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March 2007

Mar 1  US military killed in Iraq in February: 87.

Mar 8  In his first news conference since taking command of US forces in Iraq, General Petraeus speaks of not foreseeing a military victory over the insurgents. He favors military action to improve security, but he avoids absolutes such as failure, win or victory. He says "there is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq." Petraeus favors negotiations among the Iraqis.

Mar 11  In Mauritania power is changing hands for the first time through the popular elections.

Mar 11  The new leader of Turkmenistan, President Berdymukhamedov, is visiting communities without the pomp of previous leaders – no staged crowds or children reading poems of praise.

Mar 11  In Thailand a Swiss citizen, Oliver Jufer, arrested in December, goes on trial for insulting the king. He could be sentenced to 75 years in prison. 

Mar 11  In Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, a crowd opposed to the rule of Robert Mugabe gathers. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic, arrives. The police grab him and other opposition leaders who are dragged from their cars as they arrive. The police tear-gas the irate crowd and fire their weapons.The crowd is enraged in response to one of their number being shot dead. They attack the police. Those police who can, flee in their cars. Those who cannot flee are severely beaten.

Mar 13  Tsvangirai and the other opposition activists have been beaten while being held by the police. Bones have been broken. The activists are released to the custody of their attorneys.

Mar 15  President Mugabe blames the crowd and its leaders for the recent violence and tells his foreign critics to "go hang."  

Mar 14-16  Jeremy Bowen of the BBC asks a senior security official from Saudi Arabia whether the US military presence in Iraq has become "a recruiting sergeant for Islamist extremists." His answer: "It inspires these people. Some of them think it is their duty to go and perform jihad in Iraq. They think they are supporting the Muslims in Iraq and actually protecting the Islamic civilization and culture in Iraq."

Mar 16  In what will be the words of economist Paul Kruglman, banks are selling "bunches of mortgages and other loans to poorly informed investers, instead of keeping them on their own books," and this has been "encouraging reckless lending." The housing market is in a slow motion collapse and numerous lenders are going backgrupt. Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 12,100, 600 points down from where it was last month, but confidence talk in the coming weeks will send the market upward. Home costruction has fallen, but a weak dollar is making US manufacturing more competitive and a boom in exports for the US is ahead.

Mar 19  In a poll by ABC News, USA Today and others, 51 percent of Iraqis say violence against US forces is acceptable, and 80 percent oppose the presence of the US in their country.

Senator Webb

Senator Webb

Mar 19  President Bush speaks to the beginning of the fifth year of "Operation Iraqi Freedom. "At this point in the war," he says, "our most important mission is helping the Iraqis secure their capital." He concludes: "(T)he fight is difficult, but it can be won. It will be won if we have the courage and resolve to see it through."

Mar 22  Senator James Webb of Virginia expresses his opinion that the US military on the streets in Iraq is an "aggravation," in other words that it would be better for Iraq that they not be there. Webb is an aggressive former Marine and was Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration.

Mar 22  In the Democratic Republic of Congo a former rebel leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has refused to lay down his arms after having lost a presidential election, despite his having agreed to do so. A. confrontation takes place and a gun battle lasts through the day. 

Mar 27  King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia describes the US military in Iraq as an illegitimate foreign occupation. A friend of the Bush family, he has declined to attend a state dinner in Washington this April 17.

Mar 27  Speaking of the efforts of General Petraeus in Iraq, US Senator John McCain says "there are real signs the new strategy is working" and that some others in the Senate are offering "a date certain for surrender – with grave consequences..." His Republican colleague, Chuck Hagel, sees the new strategy as an escalation that will not bring resolution in Iraq. He complains of young Americans "kicking down doors, with a bull's eye on their back" and speaks of cost in American lives, dollars, and world standing as "devastating for our country." 

Mar 28  In the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than 200 fighters loyal to Jean-Pierre Bemba hand their weapons over to government forces. Mr. Bemba has taken refuge in South Africa's embassy.

Mar 28  Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, tells Congress the following: "Overall, the economy appears likely to continue to expand at a moderate pace over coming quarters. As the inventory of unsold new homes is worked off, the drag from residential investment should wane. Consumer spending appears solid, and business investment seems likely to post moderate gains."

Mar 31  In Baghdad both Sunnis and Shia celebrate, by firing weapons into the air, the victory of Shada Hassoun, 25, an Iraqi singer who wins a popular TV talent final staged in Lebanon.

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