Weekly Global Newscast | November 12 - November 18, 2018
Exchange of Aggressive Rhetoric Between the Two Uneasy Allies
President Donald Trump in an interview with the Fox News lashed out on the Pakistani government, targeting it of yet again, wrongfully harbouring and facilitating terrorism. However, this time around, his aggressive rhetoric was reciprocated with a prompt response from Prime Minister Imran Khan, who, in his tweets urged President Trump to familiarize himself with the history of contributions that Pakistan has made so far in USA’s War on Terror. Prominent political party representatives registered their backlash over Trump’s insinuations following the verbal contestation between the two leaders.
‘Prime Minister Imran Khan fired back at Donald Trump, saying the US president’s “false assertions add insult to injury Pakistan has suffered in the US War on Terror.” In a series of tweets in response to Trump’s allegations, the Prime Minister criticised Trump for accusing Pakistan of taking billions of dollars in aid and not doing “a damn thing” for the US. “Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury Pak has suffered in US WoT in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed abt historical facts,” he said in a series of tweets. “Pak has suffered enough fighting US’s war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests,” he said.’ Associated Press reported for Geo TV.
‘Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari also called Trump out over his remarks about Pakistan, saying Donald Trump suffers conveniently from perpetual historic amnesia!” Calling Trump’s tirade a lesson for Pakistani leaders “who kept appeasing the US especially after 9/11”, the minister added: “Whether China or Iran, US policies of containment and isolation do not coincide with Pakistan’s strategic interests.” Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani also termed Trump’s remarks “contrary to the facts” and reminded the US president that “Pakistan is not a client state of the US”. “The US president’s language regarding a sovereign state was aggressive,” he said. “He should be careful; Pakistan is not a state or colony of the US.” The veteran PPP leader reminded Trump of all that Pakistan did for the US over the years. “The US killed Pakistanis in unauthorised drone attacks, the US sponsored terrorism in Kabul, and a drug industry was created on the Pak-Afghan border for the financial assistance of the US,” he said.’ Associated Press reported for Pakistan Today.
Asia Pacific Leaders Fail to Reach Consensus at APEC Summit
Asia-Pacific leaders failed to bridge gaping divisions over trade at a summit dominated by a war of words between the US and China as they vie for regional influence. The APEC Summit remained the epicentre of Asian politics this past week.
‘For the first time, APEC leaders were unable to agree on a formal written declaration, amid sharp differences between the world’s top two economies over the rules of global trade. “You know the two big giants in the room. What can I say?” said the host, the Papua New Guinean prime minister, Peter O’Neill, conceding defeat. Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted the failure came down to “different visions on particular elements with regard to trade that prevented full consensus”. Sources said that going into the meeting the United States had pressed for the leaders to issue what amounted to a denunciation of the World Trade Organization and a call for its wholesale reform. That demand was a step too far for Beijing, which would be likely to get less preferential treatment under any changes.’ Associated Press reported for The Guardian.
‘Protectionist actions are short-sighted and doomed to fail, Chinese President Xi Jinping said) ahead of an APEC summit at which US-China trade tensions are likely to take centre stage. “Attempts to erect barriers and cut close economic ties work against the laws of economics and the trends of history. This is a short-sighted approach and it is doomed to failure,” Mr Xi told business leaders on the side-lines of the summit. “We should say no to protectionism and unilateralism,” urged Mr Xi, in a veiled swipe at the “America First” policies of the US administration.’ Reported the Strait Times.
‘After months of bickering over a damaging trade war, the disputed South China Sea and U.S. support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan, the two nations’ presidents took a step back from the edge with an ice-breaking telephone call early this month. While both U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed optimism about resolving their trade war ahead of a planned meeting at the G20 meeting in Argentina at the end of next week, relations have since faltered again. The weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby was one of open disagreement, topped by disputes between the U.S. and China over trade, security and which would be the better investment partner for the region. For the first time, the gathered leaders failed to agree to a joint communique, against the backdrop of the bitter trade war.’ Ben Blanchard writes for Reuters.
Middle East & North Africa
Trump nominates John Abizaid as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
President Donald Trump has picked Gen. John Abizaid to be the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the White House said Tuesday. Abizaid retired from the U.S. Army in 2007 after 34 years of service. At the time of his retirement, Abizaid was the longest serving commander of U.S. Central Command, from July 2003 and March 2007.
‘President Trump announced that he will nominate retired Army Gen. John Abizaid to become the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, filling a vacancy that was spotlighted by the difficult diplomacy between the United States and Riyadh over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The post has been vacant throughout Trump’s presidency. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have blamed Senate Democrats for holding up nominations, but no one had been nominated for the job until now. Turkey, where Washington Post contributing columnist Khashoggi was killed last month, also has no U.S. ambassador. Abizaid, best known from his time overseeing the Iraq War, is now a consultant and a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His selection emphasizes the importance Trump has placed on the military partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, a major customer for U.S. arms.’ Anne Gearen and Dan Lamothe write for the Washington Post.
‘Abizaid’s nomination comes in the wake of international outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was also a U.S. resident. Khashoggi died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. While the U.S. revoked visas for several Saudi citizens implicated in Khashoggi’s death, the Trump administration faced criticism for being too soft in its initial response to the reports of the journalist’s alleged murder. The U.S. has since said it will look into the circumstances of Khashoggi’s death independently from Saudi Arabia’s own investigation.’ Reported the CNBC.
