Weekly Global Newscast |October 7 – October 14, 2019
France Delivers First Rafale Fighter Jet to India
On October 8, 2019, France delivered first Rafale Fighter Jet to India, following an official ceremony at aircraft maker Dassault Aviation’s facility in Merignac, southwestern France. Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh got in the Rafale cockpit for a test flight with a French pilot.
“It is a historic day and shows deepening ties between India and France,” Singh said at the handover ceremony. “Rafale will add to the strength of IAF. Our focus is to enhance the capability of IAF. We are sure that all timelines would be adhered to, be it jets or weapon systems,” he continued. “This aircraft marks a massive enhancement in the Indian Air Force combat capability but that enhancement is not for attack purposes but as a deterrent for self-defense,” Singh further said. Singh credited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that his “decisiveness has made this crucial air enhancement possible today”’ said, The Diplomat.
‘The ministers are also scheduled to hold talks on defence cooperation and security issues in the Indo-Pacific region. The $8.78 billion deal sparked controversy in India last year with the main opposition Indian National Congress party accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of buying the aircraft at nearly three times the price being negotiated when it was the ruling party before Modi came to power in 2014. The government denied any wrongdoing.’ mentioned the Dawn
India Released Three Kashmiri Politicians
On October 10, 2019, Indian authorities released three low-level pro-India politicians in disputed Kashmir amid international pressure to ease a clampdown imposed more than two months ago when New Delhi downgraded the autonomy of the area it administers and imposed tighter controls.
“The Indian government decision came days after it announced it would allow tourists back into the region after ordering them to leave in August because of security concerns. However, mobile Internet and cellphones remained cut, with telecommunication restricted to landline phones. The Press Trust of India news agency says authorities released Yawar Mir, Noor Mohammed and Shoiab Lone, all low-level activists’ said Arab News.
‘Prominent Kashmiri politicians, including some who have historically accepted India’s sovereignty over the disputed Muslim-majority region, remain detained in their own homes or in jails.Kashmir’s pristine mountainous landscape, ski resorts, lake houseboats and apple orchards have long made it a tourist attraction. But India’s harsh crackdown and moves to reduce the territory’s semi-autonomy have touched off widespread anger, and Kashmiris have launched a campaign of refusal to resume their normal lives. As some Indian tourists trickled back on Thursday, Wali Mohammad, leader of an association of houseboat owners, complained that the government first forced tourists to leave the region and now is allowing them back without any facilities’. The Diplomat writes.
Middle East & North Africa
US Ordered Its Forces to Withdraw from Northern Syria
Donald Trump has ordered all US troops to withdraw from the country’s north to avoid a bloody conflict between Turkey and formerly US-backed Kurdish fighters. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on October 13, 2019 ‘a development that has paralyzed the fight against ISIS and ceded US and Kurdish battlefield gains to Moscow and Damascus’
“In explaining the decision, Esper also said that “in the last 24 hours” the US had learned that America’s primary ally in the fight against ISIS, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, were “looking to cut a deal” with the Syrian regime and their Russian backers in order to “counter attack against the Turks in the north,” something the SDF leadership had told America it would do in the absence of US assistance in the face of Turkish attacks. Despite Esper saying the US only learned of the effort in the last 24 hours, CNN has reported that the SDF commander told a senior US diplomat Thursday that this was his intent’ said CNN
‘President Donald Trump late Saturday signed off on the order, which would end most of the U.S. military’s presence there, two U.S. military officials in the region told NBC News. Only around 300 soldiers would remain in the U.S. military’s Al Tanf base in the south, the officials said. The order, which has not been carried out yet, came as the Turkish military escalated its military operation in the region, driving the area into further instability. Syrian government troops were set to deploy along the border with Turkey to help Kurdish fighters fend off the invasion, while hundreds of Islamic State group supporters escaped from a displacement camp earlier Sunday’. NBC news said.
Sub Saharan Africa
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian Prime Minister
On Friday, October 11, 2019, Ethiopian prime minister has been awarded a Nobel Price due to his efforts for democratic reforms to resolve conflicts in the region.
