27 October 2016
Week in Brief: International
FRANCE: The authorities have cleared the ‘jungle’ – the unofficial migrant camp outside Calais. Migrants have been registered and moved to official centres around France.
ITALY: Some Italian naval officers are under investigation for suspected culpable homicide over an incident in 2013 in which 268 migrants drowned when their ship sank in Maltese territorial waters. Italian navy ships have rescued more migrants than all the other European navies put together.
MALTA: A plane crash at Malta International airport killed five people.
MONTENEGRO: Milo Djukanovic’s governing Democratic Party of Socialists won last week’s elections, but without a majority (36 seats out of 81). His party is pro-Western and wants to join EU and Nato. Other parties are pro-Russia.
RUSSIA: Details of Russia’s upgraded intercontinental ballistic missile were published. The new Sarmat RS-28 missile will replace the R-36 missile. Moscow claims it can carry up to 16 warheads and overcome any missile defence system.
Two nuclear-capable Russian warships are heading unannounced through the North Sea to the Baltic.
SPAIN: The constitutional court overturned the ban on bullfighting in Catalonia. The Catalan regional parliament voted to abolish bullfighting in 2010. The issue reflects the conflict between Madrid and Catalan separatists.
The way is clear for the Popular Party to form a minority government, after the Socialist party voted to abstain from votes of no confidence, thus avoiding a third general election in one year.
The regional parliaments of the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Menorca and Majorca) are voting not to put the clocks back this year, but to remain with summertime, to make the most of the hours of sunlight.
Middle East and Africa
BURUNDI: Burundi has withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the first country to do so.
EGYPT: A shortage of basic foods such as sugar is highlighting the dire state of Egypt’s economy. The tourist industry has collapsed, inflation is at a seven-year high, and the government is cutting subsidies and introducing austerity measures to secure a $12 billion loan from the IMF.
IRAQ: The advance on Mosul continues, with Iraqi and Kurdish forces (supported by western warplanes and special forces) taking nearby towns such as Bartella and Badhiqa. Isis is retaliating with suicide attacks, mortar-fire and booby-trapped explosive devices (IEDs). Isis has set sulphur stocks alight at the al-Mishraq chemical plant south of Mosul. There are reports that Isis leaders are fleeing the city.
Isis launched a suicide assault on the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk.
Parliament passed new law banning the import, production and sale of alcoholic drinks. Christian MPs protested.
LIBYA: There are reports that coastguards in west Libya have attacked migrants and European rescue ships. The coastguards are made up of different groups operating under the Government of National Accord.
NIGERIA: An attack, thought to be by Boko Haram, on an army base near the Niger border resulted in many soldiers missing, wounded and killed. Anonymous military sources said the soldiers were too ill-equipped to fight, and that 83 are missing.
SAUDI ARABIA: The civil service minister warned that the country would be bankrupt in three or four years time without further austerity measures.
SOMALIA: 26 merchant seamen, captured by Somali pirates almost five years ago, were released. They were the last of the seamen kidnapped during the Somali pirate crisis of 2005-12 to be released. See comment All At Sea.
SOUTH AFRICA: The ANC government has withdrawn South Africa from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, following Burundi’s lead.
SYRIA: There is a lull in air attacks by Russian and Syrian planes while regime ground troops begin an advance in Aleppo by attacking along four fronts, following last week’s eight-hour ceasefire.
Clashes between the Arabic FSA (Free Syrian Army) and the Kurdish SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), both backed by the West in the struggle against Assad and Isis, resulted in Turkish airstrikes against the SDF which killed dozens of Kurdish soldiers.
Rebels surrendered Moadamiya, an enclave outside Damascus.
YEMEN: The 72 hour ceasefire, to enable humanitarian aid, was followed by the resumption of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition.
There are reports that Iran has significantly increased the supply of weapons and military aid to the Houthi rebels.
Far East, Asia and Pacific
AFGHANISTAN: Opium production has soared, with this year’s harvest seeing an increase of 43%, according to the UN. The Taliban encourages and profits from its cultivation.
CHINA: The campaign against high-ranking corruption continues with Wei Pengyuan, an official found with £25 million in bank notes hidden under his bed, given a suspended death sentence.
INDIA: The zoo in New Delhi has been closed, following an outbreak of bird-flu there.
PAKISTAN: Three heavily-armed militants attacked the Balochistan police college in Quetta, near the Afghan border, and took hundreds of cadets hostage. A four-hour battle with special forces troops resulted in 61 deaths and 120 wounded. Two of the militants blew themselves up, the third was shot dead. Isis and the group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed joint responsibility.
PHILIPPINES: President Duterte threatened to cancel the EDCA, the agreement which gives the USA military access to naval bases in the Philippines. His comments preceded a visit to Japan where he is to meet Emperor Akihito and prime minister Shinzo Abe.
ARGENTINA: The rape and murder of a 16 year old girl in Mar del Plata has prompted tens of thousands of demonstrators across South America to march in protest against violence towards women.
BRAZIL: Eduardo Cunha, who was behind the impeachment of President Rousseff when he was speaker of parliament, was arrested on charges of bribery and corruption, as part of Operation Car Wash, the investigation into the state-controlled oil company Petrobas.
The head of the Senate police services and three officers were arrested and charged with obstructing investigations against certain senators.
USA: In the third and final presidential debate, Hilary Clinton was widely judged to have performed better than Donald Trump. See comment Bad For Business.
VENEZUELA: The recall referendum about President Maduro’s future has been cancelled by a court. The opposition has questioned the impartiality of the court, claiming that it was influenced by the President’s governing United Socialist Party.
Pope Francis offered to mediate between the government and the opposition, after a meeting with President Maduro at the Vatican.
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