Weekly Global Newscast | 27 August - 2 September, 2018


Russia Calls Off Afghan Peace Talks

Russia agreed to postpone peace talks with the Afghan Taliban that were set to be held in Moscow next month after the Afghan government said it would not attend the conference. The government in Kabul said a peace process should be carried out under Afghan leadership.


‘The disintegration of the high-stakes gathering is a blow to Moscow’s efforts to exert its influence over the region and raise its profile as a force on the geopolitical stage.’  Ben Wolfgang writes for The Washington Times

‘Through a series of Moscow-format talks, which began as a result of a December 2016 gathering of senior officials from China, Pakistan, and Russia on combatting Islamic State (ISIS), Russia is seeking to establish a leading role in the stabilization of Afghanistan and showcase its conflict arbitration prowess to a broad international audience.’ Samuel Ramani writes for The Diplomat.

UN Accuses Myanmar Military of Genocide

A UN investigative mission has called on Myanmar to prosecute senior military officials for genocide and crimes against humanity over their involvement in a crackdown against the Rohingya ethnic minority.


“We don’t know exactly where this goes. At some point it will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council and then potentially to the UN Security Council. But we must remember that Myanmar is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, so the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction,” writes Mohammed Jamjoom for Al Jazeera

“There is no hope that the most senior army leaders will face any reckoning within Myanmar, given the army’s continuing dominance of many facets of Myanmar politics, and Aung San Suu Kyi’s weakness, as well as the weaknesses of the civilian government,” Joshua Kurlantzick writes for Council on Foreign Relations.

Middle East & North Africa

Evidence ‘Strongly Suggests’ Yemen War Crimes, Says UN

A UN panel investigating human rights abuses in Yemen said parties to the conflict have likely carried out crimes under international law and that there is “little evidence” that any of them seeks to minimize harm to civilians. The experts also said that strikes by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen are responsible for most civilian casualties.


‘The report covers the period from September 2014 to June 2018 and analyses the main patterns of violations and abuses of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law committed by parties to the conflict.’ Xinhua reported

‘If the US were to follow the rules of warfare written into US military law and treaties to which the US is a party, the US must immediately end its support for the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen.’ Jared Keyel shares his opinion for Counterpunch.

Sub Saharan Africa

German, UK Leaders Tour Africa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week visited Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal to discuss economic development and migration. UK Prime Minister Theresa May also visited Nigeria last week after signing her country’s first trade agreement since Brexit with Mozambique and the six-nation Southern African Customs Union.


‘Mrs May’s three-day trip to Africa, which began in South Africa on Tuesday, is aimed at deepen economic and trade ties with growing African economies ahead of Britain leaving the EU in 2019.’ BBC News reports

‘Around 14,000 nationals from Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal currently live in Germany without official approval to remain. Yet deportations are difficult and costly, and according to German authorities, many African embassies are also dragging their feet over issuing passports for potential returnees.’ Daniel Pelz analyzes for Deutsche Welle.


Russia to Hold Massive War Games

Russia’s Vostok 2018 military exercise set to take place across central and eastern Russia in mid-September, will be the country’s largest war games in four decades and will involve some three hundred thousand troops, including units from China and Mongolia. China has joined Russia for smaller military drills in the past.


‘The maneuvers will take place at a time of heightened tension between the West and Russia, which is concerned about what it says is an unjustified build-up of the NATO military alliance on its western flank.’ Andrew Osborn writes for Reuters

‘The scale and scope of Vostok-2018 is unprecedented for modern Russia, but no surprise. The giant drill is clearly meant as a show of strength by Vladimir Putin and his military, a demonstration that – despite Western sanctions, including against the defence sector – the country remains defiant.’ Sarah Rainsford gives her analysis for BBC.


More Indonesians to Get Working Rights in Australia
Under New Trade Deal

“A few thousand” more Indonesians will be granted working rights in Australia as a result of the new trade deal between the two countries, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has revealed.


‘Despite being right on our doorstep, and despite being the fourth most populous country in the world with more than a quarter of a billion people, Indonesia is only our 14th biggest trading partner. Just $7 billion worth of Aussie goods – or 2.3 per cent  of total exports – found their way to Indonesia last year. That’s the same as we sent to New Zealand, a country with one-55th the population of Indonesia.’ James Fernyhough shares his insights for The New Daily

‘Talks to start the pact began in 2010 before stalling amid diplomatic tensions; they were revived in March 2016, and have had to overcome key hurdles including Australia’s push for more beef imports into Indonesia and removal of barriers and tariffs on Indonesian products such as paper and palm oil.’ Karlis Salna, Jason Scott and Viriya Singgih write for Bloomberg.


Trump, in Interview, Threatens to Leave WTO

President Trump called the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization “the single worst trade deal ever made” and threatened to pull the United States from the body  “if they don’t shape up.” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has criticized the WTO for admitting China in 2001.


‘A U.S. withdrawal from the WTO potentially would be far more significant for the global economy than even Trump’s growing trade war with China, undermining the post-World War II system that the U.S. helped build.’ John Micklethwait, Margaret Talev and Jennifer Jacobs share their opinion for Bloomberg

‘Despite Trump’s remarks, the U.S. has sought WTO assistance in dealing with retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, the European Union, Canada, Mexico and Turkey. In July, the U.S. filed five dispute actions with the WTO alleging that the retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. were illegal under the trade organization’s rules.’ Christine Wang writes for CNBC.


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