Issue 111:2017 06 29: Week in Brief International

29 June 2017



EU:  The European Commission fined Google €2.42 billion for taking advantage of its dominant position in promoting shopping options.

GERMANY:  Martin Schultz, leader of Social Democrats and Ms Merkel’s main rival for Chancellor in this September’s elections, has pledged to push for the creation of a United States of Europe.  Chancellor Merkel dropped her party’s opposition to gay marriage.

Members of President Erdogan of Turkey’s security guard have been refused entry for next week’s G20 meeting in Hamburg. They are suspected of violent behaviour in Washington in May; the US authorities have issued arrest warrants for 12 of them (9 security guards and 3 police officers).

GREECE:  More than 400 refugees arrived from Turkey in two days, raising fears that the migrant-managing arrangement between Ankara and the EU is breaking down.

ITALY:  Virginia Raggi, the Five Star Movement mayor of Rome, must answer allegations of abuse of office and making false statements, following the conclusion of prosecutors’ investigations into the claims against her.

The right-wing coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party won mayoral elections in Genoa, Verona, L’Aquila and Sesto San Giovanni.  The results are a blow to Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party’s hopes for next May’s general election.

Two failed banks were saved by the government with a €17 billion rescue package, even though recent EU law says that bail-outs should be funded by the investors rather than by tax-payers.

RUSSIA:  The central election commission barred Alexander Navalny from standing in next year’s presidential election because of his criminal record – he was convicted of fraud earlier this year, a conviction which he claims was fabricated in order to prevent him from running for office.  He insists that the constitution only bars people who are in prison – he was given a fine and a suspended sentence.

A campaign manager for the Barnaul branch of Mr Navalny’s movement was wounded in the arm in a knife attack, and the headquarters was set alight.  Mr Navalny had antiseptic thrown in his face when visiting Barnaul three months ago.

UKRAINE:  A military intelligence colonel was killed by a bomb attack on his car in Kiev.  Officials suspect the involvement of Russian security services.

Middle East and Africa

EGYPT: The airforce attacked and destroyed a convoy of twelve vehicles trying to bring arms and explosives across the border from Libya.

GAZA:  The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has cut medical supplies and salaries (as well as power) to Gaza, in what is believed to be a conflict between the PA’s governing Fatah party and the militant group Hamas which took control of Gaza in 2007.

Three Hamas leaders announced they would be willing to sign a long-term truce with Israel if Israel lifted its blockade.  Members of the Israeli government announced support for a $5 million project to build a sea-port for Gaza.

IRAQ:  Isis destroyed the Grand al-Nuri mosque in Mosul just before being driven out of it by Iraqi forces.  Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called it “a formal declaration of their defeat”.  Isis is still fighting back, however.  It launched a counter-attack on an already-liberated area of west Mosul.

ISRAEL:  Syrian troops launched mortar attacks on the Golan Heights.  Israel retaliated with an airstrike which killed two Syrian soldiers and destroyed their tanks.  Syrian forces opened fire on a United Nations post inside Israel.

QATAR:  Kuwait, on behalf of Gulf-Co-operation Council, sent a list of 13 demands (anti-Islamist, anti-Iran) to be met within 10 days.  One of the demands is the closing of Turkey’s military base.  President Erdogan denounced the demands as ‘illegal’ and confirmed his support for Qatar, promising to send 1000 troops to Qatar for joint military exercises.  Turkey continues to send food and supplies to Qatar.  President Rouhani of Iran called for closer ties with Qatar.

SAUDI ARABIA:  The king’s nephew Prince Mohammad bin Nayef has been ousted as security chief and crown prince.  He is 57 years old and has long experience of fighting terror, particularly al-Qaeda.  The king’s son Mohammad bin Salman, previously deputy crown prince, replaces him as crown prince.  He is 31 years old and has been the force behind many of the country’s recent modernisation initiatives, including Saudi’s involvement in the Yemen war, the diversification of its economy, and the relaxation of some social restrictions.

Security forces foiled a terrorist attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca. A suspect blew himself up as security forces closed in on him.

SOUTH AFRICA:  The chief justice and the highest court said that any vote of no confidence in the president should be undertaken as a secret ballot, to avoid intimidation and fear.

SYRIA:  The Pentagon reported activity at a regime airbase which suggested that Assad’s forces were preparing a chemical attack on their enemies.  The US warned that it would take punitive action following any such attack.  The statement was backed by Britain and France.

Far East, Asia and Pacific

CHINA:  A huge landslide hit a village in Sichuan, south west China.  At least 10 people have died and another 90 people are missing.

Liu Xiaobo, the professor of literature who won the Nobel peace prize in 2010 for promoting human rights in China, was released from prison on medical parole because he has liver cancer. He was jailed in 2009 for subversion after he called for greater democracy in China.

Beijing made a formal complaint to India, accusing Indian border guards of crossing into Tibet.

KOREA, SOUTH:  Former president Park Geun-hye’s advisor and friend Choi Soon-sil was sentenced to three years in prison for using her influence to obtain a university place for her daughter.  She is facing other charges of corruption and abuse of power.

President Moon Jae-in offered North Korea the chance to co-host next year’s winter Olympics. Pyongyang rejected the offer.

PAKISTAN:  The two Chinese teachers kidnapped by Isis last month were killed and beheaded.  Pakistani commandos fought a five day battle underground to seize the cave where they were being held, but the captors escaped with their hostages.

Terrorist bomb attacks killed more than 80 people and injure more than 200 in Quetta (the attack was blamed on Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a group linked to the Taliban) and Parachinar (the attack was blamed on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a group linked to linked to al-Qaeda and Isis). Pakistan and Afghanistan blame each other for harbouring cross-border terrorists.

More than 150 people were killed and over 100 injured when a crashed oil tanker, surrounded by a crowd trying to help themselves to its leaking oil, burst into flames.

The daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was summoned to appear before the six-man panel investigating corruption allegations against the Sharif family.


ARGENTINA:  Former president Cristina Kirchner will stand for a congressional seat in this October’s elections.  She is facing charges of corruption.  A seat in Congress would give her immunity from prosecution.

BRAZIL:  President Temer has been charged with accepting bribes from JBS, the world’s biggest meat-packing business.

COLOMBIA:  Farc rebels handed over their weapons to the UN.  Disarmament is part of the peace deal with the government.

USA:  A police officer was stabbed by a suspected Islamic militant at the airport in Flint, Michigan.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, met President Trump at the White House.

The Bill Cosby trial, in which he was accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women, has ended with a hung jury.  A retrial is planned within the next four months.

The Republican candidate won a by-election in Atlanta for a seat in the House of Representatives.

The Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak was recalled to Moscow.

The Supreme Court upheld key parts of Trump’s travel-ban executive order.


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