Top of the Agenda: Former Bosnian Serb Leader on Trial for War Crimes
Former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic went on trial at the The Hague today for allegedly committing war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity (NYT) during the Bosnian war of the 1990s. The prosecutor's indictment accused Mladic of orchestrating with Serbian politicians a policy of "ethnic cleansing" by forcing out tens of thousands of Muslim and Croat families from their villages in Bosnia to give the land to ethnic Serbs. Mladic, who was captured in May 2011, is also charged with devising the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, which left eight thousand unarmed men and boys dead.
"The fact that he was not on the spot does not of course mean that he was not giving orders from afar, through his established chain of command. Even if we give Mladic the benefit of the doubt about his physical presence at the mass execution sites, there remains a mountain of evidence suggesting that he was the primary initiator and organizer of Europe's worst atrocity since World War II," Foreign Policy's Michael Dobbs wrote earlier this year.
"For the thousands of women who were held in 'rape camps' in eastern Bosnia, for the families of the countless people who were 'ethnically cleansed,' it was imperative to find Mladic. He had to stand trial if there was ever to be even a semblance of justice. The Balkan wars inflicted trauma not just on the people of Bosnia, on the Serbs, the Croats, and the Muslims, but on Europe as a whole, shamed by its own impotence in the face of slaughter," Janine di Giovanni wrote for Newsweek last year.
"Serb nationalist pride in Mladic is one thing. The failure to apprehend him, however, had become an immense foreign policy problem for Belgrade. It was the biggest roadblock to Serbia's candidacy for membership in the European Union. For Boris Tadic, Serbia's pro-Western President, the horns of the dilemma were: find and deliver Mladic and risk popular anger or fail to do so and almost certainly lose the next election because of his inability to get the E.U. candidacy," TIME's Dejan Anastasijevic wrote last year.
Chinese Dissident Calls Into U.S. Congressional Hearing
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng--who escaped house arrest and fled to the U.S. embassy last month before being transferred to a Beijing hospital--called into a U.S. congressional hearing yesterday to voice concern over the alleged harassment of his extended family (WaPo) by Chinese authorities.
MYANMAR: President Thein Sein assured South Korean President Lee Myung-bak yesterday that Myanmar would end its practice of buying traditional weapons from North Korea (NYT) and would not assist the North's nuclear and long-range missile programs, according to South Korean officials.
UN Caught in Clashes between Syrian Soldiers and Protesters
A convoy of UN monitors witnessed deadly clashes between Syrian soldiers and protesters that left around twenty people dead and dozens more wounded (NYT). Three of the UN vehicles in the convoy were damaged by an explosive device, but the monitors were unharmed.
YEMEN: The Yemeni military launched air strikes on suspected al-Qaeda militants (VOA) in southern Abyan province yesterday, with U.S. troops reportedly providing logistical support from the nearby al-Annad air base in Lahj province. The raids and ground fighting left forty people dead, including militants and civilians.
Sudan's President Sets Preconditions Over South's Oil Exports
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said Tuesday that Sudan will not allow South Sudan to export oil through northern pipelines until all border disputes over security and land are settled (Reuters). South Sudan took over three-quarters of Sudan's oil production when it became independent last summer, but relies on Sudan's facilities to export the oil.
A bomb attached to the vehicle of former Colombian interior minister Fernando Londono--a hard-line critic of the rebel FARC group--exploded on Tuesday, killing his driver and a police officer (al-Jazeera) and wounding at least twenty other people. Londono was reportedly in stable condition.
With mounting U.S. debt and deficits of great concern to voters, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in an Iowa speech Tuesday, touted his proposals for austerity, including entitlement reform, "streamlining" federal bureaucracy, and limiting government spending to 20 percent of GDP, down from the current 24.3 percent.
Even with former challengers on the ballot, Romney handily won the Nebraska and Oregon (NBC) Republican primaries Tuesday with little fanfare, continuing to finish sewing up the GOP nomination for president.
At a private New York City campaign event, President Obama talked about economic progress under his presidency, including creating four million jobs in the last two years--one million of them in the last six months--and said he was running for reelection because there was still more to be done to fix the foundering economy.
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