- US President Biden made the unprecedented trip from Tel Aviv, Israel to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to meet with Saudi officials including King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday (July 15). While President Biden had promised during his 2019 presidential campaign to regard Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the current energy crisis due to the war in Ukraine seemed to force Washington to reconsider ties with Riyadh. The two nations expressed a commitment to stabilising oil markets, agreeing to regularly consult in the short and long term, as well as work together as strategic partners in climate and energy transition. In a statement to journalists on Friday, President Biden said he had once again brought up Khashoggi’s death with Saudi officials, to make clear that human rights were “vitally important” to him. Despite this, the president received harsh criticism from back home, for being unable to hold the Crown Prince accountable. President Biden also attended a summit with six other Gulf leaders on Saturday (July 16) and said the United States “will not walk away” from the Middle East, as a lack of US influence would allow Russia, China or Iran to exert influence in the region.
- The US House of Representatives voted to restore abortion rights across the country on Friday (July 15). It signified the first move made by Democrats in Congress since the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade ruling and removed federal abortion protection in the United States. The bill subsequently passed with 219 in favour, and 210 against it. However, it is unlikely that legislation will move forward as it would require overcoming Republican opposition in the evenly-divided Senate.
- The United States and Russian space agencies, NASA and Rocosmos, have renewed an agreement to share flights to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday (July 15). The long sought-after deal will allow NASA astronauts to fly aboard Russia’s Soyuz capsule, and Russian cosmonauts on US-made spacecraft, on routine integrated flights starting in September. Rocosmos stated that the deal will facilitate the “exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes”. The agreement is one of the few remaining cooperative deals between the United States and Russia, in light of the conflict in Ukraine.
- A wildfire prompted evacuations in British Columbia, Canada, after authorities reported it to be out of control on Friday (July 15) Authorities reported the fire along Nohomin Creek to have doubled in size since the evening prior to span 500 hectares. Lytton town had made headlines after most of its houses and businesses were destroyed by wildfire last year.
- Democrats and climate activists expressed anger at Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s reluctance to support a proposed climate bill that would increase climate spending and offer tax credits for use of clean energy. Manchin, the founder of the coal-trading company Enersystems, cited concerns that tax credits and support for renewable energy would add to current inflationary pressures in the United States. The Senator had subsequently been accused of sabotaging President Biden’s climate efforts, as his support would provide a crucial swing vote in the evenly-divided Senate.
- 14 people were killed and one injured in a Blackhawk helicopter crash in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, Mexico on Friday (July 15). The Mexican Navy helicopter was en route to the United States for the extradition of cartel leader Caro Quintero. Quintero is listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, for the killing of US agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in 1985. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution on Friday (July 15) which threatened to impose sanctions against criminal gangs and human rights violators in Haiti amid a rise in violence. The resolution demands an immediate cessation of violence and warns of possible travel bans and freezing of implicit individuals’ assets. Haiti has seen a large increase in gang violence since the assassination of President Jovonel Moise in July, last year, prompting rival groups to fight for control. In a report by a local human rights organisation on Wednesday (July 13), at least 89 people were killed in a neighbourhood area in Cite Soleil in the past two weeks. The escalating violence has also displaced thousands of Haitians, obstructed roads, and sparked protests over fuel shortages exacerbated by the crisis. Food shortages are also likely to occur, according to an earlier report by the UN’s World Food Programme this month.
- Mexico brought home the bodies of 16 victims of the failed smuggling attempt aboard a truck in San Antonio, Texas, which claimed the lives of 53 migrants last month. The country will return 25 of 26 victims back to their families in Mexico. Military flights began on Wednesday (July 13). Similar repatriation flights are taking place in Guatemala and Honduras, which lost 21 and 6 people in the incident, respectively. The investigation into the smuggling ring that abandoned the trailer of people in what was nearly 38°C weather. US authorities have arrested the truck’s driver, as well as three others.
- At least three children died and two were hospitalised after a landslide buried a rural elementary school in the Antioquia province of Colombia, on Thursday (July 14). Most of the 20 children, along with two adults escaped unharmed. The landslide was a result of heavy rain due to the La Nina weather effect, subsequently causing water-saturated soil to break loose from the mountain on which the La Lejia school is situated. Such heavy rain is expected by meteorologists to continue until September.
- More than a hundred social activists have been killed in Colombia this year, according to Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz), sparking calls for the expansion of government protection for activists in the midst of a surge in violent crime in the country.
