January 2015 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of January 2015.
Twelve Are Killed in Terrorist Attack at Newspaper in Paris (Jan. 7): Two masked gunmen storm the office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly magazine, in Paris, and kill 12 people, including the paper's top editor, Stephane Charbonnier, several cartoonists, and two police officers. Five others are critically injured. The provocative magazine is known for publishing charged cartoons that satirized the Prophet Muhammad, most religions, the pope, and several world leaders. French President Francois Holland responds to the attack by saying that "France is in shock." It is the worst terrorist attack in the country since World War II. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders condemn the attack. (Jan. 8): A manhunt is on for the two gunmen, Said Kouachi, 34, and his younger brother Cherif, 32. Meanwhile, the driver of the getaway car, Hamyd Mourad, 18, turns himself in at a police station about 145 miles northeast of Paris. News reports say the brothers have connections to Al Qaeda in Yemen. France holds a moment of silence in memory of those killed in the attack. (Jan. 9): The Kouachi brothers take a hostage at a printing facility outside Paris. French police launch an assault on the building, freeing the hostage and killing the suspects. Meanwhile, in another incident in Paris, Amedy Coulibaly allegedly takes several hostages at a kosher supermarket. Police kill Coulibaly, but four hostages are also killed. Coulibaly is also blamed for the shooting death of a female police officer on Jan. 8. Coulibaly reportedly has ties to the Kouachi brothers. (Jan. 11): About 1.5 million people and more than 40 heads of state, including French president Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, march in Paris to show an unified voice in calling for an end to violent extremism, to support or freedom of expression, and to mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks. The crowd is made up of people of many races and creeds. (Jan. 12): France deploys 10,000 troops to Jewish schools, synagogues and other locations. (Jan. 14): Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claims responsibility for the attack on the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people. The militant group says in a statement that the leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, ordered the attack in retaliation for the magazine's caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Boko Haram Launches Deadly Assault on Baga (Jan. 8): Boko Haram takes over Baga, Nigeria, the only major town in Borno state to resist being taken over by the group. News reports say the militants burned the city to the ground and massacred hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens, making it one of the most deadly assaults by Boko Haram. A multinational force, manned with troops from Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, has been stationed in Baga. Goodluck Jonathan is widely criticized for not condemning the attack, and his silence may be met with dissent from voters in February's presidential elections.
Tension Flares between Hezbollah and Israel (Jan. 18): One Iranian general and six Hezbollah fighters are killed during an Israeli air strike on the Syrian section of Golan Heights. After the attack, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatens retaliation. (Jan. 28): Hezbollah fires anti-tank missiles into an Israeli-occupied area along the Lebanon border, killing two Israeli soldiers. Israeli forces respond with ground and air strikes on several villages in southern Lebanon. While there are no reports of Lebanese casualties, a Spanish peacekeeper working with UNIFIL is killed. The exchange is the worst fighting between Hezbollah and Israel since their 2006 month long war. (Jan. 29): Despite the attacks, both sides quickly exchange messages that they are not interested in an ongoing conflict. According to an Israel official, UNIFIL, a U.N. peacekeeping force located in Lebanon, passed on a message that Hezbollah is not interested in escalating the conflict. Israel responds, via UNIFIL, "that it will make do with what happened yesterday and it does not want the battle to expand."
Argentine Prosecutor's Death Ignites Protests and Controversy (Jan. 19): Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman is found dead at his Buenos Aires home with a handgun nearby. For years, Nisman has been the chief investigator of the worst terrorist attack in Argentina's history, the 1994 car bombing of a Jewish Community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and injured hundreds more. Nisman is found dead just hours before he is scheduled to appear before Congress to discuss his recent allegations that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and other Argentine politicians had covered up for the Iranian suspects in the 1994 car bombing. Word of Nisman's death spread quickly, getting the attention of the international media and prompting protests where demonstrators accuse the government of corruption. Prosecutor Viviana Fein begins an investigation into Nisman's death to determine if it was a suicide, a forced suicide, or murder. (Jan. 22): After initially declaring Nisman's death a suicide, President Fernandez reverses her statement, saying now that she believes that it was not a case of suicide. Later, President Fernandez announces her plan to replace Argentina's secret security service with a brand new agency, one that will be managed and controlled by the General Prosecutor's office.
Rebels Take over Yemen Capital (Jan. 20): Fighting in Sana between Houthi rebels and government troops escalate, and the Houthis take control of the presidential palace complex, sparking fears of a coup. Abdul Malik al-Houthi, the group's leader, says President Hadi has failed to follow through on the reforms he promised and demands that a new constitution grant Houthis greater representation in Yemen's government. The escalation follows the release of a draft constitution that calls for Yemen to become a federation of six regions, a concept that emerged from the National Dialogue Conference and one that the Houthis oppose. The Houthis surrounds the presidential palace complex, with President Hadi inside, and take his chief of staff hostage. (Jan. 21): The Houthis and the government sign a cease-fire, in which the Houthis agree to withdraw from the presidential palace and the government says it will abandon the regional plan and give the Houthis more say in the naming of government officials. The Houthis, however, renege on the deal. (Jan. 22): President Hadi, Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, and the cabinet all resign, citing the Houthi's failure to abide by the cease-fire. However, the Houthis say in a statement that parliament must approve Hadi's resignation before it can take effect. The statement hints at the Houthi's reluctance to assume control over the country since it does not have support of the Sunni majority in the south. Many fear that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) will take advantage of the political vacuum.
Ukraine Cease-fire in Tatters amid Resurgence of Fighting (Jan. 20): The cease-fire in Ukraine is all but shattered when the fighting between separatists and the government intensifies in eastern Ukraine. Rebels take over the Donetsk airport, and evidence mounts that Russia is supplying the rebels with increasingly sophisticated weapons. President Petro Poroshenko says as many as 9,000 Russian soldiers are taking part in the fighting in Luhansk and Donetsk, a claim Russia denies.
Israeli Prime Minister Agrees to Controversial U.S. Congress Appearance (Jan. 21): House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invites Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the Obama administration, a breach of protocol. Netanyahu accepts the invitation, also without consulting the Obama administration, a move that creates tension between him and the White House. The appearance is scheduled for March 2015, two weeks before Israeli elections. The invitation is seen by many as an effort by Republicans to undermine Obama's foreign policy. President Obama does not plan to meet with Netanyahu during the prime minister's March visit.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Dies (Jan. 23): King Abdullah dies. He is believed to be 90. His half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, assumes the throne. Salman says he plans to continue with his predecessor's diplomatic and economic policies.