As President Obama prepares to start a second term, MORNING EDITION has asked NPR's foreign correspondents to gauge worldwide expectations for the next four years. We turn, this morning, to Kenya. Pride still runs deep there for the president, with roots in Kenya. But expectations of America's role have shifted from donor aid to partner in trade. NPR's Gregory Warner has the story.
On Thursday, Algerian forces opened fire on Islamists holding dozens of foreigners hostage. The militants, who have been linked to al-Qaida, say they took over the gas facility deep into the Sahara Desert in retaliation for France's attack on Islamic militants in the west African nation of Mali.
The U.S. formally recognized the Somali government for the first time in 20 years on Thursday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mahamud at the State Department. Hassan is the first permanent Somali president since 1991 and faces a daunting task of rebuilding a nation torn by conflict and Islamist insurgencies.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
I'm Robert Siegel. And we begin this hour with a brazen rescue attempt in Algeria. Government forces launched an assault today on an oil and gas facility in the remote Algerian desert. There, Islamist militants had been holding hundreds of hostages, including 41 Westerners, since yesterday. The Algerian military went in swiftly and decisively, stunning Western governments, who might have handled such a hostage drama more delicately.
Robert Siegel talks with Alan Boswell, Africa Correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, about the fight in Mali between French forces and Islamist militants. Boswell calls Mali the new front line in the war on terror.
The turmoil in Algeria, as well as in Mali, is a reminder of the complicated relationship that still exists between France and many of its former African colonies. Howard French has spent many years thinking and writing about that relationship. He's an associate professor at the Columbia University graduate school of journalism and a former long time foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Mr. French, welcome to the program.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 2:04 pm
Hours after French troops launched a ground offensive in Mali to quash an Islamist rebellion, militants retaliated by seizing dozens of hostages, reportedly including Americans, in neighboring Algeria — an attack that underscores Western fears of a deteriorating security situation in northwestern Africa.
And another story we've been following the past couple of days: Yesterday, an extremist group in Algeria attacked a remote natural gas production complex in the Sahara Desert and seized hostages, most of them Algerian, but including some Americans and other Westerners. Today, Algeria's military responded. Reports conflict on numbers. It seems clear some hostages have escaped, others have been killed.
After huge critical and commercial success last year, breakthrough British sensation Emeli Sande has her sights set on America.
It's a long way from her roots. Born to a Zambian father and English mother, the singer-songwriter was raised in Scotland. She tells NPR's Michel Martin that being the only mixed-race family in a small village had a big impact on her.
Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 8:18 am
Editor's note: Our partner GlobalPost is launching a series that looks at wealth and poverty worldwide by comparing U.S. metro areas with foreign cities that have similar levels of income inequality. The findings may surprise you.
In West Africa, the push to prevent militant Islamists from expanding beyond their base in northern Mali is shifting into a ground war. French and Malian troops are now directly engaging al-Qaida linked rebels in combat. They've surrounded a desert village that jihadists overran when they began pushing south toward Mali's capital. This escalates the battle that began last week, when France sent in fighter jets to attack the rebels.
In southern Algeria, Islamist militants are holding scores of Western hostages who were kidnapped from an oil refinery. The militants say the kidnappings are in retaliation for French intervention in the Mali crisis.
In Syria, the staple of most meals is a thin, round, flat bread that we would probably call pita.
Back in November, as fierce fighting raged across Syria, people started to run out of this bread. Government forces were attacking bakeries in rebel-held areas and cutting off electricity so mills couldn't grind flour. By late last year, Syrians were desperate.
Investigators are trying to figure out why a helicopter crashed in Central London today. Two people were killed including the pilot. Yet the death toll could have been much, much worse. As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, the aircraft came down in the heart of the British capital during rush hour.
ROBERT SIEGEL: The head of the United Nations has harsh words for whoever carried out an attack on Syrian University students, as they were taking exams. Two explosions at the university in Aleppo killed more than 80 people yesterday and injured some 200. Today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said such heinous attacks are unacceptable. And he added that deliberate targeting of civilians constitutes a war crime. But who carried out that attack is very much in question.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
In Afghanistan today, Taliban militants staged a brazen attack in the heart of Kabul. Their target was the headquarters of the National Directorate of Security or NDS - it's Afghanistan's equivalent of the FBI.
As NPR's Sean Carberry reports, the attack began with a suicide bombing, then five militants tried to storm the compound.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish.
Algerian Islamists attacked an oil and gas field at dawn this morning in the desert on the border with Libya. They claim to have taken nearly 200 people hostage. In addition to Algerians, they claim to hold seven Americans, as well as French, British and Japanese citizens.
NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris reports the hostage-taking appears to be the first act of retaliation for France's actions in Mali.
Two high-profile cabinet nominations go before the Senate soon. Senator John Kerry is expected to face little opposition to become the next secretary of state. Former Senator Chuck Hagel may have more problems. But as mentioned earlier, his nomination as secretary of defense is also expected to win approval.
As President Obama prepares to start another term next week, Morning Edition has asked NPR's international correspondents to gauge worldwide expectations for the president's next four years. We begin in Mexico, where Mexicans hope to change the conversation between the two countries from drugs and violence to economics and prosperity.
Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 4:27 am
As the Middle East faces one of its harshest winters in decades, Syrian refugees are facing a humanitarian disaster. In the Zaatari refugee camp on the Jordanian border, heavy snow and rain flooded hundreds of tents last week.
We are also following a story in Japan that strikes a blow at one of the world's great aircraft makers. Japan has grounded its entire fleet of 787 Dreamliners. This move came after an electrical problem forced an All Nippon Airlines 787 to make an emergency landing. Here's NPR's Wendy Kaufman.
The situation for Syrian refugees is getting dire. Much has been reported about the worsening conditions for hundreds of thousands of Syrians taking up shelter just outside the country's borders, but inside Syria, the numbers are even higher. The United Nations says some 2 million people have been displaced from their homes in Syria, and most of them end up squatting in mosques and schools. NPR's Kelly McEvers spent a night in one of those schools, in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, and sent this report.
The French defense minister says France is preparing for a possible land assault in Mali, so it plans to increase its troop levels to 2,500. Back home in France, authorities are girding for possible terrorist attacks in response to their intervention. Eleanor Beardsley has that story from Paris.
The government of Turkey is vowing to push ahead with efforts to end its long-running conflict with Kurdish militants. That's despite the killings last week of three female Kurdish activists that were shot in Paris. The murders are seen as an effort to derail the peace talks before they gain traction.
As NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Istanbul, Turkey, Turkey has pushed for peace before. But many wonder if the lessons from past failures have been absorbed.