Weekly Global Newscast | August 19 - August 26, 2019

Asia

Kashmir on Lockdown After India Deploys Troops

Kashmir was still on lockdown on August 23, 2019, after Indian authorities deployed troops and re-imposed a curfew in a bid to stop planned protests. A UN military observation office in Srinagar was also sealed in barbed wire. Eyewitnesses told The Independent that nearly 1,000 protesters assembled in the Anchar area of Srinagar were preparing to march towards the office of the UN Military Observer Group in India. At several places, people pelted stones at armed personnel, who fired pellets and tear gas in response. At least 152 people were reportedly injured.

Analysis

“The 33-year-old Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Kannan Gopinathan, who quit the service over the Kashmir crisis ever since the government abrogated Article 370 in the region, has been served a show-cause notice by Home Ministry of India. Speaking to India Today TV, the officer maintained that his decision to quit was not on account of the MHA memorandum but his decision to standby fundamental rights of Kashmir. The move has worsened the already-heightened tensions with neighboring Pakistan, which said it would downgrade its diplomatic relations with India. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory. A rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir has been ongoing for three decades as stated by Al-Jazeera.

Uzbekistan Experiences the Pitfalls of Peacemaking in Afghanistan

Fostering peace is a complicated process, and Uzbekistan just received a strong hint that best intentions can be interpreted as unwanted actions. Tashkent is trying to help promote peace in Afghanistan. Other parties are too, but the outcome of events in Afghanistan has a direct bearing on Uzbekistan, which shares an approximately 160-kilometer border with Afghanistan.

Analysis

“Uzbekistan is ready to host the talks if Taliban is ready to directly talk with the Afghan government,’ Kamilov said at the time, naming the ancient city of Samarkand as the venue. The next step, of course, was to convince the Taliban to send representatives to such talks. On August 8, a delegation from the Taliban’s political office in Doha, led by deputy Taliban leader Mullah Beradar Akhund, met with Kamilov in Tashkent said by Central Asia News. The Afghan Foreign Ministry released a statement on August 10 saying that, while Kabul appreciated international and regional cooperation, the ‘formal reception of Taliban representatives by the Republic of Uzbekistan and the dynamics of the talks do not help in facilitating peace talks between the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban.’ Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry called on ‘all countries, particularly our neighbors, to respect the leadership and ownership of the people and government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the Peace Process.’ Radio Free Europe says that the situation in Afghanistan now is much more complicated than it was in the late 1990s. The IMU as a group no longer exists, but its fighters have been dispersed around northern Afghanistan. Some have joined with the Taliban, but others have joined other groups in Afghanistan, among them the so-called Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK), an offshoot of the radical group that has waged brutal combat in Iraq and Syria for much of this decade.

Middle East & North Africa

Hezbollah Chief: ‘We Will Down Israeli Drones in Lebanon Skies

The leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, has said ‘two Israeli drones that fell over the southern suburbs of Beirut were on a “suicide mission” and said Hezbollah will do what it takes to prevent Israel from sending more drones to Beirut’. “Hezbollah will not allow such an aggression,” he said in a televised address on Sunday. “The time when Israeli aircraft come and bombard parts of Lebanon is over.

Analysis

“The new aggression constitutes a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation towards further tension,” as quoted by Times of Israel. ‘Israel’s security cabinet met on Sunday morning to discuss recent security developments, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened further attacks.’ ”If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first.” Al-Jazeera says.

Sub Saharan Africa

UN Agency Accused of Pressuring Refugees to Return to Bangladesh

The UN migration agency is the subject of a formal complaint after “severe concerns” were raised about its treatment of Bangladeshi refugees, including children. A Tunis-based NGO, Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux (FTDES), filed a complaint to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) this month, after migrants alleged officials and diplomats had put pressure on them to return home following weeks at sea. The group of 64 Bangladeshi refugees said they felt pressed by the IOM to sign a voluntary return paper, or risk arrest.

