Sun. Oct 13th, 2019

US national security adviser John Bolton leaves the White House | White House Photo by Tia Dufour

Another top aide quits White House, Duterte kowtows to China, and Netanyahu vows to annex the West Bank

North America & Canada

  • National security advisor of the United States, John Bolton, has resigned from his post last week following significant foreign policy disagreements with President Trump. Trump has suggested that he has an idea of who he wants to appoint as Bolton’s replacement, but has yet to make any official decision. Trump will announce his choice this week.
  • U.S. Supreme court rules that Trump may enforce his rule that immigrants entering through the southern border who wish to apply for asylum in the US must first seek safe haven in the countries they travel through.
  • Following the cancellation of peace talks with the Taliban, Trump has ordered for new assaults to be carried out on the Taliban.
  • Canadian government-general Julie Payette dissolved parliament last week, on the advice of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Canadian elections will take place on October 21.
  • Montreal’s Pride Parade unregistered and expelled Free HK MTL, a group supporting the Hong Kong protests, following unspecified threats.

 

Latin America

  • Twitter has suspended several accounts run by the Cuban government after President Miguel Díaz-Canel made a televised statement about potential fuel shortages. While it did not specify which rules had been broken, Twitter alleged the accounts were artificially amplifying or disrupting conversations by using multiple accounts. The suspensions have since been denounced by the Cuban government, but it received mixed responses from both Cubans and independent journalists.
  • Amnesty International publishes an open letter to Bolivian President Evo Morales; asking for the suspension of his decree allowing controlled burning in parts of the Amazon rainforest.

 

Asia

  • Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will ignore the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling affirming Filipino claims on parts of the South China Sea and pursue an oil deal with China instead. His Vice President and leader of the opposition, Leni Robredo, has criticised this move as reckless, saying that entering any deal should not come at the expense of the country’s rights.
  • Former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie died in Jakarta last Wednesday. Southeast Asian leaders offered condolences to his family, with Singaporean President Halimah Yacob saying he was steadfast in his service to his countrymen. Former Timorese President Xanana Gusmao sent a wreath expressing sympathy for the “loss of Big Brother President” Habibie, and that he would be remembered by Timorese forever. He was buried at Kalibata Heroes Cemetery where national heroes such as Ali Alatas and Benjamin Moerdani were also buried.
  • Demonstrations continue in Hong Kong, both by pro-China groups and anti-government groups. Two groups clashed in Kowloon last Saturday, and police had to step in to break up the fight. Police have also begun guarding MTR stations after multiple incidents involving the destruction of property by protesters.
  • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposes a new bill aimed to cut housing prices, including a vacancy tax.
  • UN Human Rights chief Bachelet expressed deep concerns over the human rights of Kashmiris as the Indian military lockdown and communications blackout complete 36 days in the disputed region.
  • Fearing a genocide in Kashmir, Pakistani foreign minister Qureshi demanded that the UN investigate the issue. In response, India stated that it was an internal issue and that the move hindered Pakistan’s continued sponsorship of cross-border terrorism in the area. Further asserting its position, India went to on to rebuke terrorism as the worst form of human rights abuse.
  • A diplomatic row erupted between Malaysia and Indonesia over the cause of haze pollution in Malaysia. While Malaysia hopes Indonesia will be responsible for the fires in their own country, the latter has denied being the main cause of the haze.
  • New Zealand introduces new legislation that tightens gun control in the country. It includes creating a registry to monitor firearms in the country, and license renewal for individuals was also reduced to five years from ten years.

 

Europe

  • John Bercow, speaker of parliament for the UK, announced last week that he intends to step down from the post on Oct 31, or at the next general election. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative party has long criticised Bercow for obstructing the Brexit process.
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declares that he will not discuss Brexit extension beyond October, and again threatens a no-deal Brexit.
  • The European Central Bank cut its interest rates and revived a discontinued bond-buying programme in an attempt to promote spending. Bank president Mario Draghi also strongly urged countries to increase public spending as political leaders cannot expect the bank to rescue the economy forever. Some bank executives are considering more extreme measures to stimulate the economy.
  • Third-party fact-checker Full Fact has accused the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party of funding ads on Facebook with a misleading title. The article in question reported that the government was set to spend seven billion on schools, but the Party’s advertisement put the figure at 14 billion instead, which Full Fact disputes as false.
  • The most serious “yellow vests” movement protests in months erupted in multiple cities in France last week and resulted in police using tear gas to disperse some protests. 

Middle East

  • Following a failure to form a coalition government, Israel will hold general elections this Tuesday (Sept 17). The main contenders are incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, and the centrist blue and white coalition led by Benny Gantz. Netanyahu’s future depends on the elections, as he faces several indictments on corruption charges.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a plan to annex the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea. This will be carried out if he wins the upcoming election. Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia and Palestine have since condemned the move, calling Netanyahu the “prime destroyer of the peace process”. Arab Palestinians do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections.
  • The Likud Party has requested that the Central Elections Committee review polls in the Arab Sector, after complaints of irregularities and an outcome that declared the United Arab List-Balad alliance to have passed the electoral threshold to hold office.
  • The UN Commission of Inquiry in Syria reports that security conditions in Afrin remain dire, and humanitarian assistance is desperately needed.
  • Kurdish Parties in the Kirkuk province have formed a coalition to participate in upcoming elections.

Africa

  • Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s longtime leader, died in Singapore last week. His body was flown back to be buried in his country. His family has agreed to his burial at the National Heroes Acre Monument.
  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa received jeers at Mugabe’s funeral after xenophobic attacks targeting migrants occurred in South Africa. President Ramaphosa, in a show of African solidarity, apologised for the attacks and violence, and has dispatched envoys to several African Heads of State to brief them on the situation and measures that South Africa will take.
  • Protesters took to the streets in South Africa last Friday (Sept 13) to demonstrate against what they called a scourge of femicide. The move has been brought to the forefront of South African society after a 19-year-old was raped and murdered in August. The protests have also prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to call off his trip to the United Nations General Assembly to focus on domestic issues.
  • Nigeria has called on South Africa to protect foreigners, after xenophobic violence broke out. The Nigerian government and some firms have offered to bring citizens back following the attacks.
  • Western Africa aims to combat terrorism, and seeks for more partners in the fight against terror with India being one of them. They have also pledged one billion dollars for the effort.
  • Zambian President Edgar Lungu stated that he would continue pushing for constitutional amendments that would curtail parliamentary oversight of fiscal policy and coalition formation. Opposition members have called it a power grab and feared it will curtail their ability to criticise Lungu.
  • Kenya adds malaria vaccine to their regular list of vaccinations.
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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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