Can North Korea, with all of its blustering and well-timed missile tests, actually hit the U.S. with a strike? Who are the groups seeking to overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad? Here are some of your world news questions answered.
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Syrians have spilled out into the streets, risking their lives and sometimes paying with their in the process, to protest the tyrannical rule of Bashar al-Assad. But how is the opposition categorized and characterized, and is there enough organization to avoid a power vacuum if Assad is successfully ousted from office?
The headlines regularly pop up on Pakistani news sites and on the fringes of U.S. news reports: An unmanned drone strike has killed a handful of people in a remote tribal area along the uncontrolled border with Afghanistan. But what are they, who are they targeting, and what kind of damage do they inflict?
In order to further a political objective, countries may unilaterally or as part of a coalition take out diplomatic, economic or military sanctions on a country or countries. This can involved revoking diplomatic ties and recalling an ambassador, placing bans on financial or trade transactions, or arms embargoes.
Iran is a fervently Shiite Islamic Republic, with a 98 percent Muslim population and 89 percent of those Muslims identifying as Shiite, according to the CIA World Factbook. Twelver Shiism is the largest branch of Shiite Islam, with about 85 percent of Shiite adhering to the belief in the 12th imam. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, was a Twelver. So is the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
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A military no-fly zone is usually agreed upon with the cooperation of multiple nations and often with the intent of protecting civilian populations, such as when Saddam Hussein was waging chemical attacks against the Kurds in the northern region of Iraq. The United States, Turkey, France and the United Kingdom collaborated to prevent Iraqi aircraft from flying over the northern part of the country, and a year later added a no-fly zone to protect Shiites in the southern part of the country, an effort that continued until the 2003 war and ousting of Hussein.
The United Nations uses Myanmar, defaulting to the nomenclature wishes of the country's rulers, but the United States and the United Kingdom do not recognize the junta and thus still call the country Burma.
One of the more immediate concerns is North Korea playing with fire with U.S. ally Japan. The April missile test soared through Japanese airspace, and Pyongyang angrily warned beforehand that any attempts by the Japanese to shoot down the rocket would be an "act of war."
The Ossetians are an ethnic group with Iranic roots who, centuries ago, were forced from their homeland in present-day Russia by the Mongols, and resettled over the Caucasus mountains. More than half of present-day Ossetians are orthodox Christian; a sizable minority are Sunni Muslims. Ossetians make up about two-thirds of the population in South Ossetia, it is believed.
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Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela in 1998, and the following year a new constitution was adopted that replaced the country's 1961 constitution. This renamed the country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as an ode to Simon Bolivar, who is credited with the 19th century liberation of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Bolivia from Spanish colonial rule. The Bolivarian philosophy named for Bolivar is a form of democratic socialism that repels perceived imperialism and rewards nationalism while promoting economic self-sufficiency of the nation as a whole.
The bloody history of Hutu and Tutsi conflict stained the 20th century, from the slaughter of 80,000 to 200,000 Hutus by the Tutsi army in Burundi in 1972 to the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which Hutu militias targeted Tutsis, resulting in a 100-day death toll between 800,000 and 1 million.