Issue 67: 2016 08 18: Week in Brief: International

18 August 2016

Week In Brief: International



AUSTRIA:  Nine Iraqi asylum-seekers were arrested in Vienna on suspicion of raping a German tourist on New Year’s day. A man armed with a knife seriously injured two teenagers on a train.  The attacker, who is said to have mental health problems, was arrested. FRANCE:  The mayor of Cannes has passed a bylaw which bans the wearing of the burkini – the swimsuit which covers all the body.  It has also been banned in Villeneuve-Loubet, near Nice.  The mayor of Sisco, a resort in north Corsica, has banned it following a clash (in which five people were injured and three cars destroyed) between local people and Muslim men who challenged a tourist taking a photo of a beach where their wives were bathing. GERMANY:  Mrs Merkel’s CDU party is proposing to ban the burka and dual nationality, among other counter-terrorism measures. GREECE:  The number of refugees arriving in Greece from Turkey has increased since the failed coup d’etat in Turkey. RUSSIA:  President Putin accused Ukraine of two incursions into Crimea.  Russia’s FSB security service said that a Russian FSB officer and a soldier were killed by Ukrainian special services operatives sent into Crimea for sabotage.  State TV broadcast the interrogation of a man claimed to be a captured Ukrainian military intelligence officer accused of sabotage.  The UN security council convened an emergency meeting to discuss the accusations.  Ukraine peace talks are planned for next month’s G20 summit in China. Putin dismissed the Kremlin chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, a long-standing ally and close aide. The International Paralympic Committee has banned all Russians from competing in next month’s Paralympic Games in Rio, in response to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s report on state-sponsored cheating. SWITZERLAND:  A man attacked passengers on a train with a knife and burning liquid.  A woman was killed and six others injured (two of them seriously).  The attacker died of burns.  He was a Swiss citizen and had no known connections with terrorism. UKRAINE:  President Poroshenko denied President Putin’s claims that Ukrainian special forces are trying to infiltrate saboteurs into Crimea.  He denied that the two Ukrainian captives interrogated on Russian were intelligence officers.  The Ukrainian army has been put on high alert and moved troops and weapons to the border with Crimea.

Middle East and Africa

AFGHANISTAN:  Helmand province is in danger of falling to the Taliban whose fighters have reached the capital Lashkar Gah. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO:  Seventy-five people were hacked to death near the border with Uganda, in an attack blamed on the ARD (Allied Democratic Forces) insurgent group. EGYPT: New legislation prevents the police from giving information to the media without written authority from the interior ministry.  It has been criticised as an attempt to cover high-level corruption. The IMF agreed a 3 year loan of $12 billion.  President Sisi warned of tough austerity measures ahead as the tourist industry suffers from recent terrorist attacks. IRAN:  Iran is allowing Russian heavy bombers and fighter bombers to use the Hamadan air base to launch attacks on rebels in Syria. IRAQ:  Kurdish forces began the campaign against the Isis stronghold of Mosul with the capture of eleven villages southeast of the city.  Iraq officials said that such operations will continue for the next two months in order to isolate Mosul prior to an assault on the city itself. ISRAEL:  A Palestinian stabbed a soldier at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. A dispute with Iran over a joint deal in 1968 about an oil pipeline, nationalised by Israel after the Iranian revolution of 1979, was resolved by a Swiss court in favour of Iran.  The court awarded compensation of $1.1 billion. LIBYA:  Unity government forces have taken the Ouagadougou convention centre in Sirte from Isis.  Isis retain only three bases in the besieged city.  Isis troops are fleeing south through the Sahara, but it is feared that some could be joining immigrant boats to infiltrate Italy and Europe. Italy was criticised by Libyan intelligence sources for allegedly paying Isis €13 million last March as ransom for the release of Italian engineers held hostage. NIGERIA:  The terrorist group Boko Haram released a video of about 50 girl hostages (thought to be some of those kidnapped from the secondary school in Chibok two years ago) in which the group demands that the government frees imprisoned Boko Haram members in exchange for the girls. SYRIA:  Hezbollah managed to bomb rebel positions near Aleppo by using a drone armed with small cluster bombs, the first such attack by a terror group. The Turkish foreign minister announced that Turkey will be co-operating with Russia in the fight against Isis (following the meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan last week in St Petersburg). Russia has stepped up its air attacks, operating from bases in Iran for the first time.  There were reports of chlorine attacks on rebel-held parts of Aleppo, also incendiary bombs (thermite and phosphorous). The US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (an alliance of Kurds and Arabs) have driven Isis from Manbij, a strategic town between Raqqa and the Turkish border.  The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights reported that the battle for Manbij, which lasted for more than a month, cost 1,700 lives, including 437 civilians and 300 SDF troops. A suicide bomb attack on a bus near the Turkish boarder, reportedly killing at least 32 people, has been claimed by Isis. TURKEY:  Rear-Admiral Mustafa Ugurlu has applied for asylum in the USA.  An order for his arrest was issued on July 22.  261 wanted soldiers are still on the run.  Two colonels have disappeared from the Athens embassy where they were military envoys; they are presumably in hiding. ZAMBIA:  Presidential elections took place, with President Lungu (Patriotic Front Party) challenged by Hakainde Hichilema (United Party for National Development).

Far East, Asia and Pacific

AUSTRALIA:  An online national census failed when cyber attackers hacked into the site, causing it to crash. The federal government will block Chinese investors from buying the lease of the Ausgrid electricity distribution network, amid fears for national security. CHINA:  The Lianyungang city government suspended plans to build a nuclear recycling plant (a joint project between the state-run China National Nuclear Corp and the French nuclear fuel group Areva to reprocess nuclear waste) after days of popular protests by thousands of citizens. 21 people were killed and 5 injured by an explosion at a power station in Dangyang, Hubei province. INDIA:  13 people (including five doctors) have been arrested following allegations about illegal kidney transplants at Mumbai hospital. A teenage protester and a police commander were killed in Kashmir as unrest increases in India’s only Muslim-majority state.  Pakistan disputes India’s claim to Kashmir. PHILIPPINES:  A state funeral for Ferdinand Marcos (the former president who died in exile in Hawaii 1989 – his embalmed body was returned to the Philippines in 1993 and is preserved in the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in Luzon) is planned for next month, provoking protests by victims of his martial law, who will ask the supreme court to block the burial. THAILAND:  Two bombs killed one woman and wounded at least nineteen others in the town of Hua Hin.  Five more bombs were defused.  The military government blames political opponents.  One person has been arrested.


BRAZIL:  The suspended prime minister Dilma Rousseff is to face an impeachment trial after losing the senate vote.  The trial will start August 25 August (after the Olympics), in the senate, under the president of supreme court. CANADA:  A Canadian convert to Islam was shot dead by police after detonating one of two explosive devices.  The RCMP were acting on information from the FBI. USA:  A Muslim cleric and his assistant were shot dead in Queens, New York, as they walked home from Saturday prayers.  The police have detained a man for questioning. Floods after torrential rains forced more than 20,000 people from their homes in Baton Rouge and southeast Louisiana.  At least six people have died. Riots broke out in Milwaukee after police shot dead a young man of colour who was running away from them.  Police say he was armed with a handgun. Wildfires in northern California (which is suffering a five year drought) drove thousands of people from their homes and destroyed hundreds of properties. Fifteen prisoners (twelve Yemenis and three Afghans) have been moved from Guantanamo to the UAE.  Sixty-one prisoners are still being held in Guantanamo. Donald Trump’s campaign chief Paul Manafort has been accused of being involved with secret payments from the pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine when working for them some years ago.   If you enjoyed this article please share it using the buttons above.

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