Weekly Links

By Patrick Pierson.

John Singer Sargent, “En route pour la pêche (Setting Out to Fish),” 1878. Photo via National Gallery of Art.

The US and China are facing off in Djibouti, with the US claiming that Chinese lasers have been pointed at US pilots. Libya’s electoral commission was attacked by Islamic State suicide bombers this week in an attack that left more than one dozen dead. Tunisians go to the polls today in the first local elections since the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. In northern Mali, armed rebels have killed dozens from the Tuareg ethnic community. Sudan is closing more than a dozen diplomatic missions in an effort to save money. Chad’s parliament has voted in legislation to concentrate even more power in the hands of long-time president Idriss Deby. Dozens were killed this week by suicide bombs in northern Nigeria. Ivory Coast is working to reduce the size of its military. Religious violence is once again flaring up in Central African Republic. The US State Department is concerned about constitutional changes in Burundi. Afonso Dhlakama, head of the Mozambican opposition, has died. South Africa was rocked by protests this week.

Mahmoud Abbas has been re-elected chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In a surprise move, Israel has withdrawn its bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Lebanon heads to the polls for the first time in nearly a decade. The US has frozen funding for Syria’s White Helmets. Reports have emerged that US Special Forces are aiding Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Is the UAE trying to seize territory in Yemen? The diplomatic row between Kuwait and the Philippines continues. Taliban fighters took control of a district in northern Afghanistan this week. Iraq’s top Shiite cleric is weighing in on politics.

In a first, India and Pakistan are preparing to come together for joint military drills. Singapore’s Changi airport prepares to unveil a facial recognition system. Journalists in Myanmar are concerned about press freedom. Officials in Cambodia are gearing up for July elections. Authorities in Indonesia destroyed more than two tons of crystal meth this week. Chinese forays into the South China Sea continue. For the first time ever, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping shared a phone call.

Spain is not interested in mediation with ETA. Portugal’s governing party is facing an uphill battle amid ongoing corruption allegations. A number of arrests were made in Sweden this week on terror-related charges. Lithuania is preparing to join the OECD. Ukraine and Russia are at odds over a Ukrainian boat that was seized by Russia off the coast of Crimea. The US Navy is reestablishing the 2nd Fleet amidst ongoing tension with Russia. In 2017, Russian military spending dropped for the first time in more than two decades.

California has surpassed the UK for the world’s fifth biggest economy. Guatemala has a new attorney general, but questions linger around the appointment. In Nicaragua, protests against the Ortega government continue. It’s gone from bad to worse for journalists in Honduras. A Cuban man has been arrested in Colombia for allegedly plotting to kill American diplomats, but he claims the real targets were leftist politicians. Pirates have killed at least a dozen fishermen off the coast of Suriname. Officials in Argentina have raised the country’s interest rate to 40%. Brazil is now using military aircraft to try and cope with the ongoing humanitarian crisis sparked by large inflows of Venezuelan refugees.

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