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!
June 11 to 16, 2018
“We’re America, Bitch”: President Barack Obama “apologised to everyone for everything. He felt bad about everything”. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, “doesn’t feel like he has to apologise for anything America does”. And this Trump Doctrine was on full display in the past week, at the Group of Seven (G7) Summit and at the Singapore Summit. Meeting with the leaders of the G7, Mr. Trump made headlines for inviting Russia back and for threatening the other countries over trade and tariff issues. The summit also ended on a bitter note, as Mr. Trump “refused to sign the final joint statement, antagonising other members who had already acceded to the agreement“. Meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, both leaders agreed to work towards a complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later added that the United States was seeking to achieve “major disarmament” of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in the next two-and-a-half years.
- President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa was elected leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December last year, and based on a survey of citizens he has done well so far, with an approval rating of 68 per cent.
- Even though the minimum legal age for marriage in South Sudan is 18, it is estimated that 52 per cent of girls are married before 18. The country has “the fifth-highest rate of child marriage in the world“, and adolescent pregnancy often follows these early marriages.
- Heavy rains and thunderstorms killed at least 20 people in India, over a 24-hour period.
- In Indonesia, at least 15 people died when two boats sank in rough waters.
- In Singapore, President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and agreed to work towards a complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. There are no deadlines or specifics yet. Mr. Trump had initially cancelled this planned summit with Mr. Kim, but Mr. Kim met with South Korean president Moon Jae-in in a bid to revive the summit.
- The emergence of eurosceptic governments in Italy and in Spain has heightened some fears on the future of the European Union.
- Amidst tense relations between the European Union (EU) and Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Austria for a state visit, sparking “some concerns of its purported attempts in sowing disunity within the EU“.
- Italy and Malta refused to let a boat of migrants into their countries, leaving Spain to offer safe harbour instead.
- After offering last-minute concessions and agreeing to write into law a self-imposed deadline, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May “avoided a humiliating parliamentary defeat to her government’s [European Union] withdrawal bill“.
The Middle East
- Earlier this year in February, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban amnesty for war crime convictions, in a bid to quell a longstanding conflict. Now, Mr. Ghani has announced a temporary ceasefire with the group, urging it to join peace efforts.
- A Syrian war monitor and paramedics said that at least 35 people were killed in a Russian airstrike.
- At least 15 civilians were killed by regime forces in Syria, following air strikes.
- A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded the main Red Sea port of Yemen.
- President Donald Trump attended the Group of Seven summit, making headlines for inviting Russia back and for threatening the other countries over trade and tariff issues.
- Following a vote by the Federal Communications Commission to dismantle “net neutrality” rules last year, it went into effect.
- Abortion is illegal in Argentina, and the lower house of the country’s congress “will vote whether or not to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy”. This comes after Ireland’s abortion referendum under a month ago.
- In Chile, following the mass defrocking – last month – of 14 priests involved in a sex abuse scandal, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops. These scandals are widening the rift between the people and the church.
- In Guatemala, the death toll from the deadly volcano eruption last week has increased to 109.