13 July 2017
Week in Brief: International
CYPRUS: Negotiations between Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus for reunification have collapsed. Greek Cyprus will begin drilling for natural gas off its coast, a move which is likely to increase tension with Turkey.
FRANCE:Macron’s labour minister Muriel Penicaud is facing a criminal inquiry about an outing to Las Vegas Consumer Electrics show she arranged for journalist and business people in 2016, when M Macron was economics minister. Allegations assert that the job of organising it was given to PR agency Havas without going to tender.
GERMANY: The G20 meeting took place in Hamburg. It was marred by violent protests, including rioting and looting and clashes with the police. 100,000 protesters (including an estimated 8,000 extremists) gathered from all over Europe. Nearly 500 police officers were injured, and over 400 people were arrested. The meeting saw little political progress among the gathered leaders. President Trump met President Putin, and discussed cyber-security and Syrian peace plans.
GREECE: A national lottery with monthly prizes totalling one million euros is to be launched for shoppers paying with credit or debit cards, in the government’s latest attempt to discourage the use of cash and so make tax evasion more difficult.
ITALY: Plans to open 6 more centres for processing migrants and asylum seekers were announced. There are only 4 such centres at the moment.
The Five Star Movement blocked a proposal to strengthen the country’s 1952 anti-fascist laws.
POLAND: President Trump visited Warsaw and delivered a speech speech about the West’s future, and committed the USA to Nato’s article 5 about collective defence.
SPAIN: 14 people were arrested in Barcelona as part of an international police operation against the Camorra, the Neapolitan crime group. 8 arrests were made in Italy and 2 in Germany.
RUSSIA: Opposition leader Alexander Navlny was released after 25 days in detention following his arrest for organising anti-Putin protests. Police raided the offices of his anti-corruption foundation in Yekaterinburg, Kazan and seven other regions.
Middle East and Africa
IRAQ: The government declared victory over Isis in the battle for Mosul.
LIBYA: General Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the forces of the Tobruk parliament which governs eastern Libya, declared victory against jihadist militias in the three year struggle to drive them out of Benghazi, Libya’s second city. Some sources say he will continue to Sirte, which would risk conflict with the government in western Libya.
QATAR: The deadlock between Qatar and the neighbouring Gulf states continues. Qatar remains defiant. US defence secretary James Mattis publicly renewed the US’s security relations with Qatar. US secretary of state Rex Tillerson visited Kuwaut to help mediation attempts, and put together a joint US/Qatar anti-terrorism agreement. Boris Johnson visited the region and called for a de-escalation in the confrontation. The French company Total committed to joint projects with Qatar Petroleum.
SAUDI ARABIA: A man convicted of breaking cybercrime laws when he was 16 has been sentenced to death. The charges included spreading information via WhatsApp. The conviction has raised concerns that such laws are being used against political activists and are leading to human rights abuses.
SYRIA: Israel took part in talks in Jordan with the US and Russia, hoping for a buffer zone in Syria along the Israeli border to be kept free of Hezbollah and Iran-backed militias. Israel is already supplying the rebel group Brigade of Goln Knights there, to discourage the presence of groups hostile to Israel.
A ceasefire in the south west, near the borders with Jordan and Israel, was brokered by the USA and Russia. Opposition groups accused regime forces of breaking the ceasefire with attacks on the Free Syrian Army in the region; the regime claim that the attacks were against Isis forces.
TURKEY: Police raided a conference in Istanbul and arrested the director of Amnesty International’s office in Turkey, who has since been detained incommunicado, his whereabouts unknown. Amnesty’s chairman in Turkey was arrested last month.
Up to 2 million protesters joined Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), as he entered Istanbul at the end of his 250 mile March For Justice. He set out from Ankara on June 15, walking to protest against the 25 year prison sentence given to CHP MP Enis Berberoglu.
Far East, Asia and Pacific
INDIA: A gunman firing at police in Indian-controlled Kashmir hit a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims, killing 7 and wounding another 19. The authorities blamed separatist rebels.
PAKISTAN: The military accused the Indian army of firing shells across the Line of Control into Pakistan-administered Kashmir and killing 5 civilians.
The committee investigating corruption claims against the family of prime minister Nawaz Sharif submitted its report to the supreme court. Its findings were leaked, and the prime minister’s family are accused of lying and submitting false documents.
CHINA: The government ordered state-run internet providers to block the use of VPNs (virtual private networks). Many internet users in China use VPNs to access blocked content.
USA: Donald Trump Jnr (the president’s son) admitted meeting a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer during the presidential election campaign. The lawyer is said to have had damaging information about Hilary Clinton.
President Trump dropped the idea of a US-Russia joint cyber-security commission (proposed by and discussed with Putin in Hamburg) after it attracted cross-party derision in Washington.
VENEZUELA: Dozens of pro-Maduro activists wearing red and brandishing clubs stormed parliament, set off fireworks and injured an MP.
At least 123 members of armed forces have been arrested since protests began in April, according to a recently-released report.
The supreme court released opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez from prison to house arrest. He has served over three years of a 14 year sentence following his arrest after protests in 2014. Amnesty International regards him as a political prisoner.
Elections for the President’s new assembly to rewrite the constitution will be held on July 30. The parliament and opposition will boycott the election, but all state workers have been told that they must vote.
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