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!
December 24 to 29, 2018
The Middle East continues to be marked by unrest and violence, with protests in Tunisia as well as attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. In Tunisia, the death of a journalist – who set himself on fire over economic conditions in the country – has led to clashes between protestors and security forces, and has led to comparisons with the self-immolation of a street vendor in 2010 which consequently sparked a revolution and the Arab Spring uprisings across the region. A gun and suicide attack in Afghanistan killed at least 43 people, a car bomb in Iraq killed three people, and suicide bombers in Libya killed at least three people.
- Two car bomb attacks in Mogadishu, Somalia, killed at least 15 people. Militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility.
- In South Africa, it has been alleged that a private company “ordered black beachgoers to vacate a fashionable Cape Town over the Christmas holiday“, sparking claims of racism and a race row.
- Sudan entered its 10th consecutive day of protests, organised “by a group of professional unions including doctors, lawyers, teachers and students” and supported by two of the largest opposition parties, calling for the president to step down.
- In China, a hijacked bus which ploughed into pedestrians killed at least five people.
- A sudden tsunami which struck Indonesia killed at least 43 people. The death toll later rose to over 222.
- Japan will announced its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission, in a bid to revive its whaling industry.
- The parliament in Thailand voted to approve cannabis for medical use. Recreational use, however, will remain illegal. Canada formally legalised recreational marijuana earlier this year, after Uruguay did so in 2013.
- In Turkey, thousands of protestors demonstrated against “the rising cost of living and crippling inflation“.
- With the growth of the anti-vaccine movement in Europe – “fuelled by social media and anti-establishment populists” – the number of measles cases is expected to hit 60,000, the highest in 20 years.
- Ratification of the European Union-Japan trade deal created the world’s biggest free trade zone.
- For the sixth week in a row, protests in France – which have become a wider protest against President Emmanuel Macron – have persisted. At least 10 people have died in connection to these protests.
- Three people were killed in Iceland “when their jeep plunged off a bridge into a dry river bed“.
- In the United Kingdom, unauthorised drone activity in Gatwick Airport grounded planes for more than a day.
- Facing the prospect of a defeat on her Brexit deal, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May had delayed a parliamentary vote and scheduled it for next year. Preparations are also made for a no-deal scenario.
The Middle East
- A gun and suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed at least 43 people. “It was the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since a suicide bomber blew himself up in the middle of a religious gathering last month, killing at least 55 people“.
- A roadside bomb struck a tourist bus in Egypt, killing at least four people. Three of them were Vietnamese tourists.
- The explosion of a car bomb in Iraq killed three people. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria claimed responsibility.
- An attack by suicide bombers in Libya killed at least three people. “Suicide bombers have targeted a number of Libya’s vital institutions as militant groups take advantage of the chaotic political situation“.
- In Tunisia, a journalist set himself on fire over economic conditions in the country. His death has led to clashes between protestors and security forces, and has led to comparisons with the self-immolation of a street vendor in 2010 which consequently sparked a revolution and the Arab Spring uprisings across the region.
- A week after he announced that the United States was pulling troops out of Syria, President Donald Trump announced plans to pull nearly 7,000 troops out of Afghanistan over the next few months.
- For the first time in nearly forty years, the United States government shut down for the third time in a single year.
- In Guatemala, a silver project has been forced to close by a court over concerns – of harm to ancestral land and water resources – by an indigenous community. Estimates show 256 active disputes across 20 countries, especially Chile, Mexico, and Peru.
- The governor of the Mexican state of Puebla, Martha Erika Alonso Hidalgo, was killed in a helicopter crash with her husband.