Analysis

“As quoted by The Guardian According to the migraibyants, IOM staff members used intense psychological pressure during the interviews to force them to accept their “voluntary” return to Bangladesh,’ said FTDES. ‘They also said that when they refused to sign the AVRR form, the psychological pressure increased. The migrants attest that neither UNHCR nor UNICEF were present during these initial interviews, and they did not know that they had the right to claim asylum. Moreover, no medical assistance that they had asked for was provided.’ ‘The IOM has denied any pressure was applied to the migrants to return to Bangladesh, and said that all documentation was explained to them in a language they understood. One boy who escaped the detention center to avoid returning to Bangladesh attempted to cross the Mediterranean again. His boat was intercepted and he is now reportedly in detention in Libya, The New Arab says.

Europe

Boris Johnson Loses Brexit Bite in Biarritz

The U.K. prime minister headed into one of his key meetings of his first major outing on the world stage — a 20-minute head-to-head with Donald Tusk during the G7 summit — on August 25, 2019 against a backdrop of newspaper reports claiming he would tell the European Council president the EU would lose out on up to £30 billion worth of U.K. financial obligations in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Analysis

“The £39 billion was a figure ‘attached to the Withdrawal Agreement,’ agreed by Theresa May, a U.K. government official said. ‘If we leave without a deal, then obviously the Withdrawal Agreement no longer stands.’ ‘If we are to leave without a deal, there will be substantial sums that we can spend domestically,’ the official added, but didn’t say how much. Johnson ‘didn’t discuss figures,’ the official said. There was also a sense of anti-climax about Johnson’s challenge to Donald Trump on trade said Politico. The prime minister had positioned himself before the summit as a defender of the principles of free trade and open economies. But in comments to the press ahead of his one-hour meeting with the US president, amid bellicose rhetoric from Trump on China, Johnson mustered only what he admitted was a ‘faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war.’ ‘We’re in favor of trade peace on the whole, and dialing it down if we can,’ he said. Trump barely seemed to notice. The Sunday Times reported that U.K. government lawyers put the financial obligation in the event of no deal at between £7 billion and £10 billion, but following the Tusk meeting, Downing Street declined to put a figure on it.

Oceania

Australia to Block Internet Domains Hosting Extremist Content during Terror Attacks

Australia will block access to internet domains hosting terrorist material during crisis events and will consider legislation to force digital platforms to improve the safety of their services, officials said on Sunday. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is in France to take part in the G7 leaders’ forum, said ‘the government intended to prevent extremists from exploiting digital platforms to post extremely violent content.

Analysis

“We are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes,’ quoted by Reuters. Australia and New Zealand have increased scrutiny of websites and social media companies in the wake of the Christchurch massacre in March, when 51 worshippers were killed in attacks on two New Zealand mosques. The attack was live-streamed by alleged gunman Brenton Tarrant over Facebook. Gulf News says that the government said it would establish a framework to block domains hosting such material. Australia’s eSafety Commissioner would determine on a case-by-case basis what should be censored, and was working with industry on arrangements to quickly block access during an attack. Tech giants including Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter, along with Telstra, Vodafone, TPG and Optus are expected to provide details to the government by the end of next month on how they will carry out the recommendations.

Americas

Trump Raises Tariffs on Chinese Goods as Trade War Escalates

President Donald Trump angrily escalated his trade fight with China, raising retaliatory tariffs and ordering American companies to consider alternatives to doing business there. He also blamed Jerome Powell, the man he appointed as chairman of the Federal Reserve, for the state of the domestic economy, wondering who was a “bigger enemy” of the US – Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Analysis

The Russian Television  says that the Trump’s move came after Beijing announced Friday morning that it had raised taxes on US products. He huddled with advisers, firing off tweets that attacked China and the Fed. And he mockingly attributed a drop of 573 points to the withdrawal from the Democratic presidential race of a marginal candidate. The Dow Jones average eventually closed down 623 points, figures quoted by CNBC. The president attacked the Fed for not lowering rates at an informal gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where no such action was under consideration. Powell, speaking to central bankers, gave vague assurances that the Fed would act to sustain the nation’s economic expansion, but noted that the central bank had limited tools to deal with damage from the trade dispute. Trump said he would be raising planned tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods from 10% to 15%. The Office of the US Trade Representative also said existing tariffs on another $250 billion in Chinese imports would go from 25% to 30% on Oct. 1 after receiving feedback from the public.

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