World View: Ukraine's President Fires the Chief of the Army amid Protest Crisis

This morning's key headlines from

  • Ukraine's president fires the chief of the army amid protest crisis
  • Two suicide bombings target Iran's cultural center in Beirut Lebanon
  • George Soros bets that Wall Street is headed for a fall

Ukraine's president fires the chief of the army amid protest crisis

Monuments to Kiev's founders burn on Tuesday (AP)
Monuments to Kiev's founders burn on Tuesday (AP)

Fears of civil war in Ukraine increased on Wednesday when president Viktor Yanukovych fired Colonel-General Volodymyr Zamana, the chief of the army, on the bloodiest day of protests in Kiev so far, with 26 people killed in clashes between protesters and police. This is at a time when the government in Kiev is losing control of much of the western part of Ukraine.

For the army chief to be fired during the middle of a major government crisis has led to speculation that Zamana had refused a direct order to use force on civilians. It's also possible that his replacement, naval commander Admiral Yuriy Ilyin, will be asked to take back control of western Ukraine.

Speaking on the BBC World Service, Reuben F. Johnson, Kiev correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly, made the following comments (my transcription):

"It's almost certainly because the president is looking for a military leader who when given an order to use the armed forces against the public will follow that order. ...

We've already heard reports from more than two weeks ago from western parts of Ukraine basically saying, if people show up, if troops show up on the president's orders from another part of Ukraine, then our troops and our police will fight them. It will be civil war. There'll be violence without a doubt. It's headed for civil conflict on a very big scale."

Late in the day, Yanukovych announced that he'd reached a truce agreement with the opposition to end the violence, but he's announced such agreements before. BBC and AFP(1/24)

Two suicide bombings target Iran's cultural center in Beirut Lebanon

The string of terrorist attacks specifically targeting Hezbollah and Iranian assets in Lebanon continued on Wednesday, when two suicide car bombs targeted an Iranian cultural center in Beirut, killing six people and wounding 80 others.

The string of terrorist attacks was triggered by the announcement, last April 30, by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah gave a televised speech saying that Hezbollah would militarily enter the fight in Syria on the side of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Nasrallah reluctantly agreed to enter the Syrian war after being commanded to do so by his Iranian puppetmasters. ( "27-Sep-13 World View -- How Hezbollah's reluctant foray into Syria changed the Mideast")

The Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed credit for Wednesday's attack on Twitter:

"Your brothers in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Ali Hussein Bin Ali brigades, claim the raid of the Iranian Cultural Center and it is a twin suicide bombing. It is in response to Iran's party [Hezbollah] fighting alongside the criminal regime in Syria, and the continued detention of Muslim youth in Lebanese prisons. ...

We will continue... to target Iran and its party in Lebanon, in its security and political and military centres, until our demands are achieved. First: that the Party of Iran (Hezbollah) withdraws its forces from Syria. Second, that our prisoners are released from Lebanese prisons."

Nasrallah's announcement last year further inflamed Sunni versus Shia violence throughout the Mideast. He recently reaffirmed his decision for Hezbollah to continue fighting in Syria. Daily Star (Beirut) and AFP

George Soros bets that Wall Street is headed for a fall

According to SEC filings on Friday, George Soros has made a $1.3 billion bet that the S&P 500 stock index is headed for a sharp fall, by increasing his holdings of "the S&P 500 ETF SPY," which pays when the S&P 500 falls.

Even the most Pollyannaish financial experts have been anticipating a 10-20% stock market correction for over a year now, saying that the market the had to regroup before it could rise to new heights. But the experts have been repeatedly wrong, and there's been no correction. But now apparently Soros is so certain that a correction is coming that he's bet a lot of money on it. Market Watch

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