“Abiy, 43, since becoming Ethiopian prime minister in April 2018, the 43-year-old has aggressively pursued policies that have the potential to upend his country’s society and reshape dynamics beyond its borders. Within just six months of his swearing-in, Abiy made peace with bitter foe Eritrea, released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality, and welcomed home exiled armed groups branded “terrorists” by his predecessors’ Said the Dawn
‘Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said some people may consider it too early to give him the prize, but “it is now that Abiy Ahmed’s efforts need recognition and deserve encouragement.” Within weeks, Eritrea’s longtime leader, visibly moved, visited Addis Ababa and communications and transport links were restored. For the first time in two decades people could, long-divided families made tearful reunions. The improving relations led to the lifting of United Nations sanctions on Eritrea, one of the world’s most reclusive nations. But Ethiopia’s reforms appear not to have inspired any in Eritrea, which has since closed border posts with its neighbor. At home, Abiy offered one political surprise after another. He released tens of thousands of prisoners, welcomed home once-banned opposition groups and acknowledged past abuses. People expressed themselves freely on social media, and he announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020. The country has one of the world’s few “gender-balanced” Cabinets and a female president, a rarity in Africa.More recently, he has turned to fleshing out his vision for the economy while laying the groundwork for elections currently scheduled to take place next May’. Mark Lewis and Elias Meseret write in the Time.
Why Climate Activist Greta Thunberg did not Won Nobel Peace Prize
Greta Thunberg has won Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize-the Right Livelihood Award for her climate activism. The 16-year-old was recognised ‘for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts’.
“Thunberg didn’t win for her tireless activism might feel like a slight. But the reality is, she didn’t deserve to win. More importantly, winning at this point could have been detrimental to her cause. I don’t say that to belittle her activism. In fact, quite the opposite. Thunberg has absolutely changed the climate conversation globally. But that’s not what Thunberg is after. She’s after action based on sound science. And world governments have yet to deliver in that regard, which means she and other activists still have most of the work ahead of them. Winning the prize might only have slowed down that work by diluting her message that the toughest efforts lay ahead’. Brian Kahn write in GIZMODO.
‘Thunberg, who is fairly communicative on Twitter and Instagram, has been unusually silent since the announcement. (Granted, that might have something to do with the fact that she’s in Denver preparing for this week’s Fridays For Future climate strike)’. Aylin Woodward writes in Business Insider.
New Zealand Creates Unit to ‘Disrupt’ Online Extremism in Aftermath of Christchurch Massacre
New Zealand will establish a team of investigators dedicated solely to tackling online extremism, as it moves to address failures exposed by the Christchurch mosques massacre, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on October 14, 2019.
“The attack on March 15 that killed 51 Muslim worshippers was livestreamed on Facebook, and the video was shared on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook-owned apps Whatsapp and Instagram. Ardern said the government was investing NZ$17 million ($10.73 million) over four years to boost New Zealand’s ability to find, stop and stamp out terrorist and violent extremist content online quickly. The investment would be used to double the investigative, forensic, intelligence and prevention work of the Department of Internal Affairs, she announced at a press conference. A new team of 17 people will be dedicated to tackling such content, the government in a statement’ said Reuters.
Trump Blamed For Exposing Kurds to Turkish Offensive
Late on October 11, 2019, the Ibrahim sisters (Syrian immigrants in US) left their home in Columbus, Ohio, and drove eight hours through the night to join hundreds of other Kurds at a rally outside the White House on Saturday afternoon to protest against Turkey’s military assault on their former homeland.
“The offensive began after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly shifted policy and withdrew some U.S. troops deployed to support Kurdish forces in the fight against Islamic State. “Trump has helped Turkey kill us,” said Lava Ibrahim, 24, as a parade of protesters swirled around her holding posters, chanting “Save the Kurds,” and waving red, green, and yellow Kurdish flags. “He said he’s watching the situation closely, but what is he watching? We did everything for the United States, and he’s letting us die.”’ said Reuters.
‘Western allies have criticised Turkey’s operation to take control of Kurdish-controlled territory along the border, which it launched on Wednesday, saying it risks sparking a severe humanitarian crisis as well as reviving the Islamic State extremist group in the area. The US has been allied with Syrian Kurds since 2014 in the war against Islamic State, and together they worked to defeat the territorial caliphate. The Kurdish-led force lost some 10,000 people in the war. Turkey has a long-running conflict with its own Kurdish minority. Trump defended his decision to withdraw troops from Syria’s border with Turkey on Saturday. “I dont think our solders should be there for the next 50 years, guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our own borders at home.” Trump said referring to the US border with Mexico,’ said The Canberra Times.