Wed. Sep 18th, 2019

President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday |Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Oct 1: Trump dishes shade at General Assembly, DPRK fights sanctions, and Europe’s political circus

North America

  • US National Security Adviser John Bolton has warned Iran’s rulers that there will be “hell to pay” if they harm the US, its citizens or allies. Bolton was speaking at the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit in New York while the United Nations General Assembly was taking place.
  • At the UNGA last week, Trump said that the US was not getting along with Canada and that he turned down a meeting with Canada PM Trudeau. The comments came as Nafta talks continue to drag on, with the US refusing to compromise on dairy tariffs.
  • Opening the UN Security Council meeting in New York last week, Trump accused China of election meddling ahead of November’s congressional midterm elections, but did not provide specifics. China’s foreign minister denounced the “unwarranted accusation”.
  • Trump has ordered an FBI investigation into Supreme Court judge nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The investigation came after members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favour of moving Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, on the condition that an investigation be opened “limited in scope and less than one week”. Judge Kavanaugh has grabbed headlines in recent weeks after being accused of sexual assault while in high school and college.

South America

  • A Chinese hospital ship has docked in Venezuela, where for the past week it has provided free health care to local patients. The Peace Ark’s visit was agreed by President Nicolás Maduro during a visit to Beijing last month, amidst an economic crisis has led to severe shortages of food and medicines and the collapse of public services.
  • The International Monetary Fund has agreed to provide a bigger, faster bailout to Argentina than initially planned in an effort to restore market confidence in the country. It will boost its 36-month financing package to $57.1bn (£43bn) from $50bn announced previously. $50bn will be available in credit through 2019.
  • Tens of thousands of women have taken to the streets in Brazil to protest against far-right presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro. A controversial figure, Bolsonaro has sparked outrage with homophobic and misogynist comments during the election trail.

Asia

  • According to a South Korean lawmaker, the number of North Korean defectors to South Korea have fallen since Kim Jong Un came into power seven years ago. Last year, there had been 1,127 defections, compared with 2,706 in 2011. Tighter border controls between North Korea and China and higher rates charged by people smugglers have been cited as key factors.
  • North Korea’s foreign minister has warned that there is “no way” his country will disarm while the US continues to enforce sanctions. Ri Yong-ho told the UN General Assembly the sanctions were deepening North Korean mistrust of the US.

Europe

  • Sweden’s centre-left prime minister, Stefan Lofven, has been voted out of power after losing support from MPs. The ousting came weeks after a general election that delivered a hung parliament. It is an unprecedented moment in Swedish politics, and with all sides unwilling to compromise forming government will be an uphill task.
  • The Italian government has passed a decree which will make it easier to deport migrants and strip them of Italian citizenship. Migrants could now be expelled if they are found guilty of serious crimes such as rape and assault, when previously this was only possible at the end of a lengthy appeals process.
  • Poland has been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over a rule which forced almost a third of the country’s top judges out of office. Retirement age for Supreme Court judges has been lowered to 65, in what opponents say is a ploy to appoint more favourable replacements. Over the past year, Poland has been in the middle of an ongoing feud with the EU over its alleged undermining of judicial independence.
  • Dutch police arrested seven men on suspicion of planning a major attack. They have also seized bomb-making materials including 100kg (220lb) of chemical fertiliser. The arrests have been linked with jihadist attempts to attack Europe.
  • Barcelona. Protesters for and against the independence movement have clashed in the Catalan capital, just days before the one year anniversary of an independence vote that was overruled by Spanish courts.
  • The EU has warned Italy’s populist government against ambitious spending plans. Italy, which has the highest debt in the EU after Greece, announced last week its plans of setting the budget deficit at 2.4% of GDP. Markets reacted badly, with Italian stocks falling almost 4% on Friday, while the euro slipped below $1.16 for the first time in two weeks.

Middle East

  • Russia is to send new anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, two weeks after Syrian forces accidentally shot down a Russian aircraft during an Israeli air strike. Israel, which insisted Syria’s military was to blame, warned that giving the S-300 to “irresponsible actors” would make the region more dangerous.
  • The US has decided to close its consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, blaming increasing threats from Iran and Iranian backed forces. Earlier this month, protesters in Basra set alight government and political buildings in anger at poor infrastructure and unemployment.

Africa

  • Ethiopia detains 1,200 after deadly Addis Ababa clashes two weeks ago. At least 28 people died in clashes near the capital, Addis Ababa, following the return of exiled leaders of a former rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) on 15 September.
  • Hundreds have joined protests in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, in anger at the disappearance of more than $100m-worth (£76m) of newly printed bank notes intended for the central bank. As Liberia lacks its own mint, the country outsources the job to private specialist firms overseas.
  • South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has ordered the release of all prisoners of war and political detainees. The move is part of a peace agreement signed last month with the rebel leader Riek Machar.
  • The speaker of Kenya’s Senate Ken Lusaka said some senators had wanted to travel to Tokyo for the women’s World Volleyball Championships, but he did not approve the 14-day tax-payer-funded trip because there was no money.
  • Nigeria’s information ministry has embarked on a campaign to “sensitise” people to fake news and hate speech on social media to ensure it is not used to incite violence in the run-up to elections next year.
  • A gay teacher at a top Zimbabwean boys’ school who came out last week has resigned after death threats and pressure from parents. Neal Hovelmeier, who is the deputy head for St John’s College’s sixth form, has been threatened with legal action by parents in a country where homosexual acts are illegal.

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The IAS Gazette is a news site run by undergraduates from the Singapore Institute of Management’s International Affairs Society (IAS). Founded in 2018, it traces its roots to The Capital, a now defunct bimonthly magazine previously under the IAS.

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