Iran test fired an improved version of its Sejil 2 medium-range missile on December 16, increasing tensions between Iran and Western powers. The Sejil 2 has a range of about 1,200 miles.
The Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed the blame on December 10 for a series of coordinated bombings in Baghdad this week that killed 127 people and wounded more than 500. The group posted a message on its website that it would “uproot pillars of this government and … demolish its corners.”
Hamid Karzai was sworn in for a second term as the president of Afghanistan on November 19, and in his inaugural address he promised to eliminate corruption and to take over responsibility for his nation’s security within five years.
Just prior to the November 15 Obama visit to China, a front-page article in the New York Times began with the following sobering assessment: “When President Obama visits China for the first time on Sunday, he will, in many ways, be assuming the role of profligate spender coming to pay his respects to his banker.”
U.S. government-controlled VOA news on November 18 cited President Obama's statement that Israel's recent decision to authorize the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem does not make Israel safer, and could complicate peace efforts. In an interview the president had with Fox News in China, he said: "I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous."
The Times of London reported on November 17 that UN and Iranian officials have been engaged in secret negotiations toward an agreement to persuade world powers to lift sanctions against Iran that would and allow Tehran to continue with most of its nuclear program in return for cooperation with UN inspectors.
British officials announced that five British soldiers were shot and killed on November 3 by an Afghan policeman in the Nad e-Ali district of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. British military officials said the men were shot as they drank tea at a checkpoint in the village of Shin Kalay where they had been living. They had been advising Afghan policemen.
Delivering his acceptance speech at a November 3 press conference, the day after Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared him the winner of the country's disputed election, President Hamid Karzai issued an appeal to “to bring peace to this soil” and said that Afghans should “ask our Taliban brothers and others to return and embrace their own land.”
VOA News reported on November 2 that Afghanistan's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had declared President Hamid Karzai the winner of the country's disputed election, following the withdrawal from the race the previous day by Karzai's challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, the nation’s former Foreign Minister. The runoff election that had been scheduled for November 7 has been cancelled and Karzai will remain as president for a five-year term.
The Islamic State of Iraq, an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility in a website posting on October 27 for a pair of bombings two days earlier that killed 160 people in Baghdad. The BBC quoted the Islamic group’s statement that its suicide bombers had targeted "dens of infidelity" in the Iraqi capital, including "the ministry of oppression, known as the ministry of justice, and the Baghdad provincial assembly."