January 15, 1986 – if you woke up this morning in 1986 and you were confused, you were in good company. An entire country was confused on this day. Seems there was a civil war between two factions; one Marxist and the other more Marxist, which resulted in a bloody coup attempt to overthrow the less Marxist government. Reports filtering in were solidly on the side of confusion as it wasn’t clear if the coup was over, if it was still going on or if it had erupted into a full-on civil war. One report, which was neither confirmed nor denied at news time was the death of President Ali Nasir Mohammad. But even that was surrounded by confusion. Only time would clear away the murk.
Meanwhile, Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was asking North Yemen for permission to land Libyan troops there, on their way to duty in South Yemen as a so-called Arab Peacekeeping force. No word on whether permission was granted or whether Gaddafi actually intended to intervene. Lately Gaddafi had been preoccupied over his showdown with Washington and things were heating up in that region as the U.S. was beefing up its Naval presence in the Mediterranean.
And if that wasn’t enough – there were reports of troop movements around government offices in Lesotho, a mountain kingdom surrounded on all sides by South Africa, leading to speculation of a possible coup there. However, later reports said the troops went back to their barracks and all had calmed down. The coup, or whatever it was, appeared to be over.
Meanwhile, Senator Kennedy was expected to be met with a frosty reception when he landed in Santiago later on this day. Supporters of the military government planned to stage mass demonstrations over his visit.
And Lebanon’s three-week old Peace agreement appeared to have collapsed this day, as fighting continued in Beirut between rival Christian and Muslim militias, with the one militia leader who supported the Syrian-brokered armistice was reported to have surrendered to forces loyal to Lebanese President Bachir Gemayal.
And that’s a small slice of an otherwise confusing day in the world, this January 15th in 1986, as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.