News Timeline: February 2015


February 3 – Middle East / Africa / East Asia / North America:
Jordan carries out multiple air strikes on Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria after an online video appeared showing captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned alive. The focus of the Jordanian bombing is the city of Raqqa, the IS stronghold. The militants claim that during one of these air strikes, an American aid worker, Kayla Mueller, who was held by the IS since 2013, was killed. This claim, however, cannot be confirmed. (February 16): Egypt carries out air bombing on Islamic State targets in Libya after IS released a video showing beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped in Libya where they worked. The killings have been widely condemned by the international community. Al-Azhar, the prestigious seat of Islamic learning in Cairo, says that these barbaric killings have nothing to do with any religion or human values. (February 17): Japan says it will contribute additional $15.5 million to fight terrorism in the Middle East following the release of the video by the Islamic State showing two Japanese hostages being beheaded. The money will fund such activities as improving border controls. (February 26): The masked Islamic State militant shown as the leader of the beheadings on the IS videos, is identified as a Kuwaiti-born British citizen Moahmmed Emwazi.

February 4 – East Asia: CHINA
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) implements a number of regulations that will tighten its already tight control over the internet users in China. They include a measure requiring the web users to register under their real names. The critics say the new rules further restrict free speech in China. The country has the largest number of Internet users in the world, but also the world’s best developed internet censorship called the Great Firewall.

February 6 – Middle East: YEMEN
Yemen’s Houthi rebels seize power and announce that a five-member transitional government replaces President Abed Hadi. The announcement follows the failed UN-brokered talks aimed at solving the conflict.

February 11 – Europe / Africa:
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says that about 300 African migrants may have perished after leaving the coast of Libya in four boats trying to reach Europe. About 82 survivors are rescued by Italian coastguards and brought to Italy’s Lampedusa Island, located between Tunisia and Malta on the Mediterranean Sea. At least 218,000 people, including migrants and refugees, crossed the Mediterranean by irregular routes last year, but about 3,500 died. In 2014, the European Union adopted the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, with a budget of more than $3 billion for the next seven years, which partially will boost domestic budgets of member states to help improve asylum systems.

February 12 – Europe / Former Soviet Republics: UKRAINE
Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists in the east sign a new ceasefire agreement in the Belarussian capital, Minsk after talks attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Holland. Some of the main points of the deal are an immediate bilateral ceasefire and a withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides.

February 17 – East Asia: MYANMAR
Myanmar declares a state of emergency in the region of Kokang after a deadly outbreak of fighting between Kokang separatists and the government troops in Shan State near the border with China. The resurgence in fighting is connected with the return of the Kokang rebel leader from exile in China. Kokang region is mostly populated by Kokang people who are ethnically Han Chinese.

February 18 – South Asia / International Organizations:
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reports that the year 2014 was the deadliest year for Afghanistan’s civilians since the UN started keeping records in 2007. A total of 3,699 civilians were killed and 6,849 injured in 2014, a 22 percent increase from the previous year. These casualties are the result of increased fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban, as well as a significant decrease of number of Western troops.

February 24 – Europe: GREECE / EUROPEAN UNION
Greece and eurozone finance ministers reach a deal that gives Greece a four-month extension of its financial bailout with eurozone countries. In return, Greece agrees to drop some anti-austerity measures and to undertake a program of reforms approved by the eurozone. They include combating tax evasion, battling corruption, and targeting fuel and tobacco smuggling. New funds will be released only after the deal is implemented by Greece.

February 24 – Latin America: BRAZIL
Brazil’s Environmental Minister Izabella Teixeira says southeastern Brazil is experiencing the worst drought in 80 years. With the rainy season ending in March, the region’s biggest city, São Paulo, with 20 million inhabitants in the metro area, faces an unprecedented critical situation, with possible severe water rationing. The extreme climate conditions, combined with misguided development policies, destructive land use and wasteful water practices, as well as political negligence have created a perfect storm of conditions for disaster. The Sao Paulo state government has offered discounts for those who limit water usage.

February 25 – Africa: BENIN / CAMEROON / CHAD / NIGER / NIGERIA
Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are joining forces in the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to tackle the militant group of Boko Haram. The Joint Task Force will have 8,750 multinational troops and support from France. The United States will help by providing communication equipment and intelligence.

February 27 – Russia / Europe: RUSSIA
Boris Nemtsov, one of the brightest and most charismatic leaders of the Russian political opposition, is assassinated in the center of Moscow. He is shot in the back several times from a passing car. Nemtsov supporters blame the Russian government and say the killing was politically motivated.  He was a harsh critic of Vladimir Putin regime and its support of Ukraine’s separatist rebels.