‘The selection, if confirmed by the Senate, will finally give the president a representative of his own in Riyadh at a time when the relationship with Washington has grown strained over the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist who lived in the United States and wrote for The Washington Post. General Abizaid, a Lebanese-American who speaks fluent Arabic and spent years in the Middle East, served as head of the United States Central Command with responsibility for the region and oversaw the early years of the Iraq war under President George W. Bush. Since 2016, he has served as special envoy to the Ukrainian military helping bolster its capacity against Russian aggression.’ Peter Baker and Eric Schmitt write for the New York Times.
Sub Saharan Africa
Attack on a Refugee Base in Central Africa
An attack on a Catholic mission in Central African Republic has killed more than 40 people, and left dozens others wounded. According to the United Nations, the attack happened on Thursday in Alindao, a town 300 km (200 miles) east of the capital Bangui. Thousands of people were forced to flee when the mission sheltering about 20,000 refugees was set on fire.
‘Thousands have died and a fifth of Central African Republic’s 4.5 million population have fled their homes in a conflict that broke out after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Central African Republic Najat Rochdi in a statement decried the repeated attacks on civilians, saying it is “unacceptable.” Despite electing a new leader in 2016, the country has continued to face political instability and tit-for-tat inter-communal violence.’ Okponyia Onyedikachi writes for TV 360 Nigeria.
‘The violence in the town of Alindao, some 300km east of the capital, Bangui, began on Thursday when Christian militiamen known as “Anti-balaka” killed Muslims, prompting revenge attacks. A church was burned, forcing “thousands” of people to flee, the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) said. “We have counted 42 bodies so far, but we are still searching for others. The camp has been burned to the ground and people fled into the bush and to other IDP (internally displaced person) camps in the city,” Etienne Godenaha, Alindao legislator, told the Reuters news agency. A humanitarian source also said that more than 40 people were killed, according to Reuters. The UN on Friday said 37 deaths had been confirmed in Alindao, including that of a priest.’ Reported the Al Jazeera.
Irish PM: Brexit Undermines Good Friday Agreement
Uncertainty regarding the contentious border between Ireland and the northern Ireland border remains as a major factor impeding the course of Brexit talks. According to the Irish Prime Minister, Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and its role as a peace- keeper.
‘Speaking to business leaders in London on Monday, May said that immigration to the United Kingdom would be based on skills and experience, while citizens from the European Union would not have preferential treatment. “Once we’ve left the EU, we will be fully in control of who comes here,” May said. “It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi.” Since reaching a deal over the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU last week, May’s government has been in crisis, with attacks on the deal coming from all sides. Several ministers, including her Brexit minister, have resigned over the terms of the agreement while dissenting MPs within her own party have sought to trigger a leadership challenge.’ Reported the Al Jazeera.
‘Mrs May warned that Britain would embark on “a path of deep and grave uncertainty” if it abandoned the withdrawal deal it had agreed with the EU this week. Dominic Raab resigned as Brexit secretary in protest at the exit plan, while Esther McVey walked out of her cabinet job as work and pensions secretary; two other junior ministers also joined the government “Brexodus”. It was hoped that Mrs May had persuaded Penny Mordaunt, international development secretary, not to quit. But Downing Street was on alert for the possible resignation of Michael Gove, environment secretary, who along with Boris Johnson fronted the 2016 Vote Leave campaign. Brexiters have argued that this week’s deal with the EU threatens the integrity of the UK by setting out different regulatory regimes for Northern Ireland and the rest of the country, as well as giving Brussels extraordinary powers over Britain. George Parker, Jim Pickard and Laura Hughes write for Financial Times.
Fire Strikes Northern California; Death Toll continues to Rise
Remains of at least 76 people have been recovered so far in and around the Sierra foothills hamlet of Paradise, which was home to nearly 27,000 residents before the town was largely incinerated by the deadly Camp Fire on the night of November 8.
‘More than a week later, firefighters have managed to carve containment lines around 45 percent of the blaze’s perimeter, up from 35 percent a day earlier, even as the burned landscape grew slightly to 142,000 acres (57,000 hectares). Besides the toll on human life, property losses from the blaze make it California’s most the destructive on record, posing a challenge of providing long-term shelter for many thousands of displaced residents. With more than 12,000 homes and other structures up in smoke, many survivors of the fire have taken up temporary residence with friends and family, while others have pitched tents or were camping out of their vehicles.’ Reported the Al Jazeera.
‘The number of people missing after California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire jumped on Saturday to 1,276, despite authorities locating hundreds of people who scattered when the Camp Fire tore through the mountain town of Paradise. Forensic recovery teams sifting through the charred wreckage recovered the remains of five more victims, bringing the death toll to at least 76, authorities said. Sixty-three of them have been tentatively identified, pending DNA confirmation. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said much of the increase in the number of missing was due to his office’s efforts to comb through a backlog of emergency calls that came in during the first hours of the fire on November 8. He said officials were sifting through the list of missing persons for duplications and people who fled. Some 380 people had been located and taken off the list since Friday, he said.’ Terray Sylvester and Steve Holland write for the Reuters.