- United States (US) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Yerevan, Armenia last Saturday (Sept 17), following a cease-fire that was held after clashes with Azerbaijan that killed hundreds of troops from both sides. The visit will include a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The clashes took place last Tuesday (Sept 13) – the worst the country has seen since Yerevan’s war with Baku two years prior. She is the highest-ranking US official to travel to Armenia since the nation’s 1991 independence from the Soviet Union.
- Mexican authorities arrested a former army colonel and two other military officials last Thursday (Sept 15) for their alleged involvement in the 2014 disappearance of 43 students. This comes after a truth commission blamed military personnel last month for the disappearance of the students. The arrested were not identified by name.
- The people of Haiti took to the streets last Wednesday (Sept 14) after the government announced a significant increase in fuel prices, putting pressure on a population that is already struggling with the rising costs of living. Government authorities detailed that the costs of gas will more than double, except for diesel and kerosene which will have slightly lower increases. The effective date for the increased prices has yet to be revealed.
- The US said last Wednesday (Sept 14) that it will transfer US$3.5 billion (S$4.92 billion) in Afghan central bank assets into a new Swiss-based trust fund. The new Afghan Fund could pay for imports including electricity, cover debt payments to international financial institutions and fund the printing of new currency. The development of the trust fund comes after talks between US President Joe Biden’s administration, Switzerland, other parties and the Taliban, who demanded the return of billions of dollars in Afghan central bank assets held in the US and elsewhere.
- El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele said last Thursday (Sept 15) in an Independence Day speech that he plans to seek a second five-year term in office despite its prohibition in the country’s constitution. New justices aligned with the President ruled last year in the Supreme Court that presidents can seek a second consecutive term drawing widespread condemnation and prompting concerns of a return to authoritarianism in El Salvador. Bukele’s current term is set to end in 2024.
- A third suspect, identified as Agustina Diaz was arrested in San Miguel last Tuesday (Sept 13) for involvement in a failed assassination attempt on Argentina’s Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner earlier this month. Forensic examination of the alleged gunman’s accomplice Brenda Uliarte’s phone revealed messages between the three suspects in the attack. Police have also seized more cell phones in three other raids in Buenos Aires. Uncovered conversations on the seized phones reportedly hint toward an assassination plot against Argentine President Albert Fernández as well.
- Venezuela welcomed a dozen of flight crew members last Friday (Sept 16) who were detained in Argentina since June for suspected terrorism ties. The crew members were the flight crew of Venezuela’s Emtrasur cargo plane which arrived in Buenos Aires in early June. Its arrival caused a diplomatic stir for Argentina as they were accused of supporting Venezuela and Iran which were under US sanctions. The plane was then seized after it was requested by a US court, detaining 19 crew members. An Argentine judicial chamber allowed 12 crew members to leave last Tuesday (Sept 13).
- Chile’s President Gabriel Boric postponed a meeting with Israeli ambassador Gil Artzyeli last Thursday (Sept 15) over the killing of a 17-year-old Palestinian teenager in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, sparking a diplomatic dispute. Israel’s foreign ministry criticised the move and summoned Chilean ambassador Jorge Carvajal for a “reprimanding conversation”. Artzyeli sought to ease tensions following the snub by saying that Chilean authorities have apologised repeatedly in a meeting.
- Three miners died and one was injured in an underground mine in Peru owned by Sierra Metals Inc from an incident of a mudslide last Monday (Sept 12). This brings the total of worker deaths to four since January. Operations have since been suspended at the mine and will resume once conditions have been deemed safe and appropriate.
- Venezuela is the latest country to join the list of guarantors alongside Chile and Cuba to facilitate peace talks between Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last Columbian active rebel group last Tuesday (Sept 13). Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro wants to restart talks with ELN that his predecessor Ivan Duque broke off after a rebel attack in 2019. President Petro has said that a meeting will soon take place in Venezuela with senior ELN leaders.
