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Memorable Images 2006
December 18, 2006 14:54 GMT
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A native Bolivian holds a flag symbolizing the old Inca empire at an Indian ceremony to induct Evo Morales as Bolivia's president in January (AFP) - A tidal wave of elections -- 12 in 13 months -- moved Latin American politics leftward and placed a series of colorful, unusual, controversial, and sometimes familiar faces in presidential palaces. While some -- chiefly Venezuela's Hugo Chavez -- struck an anti-U.S. note, increased social spending and deeper regional integration were more important issues for most.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko takes a dip in the ice-cold waters of the Dnieper River in January (epa) - Oil and gas are forms of 'soft power,' but it felt hard and harsh to Ukrainians when, in the middle of winter, Russia turned the gas taps off. Georgians too found themselves freezing, and few there believed the January explosions that cut the pipeline from Russia were accidental. The suspicions persisted and across Europe politicians voiced fears that Russia is using its energy power too energetically.
A Pakistani protester shouts anti-European slogans at a demonstration in Quetta against the publication in a Danish paper of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (AFP) - It took a long time for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in Denmark in the autumn of 2005 to be noticed internationally, but when they were -- in January and February -- the explosion of Muslim anger was loud, violent, and global. Some believe a few governments fanned the flames, but the anger was real and -- as the response to papal comments later in the year showed -- continues to linger.
An Iraqi mother, her face covered by the blood of her two police-officer sons, holds their shoes during their funeral procession in Ba'qubah (AFP) - The drumbeat of violence in Iraq quickened and changed in February. With a devastating explosion in Samarra's Golden Mosque and its Shi'ite shrine, the sectarian dimension of much of the violence became clearer and more important. The daily list of deaths became longer, the refugee camps swelled, talk of civil war became louder, and optimists became fewer.
Employees of the Moscow zoo try to catch a swan as part of a vaccination campaign against bird flu (AFP) - Bird flu grabbed headlines around the world early in the year, and prompted mass cullings of birds in many countries. A spate of human deaths -- particularly in Turkey -- accelerated efforts to stockpile vaccines. The flu then slipped off front pages, but reports late in the year of worrying mutations of H5N1, the deadly strain of the virus, revived fears that the flu may become transmissible among humans.
Belarusian police violently broke up opposition demonstrations in Minsk in the wake of the disputed presidential election (RFE/RL) - Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, "Europe's last dictator," lived up to his billing in 2006. A presidential poll was brought forward, opponents jailed, and -- once most journalists had headed off for elections in Ukraine -- protests crushed. Eventually, Lukashenka acknowledged the results were false: he had, he said, understated his real support in an attempt to satisfy European critics.
A supporter of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic touches his portrait in front of the Belgrade offices of his party, the Socialist Party of Serbia (epa) - In the end, justice was not done. Slobodan Milosevic, the man who accelerated the collapse of Yugoslavia by trying to preserve Serbian power, died in detention before he was judged the mastermind of many of the atrocities committed in the Balkans in the 1990s. Serbia denied him a state funeral and his family remains on the run, but Belgrade hasn't convinced the EU it is serious about catching other war criminals.
Sudanese refugees in camp near the city of Al-Fasher in northern Darfur (AFP) - A three-year war may seem short in a country riven by conflict for over two decades, but for millions in the Sudanese province of Darfur time is short. Hundreds of thousands have died, and still the prospects for peace look slim. A breakthrough seemed possible in May, but that hope faded. The world remains undecided whether to use force to bring peace; meanwhile, the violence is destabilizing Sudan's neighbors.
Pro-independence supporters in Cetinje celebrate after Montenegrins narrowly voted for independence from Serbia (AFP) - Milosevic died before he could see the former Yugoslavia splinter again. In early 2002, Serbia and Montenegro loosened their ties, and in May 2006, Montenegrins decided the remaining bonds were still too tight. It seemed that Montenegro might just be followed by Kosovo, but by the end of 2006 the future status of Serbia's UN-protected largely ethnic-Albanian province was still unclear.
