March 2015 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of March 2015.
With Help From Iran, Iraq Begins Major Campaign Against ISIS (Mar. 2): The Iraqi military, aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Iranian troops and advisers, begins a major campaign against ISIS in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, which ISIS captured in June 2014. Iranian-backed militias and Iranian troops lead the fight in Tikrit, Iraq, against ISIS, the radical militant group that has sought to implement an Islamic state in northern Iraq and Syria. Iranian military leaders also provide guidance to the fighters. Fighters from Shiite militias comprise the bulk of the force, some 20,000 men, while Iraqi troops numbered only about 3,000. A small number of Sunni fighters join the battle. (Mar. 13): They drive ISIS out of Tikrit, handing ISIS a significant defeat. The operation is conducted without the backing of the U.S.-led coalition, handing the Iraqi forces a symbolic as well as strategic victory.
Israeli Prime Minister Makes Controversial Speech to U.S. Congress (Mar. 3): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress in an effort to sway the Obama administration against negotiating with Iran. Netanyahu calls the negotiations to get Iran to freeze its nuclear program "a bad deal." In his speech, he says the deal that the Obama administration wants "could well threaten the survival of my country" because it will not prevent Iran from having and using nuclear weapons. To the contrary, he says, the deal "will all but guarantee" nuclear arms in Iran. During his speech, Netanyahu receives repeated standing ovations and is greeted by bipartisan members despite the fact that more than 50 democrats are not in attendance. Netanyahu's speech is the most controversial by any foreign leader in years because of the subject matter and because House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the Obama administration, a breach of protocol. The speech is seen by many as an effort by Republicans to undermine Obama's foreign policy. Netanyahu's appearance comes just two weeks before Israeli elections. President Obama does not meet with Netanyahu during the prime minister's visit.
Boko Haram pledges allegiance to ISIS (Mar. 6): Boko Haram pledges allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an Islamic extremist militant group. The move further extends the reach of ISIS, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in the Middle East ruled by strict shariah law.
U.S. Senators Warn Iranian Officials Against Signing Nuclear Deal (Mar. 9): As Iran appear to be close to signing a 10-year accord that will scale back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, 47 U.S. Republican senators sign an open letter to Iranian officials saying the agreement can be reversed "with the stroke of a pen" by President Obama's successor. The letter, written by freshman senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, sparks outrage among Democrats, who say the move, which is without precedent, undermines Obama's foreign policy. Iranian officials dismiss the letter and continue the negotiations, "In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy," says Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Netanyahu's Likud Party Wins Israeli Elections (Mar. 17): After polls leading up to the election had him behind, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party win the election. Netanyahu's Likud Party takes 30 out of 120 seats. Likud's main rival, Zionist Union alliance, led by Isaac Herzog, wins 24 seats. The win for Likud means that odds are highly in favor of Netanyahu serving a fourth term as prime minister. Netanyahu must now form a government, a task which may be harder after his vow leading up to the election that no Palestinian state will be established while he is in office, a vow that insulted Arab citizens and alienated some political allies. (Mar. 19): After a backlash, Netanyahu backtracks from the statements he made leading up to the election against the establishment of a Palestinian state. In a TV interview, he says that he remains committed to a two-state vision and Palestinian statehood if conditions in the region improve. "I don't want a one-state solution, I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution, but for that circumstances have to change," Netanyahu says in the interview two days after the election.
Gunmen Open Fire at Tunis Museum (Mar. 18): At least 20 people are killed when two gunmen, Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, go on a shooting spree at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. Neither of the assailants has known connections to terrorist groups. Security forces kill the gunmen, and they believe two or three accomplices escaped.
The Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Mosque Attacks as Violence Escalates in Yemen (Mar. 19): Troops loyal to Yemen's President Hadi and those allied with the Houthis and former president Saleh, Hadi's rival, battle for control of the international airport in the southern port city of Aden. After pitched battles, Hadi's forces retake the airport and seize a Special Security Force base, which is controlled by Saleh. Hadi's presidential compound is hit by warplanes believed to be under the command of either Saleh or the Houthis. The Houthis retreat and call for talks and an end to the fighting. (Mar. 20): Two coordinated attacks on Zaydi Shiite mosques in Sana kill about 140 civilians during prayers. Sana Province, an affiliate of the Islamic State, says it is responsible for the attacks. The attacks highlight the deteriorating security conditions in Yemen, a terrorist training ground. The U.S. has counter-terrorism advisers based in Yemen, and after the attacks it withdraws 125 members of the Special Operations unit. (Mar. 22): The Houthis take control of Taiz, Yemen's third-largest city. They start sending weapons and troops to Taiz, signaling plans to continue the fight against Hadi and his forces. Taiz is about 120 miles from Aden. (Mar. 26): In an attempt to stop the Houthi advance, Saudi Arabia launches an offensive on Houthi targets in Yemen. More than 100 Saudi jets are involved in the airstrikes that cripple the Houthi's air force. (Mar. 30): A Saudi-led airstrike hits a camp for displaced civilians, killing as many as 40 people. Iran backs the Houthis, and the involvement of Saudi Arabia runs the risk of inflaming tension or creating a broader conflict in the Middle East.