Weekly Global Newscast | 06 August - 12 August, 2018
US details new round of China tariffs
The United States said it will impose a second round of tariffs on Chinese goods later this month, escalating a trade war between the world’s largest economies. The list of products, worth $16 billion, will be subject to 25 percent duties. China has already pledged to retaliate with duties on an identical amount of US goods.
The Office of the US Trade Representative says the new tariffs, on items including motorcycles and antennas, are ‘part of the US response to China’s unfair trade practices related to the forced transfer of American technology.’ Following a first round of US duties on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods in July, Beijing retaliated with equivalent tariffs on US products. Both governments have indicated the trade war would escalate in the coming weeks.
‘A stalemate appears the most likely endgame, with new American and Chinese tariffs staying in place for months or even years,’ Keith Bradsher writes for the New York Times.
‘[American] consumers are seeing higher prices on a variety everyday products, and a range of US businesses—from cranberry farmers to yacht sellers—say they’re hurting as a result of Trump’s trade policies,’ Claudia Koerner opines for Buzzfeed.
Pakistan and Russia sign rare military cooperation pact
Pakistan has wrapped up a ground-breaking contract with Russia that would, for the first time, open doors for Russian military training of Pakistani army officers. The rare deal comes amid deteriorating relations between Islamabad and the United States, which has resulted in the halt of all military exchange programs with Pakistan and left a void that Moscow has stepped in to fill.
The security training agreement concluded Tuesday at the end of the two-day inaugural meeting of the Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC), said a Pakistan Defense Ministry statement.
The Islamabad-Moscow security partnership has strengthened and expanded since late 2014, when the two former rivals signed their defense cooperation agreement.
Middle East & North Africa
UN condemns attack on bus full of Yemeni Children
The United Nations condemned an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels that hit a bus carrying children in Yemen’s northern Saada Province.
The International Committee of the Red Cross reported receiving the bodies of twenty-nine children, while the Saada governor said as many as sixty people may have been killed in total. A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, which seeks to restore the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to Yemen, denied children were on the bus and called the operation a ‘legal military action’ in response to Houthi rebels launching a missile at the Saudi city of Jizan. The Pentagon, which supports the coalition with aerial refuelling and intelligence, said it promotes ‘best practices’ for reducing civilian casualties. The UN has reported 16,200 civilian deaths and injuries in the long-running conflict.
‘The attack on Thursday took place in Sada Province, the Houthis’ ancestral homeland, which the Saudi-led coalition has bombed heavily since the start of the war, reducing much of it to rubble. It is also the area from which Houthi fighters frequently launch attacks on Saudi Arabia,’ Shuaib Almosawa and Ben Hubbard state in an article for the New York Times.
‘Outside interference by the Saudis and Iranians radically distorted the popular mobilisation into a sectarian conflict in which the Houthis turned from one of the voices of the uprising to puppets of Tehran,’ Hamid Dabashi writes for Al Jazeera.
‘This Trump White House certainly sees the Houthis in the north–that are backed by Iran, certainly allied with Iran–they see them very much so as a symbol of Iranian expansion. And, therefore, they see it as the United States’ strategic interest to go after them,’ Jane Ferguson said in an interview with PBS Newshour.
Sub Saharan Africa
Ethiopian government signs peace deal with Oromo rebels
Ethiopia’s government has signed an agreement to end hostilities with the Oromo Liberation Front, which it had previously declared a terrorist movement, state television reported on Tuesday.
The deal appeared another step in a drive by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to improve security and diplomatic relations, reform institutions and open parts of the state-controlled economy.
Since the 1970s, the rebels have fought a low-level insurgency for self-determination for the Oromiya region, which is Ethiopia’s largest and home to the Oromo ethnic group. The OLF was initially part of a transitional government set up in 1991 by rebels from the EPRDF coalition who had driven Mengistu Haile Mariam from power, but they soon fell out with the coalition.
US hits Russia with sanctions over chemical attack
Washington announced it will place new sanctions on Moscow later this month after it determined Russia used chemical weapons in an attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom in March.
The new sanctions are expected to place export restrictions on sensitive US technologies that could be used for military purposes. The United States had already expelled sixty Russian diplomats as part of a coordinated response with allies following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, which left the ex-intelligence officer and his daughter hospitalized. A British woman died last month after being exposed to the substance in the same area. The Russian ruble, already at its lowest level against the dollar in nearly two years, continued to drop after the US move.
‘The sanctions are a sign that the administration is continuing to impose tough measures against Moscow, even as President Donald Trump pushes for an improved relationship with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin,’ Courtney Weaver, Demetri Sevastopulo, and David Bond opine in their piece for the Financial Times.
‘Last week, the Russian embassy in London was still dismissing Britain’s handling of the Salisbury case as a contradiction of civilised diplomatic relations between states, still accusing Britain of trying to conceal the truth and still claiming that the international reputation now at stake was that of the UK,’ stated an article in the Guardian.
‘The issue is that this damage [from sanctions] does not always contribute to any logical foreign policy goal. This problem may be particularly acute for the Trump administration, in which sanctions are sometimes a substitute for a broader foreign policy rather than a way to implement one,’ Adam Taylor writes for the Washington Post.
Pompeo hypes Indo-Pacific strategy in Singapore
A 12-year-old boy is the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed eight people in mountainous eastern Indonesia, authorities said on Sunday (Aug 12). The Swiss-made Pilatus aircraft lost contact with air traffic control Saturday during what was supposed to be a flight of around 40 minutes in remote Papua province. The wreckage of the plane was found in a heavily forested area on a mountain side in the Oksibil sub-district on Sunday morning. Eight passengers were found dead and one was found alive.
The plane, which was owned by private charter company Dimonim Air, was carrying seven passengers and two crew. Before the accident, villagers in nearby Okatem reported hearing a loud roar followed by an explosion. Search and rescue teams walked two hours to reach the crash site and were still recovering the bodies late morning. Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years.
EU looks to thwart US sanctions on Iran
The United States re-imposed a first set of sanctions on Iran yesterday, a move President Hassan Rouhani called ‘psychological warfare’. Meanwhile, the European Union’s top diplomat vowed to shield European companies from any effects of the sanctions and to encourage more business with Iran.
The executive order signed by US President Donald J. Trump, which restricts Iran’s purchases of US banknotes and targets trade in gold, carpets, pistachios, and automobiles, comes three months after the US decision to withdraw from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal that included sanctions relief for Iran. The European Union, which says Iran has lived up to its conditions under the nuclear deal, announced a blocking statute to protect European firms from reinstated sanctions.
‘At some point demands for policy change become regime change. US policy toward Iran is at this point. This is a 21st century siege. What will matter most is the degree to which China, India and others are willing to buy Iranian oil and risk US wrath and sanctions,’ Richard N. Haass wrote in his recent tweet.
‘[Iran’s] economic situation is expected to deteriorate further when the US imposes sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, the government’s vital source of income, and transactions with the central bank in November,’ Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Monavar Khalaj stated in an article for the Financial Times.