AFGHANISTAN: Coalition Troops Withdraw
After fighting against the Taliban for more than a decade in Afghanistan, 2013 will see most coalition troops withdraw. In 2013, Afghanistan and the United States are also expected to form an agreement on the number of troops that will stay in 2014. Expectations are that up to 10,000 troops will remain, down from 66,000 at present. While Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly said he believes Afghan security forces will be able to maintain control in 2014, fears are that hard-won gains will be lost once the coalition troops leave.
MALI: Islamists Take Over
Until this year, Mali was considered a relatively stable, democratic country. In late March, however, a mid-level officer carried out a coup and ousted the president. The coup collapsed and Islamist extremist forces took control of the northern part of the country. Cheikh Modibo Diarra, interim prime minister, was arrested and allegedly forced to resign in December. He tried to rally a West African force to enter the north and regain power. The United States decried Diarra’s arrest as a setback for democracy in the region. On Dec. 20, the U.N. Security Council approved an African-led International Support Mission.
EGYPT: President Faces Great Opposition, Protest
Egypt elected President Mohamed Morsi this year, wresting power away from the military, which had taken the reigns after the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. In November, Morsi gave himself judicial impunity with a presidential decree. Widespread protest erupted and Morsi scrapped the decree. But, in December he gave the military the power to arrest people leading up to a referendum on his draft constitution. Though the draft faced liberal opposition, it won the vote.
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