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 30 to August 4, 2018
Elections were held in Cambodia, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe in the past week. In Cambodia, the party of Prime Minister Hun Sen regained power in a landslide, in an electoral process marked by a crackdown on the press and the disbanding of the country’s main opposition party. It was a “processional day at the ballot boxes” for the ruling party, though the high number of invalid votes would be of concern. In Pakistan, former cricket star Imran Khan is set to be the country’s next prime minister, after winning the national elections. The country has had 18 prime ministers since 1947, but “not one of them has served the entirety of their term”. And in Zimbabwe, the first general election since the ouster of Robert Mugabe in November last year saw a high voter turnout of 75 per cent. The ruling Zanu-PF party won a majority of parliamentary seats, with results of the presidential election due soon.
- The African Union’s Continental Free Trade Area, or AfCFTA, is set to be the largest trade zone in the world, though the countries of Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, and Nigeria have yet to make any commitments.
- In Zimbabwe, the first general election since the ouster of Robert Mugabe in November last year saw a high voter turnout of 75 per cent. The ruling Zanu-PF party won a majority of parliamentary seats, with results of the presidential election due soon.
- There are suspicions, however, among the protesting opposition that the electoral commission will rig the votes. Later in the week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa – with 51 per cent of the vote – was declared the winner of the presidential election. Leaders of the opposition party said they would not accept the results.
- In Cambodia, the party of Prime Minister Hun Sen regained power in a landslide, in an electoral process marked by a crackdown on the press and the disbanding of the country’s main opposition party.
- A car accident in Hangzhou, China, killed two people.
- At least 49 people were killed in India, after heavy monsoon rains sparked floods and collapsed buildings. “Some 545 people have died across the country since May due to the rains, with over a million people affected in some way”.
- An earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia killed at least 10 people.
- Following years of investigation, Malaysian authorities could not determine what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
- In Pakistan, former cricket star Imran Khan is set to be the country’s next prime minister, after winning the national elections. The transition is happening amidst claims of electoral fraud and military interference.
- An explosion in the Philippines killed at least 10 people.
- In Tajikistan, armed attackers killed four foreign cyclists. Terrorist motives have not been ruled out.
- In Vietnam, a car crash killed 14 members of the same family who were headed to a wedding party. “Road accidents are the leading cause of death in Vietnam, where traffic laws are loosely obeyed and road infrastructure is patchy”.
- As Italy takes tougher measures against migrants, “Spain has become the main entry point from the Mediterranean as illegal migrants have increasingly preferred entering the [European Union] by Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar”.
- Throughout Spain, thousands of taxi drivers protested against ride-sharing apps, and the protests only ended after the government agreed to restrict the number of licences to services such as Lyft and Uber.
- From the Vatican, Pope Francis said the death penalty is wrong in all cases.
The Middle East
- A seven-hour assault by extremists on an Afghan school for midwives left two people dead.
- As part of a months-long government crackdown on dissent, Saudi Arabia detailed more women’s rights activists.
- In Yemen – where there are two separate but overlapping conflicts – an airstrike in a rebel-held area killed at least 20 people.
- Deaths and shootings: In California, wildfires which started from last week has killed at least eight people. In Michigan, five children from the same family died when a fire broke out at a hotel. In New Orleans, at least three people were killed in a shooting. And in Texas, two shootings in a nursing home and in a nearby residence left five people dead.
- Apple became the first American company worth more than one trillion dollars (S$1.37 trillion).
- Pacific Alliance, the Latin American trade bloc which includes four of the region’s largest economies – Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru – met for a weeklong summit “at a time of soaring global trade tensions”.
- In Nicaragua – rocked by protests since April this year – authoritarian President Daniel Ortega is coming increasing fire and criticism for his consolidation of political power, the removal of presidential term limits, and the banning of the opposition.