Nam Jae-Joon, the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, briefing his National Assembly’s intelligence committee on December 23, disputed the official line that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, was executed because he had been plotting a coup.
The world media is increasingly losing interest in the foreign-fueled war still raging in Syria between the Assad regime and an assortment of Islamist rebel groups backed by the Obama administration, Sunni Arab dictators, and European powers. For embattled Syrian Christians, though — most of whom tried to stay out of the conflict — reports suggest the situation is deteriorating quickly, with over 1,200 documented murders so far, and almost 500,000 forced to flee their homes to escape the escalating violence and ruthless persecution. The real numbers are probably even worse.
With the armed conflict between Western-backed Islamists and the Bashar al-Assad regime still raging, recent reports suggest growing unease among some rebel groups and anti-Assad activists with the surge in influence and power of al Qaeda-linked terrorists determined to enslave Syria under brutally enforced Islamic law, or sharia. The escalating fears have become so serious that some rebel leaders are reportedly considering joining forces with the Assad dictatorship to wage war on Islamic fundamentalists.
The United Nations announced on December 16 that it is asking for a total of $12.9 billion in aid, with $6.5 billion of that amount to go to refugees impacted by the ongoing civil war in Syria.
Ten years after the capture of Saddam Hussein by U.S. troops on December 13, 2003, observers have documented an Iraq that is still in turmoil, as al Qaeda militants wage an increasingly aggressive campaign to extend their influence over the country.
India's Supreme Court has re-criminalized homosexual behavior in the nation, overturning a lower court decision to drop a 150-year-old colonial-era morality law.
During a press conference at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, on December 6, Secretary of State John Kerry said, having met with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the past two days, that he is “encouraged by the continued commitment of both leaders to the pursuit of peace.”
A pro-family group in Taiwan said that over 200,000 people marched in opposition to that country's proposed amendment to legalize homosexual marriage.
Hassan al-Laqis, a senior Hezbollah commander, was shot on December 3 outside his home two miles southwest of Beirut, dying a few hours later on December 4. A statement released by Hezbollah said that al-Laqis was killed as he returned home from work around midnight.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, during a recent public appearance in Kuwait City, extended an open invitation to Saudi Arabia to “work together in order to promote peace and stability in the region.” “We look at Saudi Arabia as an important and influential country in the region," he stated.
Yukiya Amano, the director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), announced on November 28 that Iran has invited his agency to visit the heavy water plant in the central city of Arak. Heavy water is commonly used in plutonium production.