World Affairs Round Up: 21/3/13

Your 90 Second World News Round Up

With the exception of 19 abstentions, Cypriot MP’s on Tuesday voted unanimously to reject a bail out package that would have released 10 billion euros in funds for the debt ridden island. Harsh conditions were attached to the deal, most notably a demand that between 3 and 10 percent of savings held by private citizens would have been seized by the Cypriot state to have helped bring the deficit down to around 100 percent of GDP. Capital controls have been imposed, and the bank holiday has been extended to Thursday to prevent savers with drawing funds.

Two dozen people have been killed in a rocket attack outside the commercial capital of Syria, Aleppo. Rebel groups have claimed that chemical weapons were included in the attack, those these have not been verified. Syrian rebels have made multiple claims that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, in the hopes of delegitimizing the government of Damascus. None of these claims have been verified.

On the same day a string of car bombs exploded in Iraq, making it the bloodiest day in the country for two years. 56 people were killed in less that one hour. It was a grim marker of tenth anniversary of the US led invasion. The bombings were concentrated in the capital Baghdad. At the time of writing no group had claimed responsibility, but thee has been a worrying uptick in violence in Iraq, with Jihadist groups in Syria linking up with militants in Iraq and other neighbouring states.

Russia announced the reestablishment of a permanent fleet in the Mediterranean. Moscow claimed the move would increase peace and stability in the region. Russia has a growing interest in the Eastern Mediterranean, with a large ex-pat population and investments in Cyprus, energy deals with historic rival Turkey, and security and economic links with Syria. The port of Tartus is Syria is Russia’s only port outside the old Soviet Bloc.

India’s Parliament passed new legislation including harsh new measures for combating the country’s problems with rape. Minimum sentencing and even the death penalty will be options for judges. The announcement comes on the day that a British tourist told how she had to jump from a hotel balcony in India to escape an allegeded sex attack.

Tensions between Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran could rise after Saudi security police arrested 18 people on accusations of spying. An Iranian and a Lebanese man were known to be among those detained. The same week, Iran launched its second destroyer in the Caspian Sea to defend its growing energy interests there.

The former leader of Guatemala, Efrain Rios Montt, is standing trial for war crimes carried out during his two year term as leader of the impoverished Central American state. Responding to attacks by Soviet backed militants, rouge elements of the Guatemalan army have been accused of brutal crackdowns in rural areas.

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