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Weekly News Digest for September 5, 2020

Compiled by Karan Pol & Kelly Dobso

 

Breaking News:


Germany Confirms Navalny Poisoned with Nerve Agent

Russia continues to face mounting international pressure after Germany confirmed that Kremlin critic Navalny was poisoned by a Novichok nerve agent and remains in a medically induced coma. On Friday, NATO allies proposed an impartial investigation led by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons with full cooperation from Russia. Russia continues to dispute the poisoning allegation and asserts a lack of criminal evidence.


Gambia’s Genocide Case against Myanmar for Rohingya Muslims

Canada and the Netherlands have decided to assist in Gambia’s case against the Rohingya genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The two states announced they will help with complex legal issues and will push to prosecute cases of gender-based violence and rape.


The genocide in Myanmar, led by the military, violently targets the Rohingya Muslim minority group and has forced 750,000 Rohingya to flee the country. In Gambia’s case, the Myanmar government is described of perpetrating “mass murder, sexual violence, torture, forced displacement and denial of access to food and shelter”. Myanmar has avoided retaliation from the United Nations owing to China and Russia’s veto power.


Afghanistan Frees Taliban Prisoners to Expedite Taliban Peace Talks

Afghanistan has freed nearly 200 prisoners in the hopes of spurring long-delayed peace talks with the Taliban. These prisoners were allegedly part of a group of 400 Islamist separatists. Nearly 120 militants remain imprisoned, six of whom faced objections from the international community.


Some analysts suggest that the Afghan government is intentionally delaying peace talks until the United States election. These delays may hinder the success of peace talks while angering Afghan citizens who see the prisoner release unfavorably. These developments come amidst an increase in Taliban violence and conflict with Afghan troops as confidential documents show the released prisoners returning to the battlefield.


North America


United States Sanctions the International Criminal Court

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the ICC of an “illegitimate attempt to subject Americans to its jurisdiction” in the midst of an investigation against US forces committing war crimes in Afghanistan. Since an executive order issued by President Trump in June, the United States has taken a number of steps countering the power of the ICC including blocking the assets of ICC employees, restricting their access to the country, and limiting the issuance of vias for ICC staff involved in “efforts to investigate US personnel.”


United States Refuses to Participate in WHO Vaccine Effort

An international effort to develop and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine is being eschewed by the United States. A White House spokesperson claims that this decision comes from a refusal to be constrained by multilateral organizations and the influence of the “corrupt World Health Organization and China.” While the United States commits to continue engagement with the international community and “spare no expense” in the development of a new vaccine, the decision isolates the state from the more than 170 counties involved in the COVA initiative, forcing mutual externalities.


U.S. Debt on Track to Exceed the Size of the Economy

The Congressional Budget Office warns that the United States government will run the largest budget deficit as a share of the economy since 1945, the end of the second World War. While most economists consider the money well-spent or necessary, the $3.3 trillion deficit has sparked conflict amongst lawmakers on the Hill as Republicans are particularly nervous at the size of the debt.


Asia and the Pacific


U.S.-Taiwan Bilateral Economic Dialogue Rises

In the face of rising tensions with the People’s Republic of China, the United States has established a bilateral economic dialogue with Taiwan. Declassifying six security assurances made to Taiwan under the Reagan administration, the United States has announced a set of “significant adjustments” within the scope of the previous “one-China” policy. In this context, the Chinese foreign ministry has asserted that “nobody should underestimate China’s resolve to defend its sovereignty,” sending a clear message.


India Accuses China of “Provocative Military Movements”

The Indian Army accused the People’s Liberation Army of “provocative military movements” on the southern bank of Pangon Tso. As border disputes have reached a stalemate, these developments bring more oil to the flame. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has since countered that border troops “never [crossed] the line of actual control.” Indian officials and China experts posit that discussions between the two Asian powers will never reach a resolution, requiring political or diplomatic intervention.


Africa


Guinean President Files for Reelection

The Guinean President, Alpha Conde, refiled his nomination for presidency for a third term. The 82 year-old incumbent successfully pushed for a constitutional referendum earlier this year in order to remove term limits. Violent protests have broken out due to his reelection plans and the government used violent crackdown measures to suppress criticism.


U.S. Suspends Aid to Ethiopia

The State Department announced on September 2 that aid will be partially suspended to Ethiopia over talks with Egypt and Sudan regarding a disputed dam project. The newly constructed dam on the Nile River sources water to the three countries, but certain security and safety measures have not been agreed upon. Egypt argues that it is worried about receiving enough water, while Sudan is unsure how the water flow will affect their existing dams. Ethiopia champions the dam project and argues it will bring millions of people out of poverty.


Sudan and Rebel Group Reach Peace Deal

The Sudanese government and a major rebel group agreed to new peace negotiations and signed a historic new deal to end wars caused after the overthrow of former leader, Omar al-Bashir. Historically, there have been religious conflicts between Sunni Muslims, Christians, and smaller African religious groups. The new peace deal outlined the need for a constitution based upon the separation of church and state and the right for self-determination.


The negotiation allocates institutional power to rebel groups, including positions for cabinet members, a legislative assembly, and a sovereign council. The new form of government will become a federal regional system after a three year transitional period.


Europe


Man Acquitted in Murder Charge of Journalist

Marian Kocher, a prominent Slovakian businessmen, was acquitted of ordering a murder after eight months on trial. The victim of the murder plot was an investigative journalist, Jan Kuciak, and his fiancée. Prior to his death, Kuciak had threatened to expose corruption links between the “nation’s political and corporate elites and organized crime.” The journalist’s death in February of 2018 sparked widespread protests throughout the state with calls for an effective investigation into systemic corruption. The acquittal was issued by a special criminal court, but can be appealed by Slovakia’s Supreme Court.


Latin America and the Caribbean


Venezuelan President Nicolaás Maduro Pardons Dozens, Including Political Opponents

The Venezuelan government has pardoned more than 100 people, including imprisoned political opponents and those that have fled the country. Minister of Communications, Jorge Rodrigues claims that this move is meant to “deepen the process of reconciliation for national unity” ahead of congressional elections set for early December. Juan Guaidó and the opposition party continue to boycott the election.


Middle East


Lebanon Forming New Government

The designated Prime Minister Mustapha Adib has begun talks of establishing a crisis government within the next two weeks after the previous government resigned following the Beirut explosion. French President Macron visited Lebanon and spoke with representatives and confirmed that all corners of the government were ready to assist in forming a cabinet quickly and France would be organizing an additional conference to raise money for emergency aid next month. The Lebanese government has been facing enormous backlash due to the explosion, the current economic crisis, alleged corruption, and intensifying food shortages.


Israel and Hamas Reach a Ceasefire

On August 31, Hamas and Israel agreed to a temporary ceasefire amid the rise of COVID-19 throughout Gaza after an agreement for monetary aid from Qatar to Palestine. Previous financial donations from Qatar have been used to assist economically challenged families and purchase fuel. Any further attacks from either side would break the ceasefire and further escalate tensions.


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