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Morning Brief: Pirate hostage situation ends

Top Story  A team of U.S. naval officers freed Capt. Richard Phillips, a U.S. citizen, from Somali pirates in a dramatic mission on Easter Sunday. The pirates, who currently hold more than 200 hostages in the Gulf of Aden, had held Phillips ransom for four days in an 18-foot liferaft. U.S. snipers killed at least ...

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090412-N-XXXXN-003 SOMALI BASIN (April 12, 2009) Maersk-Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips, stands alongside Lt. Cmdr. David Fowler, commanding officer of USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) after being rescued by U.S Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia. Philips was held hostage for four days by pirates. (Official U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Top Story 

A team of U.S. naval officers freed Capt. Richard Phillips, a U.S. citizen, from Somali pirates in a dramatic mission on Easter Sunday. The pirates, who currently hold more than 200 hostages in the Gulf of Aden, had held Phillips ransom for four days in an 18-foot liferaft. U.S. snipers killed at least three Somalis in the maritime conflict.

Europe

Top Story 

A team of U.S. naval officers freed Capt. Richard Phillips, a U.S. citizen, from Somali pirates in a dramatic mission on Easter Sunday. The pirates, who currently hold more than 200 hostages in the Gulf of Aden, had held Phillips ransom for four days in an 18-foot liferaft. U.S. snipers killed at least three Somalis in the maritime conflict.

Europe

On Sunday, Moldova’s highest court ordered a recount of the ballots from the country’s presidential election, held last week, at the request of President Vladimir Voronin. The election sparked a protest by communist dissidents; some protests continue.

An aide to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown quit when emails from Labour Party operatives libeling Tory leaders David Cameron and George Osborne became public. Brown has said he will not apologize.

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor won the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor in architecture.

Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contacted Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, for the first time. Netanyahu told Abbas he hopes to resume talks.

President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said both that he would not stop the development of nuclear materials and that he is open to six-nation talks.

The U.S. State Department said George Mitchell, special envoy to the Middle East, will travel to Israel this week for the third time to meet with Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Four Lebanese soldiers were killed in an ambush while on patrol duty in the Bekaa Valley, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Americas

The United States Treasury Department directed General Motors, the ailing Detroit carmaker, currently surviving on emergency government loans, to prepare to file for bankruptcy.

Leftist Shining Path rebels killed 13 troops in Peru, in a central cocaine-producing area.

Argentinian Angel Cabrera won the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia, on Sunday, after a play-off.

Asia

The goverment of China released an unprecedented “human rights action plan,” the first of its kind, promising the right to a fair trial, more protections for the imprisoned, and the right to question government decisions. 

Protests in Thailand forced the government to cancel the 16-nation ASEAN talks on economic recovery and declare a state of emergency. The “red shirt” protesters call for the reinstation of the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in 2006 and currently faces an arrest warrant for corruption.

The U.N. Security Council plans to vote on Monday to santion North Korea for attempting to launch a rocket last month. 

On Sunday, the Sri Lankan government called for a two-day pause to fighting with the Tamil Tiger separatist group. The pause is intended to allow 100,000 ethnic Tamils, often used by the Tigers as human shields, to move to safer areas.

Africa

In Zimbabwe, the power-sharing government of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said it would not reinstate the country’s currency for at least a year. Hyperinflation has left the currency virtually worthless.

Protests broke out across Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, when U.N.-sponsored talks aiming to end the political crisis in the country broke down. President Andry Rajoelina was installed during a military take-over last month; former president Marc Ravalomanana hopes to regain power.

The kidnappers of two western aid workers in Sudan threatened to kill the women unless France retries the “Zoe’s Ark” humanitarian workers accused of abducting children in Chad.

Annie Lowrey is assistant editor at FP.

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