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inFOCUS Quarterly

Fall 2014

Europe: Whole and Free?


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Russia Increases Military Provocation of Europe

Russian warplanes increased their flights near European airspace during the past few days, according to NATO. Seven aircraft, including fighters and bombers, were first intercepted over the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, before returning to Russia. On Wednesday, Moscow escalated the situation, launching another mission over the Baltics and into the Black Sea, where the Russian bombers were met with Turkish warplanes. On the same day, Norwegian F-16s intercepted four Tu-95 strategic bombers and four II-78 refueling aircraft flying over the Norwegian Sea. Six Russian planes turned back, but two bombers flew past Typhoon fighters scrambled in the UK and close to the Portuguese coastline.

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By Michael Johnson  |  October 30, 2014 at 3:24 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Secularist Party Wins Tunisian Parliamentary Poll

The secular political party Nidaa Tounes claimed victory in Tunisia's Parliamentary elections held on Sunday. Led by former prime minister and foreign minister Béji Caïd Essebsi, Nidaa Tounes could replace the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, which gained power in 2011.

Election officials count ballots following Tunisia's parliamentary poll, in Tunis Oct. 26, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

According to preliminary results, Nidaa Tounes won 38 percent of the vote giving the party 83 representatives in the 217-seat parliament over the next five years. Ennahda's 31 percent will give them 68 parliamentarians, with other small parties gaining the remaining seats. Tunisia's central government estimated that approximately 60 percent of Tunisia's 5.2 million registered voters turned out to cast their ballots.

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By Michael Johnson  |  October 29, 2014 at 4:51 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Egypt Tightens Justice System After Attack

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi granted new powers to the military over the weekend, declaring a state of emergency and enhancing the army's ability to prosecute civilians in military court. The armed forces' new authority comes after 33 members of the Egyptian security forces were killed in two attacks on Friday. During the first incident, a suicide car bomber killed 30 troops manning a checkpoint outside of Arish, North Sinai's provincial capital. Hours later a drive by shooting nearby killed another three people.

Sisi's decree designates that state buildings and other vital civilian infrastructure fall under military law, increasing the consequences for anyone who attacks such targets. The army can now try civilians for disrupting power stations, gas lines, roads, and bridges under the military's jurisdiction.

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By Michael Johnson  |  October 29, 2014 at 11:07 am  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Child Killed in Jerusalem Terror Attack

An infant child was killed and eight others were injured on Wednesday in a terror attack in Jerusalem when a Palestinian man drove his car into the Ammunition Hill streetcar station. Police shot and killed the driver, identified as Adbel-Rahman Shaloudi, 21, from East Jerusalem as he fled the scene. The young man was known to Israeli authorities and had "served time in jail for terror activity," according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld continued by saying that security camera footage indicated that driver intentionally struck the Pedestrians.

Two of the bystanders struck remain in serious condition while the three-month-old baby, Chaya Zissel Brau, was laid to rest in a Jerusalem cemetery. The U.S. State Department announced child was also a American citizen without giving further details.

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By Michael Johnson  |  October 23, 2014 at 3:17 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Islamic State Intercepts U.S. Airdrop

A new video released earlier this week by Islamic State (IS) militants reportedly shows the group's fighters raiding a U.S. military airdrop meant for the Kurdish militiamen in the Syrian border town of Kobane. The airdrop comes as the U.S. continues its attacks on IS targets in the area and increases aid to Peshmerga fighters.

In the video, uploaded to YouTube, masked men can be seen unloading a pallet of boxes and crates next to a large parachute lying on the ground. An IS militant then opens a couple of the crates that are filled with grenades.

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By Michael Johnson  |  October 22, 2014 at 1:40 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

Despite Talks, Boko Haram Launches Attacks

Boko Haram militants launched new attacks in villages across the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno over the weekend, leaving dozens dead. The assaults came just days after the central government announced a breakthrough in peace talks with the terrorist organization.

A screenshot of a video showing some of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. (Photo: CNN)

On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 15 people in the contested town of Michka. The area had been subject to fierce fighting earlier this month, when government troops attempted to retake the town from the insurgent group. Meanwhile, eight people died when terrorists rode motorcycles through Shaffa and "started shooting at every possible target," said a commander of a self-defense militia. The next day in nearby Damboa, suspected Boko Haram members drove pickup trucks into the village and killed 25 people, according to local source.

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By Michael Johnson  |  October 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

India and Pakistan Face Off in Kashmir

Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire in Kashmir on Tuesday, for the second time this week. Soldiers from both countries shot small arms and mortar rounds across their disputed border, while accusing the other side of starting the violence.

Clashes initially started on Monday, quickly spreading to numerous points along the frontier separating Pakistan and the Indian-administered region of Jumma. The fighting reached northern mountainous areas normally monitored by the UN. According to the Indian government, the Pakistani military targeted 40 Indian army posts.

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By Michael Johnson  |  October 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm  |  Permalink  |  Submit a Comment

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