March 2012 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of March 2012.
Putin Wins Presidential Election in Russia (Mar. 4): Vladimir Putin wins the presidential election in Russia, claiming 64% of the vote. (Mar. 5): Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe challenge the election, saying Putin won because he had no competition and government spending at his disposal. The United States and the European Union call for an investigation into fraud allegations. Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators in Moscow hit the streets, chanting, "Russia without Putin." A similar demonstration happens in St. Petersburg. When protestors refuse to leave, police arrest them. In Moscow, 250 people are arrested. In St. Petersburg, 300 demonstrators are detained.
Netanyahu Travels to the U.S. for Crucial Meeting with Obama (Mar. 5): Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travels to Washington to discuss Iran with President Obama. During the meeting, Obama encourages Netanyahu to give diplomacy and the European Union's oil sanctions a chance before taking military action. The two leaders fail to agree on a solution in dealing with Iran's nuclear threat; however, they do agree to attempt to diffuse the heated debate about Iran in the U.S. and Israel. A White House official describes the meeting as "friendly, straightforward, and serious."
U.S. Soldier Kills 16 Afghan Civilians (Mar. 10): A U.S. soldier goes on a door-to-door rampage, brutally killing 17 Afghan civilians, including nine children. The events immediately spark nationwide anti-U.S. protests in Afghanistan. U.S. officials fear a resurgence of the Taliban-and renewed support of the Taliban by Afghan citizens. The attack threatens to derail talks between the Karzai government, members of the Taliban, and U.S. officials that had recently begun. (Mar. 15): The Taliban announces they are suspending peace talks with the U.S. and the Karzai government. Meanwhile, President Karzai demands that the U.S. limit its troops to major bases by 2013. (Mar. 23): The U.S. military announces that Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Bales is the soldier accused of killing the 16 Afghan civilians.
Man Kills Four at Jewish School in France (Mar. 19): Mohammed Merah, a French man of Algerian descent, shoots and kills a rabbi, two of his children, and another child at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. Police believe Merah had earlier shot and killed three paratroopers. Merah claims to be a member of Al Qaeda and says he is seeking revenge for the killing of Palestinian children. (Mar. 22): After a 30-hour standoff, Merah is killed during a shootout with the French police in an apartment building in Toulouse.
Assad Agrees to Cease-Fire (Mar. 21): The UN Security Council issues a presidential statement backing a plan outlined by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that largely mirrors the proposal brokered in Nov. 2011 by the Arab League. The plan calls on the Syrian government to stop killing civilians, engage in talks with the opposition, withdraw forces from the streets, and begin a transition to a democratic, political system. Russia and China, which had previously vetoed resolutions condemning Bashar al-Assad, endorses the document. Assad accepts the statement and agrees to a cease-fire. He later says he will withdraw troops from cities by April 10. Many observers are skeptical, however, that he will make good on his promises. The UN estimates that about 9,000 people have been killed in the fighting up to this point in Syria.