News Timeline: August 2005


August 1 – Middle East: SAUDI ARABIA

King Fahd bin Abdel Aziz, ruler of Saudi Arabia, dies at the age of 84. He is succeeded by his half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz, who has been running the country since King Fahd suffered a series of strokes in 1995. The king had ruled Saudi Arabia since 1982.


U.S. President George Bush signs the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) into law. The agreement between the U.S., Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic will open up the market for U.S. goods by eliminating tariffs. American opponents of CAFTA fear that the agreement will result in heavy job losses if textile and sugar industries move to Central America.


The African Union (AU) suspends Mauritania’s membership in the organization in a protest at the military coup and calls for the new leaders to restore constitutional order. Mauritania’s new Military Council for Justice and Democracy vows to recognize all international treaties and accords concerning Mauritania.

August 4 – North America: Canada

Michaelle Jean, a Haitian-born journalist from Quebec, is appointed governor general. Jean is the nation’s first black governor general, as well as the third woman to hold the position. As representative of the Queen of England in Canada, Jean’s role is largely ceremonial.

August 7 – Middle East: ISRAEL

Israeli Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu steps down in protest against the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. His resignation letter labels the withdrawal irresponsible and harmful to Israel’s security.

August 10 – Middle East/International Organizations: IRAN/UNITED NATIONS

Iran breaks the UN seals at its nuclear plant in Isfahan after declaring that it will resume its nuclear program. The country had suspended its nuclear operations since 2004 and has been engaged in talks with the U.S. and EU. Iran maintains that it has a right to peaceful nuclear activity under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

August 11 – Africa: SOUTH AFRICA

Workers in South Africa’s gold mines end a four-day strike after reaching a settlement with employers. The National Union of Mineworkers’ protest of low wages and poor living conditions cost the industry $20 million a day. The strike is the nation’s first industry-wide general strike in 18 years.

August 11 – South Asia: PAKISTAN

Pakistan launches its first cruise missile as a birthday gift to President Pervez Musharraf, labeling the achievement a “milestone.” The Babur missile can carry nuclear and conventional warheads with a range of 310 miles. India and Pakistan have recently agreed to alert each other of nuclear ballistic missile tests, yet guided missiles are not covered in the agreement.

August 12 – Latin America: PERU

Peru’s president, Alejandro Toledo, removes his entire cabinet following the recent resignations of Prime Minister Carlos Ferrero and Housing Minister Carlos Bruce. The two ministers quit after the appointment of Foreign Minister Fernando Olivera, who is a close ally of Toledo and supports limited legalization of coca farming. The former finance minister, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, replaces Ferrero as the new Prime Minister.

August 15 – East Asia: INDONESIA

The Indonesian government and separatist rebels in Aceh sign a peace deal in an effort to end decades of conflict. The Free Aceh Movement (GAM) agrees to disarm, and the government agrees to withdraw its non-essential military from the area. Indonesia also grants the rebels amnesty. At least 15,000 people have been killed in nearly 30 years of fighting between the two sides.

August 17 – East Asia: JAPAN

Defecting members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party form the New People’s Party in opposition to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s plan to reform the postal system. Koizumi recently dissolved the lower house of parliament after his reforms were rejected, calling for new elections in September. Proponents of the postal reforms say Japan Post with its great deposits needs to be privatized. The critics claim that this will lead to poorer postal service and great loss of jobs.

August 17 – South Asia: BANGLADESH

In one hour, more than 400 small bombs explode across Bangladesh in a coordinated attack that hits at least 58 of the country’s 64 districts. An outlawed Islamic group, Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, which calls for implementing Islamic law in Bangladesh, claims responsibility. The government banned Jamatul Mujahideen earlier this year, a significant deviation from claims that no threat from Islamic militancy exists.

August 18 – East Asia/Europe: CHINA/RUSSIA

Russia and China engage in their first joint military exercises entitled Peace Mission 2005. The exercises involve amphibious and paratroop landing practice. The U.S. and Taiwan are monitoring the exercises, despite assurances from Russia and China that the exercises are not meant to intimidate. China views the island of Taiwan as a renegade province.

August 21 – Latin America: CUBA/PANAMA

Cuba and Panama reestablish diplomatic relations after a one-year hiatus. Ties had been broken when former Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso pardoned four Cuban exiles accused of attempting to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro. The exiles include Luis Posada Carriles, who is sought by Venezuela in connection with the bombing of a Cuban plane in 1976.

August 22 – East Asia: CAMBODIA

Cambodia’s main opposition Sam Rainsy Party concludes a six-month boycott of the parliament. Member of the Parliament Sam Rainsy initiated the boycott after he and his other colleagues were stripped of their immunity and accused of crimes such as defamation. Party members claim that they have ended the protest in order to speak out against corruption. Human rights activists have criticized the Cambodian government for attempting to suppress political dissent.

