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THE INDEX — July 1, 2009

Having just completed a disappointing aid-seeking tour to Europe and the United States, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe to find a much-needed "welcome home" gift: $950 million in credit from China. Though the total sum (combined with the $500 million he was able to raise on his three-week trip) does not meet his government’s request for a $10 billion stimulus package, Tsvangirai hopes that the funds can be spent responsibly to demonstrate Zimbabwe’s commitment to democracy, something many Western nations doubt. Tsvangirai currently rules in a unity government alongside President Robert Mugabe, whose blatant human rights violations had largely cut off the aid tap to Zimbabwe in recent years. But China is not unaccustomed to making controversial deals in Africa—it's criticized heavily for maintaining relations with Sudan—and has been a friend to Mugabe since the 1970s. Although the details surrounding the credit arrangement have not been released, at least some of the credit will need to be used for Chinese goods like fertilizer, according to the New York Times. The Organization of American States (OAS) has delivered a 72-hour ultimatum to Honduran coup leaders, ordering them to reinstate President Manuel Zelaya or face suspension. Addressing the general assembly of the organization, OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza condemned the forced removal of Zelaya and said that Honduran coup has produced “an unconstitutional alteration of democratic order.” News of the ultimatum came as France and Spain reported the recall of their ambassadors to Honduras, and one day after the United Nations General Assembly voted, by acclamation, to demand the reinstatement of Zelaya. The interim president of Honduras, Robert Micheletti, has said that Zelaya would be arrested upon return and that he would not return to power unless another Latin American president “imposes [Zelaya] using guns.” The coup came as Zelaya was controversially pushing for a presidential term-renewal referendum, though yesterday—in a dramatic about face—the ousted leader told the United Nations that he would now refuse an offer to remain in power for an additional four years. A car bomb killed 40 civilians yesterday in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, hours after Iraqi forces assumed responsibility for securing the nation’s urban areas following a U.S. troop withdrawal. The attack in Kirkuk’s Shurga district highlights that Iraqis have good reason to be “extremely nervous” about their national security in the wake of the withdrawal. While Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared June 30, “Sovereignty Day,” several Iraqi ministers voiced concerns about premature celebration. The nationalist politician Usama al-Nujaifi told Al Jazeera that Iraqi forces “are not up to the standards” of maintaining sovereignty and that they could “jeopardize Iraq’s security.” Many Iraqi politicians are also concerned over increased Iranian influence in Baghdad (the population of which is largely Shiite). Al-Nujaifi even went so far as to argue that the U.S. withdrawal was coordinated with Iran in exchange for assisting U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. About 130,000 U.S. forces will remain stationed outside Iraq's major cities until a planned complete withdrawal is completed in 2011.

Iran’s top military leader called for European Union nations to apologize on Wednesday for their criticism of the disputed June 12 Iranian presidential elections. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi told a Tehran-based news agency that major EU powers, particularly Britain, France, and Germany, “have lost their qualification to hold nuclear talks with Iran.” The comment comes days after Iran ramped up tensions with Britain, detaining nine Iranian employees of the British embassy in Tehran. Several EU nations threatened to recall their ambassadors to Iran on Tuesday if all of the employees are not freed. Although EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana said on Sunday that the EU still hopes to explore multilateral negotiations with Iran, he noted that the 27-member bloc reserves the right to criticize a regime for its violence towards its own citizens.

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