August 2013 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of August 2013.
Russia Grants Asylum to Fugitive, Angers U.S. (Aug. 1): Russia grants Edward Snowden, the American who leaked info about U.S. surveillance, asylum for one year. The temporary asylum allows him to leave the Moscow airport where he has been since June. Russia grants Snowden asylum despite strong urging from the U.S. not to do so. In response, President Obama cancels a planned summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin which was to be held in Moscow in September.
Egypt Declares State of Emergency (Aug. 14): In Cairo, riot police raid protest camps. They open fire and use armored bulldozers, tear gas, snipers, and helicopters to clear the camps. Protesters throw rocks and burn tires in response. More than 500 people are killed, and the government declares a state of emergency. Mohamed ElBaradei resigns as vice president in protest of the military's action. President Barack Obama cancels joint military exercises between Egypt and the U.S. that are scheduled for September in response to the military's repressive and heavy-handed tactics. "While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual while civilians are being killed in the streets," Obama says. (Aug. 18): The crackdown and protests continues, as both the military and Mohammed Morsi's supporters vow to continue their fight. Casualties mount with more than 1,000 fatalities, most of whom are Morsi supporters. Thirty-six Islamic militants in police custody are killed while being transported to prison on the outskirts of Cairo. (Aug. 19): Militants kill 24 police officers in the northern Sinai region. Foreign governments urge the military to use restraint, a plea largely ignored. While foreign officials deplore the heavy-handed tactics of the military, they are careful not to imply support for the protesters, recognizing that the interim government is the only hope for stability. Police arrest Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, and charge him with incitement to murder. Meanwhile, a court orders that former president Hosni Mubarak be released from prison, calling into question whether the 2011 revolution would be in vain. Given the turn of events, all signs indicate that Egypt is headed back to becoming an authoritarian regime.
Israel and Palestine Begin Talks on Their Own Turf (Aug. 14): Israelis and Palestinians officially begin peace talks in Jerusalem. Expectations are low going into the talks, the third attempt to negotiate since 2000, and nearly five years since the last attempt. The talks begin just hours after Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoner release is a step on Israel's part to bring Palestine back to the negotiating table. Israel says the prisoner release will be the first of four. However, Palestinian officials are concerned over Israel's ongoing settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, land that will be part of an official Palestinian state. "The talks might collapse any time because of the Israeli practices," says Yasser Abed Rabbo, adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking on Voice of Palestine radio about the settlements. Israelis are also aware of the challenges ahead. In a TV interview just before the talks began, Israel's chief negotiator Tzipi Livni says, "It will be complicated and complex, but I am not giving up."
Opposition Accuses Government of Chemical Weapon Attack in Syria (Aug. 21): Opposition groups accuse the Syrian government of attacking rebel areas in Zamalka, Ein Terma, and Erbeen, suburbs east of Damascus, with chemical weapons. Gruesome, graphic images in the media show victims foaming at the mouth and twitching and lines of covered corpses. The opposition say as many as 1,000 people died in the attack. The government denies it launched a chemical attack. The alleged attack coincides with the arrival of UN inspectors to Syria to investigate earlier allegations of government use of chemical weapons. Inspectors are cleared to investigate the site, and their convoy is fired on by snipers en route. They do gain access to the affected areas and took samples for testing. The Syrian government denies it launched a chemical attack. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls the attack a "moral obscenity" and an "indiscriminate slaughter of civilians." (Aug. 27): Because Russia and China vow to veto any UN Security Council resolution authorizing retaliation on Assad, the U.S. and allies hope to form a coalition to support an attack. President Obama says that he is considering a limited strike on the military bases and the artillery that he believes are responsible for the chemical attack, and French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron back Obama's plan. (Aug. 29): The British parliament vote down Cameron's request for authorization to attack Syria-a stunning rebuke to Cameron. (Aug. 31): The Obama administration releases details about the attack that it says provides evidence that the government ordered the chemical attack and that the assault killed 1,429 people.