J.A.M. News

Middle East Current Events by Avary, Taylor, and Makayla

What's Happening in Afghanistan?

On January 15th a mini van filled with bombs exploded at the gates of the Afghanistan intelligence agency. The mini was followed my another which carried men in explosive vests. the blast killed one service guard and injured about 30 others some are in critical condition. This was the second attack on the intelligence agency in the past months. In other news, Afghan students are beginning to leave their homes in order to find a safer place to go to school. The students are being taken out of Taliban-dominated areas. Many school boys tell stories of their teachers being beaten with sticks, students being threatened, and their classrooms being burnt down. When the boys go home to visit, they leave their textbooks because they are afraid of being caught by the Taliban. Weather is harsh this winter in Afghanistan. Many adults and children have died due to the freezing weather. These people are dying from the lack of heating and even starvation. One of the most recent deaths was a four year old girl named Sabeah, she was the second child to die in the space of a week.

Currently in Iraq...

Iraq is made up of three regions: Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. The Sunnis live in western and central Iraq. The Shiites live in central and southern Iraq. The Kurds live in the northern part of Iraq. The Prime Minister of Iraq is Nouri al-Maliki. He is a Shiite who governs a Shiite led government for Iraq.

Thousands of Sunnis gathered in Iraq’s central city of Samarra protesting the laws, arrests and torture of innocent Sunnis by the Shiite led government. This was the fourth Friday in a row of protesting in Sunni parts of Iraq. The organizer of the rally, Sheik Hassan al-Samarie said, “We are fed up with the void promises of the government.” One protester said, “Iraqi laws should be implemented on everybody not only Sunnis.”

Hundreds of inmates were freed by the government in a gesture to calm Sunni protesters. More were promised to be released. The release of detainees has been one of the main demands of the rallies but apparently, the move did little to calm the tensions. Sunnis throughout Iraq will continue to protest because recent concessions by the Shiite-led government fall short of their demands.

In other news, The United States delivered 3 Bell 407 helicopters to Iraq on January 14th. This was the sixth completed delivery. The first one was in 2010. They flew helicopter parts and mechanics to Germany, and then to Iraq. Once they reached Iraq, they reassembled the helicopters, did a test run, and made sure everything was perfected before they signed the helicopters over to the Iraqis. The Foreign Military Sales case is a total package including helicopters and training for the pilots. This helps Iraq perform the operations that the United States no longer provides.

Also happening now, Crude exports account for the lion’s share of government income in Iraq. In 2012, oil revenues brought in $94 billion which was a 13% increase from 2011. "One Sunday in December 2012, at the southern port of Basra, high winds in the Gulf prevented loaded ships from leaving the port. Bad weather cut oil exports from 2.35 million barrels per day (bpd), to 960,000 bpd just one day later,” a shipping source said. Average exports are also predicted to be low for January because of the bad weather.

What's Going on in Iran?

On the 23rd of December 2012, a 5.2M magnitude earthquake hit Iran. It affected around 1,520,000 within 100km. It had a depth of 10.5km and hit at 6:38 A.M. Also there are debates that Iran may have carried out atomic bomb trigger tests as inspectors from the U.N. were on their way to Tehran for a conference. Mehmanparast strongly dispells any suspicions that Iran may ultimately develop a nuclear weapon. People not on Iran's side wants Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level that could be turned relatively quickly into the core of nuclear arms. Iran denies this, insisting that it is enriching only to make reactor fuel, and to make isotopes for medical purposes. Prominent lawmakers say Iran wants an end to the probe once and for all. In other news, Iran has captured two U.S.-made surveillance drones. They captured the RQ11 Raven and the ScanEagle drone. There have been several drone incidents over the past year that have put a big spotlight on the tension in the Gulf.