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!
September 24 to 29, 2018
Disaster struck Nigeria and Tanzania, where respectively Swiss crew members of a cargo ship were taken hostage by pirates and the capsizing of a ferry killed 224 people, and violence marred diplomatic progress in Ethiopia and electoral developments in Mali. In Nigeria, a dozen crew members on the cargo ship were taken hostage by pirates, and in Tanzania, the capsizing of a ferry in Africa’s largest lake in Tanzania left 224 people dead. In Ethiopia – amidst diplomatic progress with Eritrea – episodes of ethnic violence have increased and led to the arrests of thousands. And in Mali, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta won in the second round, though against a background of electoral fraud and violence. The opposition, however, is rejecting the election results.
- Amidst progress in Ethiopia – including the signing of a formal declaration of peace with Eritrea in July this year – episodes of ethnic violence have increased. Thousands have also been arrested.
- In Mali, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta won in the second round, though against a background of electoral fraud and violence. The opposition is rejecting the election results.
- Off the coast of Nigeria, “a dozen [of 19] crew members on a Swiss cargo ship” were taken hostage by pirates.
- The capsizing of a ferry in Africa’s largest lake in Tanzania left at least 44 people dead. The death toll later rose to 131 people, and the exact number of people who were on the boat remains unclear.
- The death toll later rose to 224. Just 41 people survived.
- Seven Chinese clerics were appointed as bishops, following a historic agreement between China and the Vatican.
- In Hong Kong, the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party was formally banned. In the same week, Hong Kong was plugged into China’s high-speed rail system – the biggest in the world – a milestone for the territory’s integration with China.
- India criminalised the “triple talaq” practice, which “allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by using the word ‘talaq’, meaning divorce in Arabic, three times in person, over the phone or even in writing or text message”.
- Ahead of elections in India next year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “launched the world’s biggest healthcare programme … aiming to provide free health services to half a billion poor people”.
- Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe won a third consecutive term as head of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Given the party’s landslide victory last year, Mr. Abe is set to be the country’s longest-ever-serving prime minister since 1885.
- In the Maldives, and with fears of rigging, President Abdulla Yameen was defeated by opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a long-time member of parliament. Mr. Yameen won 42 per cent of the vote, while Mr. Solih won 58 per cent.
- The collapse of an old pagoda under renovation in Thailand killed one person.
- Leaders of the European Union unexpectedly declared that the Brexit plans of United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May would not work. Miss May “was thrown on to the defensive … just over a week before the Conservative party conference”.
- In the Netherlands, four children were killed when a train hit their electric cargo bike.
- Article 7 was triggered against Hungary last week, months after the same was done to Poland for a risk of serious breach to the rule of law. Poland has now been suspended from the judicial organisation of the European Union, as part of Article 7 procedures.
- Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven lost a no-confidence vote “and will step down after four years in power”. Recent elections resulted in a hung parliament, and who will form the next government remains unclear.
The Middle East
- Afghanistan continues to be the site of attacks, as a bomber of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria killed at least 30 people.
- A rare militant attack on a military parade in Iran killed 24 soldiers from the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
- American stand-up comedian and actor Bill Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He will spend at least three years in jail before he is eligible for parole.
- For the third time in 2018, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates.
- President Donald Trump finalised his first major trade deal since entering office, after signing a renegotiated free-trade agreement with South Korea. “Trade analysts say changes to the South Korea agreement were largely cosmetic”.
- Earlier this month, Argentina asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout loan deal. The IMF has agreed to increase the total amount, in the same week the country’s central bank governor Luis Caputo resigned for personal reasons.
- Latin America has been jolted by a massive Venezuelan migrant crisis, with more than 2.3 million individuals fleeing the country’s political and economic crisis. Urban refugees in cities, therefore, are now a growing phenomenon.