This roundup covers news summaries across six regions: Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. Wherever possible I draw links to Singapore, but I think it is more important to understand geopolitical developments around the world, to draw attention to meaningful news stories, and to highlight both positive and negative events.
Around the world, I rely primarily on the email newsletters from “The Economist“, “Foreign Policy“, “Muck Rack“, “The New York Times“, “The Wall Street Journal“, and “The World Post“. In Singapore, the weekly digests from the European Union Centre and the Middle East Institute are handy. Do send me recommendations of news outlets or articles too, to jinyao.guan.yin.miao[a]gmail.com!
July 10 to 15, 2017
Victory was declared in Mosul, Iraq, after coalition and government forces defeated the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which had seized the city in 2014. Within the country, however, much of the city is in ruins and thousands have been left dead or displaced, and within the region, there are doubts over the complete defeat of ISIS, the continued role of the United States, and how or whether other regional and global powers may take advantage of a precarious situation. In the Middle Eastern region, moreover, the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and five Arab states – which had cut ties and issued a list of 13 demands – continues, with no immediate resolution in sight.
Follow my Facebook page to keep track of news and developments, or subscribe to this blog (by entering your email address in the sidebar) to be notified when a post is published.
- Ghana launched its first satellite – “developed by students at All Nations University” – into space.
- President of Zambia Edgar Lungu invoked emergency powers for a period of seven days – though parliamentary approval could be sought for extension – “to counter ‘acts of sabotage’ after a series of suspected arson attacks on public buildings“. His critics and opponents are more sceptical, and in this vein warn of autocratic crackdowns against the opposition.
- Having been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and released on medical parole last month, Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo died at age 61. Medical experts in China had insisted that Mr. Liu “was too till to travel“, and as a consequence Chinese authorities had denied his dying request to travel abroad to seek palliative care.
Later, the Chinese government said the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mr. Liu was a “blasphemy [which] goes against the purposes of this award“, as former chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee Thorbjørn Jagland justified the decision.
International calls for Mr. Liu’s widow, Liu Xia, to be released from house arrest also followed.
- At least six Hindu pilgrims in Indian Kashmir were killed, “following two militant attacks on police“.
- A broad free trade agreement was sealed between the European Union and Japan – Japan’s biggest trade treaty – “hailed as a sign of their joint efforts to promote an open economy“. Talks have taken four years, and should be in force in early-2019.
- Following an oil tanker explosion in June this year, which killed at least 217 people, Pakistan’s oil and gas regulator has ordered “a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell to pay about S$5.5 million in damages and compensation“.
- The Philippines was hit by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake. There was no warning of a tsunami, however.
- Hundreds of thousands of protestors rallied in Turkey, cheering the leader of the opposition and calling for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to institute changes. This was “the largest sign of opposition since the failed coup last July“.
- An attempt to end one of the world’s longest-running political crisis in Cyprus – after more than two years of efforts – collapsed without a deal. Turkish troop presence was a major disagreement. “Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and later occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece“.
- Estonia took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) from Malta, and as one of the world’s most digitally connected countries it will be “pushing for the free flow of data across the EU“.
- The G20 summit in Germany was also marked by demonstrations. A peaceful march of 12,000 people, however, was halted “as police used water cannon and tear gas“, and overall up to 100,000 demonstrators were expected throughout the two days.
- By a vote of 66 to one in Parliament, lawmakers in Malta “voted to legalise same-sex marriage“.
The Middle East
- Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq declared victory in Mosul, over the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. With much of the city in ruins, thousands dead, and nearly a million people displaced, this victory “comes at an enormous cost“.
- Demands were issued to Qatar by the five Arab countries which cut ties, and after refusing to accept these demands the country’s foreign minister has instead called for “proper dialogue” to resolve the differences.
- Warring factions in Syria met for a seventh round of peace talks, as a limited truce held for a full day.
- Three months later, the cholera crisis in Yemen continues, spreading “to 21 of the country’s 22 provinces [and] infecting at least 269,608“. The ongoing civil war and the prioritisation of military efforts over public health have been devastating.
- President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sidelines of the G20 summit, and in the two-hour conversation Mr. Trump confronted Mr. Putin over Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election.
- At the final press conference of the G20 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement would be “irreversible“. The other 19 members of the G20 have committed to the agreement.
- At least 16 people were killed, when a United States military plane crashed in Mississippi.
- “The New York Times” reported that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in 2016. The newspaper published the chain of email conversations, and he himself also published the email chain on Twitter.
- Last year, former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva faced trial for his role in a corruption scandal, in which he received over a million dollars in bribes. He was just found guilty – though his defence has claimed that the former president is a victim of political persecution – and sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in jail.
- At least 28 inmates were killed in Mexico – the second-deadliest country in the world – after a brutal prison fight.
- The government of Mexico is said to have used spyware – originally intended for counter-terrorism – to target prominent human rights lawyers, journalists, and anti-corruption activists. The controversy has escalated, with revelations that the tools were used against “international officials investigating the high-profile 2014 disappearance of 43 students“.
- After spending more than three years in jail (of a 14-year sentence) – for inciting violence during anti-government protests – Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was transferred to house arrest. He “recommitted his staunch opposition” to the government of the day and President Nicolás Maduro, who remains deeply unpopular and the target of ongoing protests.