- Canada held an official formal ceremony at the official residence in Ottawa of the monarch’s representative in Canada, proclaiming Charles III its king last Saturday (Sept 10). Canada is still a member of the Commonwealth that has the British monarch as head of state. Canada is currently in a 10-day mourning period for the queen.
- US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced US$2.6 billion (S$3.64 billion) in new aid for Ukraine and allies, inclusive of a US$675 (S$944 million) military package in Germany, last Thursday (Sept 8). This is in addition to the already pledged US$13 billion (S$ 18.2 billion) in military aid for Ukraine. US President Joe Biden led US allies to reiterate their support for Ukraine in a call back in Washington. The administration called for Ukraine’s allies to continue their commitment to Ukraine.
- Canada agreed to accept and resettle 1,000 Afghans who are currently held in a makeshift refugee centre in the United Arab Emirates, last Thursday (Sept 8). This was upon the request of the US. It is a pivotal moment as it is the first time refugees are being resettled to a country with no direct ties. In addition to the 1000, Canada is expected to take in another 500 from the facilities that do have ties to Canada.
- Mexico passed a bill ceding control of the National Guard to the Army last Friday (Sept 9). Acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif warned that the legislation has set back the state of public security in Mexico and raised additional concerns about human rights and accountability. The government has extended the Army into other areas of civilian life as well. Mexican President Lopez Obrador pushed back against the UN critics, questioning what the body has done to prevent the Russian-Ukraine war.
- Cuba’s deputy foreign minister, Carlos Fernández de Cassio accused the US Biden administration of “acting immorally, illegitimately and unfairly” for keeping Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, last Thursday (Sept 8). Cuba insists it has been a victim of state-sponsored terrorism by the US for more than 60 years. Fernández believes it’s the US way of making Cuba a failed state – to be on par with North Korea, Iran and Syria (other countries the US have blacklisted).
- The president of Peru’s unicameral congress, Lady Camones, was impeached and ousted last Tuesday (Sept 6) after audio recordings of her discussing exploiting the legislature to benefit her party surfaced. Analysts see such a move as a trend of Peru president Pedro Castillo’s aggressive moves against a hostile congress that has attempted to impeach him twice.
- Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro’s popularity persists as he turned the 200-year independence celebration into a campaign rally last Wednesday (Sept 7). Leftist opposition party Partido Democrático Trabalhista posted a complaint to the foremost electoral authority, alleging Bolsonaro for “abuse of political and economic power”, and asked them to block his candidacy ahead of the upcoming election (Oct 2).
- Chileans rejected the new draft constitution last Monday (Sept 5) by a 24-point margin. In a plebiscite, citizens had voted to keep the constitution imposed during dictator Augusto Pinochet’s era. Voting was compulsory, as voter turnout was 80 per cent.
- Leftist Chilean president Gabriel Boric removed two close allies from their positions last Tuesday (Sept 6) as he inches to the centre in wake of the new draft constitution’s rejection and falling approval ratings.
- Ecuador’s top electoral court moved to the possibility of a referendum to ban oil drilling in Yasuní National Park last Thursday (Sept 8). This blocks the government’s plan to increase crude oil production. The park is a reservation and is one of the planet’s most ecologically-diverse forests.
- The Chile Central Bank raised its interest rates by 100 basis points from 9.75 per cent to 10.75 per cent last Wednesday (Sept 7). This was done in an effort to lower inflation and is the eighth rate hike since October 21, when the interest rate was 1.5 per cent. Annual inflation currently stands at 13.1 per cent.
- North Korea cements its right to use preemptive nuclear weapons for self-defence as it passed a law last Thursday (Sept 8). Observers have earlier said North Korea is preparing to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017. North Korea already considers themselves a nuclear weapons state in its constitution.
- Australia raised its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 2.35 per cent last Tuesday (Sept 6). This is the fifth consecutive rate hike since its first in more than 11 years back in May. The central bank has announced that more rate hikes are to be expected in the coming months as they assess the situation based on inflation and the labour market.
