Weekly Global Newscast | May 6 - May 12, 2019


Rohingya Girls Rescued From Traffickers in Bangladesh

Bangladesh police rescue 23 Rohingya teenager girls from being flown to Malaysia on Sunday and also arrest four human traffickers in a raid in Dhaka. Four human traffickers were also arrested during the operation including a Rohingyan couple and 50 Bangladeshi passports were also recovered from them.


‘At least 23 teenage Rohingya girls have been rescued after being brought from refugee camps to the capital, Dhaka, to be sent to Malaysia by air, Bangladesh police said on Sunday. Dhaka police also arrested four human traffickers including a Rohingya couple and recovered more than 50 Bangladeshi passports from them on Saturday. Police spokesman Mokhlesur Rahman said they raided a residence in the northern part of the city and found the teenagers hiding in a room behind a tailoring shop. “They were promised jobs in Malaysia and brought from refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar,” he told AFP news agency, referring to the Rohingya settlements in Bangladesh’s southeastern coastal district.’ Associated press reported for Al Jazeera.

‘“We have filed cases against the four arrested persons and sent the girls back to their camps in Cox’s Bazar,” Rahman said. Abul Khair, local police chief of Ukhiya, where Kutupalong, the largest refugee camp in the world, is situated, said he received the girls and would send them to their homes in the camps. Some 740,000 Rohingya Muslims fled a brutal military clampdown in Myanmar in August 2017 and arrived in Bangladesh to join another 300,000 already living in the refugee camps. Desperate for a better life and an economic future, the refugees, including in particular teenage girls, easily fall prey to human traffickers roaming in the overcrowded camps. Thousands of the refugees have risked their lives travelling to Malaysia and Thailand — mainly by boat — when the Bay of Bengal is calm before monsoon season sets in at the end of May. Bangladeshi authorities have stopped over 300 Rohingya this year alone from attempting such perilous boat journeys on rickety fishing boats. Many have also attempted to fly to Malaysia and Middle Eastern countries by procuring Bangladeshi passports and travel documents.’ Associated press reported for Dawn.

China Defiant as Trump Adviser Admits US Consumers Pay Tariffs

Trump’s adviser Larry Kudlow says that both the United States and China will suffer after US administration increases tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% while contradicting the statement of US president Donald Trump in whose opinion only China will pay.


‘The White House’s top economic adviser has admitted US businesses will suffer from tariffs on Chinese goods, contradicting US President Donald Trump’s widely denounced claim that it would only be China that pays. “Yes, I don’t disagree with that,” said Larry Kudlow, the head of the president’s National Economic Council, when Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday TV programme, asked him, “It’s US businesses and US consumers who pay, correct?” Kudlow added, “Both sides will pay,” but he stipulated that China “will suffer (economic) losses” from reduced exports to the US, not from paying the tariffs. Kudlow’s admission contradicts many of Trump’s comments and tweets to the effect that Chinese companies pay the tariffs in what amounts, in the president’s view, to a massive transfer of wealth to the United States from China. Yet almost no economist has agreed with Trump’s view and fact-checkers routinely brand the president’s assertion false and point out that US importers of goods from China pay the tariffs. Trump has also asserted that trade wars are “easy to win”, but Kudlow accepted that they come with costs for the US economy, though he downplayed the effect.’ Reuters reported for Al Jazeera.

‘The US more than doubled tariffs on $200bn (£153.7bn) of Chinese goods on Friday, in a sharp escalation of their trade war. Earlier, Mr Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said “both sides will suffer” from the trade dispute. But Mr Trump later downplayed the impact of the tariff hike on the US. “We are right where we want to be with China. Remember, they broke the deal with us & tried to renegotiate,” Mr Trump wrote in a post on Twitter. “We will be taking in tens of billions of dollars in tariffs from China. Buyers of product can make it themselves in the USA (ideal), or buy it from non-tariffed countries.”’ Associated press reported for BBC.

Middle East & North Africa

US Sends Patriots, Warship to Middle East Amid Iran Tensions

The US government has approved the deployment of a Patriot missile defence battery and another warship to the Middle East amid increasing tensions between the US and Iran. The USS Arlington, which transports marines, amphibious vehicles, and rotary aircraft, will join the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, which already passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday, and is currently sailing in the Red Sea.


‘The US says the deployments of military hardware to the region comes in response to “heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations.” The Patriot missile system is a defence mechanism against aircraft, drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is currently deployed in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “The Acting Secretary of Defence has approved the movement of USS Arlington (LPD-24) and a Patriot battery to US Central Command (CENTCOM) as part of the command’s original request for forces from earlier this week,” a Pentagon statement said.’ Associated press reported for Al Jazeera.

‘The Pentagon says US forces are responding to a possible threat to US forces, but did not offer any specifics regarding those threats. The latest Pentagon statement on Friday said only that Washington was “ready to defend US forces and interests in the region”, adding that the US did not seek conflict with Iran. There are about 5,200 US troops currently deployed in neighboring Iraq. The Patriot system can counter ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. Officials told US media the USS Arlington had already been scheduled to go to the region, but its deployment was brought forward to provide enhanced command and control capabilities. The USS Abraham Lincoln passed through the Suez Canal on Thursday, US Central Command said. Iran’s semi-official Isna news agency quoted a senior Iranian cleric, Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad, as saying that the US military fleet could be “destroyed with one missile”.’ Reuters reported for BBC

Sub Saharan Africa

Gunmen Kill Six During Catholic Mass in Burkina Faso

Gunmen on motorcycles stormed the church in Dablo on Sunday morning, killing six men, including the priest, before setting fire to the church and buildings in the area. While US is considering sending military advisors to combat a growing terrorist threat.


