1 | Israel
Peace Talks to Resume
The leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories last held direct negotiations close to two years ago. But following intense U.S. pressure, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed on Aug. 20 to revive the stalled peace process. However, Abbas said he will back out of the U.S.-brokered talks, which begin Sept. 2, if Israel lets its 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction expire on Sept. 26. Many claim the settlements threaten the future viability of a Palestinian state.
A TIMELINE OF TALKS
Many rounds, few results
After decades of conflict, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization sign the Oslo accords, officially recognizing each other for the first time
The Wye River summit aims to keep Oslo alive in the face of Hamas attacks and after the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Israeli far-right zealots
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak arrive at Camp David to discuss "final status" issues, including refugees, borders and security. Arafat ultimately refuses to sign, and mass violence breaks out within weeks
The Sharm el-Sheikh conference in Egypt meets in hopes of resuming talks
Months later, at the Taba summit, Israeli and Palestinian representatives come excruciatingly close to an agreement but are thwarted by an upcoming Israeli election
The Quartet--the U.S., E.U., U.N. and Russia--proposes a road map suggesting how a final settlement might be reached
The Red Sea summit in Jordan attempts to get the road map on track, but little is accomplished
In Egypt, regional leaders meet to end a Palestinian uprising, but violence continues
2 | Somalia
Al-Shabab Takes Aim
After threatening violence following the African Union's July announcement that it would send additional peacekeepers to Somalia, Islamist extremist group al-Shabab launched an attack on a Mogadishu hotel Aug. 24, killing at least 30 people, including several members of parliament. Firefights with security forces left a further six people dead, deepening concerns over the embattled Somali government's ability to rule.
3 | North Korea
President Carter Visits Pyongyang
Former President Jimmy Carter landed in North Korea on Aug. 25 on a private mission to broker the release of 31-year-old American prisoner Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was arrested in January and sentenced to eight years of hard labor after he illegally entered the country. Carter, who helped defuse a nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula during a 1994 visit to Pyongyang, was expected to return with Gomes within days of his arrival.
4 | Washington
Race to the Top Grants Awarded