- Sri Lanka’s parliament convened on Saturday (July 16) to begin the process to nominate a new president, after a series of mass protests calling for the resignation of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, due to corruption and mismanagement of the economy. The former President fled to the Maldives, and subsequently Singapore after thousands of protestors overran his residence in Colombo. He eventually handed in his resignation from abroad. The government declared a state of emergency and had the Prime Minister assume the position of interim president—a move which soon sparked protests outside his office. Presidential nominations will be heard in Parliament on Tuesday (July 19), with a legislative vote to take place the next day, if necessary.
- South Korea’s presidential office denounced the repatriation of two North Korean fishermen in 2019 as a potential “crime against humanity” by the previous government. The statement on Wednesday (July 13) came after Seoul’s Unification Ministry released photographs of the two men, who were suspected of killing 16 shipmates, being dragged across the border between the two nations. South Korea’s presidential office denounced on Wednesday (July 13) the repatriation of two North Korean fishermen in 2019 as a potential “crime against humanity” by the previous government.
- A BBC media network investigation suggested on Monday (July 11), that commandos in the United Kingdom’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) corps committed war crimes in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011. The four-year inquiry stated that at least 54 Afghans were in suspicious circumstances during a six-month tour of Helmand province from November 2010 to May 2011, where unarmed Afghan men were shot dead “in cold blood” by SAS troops. Military higher-ups are accused of concealing these incidents and having weapons planted on the men to justify the crimes. It is a criminal offence under UK law to conceal possible war crimes. The allegations have since garnered some attention and may merit a full public inquiry where authorities have previously concluded investigations on insufficient evidence.
- G20 finance leaders convened at this year’s summit in Bali on Friday (July 15) to discuss issues such as global food security, inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, The meeting was unfruitful to produce policy or form a joint communique on the war in Ukraine. While many nations condemned Russia’s actions at the summit, Moscow remained defiant against the opposition, refusing to be held responsible for poor global economic conditions. The talks come a week after Minister Sergei Lavrov walked out of the G20 talks in Bali over criticism of Moscow. With regards to other policy areas, all members reaffirmed their support for international tax rule changes set for 2024 and agreed on the need for joint coordination in tackling COVID-19, inflation and climate change. The summit also saw officials form a strong consensus on the need to address food shortages, except for those exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to Xinjiang, China in eight years. The visit to the province took place between Tuesday (July 12) to Thursday (July 14) and he was photographed being greeted heartily by smiling residents by the Chinese news agency Xinhua. President Xi also met leaders of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a “supra-governmental body that operates its own courts, schools and health system” under the military system imposed by the Communist Party on the region. The visit came after UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet’s trip in May, who human rights activists then accused of glossing over rights abuses in Xinjiang. Western nations had also urged the UN to publish a report on the region. China has continually denied any violations against Uyghurs, despite global news reports such as those of Xinjiang’s mass detention centres.
- North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski and other lawmakers passed a deal last Saturday (July 16) that would help resolve disputes with Bulgaria and pave the way for European Union (EU) membership talks. The agreement recognises Bulgarian minorities in exchange for the allowance of West Balkan nations to begin talks with the EU. In the nation’s 120-seat parliament, 68 members voted in support of the agreement. The deal also represents a breakthrough for Prime Minister Kovacevski for allowing North Macedonia to take accelerated steps towards joining the EU.
- Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced last week that he was determined to quit office due to a lack of support from parties in Italy’s coalition government. Italian President Sergio Mattarella rejected Mr Draghi’s resignation on Thursday (July 14), in hopes that he would attempt to recover parliamentary support instead. Despite this, Mr Draghi remains unwilling to reconsider withdrawing his resignation. The Prime Minister’s resignation at this point in time may also cause further difficulty for Italy, on top of the existing pressures under the global energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
- The European Union (EU) held discussions regarding tighter and heavier sanctions on Russia, last Monday (July 18), after Moscow was accused of using the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and Ukraine, to store weapons and fire missiles. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant generates more than half of Ukraine’s nuclear power. However, it has since fallen under Russia’s control. Amid the ongoing energy crisis and food shortages, the EU is considering a complete ban on the import of gold from Russia -a move that would be in line with sanctions previously imposed by the G7.
- The British government introduced the ‘Aviation Passenger Charter’ on Sunday (July 17). The charter aims to educate passengers on their rights should they encounter issues while travelling. The aviation industry has been struggling to grapple with the surge in demand for air travel, following the easing of pandemic restrictions. Long queues and cancelled flights due to staff shortages have caused various airlines to cut back on their schedules. The charter may ultimately grant passengers ease of mind by providing information on immediate actions to take in the event of flight cancellations, delays, or missing baggage.
