A World Wobble
At least the men of the Northern Alliance liked what they saw. As B-52 Stratofortresses dropped bombs over Taliban positions near Mazar-i-Sharif, the Afghan fighters cheered. "This went very well," said Kudratulla Umar, an officer with the opposition forces. "We liked this very much."
International agencies, though, were less happy, particularly with U.S. use of antipersonnel "cluster" bombs, which Human Rights Watch claimed create "unacceptable civilian casualties before and after conflict." United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan argued that the bombing campaign would heighten tensions within the U.S.-led coalition against Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, his al-Qaeda organization and his hosts, the Taliban. And the Taliban, stationing their forces in schools and mosques, made the most of the opportunity to portray themselves as victims, taking Western journalists to witness the ruins of homes in Kandahar that were damaged, they said, by U.S. bombs.
In an effort to quiet fears and to bolster support for the continuing action, Britainís Prime Minister Tony Blair, French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld set out on separate diplomatic tours. While Rumsfeldís trip to Moscow and Védrineís to Delhi and Islamabad were uneventful, Blairís tour of several Middle Eastern countries ran into some snags. Starting in Syria, still on Americaís list of states that support terrorism, Blair hoped to secure at least acquiescence to the bombing campaign. Instead, he received a public lecture from President Bashar al-Assad, who extolled Palestinian terror groups like Hamas as "freedom fighters" and lambasted the bombing campaign. In Saudi Arabia Blairís reception was polite but noncommittal; in Israel and the Gaza Strip it was cool.
Holding the line was proving even more stressful for neighboring Pakistan, where anthrax was discovered on a letter sent to the editor of the Daily Jang newspaper in Karachi. Thousands of demonstrators poured out of Friday prayers and several hundred volunteers crossed the border into Afghanistan to join in the jihad against the U.S. Anthrax spores were also found on a letter sent to the U.S. embassy in Lithuania, but a German scare proved unfounded.
The Pentagon announced its determination to continue with the bombing campaign, even through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-November. Having flown more than 2,000 sorties over Afghanistan, U.S. defense chiefs hope that the daily carpet bombing of the Taliban front line north of Kabul and increased incursions by special forces ground troops will weaken Taliban resolve. Taliban spokesmen responded by claiming to have repulsed the first coordinated air and ground attacks in the north of the country. Acknowledging the magnitude of the task ahead, Rumsfeld said "Weíre still in the very, very early stages of this conflict."
Trimble Loses Vote
The peace process was thrown back into disarray when Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble lost a bid to return as the provinceís First Minister. Trimble tried to come back from resignation in response to the Irish Republican Armyís historic decision to dispose of weapons, but he was blocked by a rebellion in his party. The deadlock left Northern Irelandís power-sharing government leaderless, forcing London to choose between divisive elections or a legal shortcut to keep the administration afloat.
Milosevic Trial Set
Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic made his third appearance before the U.N. war-crimes tribunal
Fury over a perceived attack on a popular television station plunged the former Soviet republic into crisis as President Eduard Shevardnadze sacked his cabinet in an attempt to ward off further protest. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Tbilisi after security agents tried to search the offices of independent TV station Rustavi-2. The raid was ostensibly a tax investigation, but it inflamed wider dissatisfactions with conditions under Shevardnadzeís rule.
After two years of mediation, South African statesman Nelson Mandela ushered in a new transitional government designed to share power between Burundiís two main ethnic groups. Although a cease-fire has yet to be signed between all Hutu and Tutsi leaders, the capital was calm following the ceremony to appoint a new cabinet and allocate government portfolios.
President Pervez Musharraf blamed "trained terrorists" for the killing of 16 worshipers at St. Dominicís Church in Bahawalpur. It was the worst attack on Christians in Pakistanís history. Police arrested 13 people, said to belong to militant Islamic groups, in raids across Punjab province. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
Tamil Tiger separatists launched a suicide boat attack on an oil tanker off the Jaffna peninsula, killing three sailors and four of the attackers. The tanker was prevented from sinking, despite an explosion on board, and was towed to port. In Colombo, a suicide bomber killed himself and four others in what was thought to be an assassination attempt on Prime Minster Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.
More Africa Trade
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteier told a U.S.-Africa business summit in Philadelphia that trade between the two continents had increased by 20% this year.