Huda Ghalia grieves next to the bodies of her father and six other relatives, killed by Israeli shells on a beach in Gaza in June (AFP) - The year started with two shocks for Israel: A stroke left Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a coma, and the extremist group Hamas won in Palestinian parliamentary elections. Violence remained endemic, but for a time the news was dominated by diplomatic questions: would the West halt funds to Palestine until Hamas accepted Israel? But in June, militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier, and violence surged.
A heckler being beaten at a rally for opposition candidate for the Congolese presidency, Oscar Kashala (AFP) - The Democratic Republic of Congo, one of Africa's largest and weakest states, tested its democracy in July. The vote had flaws, but there was relatively little violence. After the November runoff, Congo has a president with democratic legitimacy for the first time in 40 years. Whether that will bring peace -- and some alleviation of Congo's problems -- is a challenge for 2007 and the future.
Israeli soldiers rest after a battle on the Lebanese border (epa) - In June, Palestinians kidnapped an Israeli soldier; in July, Lebanon's Hizballah kidnapped two. Some saw Hizballah's solidarity move as a bid to trigger a prisoner exchange. But it triggered a war. For 34 days, Israel pounded sites across Lebanon, dashing Lebanon's efforts to rebuild after decades of war. Eventually, Israel withdrew, but its soldiers remained prisoners.
A protester outside the Hungarian parliament makes clear his nationalist credentials with a tattooed map of Hungary on his back (AFP) - The dominant image of violence in Europe in 2006 came in Hungary in September. The spark was the prime minister's admission that he lied about the state of the economy to win elections in the summer. The violence -- which left hundreds injured and brought a huge police presence to the capital -- was the worst in Budapest since 1956.
Pope Benedict XVI leads an open-air Mass in Munich in September (AFP) - After the Danish-cartoon firestorm early in the year, it was perhaps no surprise that another fire flared when Pope Benedict cited a medieval text that argued the Prophet Muhammad had brought only violence. The pope sought to make amends, but to little avail. If anything, Europe's unease about multiculturalism became more apparent, with loud debates about banning the burqa.
A rally for Politkovskaya in Moscow in October (AFP) - 2006 brought the Kremlin some good news from Chechnya: Russia's terrorist No. 1, Shamil Basayev, was killed. But after the October murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the news from Chechnya seems certain to be less independent. Her killer remains unknown, as does whoever poisoned another Kremlin critic, Aleksandr Litvinenko, in November. The net effect, though, is growing concern about Russia.
British Royal Marines land at the site of a major clash near Nawzad in Helmand Province in October (British Defense Ministry) - October marked the fifth anniversary of the military intervention in Afghanistan. During that period some progress was noted -- for children, for women, for the economy, for politics -- but an upsurge in violence threatens those achievements. NATO extended its control in the south, but the region still experiences daily violence and constant insecurity.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, waves to a crowd through the windows of his car (Fars) - What exactly does Iran want, nuclear energy or a nuclear bomb? Iran gave the same answer -- energy -- throughout the year, but international fears became more urgent as months passed with no breakthrough, no clarifications, and a steady flow of triumphant reports from Iran about the program. As the year closed, the question was whether Washington would try to restore contacts with Tehran after 27 years.
Days after North Korea tested a nuclear bomb, youngsters in Pyongyang were on parade to celebrate the Down-With-Imperialism Union (AFP) - While Iran's nuclear ambitions are murky, North Korea made its plans clear by testing a nuclear bomb in October. The test was not a complete success, but the world was rattled. Japan talked of building a bomb, a worrying possibility considering Japan's often strained relations with China. With fears that Middle Eastern states may arm themselves, the future of the nonproliferation regime is clouded.
Iraqis celebrate the death sentence handed down to their former leader, Saddam Hussein (epa) - In November, an Iraqi court sentenced former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to death for crimes against humanity. UN experts said the trial was flawed, but few Iraqis doubted his guilt and many celebrated his sentence. While many called for the sentence to be carried out quickly, others argued that his other crimes should be investigated first. Hussein is now on trial for genocide against the Kurds.
U.S. President George W. Bush (left) and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the dedication of a U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington (epa) - Many observers argued that the midterm elections in the United States in November were a referendum on Washington's conduct of the war in Iraq. And the big casualty of the Republicans' defeat was the man charged with bringing security to Iraq: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. His departure was seen as ushering in a new approach -- prompting Iran and Syria to move to strengthen ties with Iraq.
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