Jamal Khashoggi offers remarks during POMED’s “Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia: A Deeper Look.”.Photo credit: April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy/Flickr

Oct 22: New twists in Khashoggi-gate, US-Russia relations worsen, and Singapore inks new trade deal

All news extracted from BBC

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North America

  • The US will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump has confirmed. The US insists the Russians have, in breach of the deal, developed a new medium-range missile called the the Novator 9M729 – known to Nato as the SSC-8.
  • US President Donald Trump says he is “not satisfied” with Saudi Arabia’s account of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Last Friday, Saudi Arabia for the first time admitted that Mr Khashoggi was dead, saying he was killed in a “fist fight” in its Istanbul consulate. Trump added that while sanctions were a possibility, any halt on an arms deal would “hurt us more than it would hurt them”.
  • The United States has refrained from labelling China a “currency manipulator” in a move which may help defuse escalating tension over trade between the two countries. President Trump has previously accused China of keeping its currency weak to make its exports more competitive.
  • Apple chief executive Tim Cook has called for the retraction of a story alleging Chinese infiltration in its and other major firms’ infrastructure. Bloomberg’s Businessweek published a story which said malicious chips were built into servers that had been manufactured in China.
  • US President Donald Trump has praised a Republican congressman who assaulted a journalist last year with a “body slam”, referring to him as “my guy”. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Guardian newspaper have called on Mr Trump to apologise.
  • The US justice department has opened an investigation into the Roman Catholic Church in the state of Pennsylvania over alleged child sex abuse. It follows a state grand jury report that found at least 1,000 children had been abused by over 300 “predator priests” in six dioceses over 70 years.
  • The US government has charged a Russian woman for her role in a Kremlin-backed campaign to influence the US mid-term congressional elections next month. The criminal complaint against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, was revealed by the US Department of Justice on Friday. It marks the first foreign meddling case in the forthcoming US elections.

South America

  • Thousands of people travelling across Central America en masse to the US are stuck on Mexico’s southern border after a failed attempt to enter the country. The migrants, mostly from Honduras, say they are fleeing violence and poverty, and include women and children. President Trump, who has threatened to close down the US border and cut aid to countries allowing the caravan to pass, said the military would be called upon if needed.


  • Voters in Afghanistan have defied deadly attacks to cast ballots in large numbers in the nation’s long-awaited parliamentary elections. Several explosions targeted polling stations, with dozens of people killed or injured in scores of incidents across the country. At least 10 candidates count among the casualties, which also include top police chief Gen Abdul Raziq.
  • Australia’s governing coalition has lost its one-seat parliamentary majority after a by-election in Sydney. Kerryn Phelps, a local doctor and popular independent candidate, comfortably won the Wentworth seat. Australia has had six prime ministers in eight years, and now faces further uncertainty.
  • Singapore and the European Union (EU) inked a landmark trade deal that will eliminate tariffs and give businesses across various sectors, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), better market access. The EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) took place on the sidelines of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Brussels.


  • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative sister party has suffered huge losses in Bavaria’s state election, raising new doubts about her ruling coalition. The centre-right Christian Social Union (CSU) is set to lose its absolute majority in the state parliament, which it has dominated since 1957.
  • The EU’s top court has ordered Poland to “immediately suspend” the application of its law which lowers the retirement age of Supreme Court judges. The European Court of Justice upheld the request by the European Commission and the head of Poland’s ruling party said it would comply with the decision. The Polish government has been accused of trying to appoint loyal judges.
  • Protesters seeking a referendum on the final Brexit deal have attended a rally which organisers say was the biggest demonstration of its kind. Young voters led the People’s Vote march to London’s Parliament Square, which supporters say attracted approximately 700,000 protesters.
  • The EU says it is ready to extend the proposed length of the post-Brexit transition period if the UK wants. The current plan is for a transition period of 21 months to smooth the path from Brexit to the UK and EU’s future permanent relationship. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said this arrangement could be extended “for a few months”, if needed.
  • Brexit secretary Dominic Raab has said that any agreement to allow an extended Brexit transition should be instead of – not as well as – a “backstop” to avoid the return to border checks in Ireland. The idea of the extension has angered Leave supporting MPs. Negotiators are at loggerheads over how best to avoid checks coming in on the Irish border after the UK leaves the EU.
  • Police in Turkey investigating the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have expanded their search. Unnamed Turkish officials say his body may have been disposed of in the nearby Belgrad forest or on farmland.

Middle East

  • Last Friday, Saudi Arabia for the first time admitted that Mr Khashoggi was dead, saying he was killed in a “fist fight” in its Istanbul consulate. However, Turkish officials believe Mr Khashoggi – a critic of the Saudi government – was murdered and his body dismembered.
  • Saudi authorities have arrested 18 suspects and sacked two senior officials over Khashoggi’s death – deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The move is seen by experts as an attempt to distance the Crown Prince from the affair.


  • Libya’s foreign minister says his country opposes a European Union plan to set up assessment centres for migrants outside the EU. The plan was drawn up by EU leaders in June as Italy called for more controls on migration. The plan was to break the business model of people-smuggling gangs by processing refugees and migrants outside the EU.
  • The government of Burundi has accused a prominent opposition leader of organising a plot to kill the president. In a television announcement, the security ministry said that Pierre-Celestin Ndikumana, of the main opposition coalition, had masterminded a plan for three other people to assassinate President Pierre Nkurunziza, other top officials and two members of parliament.
  • Algeria’s Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has ordered a ban on civil servants wearing niqabs (full-face veils) at work, citing reasons of identification.
  • Rights group Amnesty International has welcomed the decision by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court to outlaw a public order act that prohibits demonstration without authorisation from the police. The judges said the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) had been open to abuse by the state.
  • Cameroon’s Constitutional court has rejected 18 petitions calling for a repeat of the 7 October presidential election which opposition parties said was marred by fraud. The move will likely clear the way for President Paul Biya to be confirmed the winner and extend the 85-year-old’s 36 year reign.
  • A total of 1,147 youth have been freed from Ethiopia’s Tolay military camp after they were arrested over political violence that broke out last month, police say. They were released after completing what the authorities described as “training on the Ethiopian constitution, rule of law and on nation building,” local media reports say.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says it wants the UN Security Council to approve additional resources for the international peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo where health workers are tackling an outbreak of the Ebola virus. A total of 139 people have died in the current outbreak, which began in August.
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