January 1 — Europe: EUROPEAN UNION
Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union (EU), bringing the total number of EU member-states to twenty-seven and the EU population to 490 million.
January 1 — International Organization: UNITED NATIONS
South Korea’s former foreign minister, Ban Ki-moon, becomes the eighth secretary general of the United Nations. His diplomatic agenda focuses on forming a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force for the Sudanese region of Darfur, the North Korean nuclear issue, and reform of the UN.
January 2 — Latin America: BRAZIL
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is sworn in for a second term. Lula pledges to continue to boost the economy and to fight poverty. Despite corruption scandals within his Worker’s Party, the president continues to be a favorite candidate among Brazilians, winning more than 60 percent of the vote.
January 3 — Latin America: MEXICO
Mexico sends more than 3,000 soldiers and police to the northern border city of Tijuana to help fight drug trafficking and gang violence. This operation reflects President Felipe Calderon’s vow to fight drug trafficking in Mexico and to curb the country’s drug-related violence. Tijuana is a major transit point for drugs entering the United States. In 2006, drug violence killed more than 300 people in Tijuana.
January 6 — Middle East: ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
Ruling Palestinian militant movement Hamas announces it will double its armed force to 12,000 men. This increase is declared illegal by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who, as president, controls the security forces and has demanded that Hamas integrate its militia into existing security forces. The incident with armed forces augments the power struggle between President Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas.
January 9 — East Asia: CHINA
China found evidence linking alleged militants in its autonomous northwest region of Xinjiang to international terrorist organizations, such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). However, human rights groups say China uses the fight against terrorism to suppress an independence movement and religious freedom. Xinjiang is home to the Uighur Muslim minority, who struggle to preserve their distinct culture and establish an independent Islamic state.
January 10 — North America: UNITED STATES
U.S. President George W. Bush lifts a ban on oil and gas drilling in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The Interior Department will conduct an assessment of the land, which is estimated to contain some 200 million barrels of oil and about five trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Environmentalists and local fishing communities oppose the drilling; while proponents point to the need for energy security.
January 11 — Europe/Former Soviet Republics: BELARUS/RUSSIA
Russia resumes sending oil supplies through Belarusian pipelines after a three-day break caused by a squabble between Russia and Belarus over duties and transit fees. Russia also accuses Belarus of illegally siphoning oil. Short-term oil supply disruption to European countries sparks criticism across Europe and raises doubts that Russia will be a reliable provider of energy.
January 11 — North America: UNITED STATES
U.S. President George W. Bush outlines a new military plan for Iraq that proposes sending an additional 20,000 U.S. troops in an effort to control rising sectarian violence. The plan also promises an additional $1 billion in aid for Iraq’s reconstruction. Critics of the plan say that sending 20,000 extra troops is not enough to fight the growing insurgency, and will prevent the Iraqis from taking responsibility for their own future.
January 12 — South Asia: BANGLADESH
President Iajuddin Ahmed resigns after imposing a state of emergency. Former Central Bank Governor Fakhruddin Ahmed is sworn in as the head of a new interim government. Ahmed is responsible for forming a new cabinet and overseeing new elections. The shake-up follows months of political crisis and violent protests led by the Awami League party, which has alleged an electoral bias in favor of its bitter rival, the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party.
January 12 — Middle East/North America: IRAN/IRAQ/UNITED STATES
U.S. troops raid an Iranian consulate in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil, seizing computers, papers, and six staff members believed to have compromised Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition forces The United States continues to accuse Iran of destabilizing Iraq and seeking nuclear arms, while Iran denies both charges. It further counters that U.S. military involvement in the Middle East endangers the whole region.
January 16 — Middle East: IRAQ
UN envoy Gianni Magazzeni issues a report stating that in 2006: 34,452 civilians were killed in Iraq and more than 36,000 injured; 800 U.S. troops were killed; and violence in Iraq was at a record high, reaching 140 attacks daily. As a result of the violence, thousands of Iraqis are leaving the country each week.
January 19 — East Asia: CHINA
China uses a medium-range ballistic missile to destroy a Chinese weather satellite, sparking fears over an arms race in space. China is also criticized for waiting several days before confirming the test.
January 19 — South Asia: INDIA
The Indian state of Gujarat inaugurates the controversial Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada River. The dam is expected to irrigate almost 5 million acres and provide drinking water to 20 million people in western India. The project has displaced tens of thousands of villagers who have not been adequately compensated.
January 21 — Former Soviet Republics/Middle East: ARMENIA/TURKEY
A prominent Turkish-Armenian writer and journalist Hrant Dink is murdered in Istanbul by a Turkish teenager. Dink is known for challenging Turkey’s official version of the 1915 Armenian genocide, which denies the Armenian genocide. Dink was previously prosecuted under the country’s strict law against insulting Turkishness.
January 25 — South Asia/Europe: INDIA/RUSSIA
During his official visit to India, Russian President Vladimir Putin signs several agreements with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Two deals concern the production and joint development of aircraft and fighter plane engines in Russia. Russia also offers to build four new nuclear power plants to meet India’s growing energy needs.
January 25 — Africa: NIGERIA
Militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region kidnap three Chinese workers from the offices of the Chinese National Petroleum Company. In recent months, kidnappings increased in the region, resulting in more than 100 hostages. The regional militants say that despite the region’s rich oil deposits, local residents live in poverty. The instability in the region has resulted in a 20 percent loss of government revenue.
January 31 — Middle East/North America: IRAQ/UNITED STATES
Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, issues a report stating that millions of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds have been squandered. For example, it noted that despite spending 23 percent of the funds on rebuilding electrical capacity, electricity production remains at the pre-war level. The report comes at a time when U.S. President George W. Bush is asking Congress to approve an additional $1.2 billion for Iraq’s reconstruction.