- Japan will work with Britain to develop nuclear high-temperature gas reactors (HTGR), Japanese and British nuclear agencies announced last Monday (Sept 5). This is in line with the Kishida administration’s push to pursue nuclear energy as a national energy source. HGTR technology is considered next-generation despite its development in the 1950s, which was slowed due to technological barriers and negative sentiment toward nuclear energy in the coming decades.
- Myanmar junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing made a visit to Russia last Monday (Sept 5). This marks his second trip in two months, as the military junta aims to buttress its international legitimacy and maintain strategic alliances with its few diplomatic allies. The general has been banned from representing Myanmar in most international gatherings since his coup.
- Japanese government budget requests rose to their second-highest ever amount at 110.05 trillion yen (S$1.10 trillion) on Monday (Sept 5). This comes as defence spending increases and more social security is dispensed. Defence costs have been increasing as Japan rethinks its military posture in light of geopolitical pressures, a legacy of Shinzo Abe’s presidency.
- The European Central Bank (ECB) raised its key interest rate by 75 basis points last Thursday (Sept 8) as the European Union (EU) looks to experience a winter recession. The benchmark rate is now 0.75 per cent, up from -0.5 per cent before its July rate hike (July 22, 2022). This comes following a commitment to cutting off the Russian gas supply which has led to skyrocketing energy prices and its effect on inflation.
- Queen Elizabeth II passed away aged 96, and her son Charles III ascended to the throne last Thursday (Sept 8). Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch in Britain’s history, taking up the role for 70 years.
- Ukraine regained territory from Russian forces in the northeast last Saturday (Sept 10). Russian state media had reported that their defence ministry ordered the removal of troops from Izyum, Kharkiv, a key city. This comes after quick Ukrainian advances in Kharkiv, leading to Moscow’s worst defeat since March.
- Amid fears of a nuclear meltdown in Russian-held Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, the last operational reactor had been shut down last Sunday (Sept 11). The plant had been cut off from the grid last week after fighting in its vicinity. The firm which owns the plant had announced that it had been cut off because of the risk of irreversible damage which could disconnect the plant completely from the grid.
- Liz Truss became the United Kingdom’s next prime minister last Monday (Sept 5), in the middle of an economic downturn, labour unrest, and recession. This follows weeks of a face-off with Rishi Sunak, a former finance minister. Predecessor Boris Johnson had announced his resignation in July (July 7, 2022).
- Albania severed diplomatic ties with Iran last Wednesday (Sept 7) because of cyberattacks earlier in the year. The Albanian government had formally delivered its decision after the attacks on government websites in July which shut down digital services. Albania is a haven for 3,000 Iranian dissidents from Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.
- Last Monday (Sept 5), 50 years after the 1972 Munich Games attacks, Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked for forgiveness for his country’s failures. And on that Friday the dispute was resolved with the German government and the affected Israeli families agreeing on a package worth 28 million euros (S$39.8 million). Palestinians from the militant group, Black September, took members of the Israeli Olympic team hostage on Sept 5, 1972, resulting in 11 Israelis, 1 German policeman and 5 Palestinian gunmen dead after a stand-off. The games continued after the attacks and the IOC took half a century to comply with the families’ wishes.
- Iran rejects E3 (France, Britain and Germany)’s criticism that Iran was not serious and committed to a successful outcome on the nuclear deal, calling it “unconstructive”, last Saturday (Sept 10). The terms of the nuclear deal were that Iran restricts their nuclear programme in order to be relieved from US, EU and UN economic sanctions. The reason for the E3 criticisms is Iran’s response to the EU’s proposal to restore the deal, of closing investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into uranium traces at three sites, earlier this month.