‘Armed attackers killed a priest and five worshippers during mass on Sunday in an attack on a Catholic church in northern Burkina Faso. The attackers – numbering between 20 and 30 – managed to trap some of the people inside then set fire to the church in the town of Dablo, about 200km from the capital Ouagadougou. Several shops were also torched before they headed to the local health centre, which they looted and then torched the chief nurse’s vehicle. “Towards 9am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic Church,” said Ousmane Zongo, the mayor of Dablo. “They started firing as the congregation tried to flee.”
“They killed five of them. The priest, who was celebrating mass, was also killed, bringing the number of dead to six.” Urbain Kabore, a government spokesman for the West African country’s Sahel region, said the attackers also destroyed all places serving alcohol.’ Associated press reported for Al Jazeera.

‘In February, CNN reported that the US was considering sending additional military advisers as well as intelligence and surveillance assets such as drones to Burkina Faso to help combat a growing terrorist threat. The landlocked country in northwest Africa has been beset by extremist violence in recent months as Islamist terror groups expand their reach. The number of violent incidents in the country linked to the local affiliates of al Qaeda and ISIS rose from 24 in 2017 to 136 in 2018, according to a report by the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies. The Trump administration last year announced plans to cut the number of US troops in Africa by around 10%. One defence official told CNN that the planned reductions would eventually lower the number of US counterterrorism troops and their enablers who support operations by approximately 20%.’ Bethlehem Feleke and Duarte Mendonce write for CNN.


UK: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party Leads EU Election Poll

The newly formed Brexit Party in the UK has doubled its lead over other British parties in an opinion poll out today on the European Parliament elections. Opinion poll shows Brexit party may win more votes in the European elections than Conservative and Labour combined.


‘A new political party led by British eurosceptic Nigel Farage appears to be on course to scoop more support in elections for the European Parliament than the United Kingdom’s two biggest parties combined, according to a new opinion poll. The Opinium survey, published by the UK’s Guardian newspaper on Saturday, showed Farage’s Brexit party had 34 percent support ahead of the May 23 vote, which Britain must participate in after failing to leave the European Union as expected in March. Prime Minister Theresa May’s ruling Conservative Party was in fourth place with 11 percent. The main opposition Labour Party came in second place on 21 percent, while the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, the most popular party to explicitly call for a second referendum to reverse Brexit, were on 12 percent. Farage, a former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a key figure in forcing Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, launched his Brexit Party in April. He said it would take on Britain’s political leaders, who he accused of betraying the vote to leave the 28-member EU.’ Associated press reported for Al Jazeera.


US Imposes Venezuela-Related Sanctions on Two Companies, Tankers

The United States blacklisted two new shipping companies and two oil tanker ships for shipping oil from Venezuela to Cuba. The sanctions are part of economic measures that Trump administration has taken to cut oil revenues to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in an effort to help push him from power.


‘The US Treasury identified the firms as Monsoon Navigation Corporation, based in the Marshall Islands, and Liberia-based Serenity Navigation Ltd. Monsoon’s tanker Ocean Elegance and Serenity Maritime’s Leon Dias delivered crude oil from Venezuela to Cuba from late 2018 through March 2019, the Treasury Department said. Both tankers have Panama flags. The sanctions block the firms and ships from dealings with US persons and companies, and freeze any assets the firms may own or control in the US. The US and most Western nations back Juan Guaido, an opposition leader who invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to declare himself president, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. Despite severe oil sanctions on the oil-rich OPEC member nation, Maduro has held on to power, backed by Cuba, Russia and China, and has thus far retained the support of the country’s military and other institutions. Maduro has called Guaido a US puppet. Venezuelan opposition legislators on Friday said threatening messages had been spray-painted on their homes or intelligence agents have been following them, amid a broad crackdown by the government of President Nicolas Maduro against congress. The country’s top court this week accused 10 legislators in the opposition-run legislature of treason for participating in a failed April uprising against Maduro’s government, and security forces on Wednesday arrested the second-highest ranking legislator, Edgar Zambrano, who has been transferred to a jail at the Fuerte Tiuna military base in Caracas, according to a statement by the court in charge of Zambrano’s trial. Further arrests could cripple the functioning of the legislature, which has been a crucial part of the opposition’s strategy to unseat Maduro amid a hyperinflationary economic collapse that has fueled an exodus of millions of citizens.’ Reuters reported for Al Jazeera. 

‘The United States and most western nations back Juan Guaido, an opposition leader who invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to declare himself president, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. Despite severe oil sanctions on the oil-rich OPEC member nation, Maduro has held on to power, backed by Cuba, Russia and China, and has thus far retained the support of the country’s military and other institutions. Maduro has called Guaido a puppet of the United States. (Reporting by Makini Brice, Mohammad Zargham and Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish).’ Reuters reported for Euronews.


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