- At least 24 people were killed and 87 were wounded in clashes along the Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan border last Friday (Sept 16), prompting a mass evacuation. The Clashes earlier this week grew into large-scale fighting involving tanks, artillery and rocket launchers. According to a statement, the Kyrgyz border service said its forces were continuing to repel attacks from the neighbouring country while “shelling of the positions of the Kyrgyz side continues, and in some areas, intense battles are going on,” the Tajik side said. It is however not immediately known what prompted the fighting between the two Central Asian countries — both countries host Russian military bases.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin told India’s Narendra Modi last Friday (Sept 16) that he understood New Delhi’s concerns about the conflict in Ukraine and that “[they] will do everything to stop [the war] as soon as possible”. Mr Modi said that democracy, diplomacy and dialogue kept the world together and told Putin that now ‘is not an era of war’. However, Kyiv had rejected negotiations and was set on achieving its objectives “on the battlefield”, according to Putin. With longstanding ties dating back to the Cold War, Russia remains by far India’s biggest arms supplier.
- 71 people in Azerbaijan and 105 people in Armenia have lost their lives as of last Thursday (Sept 15) in border clashes between both countries, marking the worst dispute between both nations since the war over the Nagorno-Karabakh region two years ago. Both countries blame the other for the violence that ensued. According to an Armenian official, the two countries have negotiated a ceasefire, which the United Nations (UN) welcomed.
- The death toll passed 1,400 last Tuesday (Sept 13) in Pakistan floods amid concerns of more flooding as a result of more rain. At least 638 people, including 274 children have died in the Sindh province. More than 33 million people are affected due to record monsoon rains and melting glaciers with around US$10 billion (S$14 billion) to US$30 billion (S$42.2 billion) worth of damage estimated last week due to the floods. The UN has launched an urgent appeal to raise US$160 million (S$225 million) to help Pakistan, while other nations have pledged their support.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to continue in his campaign against Ukraine at a news conference last Friday (Sept 16) despite evidence of his forces incurring heavy losses from Ukraine’s counteroffensive this month. The Russian leader said that the goal of the campaign remains the same “the liberation of the entire territory of Donbas” – areas of eastern Ukraine that are largely Russian speaking. He said they have been restrained in their response so far and promised serious responses if Ukraine forces continue to carry out “terrorist acts” and cause damage to Russian civilian infrastructure.
- Five suspects have been arrested in Rome and Brussels for smuggling migrants into Western Europe on private jets from Turkey. The suspects gave the migrants fake diplomatic papers for the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis. The suspects are accused of belonging to a criminal organisation that is involved in illegal immigration. Police believed that the gang charged about €10,000 (S$14,083) per person. Private jets worth €426,000 (S$599,957) have also been seized by the authorities for investigation.
- The House of Commons banned a Chinese delegation from attending Queen Elizabeth II’s lying-in-state last Friday (Sept 16), sparking a diplomatic rift with Beijing. However, the Commons press office later that day said that any heads of state invited to attend the state funeral will be allowed to attend the lying-in-state, opening the door for Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan to attend yesterday to pay his respects. Hundreds of current and former heads of state will be attending the state funeral today including US President Joe Biden, Emperor Naruhito and New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern to honour Britain’s longest-serving monarch.
- A bomb went off in the offices of the Prosecutor-General of the Russian-backed self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) last Friday (Sept 16), killing him and his deputy. Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the separatist administration, accused Ukraine of the attack saying that “Kyiv’s regime had crossed all possible limits”. No comment has been made by the Ukrainian government.
- Flash floods hit the central Italian region of Marche last Thursday (Sept 15), killing 10 people. Rescue efforts are still underway in search of four missing people, including a child. Around 400mm of torrential rainfall fell in the span of two to three hours flooding the streets of towns around the capital of Ancona on the Adriatic coast. More than 180 rescuers can be seen evacuating people in the seaside town of Senigallia and clearing debris. Although rain was forecast for the region, the floods took everyone by surprise. Weather officials said that the causes of the unusual rain were blazing temperatures and constant drought over the summer.
- The European Union (EU) voted to endorse a report accusing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of creating an “electoral autocracy”. The Prime Minister has been in power since 2010 and was re-elected to his fourth term earlier this year. Budapest has rejected the findings and Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has called the report an “insult”. However, several pro-democracy groups were in agreement with the report saying that the Prime Minister’s regime has committed violations of undemocratic practices.
- Kyiv’s forces have uncovered a mass burial site in the recaptured Ukrainian town of Izyum. Officials have counted 450 hastily dug graves and that almost all the exhumed bodies showed signs of torture. A UN spokesperson has said that human rights monitors will be travelling to Izyum to establish the events that may have taken place there.
