Issue 71:2016 09 15:Week in Brief International

15 September 2016

Week in Brief: International



EU:  Leaders of the “Club Med” EU nations – France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus – met in Athens to prepare for next week’s EU summit in Bratislava.  They are expected to call for a relaxation of the EU’s public spending rules. The Visegard Group – a block of the eastern members Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – is expected to propose a return of more power from Brussels to national governments.

The foreign minister of Luxembourg called for EU action against Hungary for building an anti-immigrant wall across it border with the Balkans.  Hungary holds a referendum later this month about EU quotas for relocating refugees.

FRANCE: Three people were arrested on suspicion of a terrorist plot after an abandoned car containing four propane gas cylinders and three bottles of diesel was found in central Paris.  Two of the three – all women – attacked police officers with knives as they were arrested; one of the two was shot and wounded by the police.  A 15 year old boy has also been arrested.

GERMANY: A 95 year old man, Hubert Zafke, has gone on trial in Neubrandenburg, accused of being an SS worker at Auschwitz death camp in 1944.

Police arrested three asylum seekers suspected of being Islamist militants with links to the perpetrators of last November’s Paris attacks.

RUSSIA: The Kremlin is arranging for peace talks to take place between President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and President Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel in Moscow.

Documents alleging that Abbas was a KGB agent in Damascus have just been revealed; they were uncovered by a Russian archivist in 1991.

President Putin announced support for China’s refusal to acknowledge the recent judgement of the international tribunal at the Hague, which rejected China’s claims to disputed land and water in the South China Seas.  Ships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet are taking part in joint naval exercises with China in the South China Seas.

An anti-corruption official was arrested when police found 15 million roubles in his car and more than $120 million in an unoccupied apartment belonging to his sister.  Dmitri Zakharchenko, deputy head of the interior ministry’s central directorate for economic security and anti-corruption, was unable to explain where the cash came from.

The impact of sanctions and the fall in the price of oil are having a serious effect on the Russian reserves.  Economists in Moscow have warned that the national reserves will be exhausted by the end of 2016 unless the price of oil rises.

SPAIN: A train crash in north eastern Spain killed at least four people and injured at least 50 others.

Middle East and Africa

IRAQ: Two car bombs killed at least 10 people and injured at least 25 others at a shopping centre in Baghdad.

US and French forces are gathering to support an Iraq and Kurdish alliance in the forth-coming assault on Isis in Mosul.

IRAN: Iran is boycotting this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca, following last year’s stampede at the hadj, in which thousands died.  Iran and Saudi Arabia are political and religious rivals.

The Revolutionary Guards have complained that two Iranian banks are refusing to handle financial transactions.  They have said that a large construction company, which is on a US Treasury sanctions list, has been refused banking facilities.  The banks’ attitude has been called “self- sanctioning”. The banks may have taken this decision so that they can comply with international money laundering regulations with a view to re-joining the international banking system.

A British-based charity worker with British and Iranian citizenship has been sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Tehran. The charges against her are unknown.  Nazinin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested last April.

ISRAEL: Israel will build an underground wall along the border with Gaza to stop militants tunnelling into Israel.

LIBYA: Forces loyal to the Tobruk parliament in eastern Libya seized three oil ports from forces loyal to the UN-backed government of national accord.

SOUTH AFRICA: Seven illegal goldminers died, and others are trapped, in a disused mine.

SYRIA: US secretary of state John Kerry announced a USA/Russia agreement for a ceasefire in Syria, following a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.  The ceasefire began last Monday, the first day of Eid, and has so far held, with some infringements reported on either side.  If it lasts more than a week, the US and Russia will take part in joint operations in Syria against Isis and al-Qaeda and any groups affiliated with them. See comment The Syrian Ceasefire.

TURKEY: A car bomb attack on the governing AK party’s offices in Istanbul injured 19 people, including two policemen.  Officials suspect the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) of being responsible.

Far East, Asia and Pacific

AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban have driven government forces from most of the city of Tarin Kot, capital of the central Uruzgan province.  Two other provincial capitals – Lashkar Gar and Kunduz – are also being attacked by the Taliban.

BANGLADESH: A fire in a food and cigarette packaging factory killed at least 26 people and injured dozens more.

INDIA: A man was sentenced to death for a fatal acid attack on a woman.  More than 300 acid attacks were reported in India last year.

“Cow vigilantes”, violent Hindu gangs who punish Muslims for eating or selling beef, have been accused of rape and murder.

KOREA, NORTH: Pyongyang tested a nuclear weapon in an underground detonation. It claimed that the test proves that it now has a nuclear weapon small enough to be carried on a ballistic missile.  Two US bombers subsequently joined South Korean fighter jets for a fly-over to show US/South Korean solidarity.

133 people are dead, 400 are missing, 35,000 homes have been destroyed and over 100,000 people are homeless after the worst floods in 70 years hit the north east of the country, according to the UN.

PAKISTAN: The new mayor of Karachi, Waseem Akhtar, won the mayoral election from inside prison, where he has been held for the last two months since being arrested on charges of links to terrorism and incitement to rioting.

PHILIPPINES: The government published images alleging that China is beginning to build on Scarborough Shoal, in the contested waters of the South China Seas, in defiance of the recent judgement of the international tribunal at the Hague.  Scarborough Shoal is less than 150 miles from the Philippines.

President Duterte called for the withdrawal of US special forces troops from the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, where they are helping the Philippine army to fight Islamist militants.


BRAZIL: The Paralympic Games are underway in Rio de Janeiro.

Eduardo Cunha, the former Speaker of Congress who was instrumental in launching impeachment proceedings against ex-President Rousseff, has been voted out of Congress and has lost his immunity from prosecution.  Congress voted against him by 450 (with only 10 for him), to find that he had deceived a committee investigating allegations that he kept money from bribes in a Swiss bank account.

USA: Congress has approved a bill allowing victims of 9/11 to sue the Saudi Arabian government.  It was passed unanimously by the Senate in May; it should pass through the House of Representatives this week.  The bill, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, does not specifically mention Saudi Arabia.  It could still be vetoed by President Obama, as damaging to US/Saudi relations.

Hillary Clinton was taken ill during the 9/11 commemorations.  It was reported that she was suffering from pneumonia. See feature In Sickness and Aleppo.

Uber is to launch a fleet of driverless taxis in Pittsburg. Each taxi will initially have two humans ready to take control if necessary.

VENEZUELA: Three-quarters of the police have deserted, according to a study by the National Assembly.  The police are poorly paid.  More than 300 officers were murdered last year.

If you enjoyed this article please share it using the buttons above.

Please click here if you would like a weekly email on publication of the Shaw Sheet

Follow the Shaw Sheet on

It's FREE!

Already get the weekly email?  Please tell your friends what you like best. Just click the X at the top right and use the social media buttons found on every page.

New to our News?

Click to help keep Shaw Sheet free by signing up.Large 600x271 stamp prompting the reader to join the subscription list