Headlines this week have been dominated by two stories: Michael Phelps’ success at the Olympic Games and the Russia-Georgia War. With all the attention paid to these two stories, here are five other developments you might have missed.
1. Russia’s Poland Threat: After Russia’s move into Georgia last week, Poland decided to permit U.S. interceptor missile bases to be housed there. The bases, part of the Bush Administration’s strategic defense initiative program, had been frozen due to American resistance to Polish demands that a Patriot missiles battery be stationed in the country as part of the deal. After the Georgian conflict, the United States appeared willing to give in to the Polish demand. In response, Russia warned Poland that it was now a target for their nuclear arsenal.
2. Musharraf’s (Possible) Resignation: Facing possible impeachment, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf indicated on Thursday that he will be stepping down. Impeachment proceedings had been set to start early next week. Musharraf’s resignation was likely intended to avoid that spectacle. As part of the agreement, Musharraf will avoid prosecution and will be permitted to remain in Pakistan. His departure, however, signals an important shift in Pakistani politics, a key country in the war on terror.
3. No Diplomatic Solution in Zimbabwe: Negotiations intended to resolve Zimbabwe’s longstanding crisis have so far failed to reach a peaceful settlement. At issue is who will lead Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe, the current president, has been in office since 1980 and has increasingly relied on force to maintain his rule. Morgan Tsvangarai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, won the first round of presidential elections last March before being forced to cancel his campaign in the second round of voting due to political violence. Despite extensive pressure being placed on the country by South Africa, Mugabe appears so far to be unwilling to share power. Negations continue, but few are hopeful that a settlement will be reached.
4. Lugo Wins Paraguay Election: Continuing a leftward shift in many Latin American countries, Fernando Lugo won the election in Paraguay, marking the end of 61 years of one-party rule by the Colorado Party. One of Lugo’s first acts as President was to decline his monthly salary of approximately $4000, declaring that “the money belongs to the poorest.” Evo Morales, the leftist President of Bolivia, said that Lugo’s victory would “deepen democracy” in the region.
5. Syrian-Lebanese Meeting: In the face of a declining security situation in Lebanon, the country’s President, Michel Suleiman, agreed to re-establish full diplomatic relations with neighboring Syria. The agreement, part of a package that seeks to normalize relations between the two countries, marks the first time the countries would exchange ambassadors since both achieved independence in the 1940s.