MEXICO: The “Three Amigos’ summit” is underway—and President Barack Obama is that guy, the one who forgot to bring the beer cooler. As the president meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline is in limbo, along with immigration reform and political support for North American trade.
UKRAINE:Kiev is in flames. The latest violence started yesterday when protesters dug in as police attempted to move them out. At least 25 protesters have been killed. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has just backed targeted EU sanctions against authorities for the violent crackdown. Most media have been shut down but one livestream from Espreso TV shows the flames and the crowd’s determination.
IRAQ: At least 49 people were killed in bomb blasts in Baghdad Monday night, as the army fights al-Qaeda-linked militants in three cities and worries of an all-out return to war grow. Ahead of April’s parliamentary elections, influential Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr says he will withdraw from politics, calling Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (also Shiite) “a dictator and a tyrant.”
Maliki is trying to make his case for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, writing in Foreign Policy: “The terrorism we face is transnational in nature, and defeating it will require international collaboration, including a strong partnership between the United States and Iraq.”
NIGERIA: Each day this week we’re receiving new reports of violence and attacks on Christians in northern Nigeria, where at least 200 civilians have been killed in the northeast provinces under siege by Boko Haram.
SOUTH SUDAN: At least 26 NGOs have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry calling for greater support of peacekeeping efforts in embattled South Sudan and Central African Republic. Rebel forces within South Sudan continue to fight for control of the key oil town of Malakal in Upper Nile state. A glimpse of the tragedy unfolding comes from a physician working in South Sudan:
“I sat with Pastor Bulus again last week at his home, and in the course of our conversation he pointed to his neighbor’s village. A couple with six children, wife pregnant … they had gone to the state capital Malakal a couple of weeks ago. In the chaos of the night-time rebel attack on the town, they climbed aboard one of four boats that set out across the Nile at that time. But three of those boats capsized in the dark of the night. Their boat flipped. Father grabbed the 3 older children and swam for shore, while very-pregnant Mom grappled for the 3 babies. At last, the parents made it to shore, with only the older three children; the babies perished in the river. Their distraught mother crawled onto the beach, labor pains began, and she soon gave birth to a living, healthy baby. I found myself speechless, trying to imagine the aching pain of such difficulty, heartache, and conflicting emotion. This is truly a time of deep trial for the people of South Sudan as their hopes and dreams are being dashed, this time by their own leaders.”