, President Bush sums up his position on Iraq. He says that if we don't help the Iraqis now, Iraq will become a safe haven for Al Qaeda and radicals with weapons of mass destruction will cause "huge devastation," among other disastrous consequences. The interviewer, Jim Lehrer, asks why if failure in Iraq would be such a disaster, the volunteer Army and Marines and their families have been the only people actually sacrificing. President Bush answers that he is opposed to the kind of sacrifice involved in raising taxes, which, he says, would "hurt this growing economy."
Jan 18 Egypt puts on trial a blogger, Abdel Kareem Nabil, for insulting Islam and causing sectarian strife. He is reported by the Associated Press as having "often denounced Islamic authorities." The Associated Press adds that "Egypt has arrested a string of pro-democracy bloggers over the past year."
Jan 18 Senator Leahy of Vermont lectures Attorney General Alberto Gonzales concerning Maher Arar and others: "We knew damn well if he went to Canada, he wouldn't be tortured. He’d be held; he’d be investigated. We also knew damn well if he went to Syria, he would be tortured. And it's beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another country to be tortured."
Jan 19 World Fact Book publishes estimates for per capita GDP (wealth produced divided by population size) for the year 2006 (at Purchasing Power Parity). Oil rich United Arab Emirates is $49,700 per person, Norway $47,800, Ireland $43,600, USA $43,500, Iceland $38,100, Denmark $37,000, Canada $35,200, Austria $34,100.
Jan 19-20 In Turkey the journalist Hrant Dink is assassinated by a couple of youths who did not like what they considered to be his insults against the nation. The nation of Turkey and its political leaders are outraged and insulted. The assassin, Ogun Samast, a teenager, is captured on the 20th and identified by his father. Ogun Samast hangs his head in shame.
Jan 23 In Lebanon the strike against the government ends in violence. Some who disapprove dislike Hezbollah having quit the government and then having complained about the government not being representative. Some who have supported the strike are upset that it has turned violent. A majority of Lebanese see remedy in democracy.
Jan 26 Many have been describing an alternative strategy to President Bush's plan for Iraq: Senator Hegel, Senator Webb of Virginia, people at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and others, some of whom are scholars on military matters. President Bush apparently holds ideas rival to his as unworkable. He declares that those who oppose his planned "surge" have an "obligation and a serious responsibility ... to put up their own plan as to what would work." The president and his supporters are describing Lieutenant-General David Petraeus as the authority on military strategy. Petraeus has said that he is not sure the president's new plan will work, but he has promised the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that when he sees that it is not working he will openly admit it.
Jan 27 Two brothers in the village of Khatan in eastern Pakistan, Mohammad Aslam and Maqbool Ahmad, kill their sister and the man they find her with. They surrender to police explaining that they have redeemed their family honor. The man they have killed belongs to a family of Syeds, considered descendents of Prophet Mohammad. Nevertheless, local people, with justice on their minds, are siding with the brothers, who belong to a family of menial laborers. According to the BBC the brothers are expected "to walk free."
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