What Else Happened This Week?

Since the end of January, the world's attention has been focused squarely on the ongoing power struggle in Egypt and its ripple effects throughout the Middle East. But news didn't stop in the rest of the world. Here's a quick look at what you've been missing.

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558239_110204_Pakistan5.jpg

Fighting in Pakistan. Around 22,000 people have fled fighting between government troops and militants in Mohmand, a Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border. The military offensive began on Jan. 27 and involves aerial bombing, artillery, and ground troops. Officials say that nearly 100 militants have been killed so far. The United Nations has set up two refugee camps to handle the displaced.

Mohmand has served as a staging ground for militants operating against U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan. Militant activity in the region — including attacks on schools and checkpoints — has been on the rise in recent months as the Pakistani military has displaced fighters from surrounding areas. The United States has long urged Pakistan to take stronger action against Taliban hideouts in the country’s northwestern tribal regions.

A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

A Runoff in Haiti. After weeks of delays and political controversy, Haiti’s electoral commission finally announced that former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular carnival singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly will contest a runoff presidential election next month. The decision was a defeat for government-backed candidate Jude Celestin, who finished third in the initial election on Nov. 28 but had mounted a legal challenge to keep his name in the race.

Meanwhile, Haiti’s exiled former leaders continued to make news as well. The government agreed to grant a diplomatic passport to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has lived in exile in France for the past seven years. The Swiss government began proceedings to seize the assets of former President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who unexpectedly returned to Haiti last month and now faces charges of corruption and crimes against humanity.

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images

Elections in Kazakhstan. In a rapid series of political reversals this week, Kazakhstan went from the possibility of not holding a presidential election for the next 10 years to holding one in just two months. A bill under consideration by Kazakhstan’s parliament would have sponsored a referendum to extend President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s term until 2020, bypassing the 2012 and 2017 presidential elections and keeping Kazakhstan’s only post-Soviet leader in power past his 80th birthday. On Monday, however, Nazarbayev said he supported a court ruling that the referendum would be unconstitutional, earning praise from Washington.

Nazarbayev then signed a law into effect allowing him to call early presidential elections. A vote has been scheduled for April 3. It’s been suggested that Nazarbayev’s reversal may have been influenced by the anti-authoritarian protests sweeping the Middle East. In any event, the early vote seems to have caught the country’s already marginal opposition movement off guard. Opposition party leaders are still deciding whether they will even field a candidate.

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

Berlusconi squeaks by again in Italy. Embattled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi scored a pair of much-need political victories on Thursday. First, parliament voted to deny Milan prosecutors’ request to search an office used by Berlusconi’s accountant for evidence that the prime minister paid for sex with a minor. Then in a late-night session, parliament passed a law pushed by Berlusconi’s Northern League allies devolving tax powers to cities. Failure to pass the bill would likely have broken apart the prime minister’s coalition and forced early elections.

Berlusconi’s reprieve is likely to be short-lived, however. Prosecutors are expected to file charges on Monday or Tuesday alleging that he had sex with an underage prostitute and abused his position to cover it up. And the prime minister’s allies also aren’t exactly helping his cause: A member of parliament from his party was caught this week surfing a website for escort girls on his iPad while attending a parliamentary debate.

GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

Murder in Uganda. Uganda’s national police arrested a suspect in the murder of prominent gay rights activist David Kato. Enock Nsubuga, a 22-year-old gardener who worked for Kato, was taken into custody on Wednesday and confessed to the murder. According to police, Nsubuga claims that Kato offered to pay him for sex, but never followed through. An enraged Nsubuga then took a hammer and bludgeoned him to death last month. Police officials say the case was not a hate crime, as the primary motive was monetary, and criticized the international media for implying that the murder was related to the climate of homophobia in the country.

Kato’s photo was prominently featured on a list of gay Ugandans published by a newspaper a few weeks before his death. The country’s parliament is still considering a bill that would punish homosexuality with death. Chaos erupted at Kato’s funeral last Friday when the pastor unexpectedly launched into a tirade against Uganda’s gay community.