- Syria condemned last Tuesday (Sept 6), Israel’s air raids on Aleppo International Airport as a war crime. The air raids took out the runway and put the airport out of service for the second time in a week. Israel has upped the strikes on Syrian airports to disrupt Iran’s military delivery to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Hezbollah. Israel said the strikes are a message to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad: “if planes whose purpose is to encourage terrorism land, Syria’s transport capacity will be harmed”. Israeli officials have not officially taken responsibility for the strikes.
- Israeli troops killed 21-year-old Younis Tayeh during a raid in the occupied West Bank last Wednesday (Sept 7). Tayeh’s family say it was an unprovoked shooting whilst the army described it as return fire. His family said Tayeh was crossing the road when he was shot, the Israeli army’s statement included an improvised explosive device being thrown and shots fired at soldiers. Violence between Palestine and Israel has intensified since US-sponsored statehood talks broke down between the two countries in 2014.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced, last Thursday (Sept 8), that Turkish security forces have arrested a senior figure of ISIL (ISIS), Bashar Hattab Ghazal Al-Sumaidai (code name, Abu Zeyd). The UN Security Council identified him as “one of the senior executives of the [ISIL] terrorist organization”.
- African ministers met in Cairo, two months ahead of the COP27 climate change conference last Friday (Sept 9) to call for more climate funding despite their hesitant commitment toward clean energy. Africa received less than 5.5 per cent of global climate financing and suffers disproportionately from climate change. The ministers urged rich countries to commit to their climate pledges, contribute funding for projects and proposed for poor countries to be able to develop economically while receiving more funds to fight the effects of climate change. The ministers argue that non-renewable sources of energy are vital to Africa’s economic development and livelihood and that current financing measures are insufficient.
- The death of the British monarch last Thursday (Sept 8) has brought to the forefront again the controversial British colonial legacy of Africa causing mixed feelings and responses on the continent. Ghana and Kenya’s presidents both publicly expressed their condolences and admiration for the late queen. The South African Marxist opposition party listed the atrocities committed by British forces in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some Nigerians recalled Britain’s role in their military dictatorship and civil war where more than one million were killed.
- Central African countries look to overcome fuel and power shortages worsened by the Russian invasion by signing a deal to create a regional oil and gas pipeline network and hub infrastructures by 2030 last Thursday (Sept 8). The partner countries are: Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congo Republic – all are either oil producers or have untapped reserves but are dependent on refined product imports and are looking to end energy poverty.
- UN Humanitarian Chief, Martin Griffiths announced last Monday (Sept 5) that due to the worsening drought and surging global food prices, “famine is at [Somalia’s] door”. The famine is expected to be worse than those of 2010 and 2011 because of four past failed rainy seasons, a current fifth failed rainy season and decades of conflicts. UNICEF announced last Tuesday (Sept 6) that hundreds of children have died in nutrition centres for children with severe acute malnutrition and illnesses, with many cases unreported. The UN’s US$ 1.46 billion (SG$ 2.042 billion) appeal for Somalia is only 67 per cent funded and officials warned that more was needed.
- Adding on to the string of protests against the UN’s MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the recent skirmish resulted in one person being killed last Tuesday (Sept 6). Accusations levelled against the UN peacekeeping troops revolve around complaints about their failure to protect civilians against militia violence over the years and retaliating with force during the protests. MONUSCO has been operating for more than two decades, costing more than US$1 billion (SG$ 1.4 billion).
- The continent is experiencing the extremes of climate change. The southern Tunisian oasis is entering more than a decade of drought and farmers reportedly said underground water is ‘boiling hot’ last Monday (Sept 5). As a result, farmers are forced to abandon plantations as date orchards are drying up and dying out. Whilst in western Uganda, heavy torrential rains left 15 dead after a landslide buried their homes last Wednesday (Sept 7). And in Chad, parts of the country are flooded as it saw the heaviest seasonal rainfall in over 30 years, affecting over 442,000 people – an estimate by the UN humanitarian office.