Weekly Global Newscast | June 2 - June 9, 2019


India Says Its Diplomats Harassed by Pakistani Security

India on Sunday accused Pakistani security services of widespread harassment at an Indian embassy event in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad a day earlier, alleging that hundreds of guests were turned away and some of New Delhi’s diplomats were “threatened”.


‘Guests arriving for a dinner at the luxury Serena Hotel in Islamabad faced “unprecedented harassment and intimidation” at the hands of Pakistani security agencies that even used a forklift truck to remove the cars of some attendees, according to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The latest diplomatic spat shows that even after Narendra Modi’s swearing-in as India’s prime minister for a second term last week, tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations remain high. India said about 300 guests were turned away from attending Saturday’s iftar dinner at the hotel, where many embassies host such functions during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims break their day-long fast at sunset with an iftar meal. The Indian High Commission, asking Pakistan to investigate, said some of its officials and diplomats were “jostled, pushed, abused, aggressively threatened with bodily harm” and in some cases had their phones snatched by Pakistani security officials. “The disappointing chain of events on June 1 not only violate basic norms of diplomatic conduct but are against all notions of civilised behaviour,” the Indian High Commission said in a statement. Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.’ Associated Press reported for Al Jazeera.

‘The Foreign Office on Monday lodged a strong protest against the alleged harassment of guests that were invited for Iftar by Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi last week. The High Commission had hosted Iftar on May 28. According to a letter by the FO, the Indian security agencies barricaded the High Commission from all sides shortly before Iftar and visitors were subjected to strict security checks. After security checking, the letter said guests’ pictures were also taken and they were harassed, while Kashmiri-Muslim guests were threatened with arrests “The same method was applied on an event hosted on March 22,” stated the letter, further condemning “these dirty Indian tactics in the holy month of Ramazan”, while also calling it a violation of the Vienna Convention. The FO has demanded assurance from India that such incidents will not happen in the future. On Sunday, Indian diplomats in Islamabad complained that Pakistan security officials had allegedly hassled guests invited to Iftar at a top hotel.’ Khalid Mehmood writes for Express Tribune.

Xi Worried as ‘Extreme’ US Pressure on Iran Raises Tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed concern over an increase in tensions in the Middle East owing to the “extreme pressure” by the United States on Iran and urged all sides to show restraint. In comments made to Russian media before a visit to the country on Wednesday, Xi also underlined the importance of a multinational nuclear deal between Iran and world powers for regional peace and stability and called for its full implementation.


‘Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated in recent weeks, a year after the administration of US President Donald Trump withdrew from the landmark Iran nuclear deal to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme in return for lifting of punishing sanctions. Washington reimposed sanctions last year and tightened them sharply at the start of last month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil. It has also hinted at military confrontation, sending extra forces to the region to counter what it describes as Iranian threats. Xi told TASS news agency and Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper that because of the “extreme pressure” Washington has put on Tehran and the unilateral sanctions, tensions have continued to rise in the Middle East. “The development of the situation is worrying,” Xi said, according to a transcript published by China’s foreign ministry before his arrival in Russia. Commenting on the nuclear deal, Xi said the positions of Beijing and Moscow on the issue “are highly aligned, and both hope that all relevant parties remain rational and exercise restraint, step up dialogue and consultations and lower the temperature on the present tense situation”.’ Associated Press reported for Al Jazeera.

‘Chinese leader Xi Jinping has on Wednesday expressed concerns about an increase in tension between Iran and the United States, troubling the Middle East region owing to “extreme pressure”, and also urged all sides to restraint. According to Al-Jazeera news reports, before arriving in Russia, the Chinese leader also underlined the value of a multinational nuclear pact between Tehran and world powers for the regional stability and peace and also called for a complete implementation. Tensions have risen between Iran and the US in recent weeks, about a year after US President Donald Trump administration withdrew from the landmark international nuclear deal aimed to curb Iranian nuclear programme in return of sanctions relief. “The development of the situation is worrying,” Xi said, according to a transcript published by China’s foreign ministry before his arrival in Moscow.’ Divya Singh writes for The Indian Wire.

Middle East & North Africa

Qatari Foreign Minister Urges De-escalation in US-Iran Dispute

Qatar and other countries have been talking to both Iran and the United States about de-escalation, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said, urging both sides to meet and find a compromise.


‘Sheikh Mohammed said several countries including Qatar, Oman, Iraq and Japan had been urging de-escalation with the two sides. “All these countries are concerned what escalation could lead to,” he said. “There were attempts by Qatar and by other countries in the region to de-escalate the situation: we have been speaking to the US and we have been talking to the Iranians as well.” “What we are trying to do is really to bridge the gap and create a conversation between the two parties as escalation is not going to benefit anyone in the region,” he said. Tensions have risen between Iran and the US in recent weeks after Washington reimposed economic sanctions on Iran after pulling out of a big-power nuclear deal, and sending forces to the Middle East in a show of force to counter what US officials called Iranian threats to US troops and interests.’ Associated Press writes for Al Jazeera.

Sub Saharan Africa

Sudan’s Military Blames Protesters For Deadly Crackdown

Sudan’s ruling military has accused the protest movement of escalation as the second day of the opposition’s general strike kicked in. Opposition and protest groups had called on workers to stay home after security forces stormed a protest camp on June 3, killing dozens and dealing a blow to hopes of a peaceful transition after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April.