August 22 – East Asia: MYANMAR

The Democratic Voice of Burma, a Burmese-language television station, starts broadcasts from Norway. Exiled Burmese citizens run what is Burma’s first independent news broadcast, free of state censorship and in active support of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Burma is ranked one of the world’s worst countries for media freedom.

August 22 – East Asia: SRI LANKA

President Chandrika Kumaratunga names her brother and cabinet member, Anura Bandaranaike, as the replacement for assassinated foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The Sri Lankan government blames his murder on the Tamil Tigers, who deny any involvement. The assassination threatens the ongoing peace process between the government and the Tigers.

August 23 – North America/Europe: CANADA/DENMARK

Canada deploys two warships to the Arctic to demonstrate territorial sovereignty in a land dispute with Denmark. The two nations claim ownership over Hans Island, an uninhabited rock in the eastern Arctic region. The islands, which are unlikely to be rich in natural resources, were not part of border discussions between Denmark and Canada over 30 years ago.


Israeli forces complete the evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the West Bank as part of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan. It is the first time that Israel has withdrawn from Palestinian land since gaining the territory in the 1967 war.

August 23 – Former Soviet Republics: TURKMENISTAN

President Saparmurat Niyazov bans recorded music at all public events. One of several efforts to minimize foreign influence, the ban follows the outlawing of ballet and opera, car radios, and long hair on young men. Niyazov has been in power since 1991, and in 1999 was designated president for life.

August 24 – Latin America: VENEZUELA/JAMAICA

Venezuela and Jamaica sign an oil agreement as part of Venezuela’s Petrocaribe initiative. In what Venezuela labels “a call of conscious,” the country agrees to provide Jamaica with oil at a lower price than on the world market. Other Caribbean nations will take part in the deal with Venezuela, although Jamaica is the first nation to formalize its participation.

August 26 – Africa: BURUNDI

Pierre Nkurunziza, a former schoolteacher and rebel leader, is sworn in as president of Burundi after being elected by parliament. He is the first democratically elected leader since the start of civil war in 1993. Nkurunziza’s inauguration marks the end of a five-year peace process between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi minority following a war in which 300,000 people died.

August 26 – Latin America: ECUADOR

Demonstrators in Ecuador reach an agreement with oil companies and the government after protests halt oil exports and the government declares an economic emergency. Protestors want more oil revenue to be spent on infrastructure and new jobs. Ecuador is South America’s fifth biggest producer of oil, and these revenues comprise about a third of the government’s income.

August 26 – Other Soviet Republics/North America: UZBEKISTAN/UNITED STATES

Uzbekistan’s Senate backs the government’s eviction of U.S. forces from the Karshi-Khanabad airbase. The United States uses the base for operations in Afghanistan. Relations between the two countries have been tense since Washington criticized Uzbekistan’s violent crackdown on an Andijan protest in May. Details of the crackdown are disputed, although human rights groups say hundreds of civilians were killed.

August 26 – Europe/Russia and Other Former Soviet Republics: COMMONWEALTH OF INDEPENDENT STATES

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) meets in Kazan, the capital of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan. CIS leaders agree that the organization is outdated and needs reform, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The countries sign declarations on battling extremism and illegal migration, as well as cooperating on humanitarian projects.

August 29 – North America/South Asia: UNITED NATIONS/AFGHANISTAN

The United Nations reports that Afghanistan has registered a 21 percent reduction in opium cultivation and production, the first decrease since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The organization had previously feared Afghanistan becoming a “narco-state” if it did not take control of the drug trade. In 2004, 90 percent of the world’s opium came from Afghanistan.

August 29 – North America: UNITED STATES

Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf Coast region, devastating the southern areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Levees are breached in New Orleans, flooding 80 percent of the city and resulting in chaos as people try to evacuate. Katrina is one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the U.S.

August 30 – South Asia: PAKISTAN

Pakistan’s Supreme Court rules that madrassa religious schools that are not registered with the government do not teach a curriculum that prepares students for mainstream life. The ruling effectively prevents students from unregistered madrassas from holding public office, as students do not meet education qualifications. Currently, more than half of madrassas are unregistered.


The Israeli parliament approves an agreement in which Egyptian forces assume the patrol of the Egypt-Gaza border after Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip. Seven hundred fifty Egyptian troops will be responsible for preventing arms smuggling to Palestinian militants across the area separating Gaza and Egypt, known as the Philadelphi route buffer zone. Egyptian troops have not been allowed in the area since the two nations signed a peace treaty nearly 30 years ago.