- Five soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Israel on Syria’s Damascus International Airport last Saturday (Sept 17). Syria’s ministry of defence said in a statement that their air defences managed to intercept the raid and destroyed most of the missiles. No confirmation has been made on whether the airstrike affected airport operations. Israel escalated their attacks on Syria’s airports recently with the justification of wanting to impede Tehran’s usage of aerial supply routes to deliver arms to their allies in Syria and Lebanon.
- Banks in Lebanon announced a three-day closure this week over increasing security concerns. Seven banks have been held up by armed customers demanding access to their savings since last Wednesday (Sept 14). Lebanese banks have frozen most of the depositors’ bank accounts since an economic crisis gripped Lebanon in 2019. Groups representing depositors are confident that the banks’ closure will force the government to find a solution as security services and government personnel will also be unable to access their accounts.
- Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi ordered a probe into the death of a young woman Mahsa Amini who suffered a heart attack and slipped into a coma while in custody last Thursday (Sept 15) after she was detained by Iran’s “morality police”. Mahsa Amini was on a visit to Tehran with her family last Tuesday (Sept 13) when police officers found fault with her hijab and arrested her to “instruct” her about the rules. The hijab has been compulsory for women in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the morality police are responsible for enforcing the dress code.
- A building collapsed in Jordan in the Jabal al-Weibdeh district last Tuesday (Sept 13) killing 14 people. A four-day rescue operation uncovered a final body last Saturday (Sept 17), bringing the search to a close. Bashar al-Tarawnah, the head of the Jordanian Engineers Syndicate’s civil engineering department said that the collapse was due to the removal of walls and demolition of columns holding up the building. Three people have been detained by authorities in the aftermath of the collapse, including the owner of the building, the maintenance contractor and the technician.
- Turkey condemned the decision of the US to lift its arms embargo since 1987 on the Republic of Cyprus last Saturday (Sept 17). Turkey’s foreign ministry said that the move will kick off an arms race on the island, impede efforts to the reunification of Cyprus and will bring harm to the stability of the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean island was divided into the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and a breakaway state in the north by Turkey in 1974.
- South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa met with US President Biden at the White House last Friday (Sept 16) for talks regarding efforts to tackle the climate crisis, as well as ending the war in Ukraine. According to a senior Biden administration official, Mr Biden wanted to hear the South African leader’s “thoughts on the best way forward” on the war in Ukraine, asking for their help in those efforts. However, the South African government has resisted condemning Russia for the invasion.
- Senegal President Macky Sall last Saturday (Sept 17) appointed a former economy and foreign minister, Amadou Ba as Prime Minister. His appointment as Prime Minister re-establishes the position in the country following its abolition in April 2019. According to a speech by the President, Mr Ba will be in charge of addressing the rising cost of living. “[Other]major priorities that the president has outlined include improving household purchasing power, taming inflation, security, housing, vocational training, employment and entrepreneurship,” Mr Ba said.
- The Kenyan government scrapped a subsidy on petrol last Thursday (Sept 15) after President William Ruto said subsidies were costly and unsustainable. In a speech last Tuesday (Sept 13), Mr Ruto said subsidies had been costly and prone to abuse, including causing artificial shortages of the subsidised products. This comes as the new president faces an onslaught of challenges including bringing down the high cost of fuel and food. Petrol rose by 13 per cent, diesel 18 per cent and kerosene by 16 per cent since last month.
- Angola President Joao Lourenco has pledged to push ahead with economic reform as he was sworn in last Thursday (Sept 15) for a second five-year term at a ceremony held at the Praca da Republica square in the capital city Luanda. Mr Lourenco also promised to push ahead with reforms to encourage the private sector, expand the offer of goods and services and fight youth unemployment. Lourenco won just 51.17 per cent of the votes during the disputed election last month.
- It was announced last Monday (Sept 12) that Uganda paid its first installment (US$65 million) of US$325 million to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as compensation for losses caused by wars in the 90s when Ugandan troops occupied their territory. The payment was made on September 1 according to Uganda’s finance ministry spokesman Apollo Munghinda. The DRC has also confirmed that the first instalment has been paid. Back in 1999, the DRC asked Uganda through the International Court of Justice (ISJ) to pay them US$11 billion as reparations for the deaths, looting and general economic damage caused by Uganda’s military occupation of parts of the DRC in the 90s.