‘Lieutenant General Jamaleddine Omar, from the ruling military council, said on Monday that by closing off roads and setting up barricades, the protesters committed a crime. He said the military and the Rapid Support Forces – the paramilitary group accused of violently dispersing the weeks-long protest camp last week – have beefed up their presence across the country “to restore life back to normal”. Meanwhile, protest leaders urged the Sudanese people to continue the general strike, part of a civil disobedience campaign launched on Sunday. It comes after weeks of protests to pressure the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) to hand power over to a civilian-led government. At least four people were killed on Sunday as Sudanese security forces moved to quell the civil disobedience campaign that left streets in the capital Khartoum largely deserted. Two people died after being beaten and stabbed and two people were shot dead, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD) said, blaming paramilitary groups. Security forces arrested a number of airport officials and employees of Sudan’s central bank on Sunday, according to the dpa news agency, citing colleagues of those detained.’ Associated Press reported for Al Jazeera.

‘Sudan’s ruling military blamed the country’s protest movement for an escalation as the second day of the opposition’s general strike kicked in on Monday in the protesters latest bid to pressure the army to hand over power to civilian rule. For the second day, shops and businesses were closed in the capital, Khartoum, though there was visibly more traffic in the streets than on Sunday, when the strike began. But the military’s latest harsh words — describing actions by the protest movement as a major liability to Sudan and its security — reflected that the ruling generals are hardening their stance.’ Bassam Hatoum and Samy Magdy write for Hastings Tribune.


G20 Agrees to Push Ahead With Tax Rules Targeting Tech Firms

Group of 20 finance ministers has agreed to push ahead on compiling common rules that will close loopholes that global technology giants like Facebook use to reduce their corporate tax burden.


‘Global finance leaders meeting in Japan this weekend said they were increasingly worried that the trade dispute between the United States and China, which shows no signs of abating, could propel the world economy into a crisis. The sense of gloom at the gathering of the Group of 20 major economies came amid increasing evidence that global economic growth is slowing amid President Trump’s renewed trade war with Beijing. In a closing statement, or communiqué, officials at the G-20 warned that trade tensions have “intensified” and agreed to address the risks. But the Trump administration, intent on rewriting the rules of international commerce in America’s favor, gave no sign that it was ready to back down. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued to blame China for prolonging the fight and insisted that the trade dispute was not hurting America’s economy or hampering global growth. “I don’t think in any way that the slowdowns you’re seeing in parts of the world are a result of trade tensions at the moment,” Mr. Mnuchin told reporters on the sidelines of the G-20.’ Alan Rappeport writes for The New York Times.

‘Following 30 hours of wrangling in what one official described as a “tense” atmosphere, G20 finance minister and central bank chiefs produced a hard-fought final statement acknowledging that “growth remains low and risks remain tilted to the downside.” “Most importantly, trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified,” the G20 said, adding they “stood ready to take further action” if required. As a compromise pushed by Washington, the statement omitted language from a previous draft that mentioned a “pressing need to resolve trade tensions.” The statement capped two days of talks in the western Japanese port city of Fukuoka that also tackled the thorny issue of taxing internet giants and, for the first time, the economic challenges posed by ageing. “In our view, this is the best outcome we could deliver. Not the perfect outcome but a good outcome,” said EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, who admitted that reaching agreement was “not an easy task.” “Almost everyone in the room thinks that trade tensions are a threat to growth… It’s not always the mood in the American administration,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s them against all the others but it looks like it sometimes, even if everyone also criticises some aggression from China.”’ Associated Press reported for Dawn.


Trump Calls Off Rariffs on Mexico After Migration Deal

US President Donald Trump said on Friday Mexico’s government had reached a deal with the United States to avert a tariff war by pledging to take “strong measures” to contain the migration of mostly Central Americans crossing the southern US border.


‘Trump had threatened to impose five percent import tariffs on all Mexican goods from Monday if Mexico did not agree to his demands to tighten its borders. His announcement of a deal came after three days of Mexico-US negotiations in Washington. “The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the US on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended,” Trump said on Twitter on Friday evening. “Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures to stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border. This is being done to greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States,” Trump added. Details of the agreement would be released shortly by the US State Department, Trump said.’ Associated Press reported for Al Jazeera.

‘After the US and Mexico reached an agreement to stave off tariffs on Mexican goods in return for concessions on immigration, Donald Trump heralded the deal but complained about its coverage by US media. His treasury secretary said the president retained the authority to impose tariffs if Mexico did not live up to the deal. Trump had threatened to impose 5% tariffs on all Mexican goods, rising to 25%, if the country did not agree new measures to stem migration from Central America. The tariffs were set to go in effect on Monday but the president tweeted late on Friday that a deal had been reached and the tariffs were “indefinitely suspended”. In a joint declaration, both countries said Mexico agreed to immediately expand along the entire border a program that sends migrants seeking asylum in the US back to Mexico while they await adjudication. The country also agreed to increase enforcement to contain the flow of migrants headed to the US, including by deploying national guard troops to its southern border and cracking down on human smuggling, the declaration said. On Saturday, before going to his golf club in Virginia, Trump thanked Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, his foreign minister and “all of the many representatives of both the United States and Mexico, for working so long and hard to get our agreement on immigration completed!”López Obrador previously tweeted his “thanks to the support of all Mexicans”.’ Martin Pengelly writes for Guardian.


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