The week at a glance...International


Nis, Serbia

Russian base: Russia inaugurated an “emergency relief base” in Serbia this week, and denied rumors that the facility is intended to spy on the planned U.S. missile-defense shield for Europe. Emergency Minister Sergey Shoigu said the base would house personnel and equipment to deal with forest fires, floods, and other natural disasters in the Balkans. He said it was just coincidence that the base was not far from the site in Romania where U.S. anti-ballistic missile interceptors are to be stationed. Russia has assisted Serbia in the past in removing mines and shells dropped by NATO forces during the Kosovo conflict, but Serbia has expressed a commitment to military neutrality.

Tripoli, Libya

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Clinton visits: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit to Libya this week to offer aid to the transitional government. “I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya,” Clinton said. “The United States was proud to stand for you in your fight for freedom, and we will continue to stand with you as you continue this journey.” Clinton offered $11 million in aid for medical care and to help secure weapons so they don’t fall into terrorist hands. Some weapons, including shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, have already made their way to militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Several tribal militias that fought pro-Qaddafi forces have yet to pledge support to the new government.

Kampala, Uganda

U.S. sends troops: The U.S. began sending about 100 U.S. special operations forces to central Africa to assist in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal guerrilla group accused of atrocities in several countries over the past two decades. The deployment was authorized by Congress last year with bipartisan support. The cult-like group, led by Joseph Kony, is notorious for attacking villages, slaughtering all the adults, and kidnapping the children for use as soldiers and sex slaves. At its height, the LRA had several thousand armed militants; it is now believed to have around 200 but has still carried out some 250 attacks this year. The U.S. forces, based in Kampala, will assist Ugandan squads hunting for the LRA in their country as well as in South Sudan, Congo, and the Central African Republic.

Mogadishu, Somalia

Kenya invades: Backed by helicopters and tanks, Kenyan troops poured across the Somali border this week to chase down Islamist al-Shabab militants. The Kenyan government said al-Shabab had carried out a recent wave of kidnappings inside Kenya, and officials tried to reassure the weak Somali government that Kenya doesn’t intend to occupy the country. The two governments immediately signed a joint communiqué in the Somali capital pledging to work closely together to “defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries.” But Somalis were furious. “It was embarrassing, and undermined our credibility,” one Somali official said. “The Kenyans didn’t tell us much.” In the past, Kenya has armed and trained several Somali militias along the border that oppose both al-Shabab and the central government.

Sanaa, Yemen

Awlaki’s son killed: Three weeks after a CIA drone killed al Qaida operative Anwar al-Awlaki, another U.S. drone strike this week killed his son. Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, 16, an American citizen like his father, was killed along with eight others, including a top al Qaida official believed to have been the target of the strike. “To kill a teenager is just unbelievable, really, and the claim that he is an al Qaida militant is nonsense,” said Nasser al-Awlaki, the boy’s grandfather. The young Awlaki was the third American to be killed by the U.S. in Yemen. Samir Khan, a North Carolina native who created the online jihadist magazine Inspire, died in the same strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki.

Foshan, China

Toddler left for dead: A trash picker has become a national hero in China after rescuing a little girl who was run over and left for dead. One after another, two hit-and-run drivers struck Wang Yue, 2, as she toddled down a narrow street in Foshan, in southern China. A video posted on the Internet and viewed millions of times in a matter of days showed more than a dozen people walking or biking past as the girl lay bleeding, until scavenger Chen Xianmei, 58, lifted her out of the road and called for help. Chen has received numerous offers of money, and the case has sparked a national conversation about morality as bloggers debate whether the Chinese are more concerned with making money than with building a just society. Wang is in critical condition and shows little brain activity.

Aba, China

Tibetan nun self-immolates: A Tibetan nun set herself on fire this week to protest China’s occupation of Tibet, becoming the ninth Buddhist cleric this year to do so. Tenzin Wangmo, 20, died of her burns. Seven of the eight monks who self-immolated this year were from Kirti monastery, which is in an ethnic Tibetan area of Sichuan and has been a center of protest against Beijing’s rule. China has tightened security around the monastery, arresting several monks and sending a group off to a “re-education” camp. “A growing number of Tibetans clearly feel that this is the only way that they can be heard,” said Stephanie Brigden, director of the international group Free Tibet.

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