- Heatwaves continued to sweep across southwestern Europe despite temperatures previously being expected to peak last Thursday (July 14). The extreme temperatures have caused wildfires throughout the Iberian Peninsula and France. The areas around the Guadiana, Guadalquivir and Tagus rivers are currently expected to experience temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius. Temperatures soared to a record peak of 45.6 degrees Celsius in the Andalusian city of Almonte, Italy, on Wednesday (July 13).
- US President Biden said he remains committed to a ‘two-state’ solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, despite not providing any new proposals to mediate peaceful negotiation at the time. During his visit to Israel and Palestine between Wednesday (July 13) and Friday (July 15), President Biden said the United States will “continue to advance Israel’s integration into the region”. He also expressed objection against fellow Democrats who had denounced Israel as an apartheid state, calling Israel a “friend”. Biden’s visit to Palestine was met with less enthusiasm due to a lack of mediation by the United States. Despite remaining committed to Israel’s security, Washington has pledged $316 million in new aid for Palestine and an additional $200 million for the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees.
- Israel sent out warplanes to the Gaza Strip last Saturday (July 16). The Israeli military claimed that they had carried out the strikes to restrict and reduce Hamas’ military capabilities. The missiles hit locations including a tourist resort near numerous residential homes. The bombings came a day after President Biden’s departure from Tel Aviv.
- Former Iranian official Hamid Noury was sentenced by the Swedish court to life imprisonment on Thursday (July 14), for his part in war crimes that took place in the 1980s. Noury, 61, was implicit in the mass execution and torture of Iranian political prisoners in Iran. Following his conviction, Iran maintained that the sentences were based Swedish political agenda and held no legal validity.
- Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated on Sunday (July 17) that Iran has the necessary capabilities to build a nuclear bomb despite having no intentions of developing one for now. At present, Iran is able to easily produce 90 per cent enriched uranium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons. Such production would be in flagrant violation of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, which required uranium enrichment levels to fall below 3.67 per cent.
- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned last Saturday (July 16) that the policies introduced to reduce emissions were out of touch with reality due to a lack of accountability for fuel inflation. Despite the Kingdom being one of the largest global crude oil exporters, the Crown Prince appears to have made the shift to include more environmentally friendly policies as part of his reforms. The Kingdom’s pledge that it would achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060, has also been met with the scepticism of other nations.
- Ghana confirmed its first two cases of the highly infectious Marburg virus last Sunday (July 18). Health officials in West Africa announced that 98 people had been quarantined due to being suspected contact cases of the virus. There is currently no specified treatment for the Marburg virus, save for the treatment of individual symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle pain and vomiting blood. The virus causes severe infection and may often be fatal.
- Two separate shooting incidents occurred in two provinces in Johannesburg, South Africa, last Saturday (July 16). Four people were shot and two more were injured in the southern suburb of the city. Investigations revealed that the victims were sitting together on a street corner before being attacked by unknown assailants. Authorities have since concluded that the attacks were carried out at random.
- A clash between two tribes in Sudan caused families to flee from the country’s Blue Nile state last Monday (July 11). The conflict between the Berti and Hausa tribes, caused by a land dispute, killed at least 31 people and wounded above 40, including many of the mediators sent by local official Adel Agar to help de-escalate the conflict. Those who were injured were brought to nearby hospitals, many of which were running short on emergency medication.
- Hundreds of protesters gathered in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, against coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan last Saturday (July 16). Sudanese police fired tear gas on the pro-democracy protesters, who have accused the military leadership and ex-rebel leaders that have signed the 2020 peace deal of fanning ethnic tensions for their own personal gains. The deal was signed by many rebel groups across Sudan in hopes of reducing tensions on the ground, however, it has also left other marginalised communities in Sudan feeling sidelined. The coup took control in October 2021 and caused protests and violence that killed at least 114 people.
- The long-serving Deputy Secretary-General of her ruling African National Congress party, Jessie Duarte, passed on last Sunday (July 17) due to cancer. Secretary-general Duarte fought hard for women’s rights during a season of string racial oppression in South Africa that ended in 1994. She confronted the patriarchal nature of South Africa’s parliament at the time, which diminished the contributions of women in government, and successfully unified rival factions within her party during the course of her political career.