On AMANPOUR. today, we take a look at the recent religious violence in Nigeria, which has only served to highlight the issues facing the country at a time when it appears to be suffering on many different fronts. Today, protests will take place in the seat of government power, Abuja. The protests are set against the ongoing power vacuum. Christiane gets to the root of the latest clashes and asks if the political void will allow for a further descent into violence. Nigeria is only one of the stories in the news today. Here are some perspectives.
Sr. Writer, AMANPOUR.
NIGERIA – How serious is the risk of a further escalation in ethnic violence in Nigeria?
– Witnesses say soldiers open fire on a crowd breaking a curfew just days after fighting between Christians and Muslims left more than 200 people dead, most of them Christians
– Residents in the Jos area in central Nigeria accuse the security forces of failing to provide security to the villages that were attacked Sunday
– Violence is latest in series of clashes over the past decade in the country’s “middle belt” where ethnic groups are battling to control fertile farmland
QUESTION: Will the Nigerian government take decisive action before the violence escalates into a much broader conflict between Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims?
ISRAEL/PALESTINIAN CONFLICT – Are indirect peace talks already at risk after Israel announced another 1,600 new homes in disputed east Jerusalem?
– U.S. Vice President Joe Biden holds talks with Palestinian leaders today in the West Bank, in part to ease their doubts about the latest American peace efforts
– Israel today apologizes for disrupting Biden’s visit to the region by announcing the construction of 1,600 new homes in east Jerusalem
– Construction plans were an embarrassing setback for Biden after a day of apparently warm meetings with Israeli leaders. Biden said the Israeli move “is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now.”
QUESTION: Can the U.S. maintain the momentum for this latest peace initiative in the face of Israeli determination to push ahead with the construction of new homes in disputed territories?
AFGHANISTAN – Will American troops begin to withdraw from Afghanistan earlier than the planned start date in July 2011?
– U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Afghanistan hints, without giving details, that any early pullout and hand over of control to Afghan forces “would have to be conditions based”
– British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in a speech to be given in the U.S. today, will call on the Afghan government to push for a peace deal with the Taliban, and asks for help from Afghanistan’s neighbors in seeking a compromise
– Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in Kabul for talks with Afghan government about their bilateral relationship and economic ties
QUESTION: Is Iran positioning itself to expand its influence in Afghanistan when American forces begin their withdrawal?