Weekly Global Newscast |25 November – 01 December, 2019

Asia

Trump Makes Surprise Trip to Afghanistan on Thanksgiving

President Donald Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to the US troops in Afghanistan and said he believed Taliban insurgents would agree to a ceasefire in America’s longest war. Trump’s visit was his first to Afghanistan since becoming President and came a week after a prisoner swap between Washington and Kabul that has raised hopes for a long elusive peace deal.

Analysis

“Trump met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and served turkey to some US troops before sitting down to eat Thanksgiving dinner with them. He chatted and had his picture taken with some of the US forces deployed there” said Times of India.

“His departure was concealed even from White House staff and military personnel who were at Mar-a-Lago to set up a video conference call with troops — and who were allowed to proceed to avoid raising any suspicion that Trump was anywhere but at the resort, according to a person familiar with the plans” said CNN.

Dozens Rally in Nur-Sultan Urging EU to Pressure Kazakhstan over Rights

Dozens of activists have rallied in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, urging European Union officials to pressure local authorities over human and civil rights in the Central Asian country. The activists rallied in front of the European Union’s office in the capital for a second day on 27 November 2019, calling on the office’s representatives to come out so that they could present their demands.

Analysis

“The protesters said that the European Commission’s new Central Asia strategy, adopted in May 2019, among other issues included EU support for human rights and civil society, which therefore must be taken into account when dealing with Kazakhstan” said Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.

“The strategy also said that the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (EPCAs) that Brussels signed with Kazakhstan at the end of 2015 will remain a cornerstone of Brussels’ engagement in the region. Human rights defenders in Kazakhstan and elsewhere have insisted that one of the major conditions of the strategy must be that Kazakh authorities take concrete steps to fully provide citizens with their rights and freedoms” said The Times of Central Asia.

Middle East & North Africa

Iraq Unrest: Parliament Approves PM Abdul Mahdi’s Resignation

Iraq’s parliament has approved the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi following weeks of unrest. It is unclear who will take over from Mr Abdul Mahdi. The parliament speaker said President Barham Saleh would be asked to name a new prime minister.

Analysis

“Meanwhile the Pope has become the latest figure to condemn security forces’ use of lethal force. Some 400 people have been killed since protests began in Baghdad and other cities at the start of October 2019” said BBC.

“Although Abdul Mahdi’s resignation was welcomed by protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, they said they will continue to demonstrate until they see a complete overhaul of the country’s political system. Driven by anger over corruption, high unemployment, inadequate public services and perceived foreign meddling in Iraqi affairs, demonstrators in Baghdad and several southern cities have been taking to the streets since early  October 1 , protesting against the country’s ruling class and calling for the overhaul of the political system established after the 2003 US-led invasion, whereby power is apportioned among ethnic and sectarian groups” said Al-Jazeera.

Sub Saharan Africa

Kenyans to Use Mobile Phone Numbers as Post Office Boxes

Kenyans will now be able to rent out post office boxes using their mobile phone numbers and consequently receive letters and parcels through a service provided by the country’s biggest telecoms operator Safaricom.

Analysis

“The company, which is part-owned by South Africa’s Vodacom, targets 5 million new users of the service as it ramps up infrastructure for its fledgling electronic commerce business. The service will be offered jointly with the Postal Corporation of Kenya, which will rent out physical post office boxes to Safaricom customers using their mobile phone numbers, at a quarter of the going rate for conventional boxes” said Africa News.

“Safaricom, which also counts Britain’s Vodafone and the Kenyan government as key shareholders, has evolved into a platform company, offering mobile financial services via M-Pesa as well other services. Its attempt to break into the growing e-commerce business, which is dominated by companies such as Jumia Technologies, has, however, been more slow than expected. Its e-commerce platform, Masoko, which was launched in 2017 needed further investments and a potential relaunch” said Reuters.

Europe

Three Youths Wounded in Stabbing Incident in The Hague

Three youths were injured in a stabbing incident in The Hague’s main shopping street. A manhunt was under way. In a statement, Hague police said they were seeking a man aged 45-50 wearing a shawl, a black jacket and wearing a grey tracksuit.

Analysis

“The victims were a 13-year-old boy and two 15-year-old girls, none of whom knew each other. They were all treated in hospital but released overnight. The male attacker ran off after the stabbings at a department store in the city centre, triggering a huge manhunt involving police helicopters. Images on social media showed shoppers running in panic away from the scene, on a night-time retail street lit by Christmas fairy lights” said The Guardian.

“The stabbing took place not far from parliament, which is the seat of government for the Netherlands and home to many international organizations and courts. In Britain, two members of the public were killed in a stabbing on London Bridge in the heart of the capital. The Netherlands has seen a series of terror attacks and plots, although not so far on the scale of those in other European countries” said France 24.

Oceania

Global Climate Protests kick off in Smoke-Covered Sydney

Protesters in smoke-covered Sydney kicked off a fresh round of global protests against climate change, with activists and schoolchildren picketing the headquarters of bushfire-ravaged Australia’s ruling party. Hundreds of people gathered at the conservative Liberal party’s offices, as protesters in several Asia-Pacific cities heeded the call to action from 16-year-old climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg.

Analysis

“The protests have taken on extra urgency in Australia – the country’s southeast has been devastated by hundreds of damaging bushfires in recent weeks. The protesters – brandishing placards that read ‘You’re burning our future’ and chanting ‘we will rise’ – turned out as Sydney was again enveloped in toxic smoke caused by the fires that have blanketed the city for much of the last month. Six people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the crisis, which scientists say has been worsened by rising temperatures” said TRT World.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been the target of the protestors as he has sternly denied any link between the bushfires and climate change, and also defended his support for fossil fuels. With a population of 25 million, Australia has low carbon emissions, as compared to the planet’s biggest polluters. However, it is one of the world’s leading coal exporters” said India Times.

Americas

John Kerry Launches Star-Studded ‘World War Zero’ Climate Coalition

John Kerry, the former US secretary of state, has formed a new bipartisan coalition of world leaders, military brass and Hollywood celebrities to push for public action to combat climate change. The name, World War Zero, is supposed to evoke both the national security threat posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilizations that Mr. Kerry argued would be needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050.

Analysis

“The star-studded group is supposed to win over those skeptical of the policies that would be needed to accomplish that. Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are part of the effort. Moderate Republican lawmakers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, and John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, are also on the list” said The Independent.

“The launch of the new group on Sunday comes as diplomats gather in Madrid for global climate negotiations aimed at strengthening the 2015 Paris Agreement, from which President Trump has vowed to withdraw. The United Nations found that the world’s richest countries, responsible for emitting more than three-fourths of planet-warming pollution, are not doing enough to keep Earth’s temperature from rising to dangerously high levels. Net carbon emissions from the two largest polluters, the United States and China, are expanding” said The New York Times.

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