The world at a glance . . . International
Urumqi, ChinaCrackdown on Uighurs: Some 200 people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested this week as Chinese police put down riots in Xinjiang province. Muslim Uighurs rioted over the deaths of two Uighur workers in southern China, who were killed after a false Internet rumor spread that Uighurs there had raped two Han Chinese women. Chinese officials blamed exiled Uighur separatists for instigating the demonstrations; the exiles denied the charge. Tensions between ethnic Uighurs and ethnic Han are high across Xinjiang in the wake of the riots. Both groups report that Uighurs are being attacked and beaten by police and by Han mobs.
Pyongyang, North KoreaDefying the world: North Korea tested seven ballistic missiles last week, on July 4, in a defiant response to the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of its recent nuclear test. China called the missile launches “an act of defiance toward the United States on its Independence Day,” but recommended a restrained international response. The U.S. and other countries issued routine denunciations of the tests. “This type of North Korean behavior is not helpful,” said State Department spokesman Karl Duckworth. “What North Korea needs to do is fulfill its international obligations and commitments.” But in a sign that international sanctions were having an effect, North Korea ordered a ship suspected of carrying banned weapons to return home. The ship, which was headed for Myanmar, failed to find any port willing to allow it to dock and refuel.
Kandahar, AfghanistanSurge begins: U.S. troops have launched the largest assault on Taliban strongholds since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. A force of 4,000 Marines has deployed to the lower Helmand River valley in southern Afghanistan, a poppy-growing region where the Taliban is popular. The Marines plan to set up small bases and forge relationships with local tribal leaders. The push has already resulted in a spike in U.S. casualties, with seven Americans killed on a single day this week. The Pentagon, which is in the process of sending 18,000 more troops to Afghanistan, said 2009 could become the deadliest year for the U.S. in the conflict. “With forces going in, increased number of troops, increased engagement,” an unnamed military official told the Los Angeles Times, “you are going to have increased casualties.”
JerusalemGreen light to attack Iran? Vice President Joe Biden caused an uproar across the Middle East this week when he said the U.S. would not stop Israel from bombing Iran’s suspected nuclear facilities. “We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination that they’re existentially threatened,” Biden said. President Obama quickly denied that there was any U.S. policy change. “It is the policy of the United States to try to resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear capabilities,” he said. But speculation about a possible Israeli strike persisted. The London Times, citing unnamed sources, reported that Saudi Arabia had given Israel permission to use its airspace for an attack on Iranian nuclear sites.
Tunis, TunisiaTerror plot against U.S.: Tunisian police have arrested nine suspected Islamist militants on charges of planning to kill U.S. military officers. Two of the suspects are soldiers in the Tunisian Air Force. The men allegedly planned to assassinate American military officers visiting Tunisia for joint military training exercises. Tunisia has been a strong U.S. ally in the war on terror even as it struggles against a growing domestic Islamist militant movement. In recent years it has jailed more than 1,000 people suspected of planning to join the jihad against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.