Issue 68: 2016 08 25: Week in Brief: International

25 August 2016

Week in Brief: International

UN Flag to denote International news


FRANCE: More Mediterranean and Channel resorts have banned the burkini.  In Nice, four women have already been fined for being insufficiently naked in public, and six others have left the beach after being warned to show more flesh. Prime minister Manuel Valls has supported the bylaws.

Mr Hollande’s ex-economy minister Arnaud Montebourg announced that he will be standing against him for the leadership of the Socialist party this year and for the presidency next year, on a protectionist, anti-EU, anti-austerity, left wing platform.

Nicolas Sarkozy, leader of the Republican party and ex-president, announced that he will be running for the presidency in next year’s elections. He will first face 11 other candidates for the party leadership in a primary this autumn.

GERMANY: The newspaper Die Welt reported on confidential documents claiming that the Turkey’s national intelligence agency, MIT, has set up a huge network of agents inside Germany to spy on Turks living and working there.

GREECE: Twelve municipalities banned blood donations to halt the return of malaria to Greece.  It was eradicated in the 1970s, but 65 cases have been recorded this year.

RUSSIA: A court has sent a Crimean Tatar and former vice-premier of Crimea, Ilmi Umerov, to a psychiatric hospital after he criticised the Russian takeover of Crimea as illegal.

President Putin announced plans for Kremlin-hosted peace talks between Israel, Palestine and Egypt.

The Kremlin has made a request to Turkey for the use of the US/Nato airforce base at Incirlik to launch strikes into Syria.

Officials banned any celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the failed coup of 1991 (when pro-democracy protestors led by Boris Yeltsin defeated an attempt by KGB-backed hardline communists to overthrow the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev).

Isis claimed responsibility for an attack on a traffic police post outside Moscow by two axe-wielding Chechens, who were shot dead by the police.

SPAIN: Acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party is trying to form a coalition government with the centrist Citizens party.  However, the Citizens party insists on anti-corruption measures and constitutional reforms which the PP will find hard to accommodate (five members of the PP’s executive committee are being investigated over allegations of corruption).

Middle East and Africa

DJIBOUTI: The naval facility which China is building in Djibouti, east Africa, is thought to be its first overseas military base.  Other counties in the area are concerned that commercial facilities (known as ‘the string of pearls’) recently built by China around the Indian Ocean could also become military bases.

IRAQ: An Isis suicide bomber, thought to be a young boy, attacked a mosque in Kirkuk.  Two people were wounded.  Soon afterwards, police arrested and disarmed another boy about to launch a suicide attack.

LIBYA: The parliament based in Tobruk, eastern Libya, voted to reject the UN-backed government of national accord (established in Tripoli, western Libya, earlier this year), and declared it illegal.

MALI: A jihadist leader has gone on trial in the International Criminal Court in the Hague for ordering the destruction of shrines, mausoleums, libraries and mosques in Timbuktu, a UNESCO world heritage site.  He is the first person to be charged with cultural destruction as a war crime. He has pleaded guilty.

NIGERIA: The army claimed to have killed and wounded Boko Haram leaders in an intense air-attack on the group’s base in Borno state.

SOMALIA: Two al-Shabaab suicide-bomb attacks, on a government building and on a marketplace, killed at least 17 people and wounded 30 others in the town of Galkayo.

SOUTH AFRICA: Following the recent municipal elections, the opposition Democratic Party candidate Herman Mashaba became mayor of Johannesburg, ousting the ANC mayor with the help of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters party.  Mr Mashaba vowed to fight corruption and increase civil service efficiency in the city.

SOUTH SUDAN: The UN has begun an investigation into an attack by South Sudanese soldiers on foreign civilians in the Terrain Hotel complex in Juba, during which journalists and aid workers were beaten, raped and shot. UN peacekeepers based less than a mile away failed to intervene.

SYRIA: Turkey has launched a cross-border artillery attack on the Isis-held town of Jarablus in Syria, in preparation for an attack by Turkish-backed Syrian Arab rebels. Turkey is keen to pre-empt further Kurdish gains in the area; Kurdish forces are also advancing on Jarablus, having recently taken the town of Manjib from Isis. The Assad regime is also keen to prevent further Kurdish gains, and is fighting Kurdish forces in Hasaka.

A German interior ministry security/intelligence report claimed that Turkey is covertly supporting Islamist militant groups in Syria and elsewhere.

Human rights groups have estimated that Russian forces have been responsible for more civilian deaths in Syria than Isis has.

See comment Which War, Mr Smith?

TURKEY: A suicide bomber killed at least 51 people and wounded 69 others in an attack on a Kurdish wedding party in Gaziantep, southern Turkey. The attacker is believed to have been a boy of 12 or 14 recruited by Isis.  Gaziantep is not far from the Syrian border and has a population of about 350,000 Syrian refugees.

11 people were killed and 220 wounded when three car-bomb attacks hit two police stations and a military vehicle.  Kurdish militants are suspected.

Prime minister Binali Yildirim criticised the EU, accusing it of failing to implement its side of the agreement about cross-Aegean migration.  The number of migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey since the attempted coup continues to rise.

Far East, Asia and Pacific

AUSTRALIA: Australia is to close its Manus Island migrant camp in Papua New Guinea, after that country’s supreme court ruled that the detentions were illegal.

HONG KONG: A thousand demonstrators rallied to protest when six candidates were disqualified from elections.

INDIA: The National Institute of Immunology has developed the world’s first vaccine against leprosy.  Trials will begin in five districts.  Over 200,000 new cases of leprosy are reported each year around the world, over half of them in India.

KOREA, NORTH: The Atomic Energy Institute claimed that it has restarted plutonium production for weapons development.  South Korea and the US criticised the activity as illegal.

PHILIPPINES: President Duterte threatened to leave the UN after it criticised his apparent endorsement of extra-judicial killings in the war on drugs.


USA: Mr Trump’s aide Paul Manafort resigned. A new advisor, Stephen Bannon, was brought in as campaign chief, and a new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was appointed.

Further e-mails allegedly show that donors to the Clinton Foundation sought favours from the State Department.

A state of emergency was declared in California as wildfires sweep through southern parts of the drought-stricken state.  Over 82,000 people have been evacuated.

VENEZUELA: Over 2000 people every hour are crossing the border into Colombia to buy food.  Many of them (35,000 last week) do not return, driven into exile by inflation, food shortages and rampant crime in Venezuela.

President Maduro has ordered civil servants who voted against him to resign or be sacked.


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