August 2014 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of August 2014.
U.S. Launches Limited Airstrikes on ISIS (Aug.): ISIS threatens to kill all Christians in Mosul who don't convert to Islam. Nearly all of the city's Christians, who numbered about 60,000 ten years ago, flee. (Aug. 7): ISIS militants take control of the largest dam in Iraq, which is located in Mosul. The dam provides electricity for all of Mosul and is the water supply for the city and much of the surrounding area. The UN has declared the dam is unstable and is vulnerable to collapse. If the dam is compromised, a 65-foot-high wave of water could deluge the city. Meanwhile, President Obama announces in a press conference that he has authorized limited airstrikes on ISIS as well as airdrops of humanitarian supplies. While not a full-scale engagement in Iraq, the mission does mean the return of the U.S. military for the first time since 2011.
Offensive by Ukrainian Military Continues (Aug.): The rebels continue to struggle, as Ukrainian government troops move into Luhansk and Donetsk, former rebel strongholds. In addition, many rebels are reported to have abandoned the fight. Two days after Poroshenko and Putin meet to discuss options to end the conflict, NATO, citing satellite images, reports that Russia sent 1,000 troops into Ukraine from the southeast, opening a new front in the conflict. Russia has long denied it had dispatched troops to Ukraine, and says the troops entered Ukraine "accidentally." "Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia's military interference in Ukraine," says NATO's Brig. Gen. Nico Tak in a statement.
Egypt Mediates Israel Hamas Cease-Fire (Aug. 5): A 72-hour cease-fire mediated by Egypt begins. Israel withdraws its forces from the Gaza strip. Both Hamas and Israel agree to talks, mediated by Egypt, in an effort toward lasting peace. (Aug. 26): After fighting for seven weeks and attempting several short-term cease-fires, Israel and Hamas agree to an open-ended cease-fire. The agreement comes after seven weeks of fighting and is also mediated by Egypt. The interim agreement still has Hamas in control of Gaza while Israel and Egypt still control access to Gaza, leaving no clear winner in this latest conflict. However, Hamas declares victory. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is criticized in Israel for how costly the conflict has been. Since the conflict began last month, 2,143 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, with more than 11,000 wounded and 100,000 left homeless. On Israel's side, 64 soldiers and six civilians have been killed.
U.S. General Killed in Afghanistan (Aug. 5): Maj. Gen. Harold Greene is gunned down by an Afghan soldier while touring a military training academy near Kabul, Afghanistan. He is the first general killed in battle since the Vietnam War. Hours later, an Afghan policeman opens fire on a group of American soldiers in Paktia Province. No American troops are killed in the attack. The shootings highlight the instability in the military and obstacles the Afghan government faces as the U.S. prepares to withdraw from the country.
Hundreds of Migrants Flee to Spain (Aug. 11-12): Hundreds of migrants attempt to flee from Africa to Spain when they are intercepted in the Strait of Gibraltar by Spanish authorities. The migrants come from Morocco and have been for over a year. However, the numbers greatly increase for this two day period in August. The numbers are so great that Spanish authorities convert two sports centers into shelters. Spanish officials say that the large number of illegal crossings is due to the failing of Morocco, which controls migration into Spain. Morocco does not take responsibility directly, but Interior Minister Mohamed Hasad does say that "dysfunctions may have happened and will be corrected very quickly," according to Spanish news media.
ISIS Members Kill American Journalist (Aug. 19): Members of ISIS behead American journalist James Foley, 40, in apparent retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the group. Foley, who worked for GlobalPost, went missing in Syria in November 2012. ISIS releases a graphic video of his killing. After his death, the U.S. announces that troops had attempted to rescue him and other U.S. hostages in July, but they had been unable to locate him. ISIS says Steven Sotloff, another kidnapped American journalist, will be killed if the airstrikes continue. President Obama refers to ISIS as a "cancer." "The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people," he says. "We will be vigilant, and we will be relentless." The U.S. steps up its airstrikes against the militants following Foley's murder.
China Denies Democratic Elections to Hong Kong (Aug. 31): China's National People's Congress Standing Committee rule that the 1,200-member election committee will vote on candidates for Hong Kong's chief executive, and those garnering votes from more than half of the committee can run. The decision sparks protests that will continue to grow and intensify in the coming weeks.