issue 116:2017 08 03:Week in Brief International

03 August 2017

Week in Brief: International

UN Flag to denote International news Week In Brief International


FRANCE: Macron promised to remove migrants from the streets and to house them in cheap hotels instead.

The deradicalisation centre opened under the previous government has been closed, and the deradicalisation program judged a failure.

STX, the country’s biggest ship-building company, is to be nationalised to prevent it from being purchased by Italians.

The government passed a law banning MPs from employing members of their family as parliamentary assistants.

Wikileaks published 20,000 emails which appear to have been hacked from Emmanuel Macron’s headquarters during the presidential election campaign.

GERMANY: A Palestinian refugee armed with a knife attacked shoppers in Hamburg, killing one and injuring seven others.  He was arrested, and is suspected of having links with Islamic extremists.  An Iraqi gunman opened fire in a nightclub in Konstanz, killing one person and seriously injuring three others.  He was shot dead by police.  It is not thought that the attack was terrorist-linked.

ITALY: The police are examining claims that the Mafia is in league with Isis to smuggle oil into Europe.

RUSSIA: The Kremlin retaliated against new sanctions approved by the US Senate, by ordering the US to reduce its diplomatic staff from over 1000 to 455 by September 01, and threatening to close two US diplomatic properties in Moscow.

SPAIN: The constitutional court ruled that the Catalan regional government’s referendum for independence is illegal. Police seized documents from the Catalan parliament.  The vote is planned for 1 October.

An anarchist group called ‘Arran’ has claimed responsibility for tyre-slashing attacks on bicycles and a coach in Barcelona, as protests against tourism.  It is linked to the far-left Popular Unity Party (CUP), which has 10 MPs in the Catalan Parliament.

Middle East and Africa

IRAN: A satellite-carrying rocket was successfully launched into space.

LEBANON: A ceasefire has been agreed between Hezbollah (an Iranian-backed Shia force) and Fateh-al-Sham (a Sunni rebel group with links to al-Qaeda), with Fateh withdrawing to Idlib in Syria.

LIBYA: The head of Tripoli’s government of national unity Faiez Serraj and the Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni reached agreement to allow the Italian navy to operate in Libyan waters with Libyan coastguards, intercepting migrant craft and taking them back to shore.

Only three organisations have signed the Italian government’s new code of conduct for charities and humanitarian groups operating rescue vessels.  Five have refused to sign it.

KENYA: The head of information, communication and technology at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was found dead a week before presidential elections are due.  He had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered.  On 08 August, President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga will stand against each other for the third time.  In 2007, violence during elections left 1200 people dead.

RWANDA: In this week’s presidential elections, President Kagame is expected to win a third term.  The president has been praised for bringing stability and economic growth since 2000, but others claim that political dissent is being stifled.

SAUDI ARABIA: Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched a missile attack on Mecca, according to Saudi Arabia.  Officials in Riyadh said that the ballistic missile was fired from Sa’dah in Yemen near the Saudi border and was intercepted by air defence forces hundreds of miles away in Saudi Arabia, only 39 miles short of Mecca.  They accused Iran of supplying the weapon.

Another 15 Shia citizens have been sentenced to death, accused of spying for Iran.

A holiday resort where men and women will not be segregated and bikinis will be allowed is to be built on islands in a lagoon on the west coast.

SOMALIA: A car bomb attack in Mogadishu killed six people and wounded 20 others.

SYRIA: The battle for Raqqa continues, with half of the city liberated from Isis.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: VAT (at 5%) is to be introduced next year.  Other Gulf states are also expected to impose a tax on goods and services, as oil revenues continue to fall and the cost of the war in Yemen continues to rise.

Far East, Asia and Pacific

AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban attacked a military base in Kandahar.  40 soldiers were killed and dozens wounded, with more than 80 Taliban fighters killed (according to the defence ministry), before the attack was beaten off.

Four terrorists attacked the Iraqi embassy in Kabul.  A four-hour gun battle followed, with all four gunmen and bombers shot dead, three policemen injured and two other people killed.

Two terrorists attacked a crowded Shia mosque in Herat, near the Iranian border. At least 29 people were killed and 63 wounded.

AUSTRALIA: A counter-terrorism operation foiled an Isis-linked plot to blow up a passenger jet in flight.  At least six people have been detained.

CHINA: Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel prize winning dissident Liu Xiaobo, has disappeared, according to friends.  She has been under house arrest since 2010.

KOREA, NORTH: The military test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of hitting the US mainland. It also tested its ability to fire a missile from a submarine.

KOREA, SOUTH: The USA responded to the North’s test-firing by flying bombers over the peninsula, and by testing the THAD anti-missile shield.

PAKISTAN: Prime minister Nawaz Sharif was forced to resign by the supreme court after the investigation into corruption allegations against his family (prompted by Panama papers revelations) resulted in criminal proceedings.


USA: President Trump banned transgender people from the military.

The White House chief of staff Reince Priebus resigned.  He was replaced by John Kelly, the head of Department of Homeland Security and former general of marines.  Communications director Anthony Scaramucci resigned (after only ten days in the job and before the official start of his appointment), allegedly prompted by John Kelly insisting that only the chief of staff should have direct access to the president.

VENEZUELA: Elections for a new constitutional assembly took place.  It is thought that President Maduro intends to use the assembly to over-ride the legitimate parliament (the opposition-dominated National Assembly) and to rewrite the constitution.

Opposition parties boycotted the election, most candidates were chosen by the President, and state employees complained that they were being compelled to vote.  Turnout was low; officially 41%, but the opposition claims it was 12%.  Many polling stations were deserted.

Protests against the President, his government and the election continued, and included a 48 hour strike, in spite of a ban and the threat of up to ten years in prison.  There were at least three deaths as police broke up protests and dismantled barricades.

Forty countries (including most of the other South American countries – Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru) have refused to recognise the new assembly.  The USA froze Maduro’s assets and banned him from travelling to US; it also imposed sanctions on 13 of the president’s officials for human rights abuses, corruption and undermining democracy.  Ambassadors from the UK, Spain, France and Mexico attended a session of the national assembly (the legitimate parliament) to show support.

Two leading opposition politicians – Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez – were arrested in the middle of the night and taken to a military prison.  Both men were under house arrest, having recently been released from prison.

The new assembly is due to sit for the first time tomorrow.  Its 545 members include President Maduro’s wife and their son.


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