MARC HOFER/AFP/Getty Images

Corruption in India. India’s former telecommunications minister and two of his aides were arrested this week in the latest of a series of corruption scandals to hit India’s ruling Congress party. Andimuthu Raja is accused of selling mobile phone licenses to telecom companies at a loss to the government totalling $4.8 billion. The opposition BJP party has stalled parliament, calling for an investigation into the sale.

Raja’s arrest follows widespread reports of graft during the preparations for the Commonwealth Games and allegations that apartments in a Mumbai housing project meant for veterans were given to Congress Party politicians and their relatives. The party is heading for critical elections in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu states later this year.

In any event, it may be a while before Raja’s case is concluded. Another former telecom minister was convicted on corruption charges in 2009 — 13 years after he was first arrested.

PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

Espionage in Ireland. Ireland expelled a Russian diplomat this week over allegations that counterfeited Irish passports had been used by Russian spies. The identities of six Irish citizens were reportedly used as covers for the spy ring which was broken up in the United States last year, including the famously photogenic Anna Chapman. All of the citizens whose names were used had been granted visas by the Russian embassy in Dublin, including a volunteer with the organization To Russia With Love, which works with orphans. Russia’s foreign minister has described the expulsion as a “unfounded and unfriendly act, which of course will not go without a corresponding reaction.”

For whatever reason, Irish identities appear to be popular in the international espionage community. Last year, Dublin expelled an Israeli diplomat after Irish passports were reportedly used on a mission to kill a Hamas militant in Dubai.

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

(More) drug crime in Mexico. Drug-related violence in Northern Mexico continued unabated this week, with at least 14 people murdered over a 48-hour period in Ciudad Juarez. The casualties included a police officer, and a newspaper vendor who authorities believe was targeted because she was seen as a threat to the gangs’ street vendor monopoly. On Thursday, the police chief of the border city of Nuevo Laredo was shot dead along with two of his bodyguards as he was being driven home. He had been on the job just 33 days.

Mexican authorities have asked for help from Interpol in the manhunt for former congressional deputy Julio Cesar Godoy Toscano. Godoy’s immunity from prosecution had been stripped by Congress this week after investigators released a recorded phone conversation between him and a member of the La Familia drug cartel. Godoy had been sworn into Congress in September, despite an outstanding arrest warrant filed against him.

Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images

Tensions easing between the Koreas. South Korea and North Korea have agreed to hold military talks next month. This will be the first official meeting between the two sides since North Korean artillery fired on a South Korean island in November, killing four people. In a further sign of the easing tensions on the peninsula, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said for the first time that he would consider a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Both Seoul and the Washington have said that substantive inter-Korean talks are a prerequisite for a resumption of the six-party nuclear negotiations.

Speaking on television, Lee said that unlike previous rounds of talks, the upcoming meetings would not result in aid or concessions from the South. He described North Korea’s call for negotiations as a “typical tactic, overused in the past.”

As for the North Koreans, they’ve been quiet lately, the biggest news consisting of speculation over furry hats.

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

A prime minister in Nepal. After seven months of gridlock and leadership vacuum following inconclusive elections, Nepal finally has a prime minister. Jhala Nath Khanal of the Unified Marxist Leninist party got the job after 16 rounds of voting. Khanal received last-minute backing from the Unified Communist Party, the Maoist grouping. While considered a moderate communist, Khanal will likely be far more receptive than the previous government to Maoist goals, which include radical land reforms and the banning of “antinationalist'” political parties.

Nepal still hasn’t completed the peace process that began in 2006, when the Maoists laid down their arms. The fate of thousands of former Maoist fighters living in temporary camps hasn’t been decided. A new constitution, begun after the abolition of the country’s Hindu monarchy, was due to be completed last May but has been held up by political disputes.

PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua E. Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy.

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