Weekly Links

By Patrick Pierson.

Josef Presser, ‘The Harbor’, c. 1943. Via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Authorities in Mexico have uncovered a mass grave with the remains of 166 individuals. US officials are concerned that ongoing political violence in Nicaragua could spiral completely out of control. Nicaraguan police are under threat for expressing any sort of reservation at the government’s heavy-handed response to protests. On Friday, the opposition organized yet another large-scale strike across the country. As refugees continue to flee Venezuela, the government has launched a “Return to the Homeland Plan.” In Colombia, six former FARC rebel commanders have left reintegration camps. Argentina’s financial woes continue. Brazil’s National Museum went up in the flames this week, with officials estimating that 90% of the museum’s artifacts are destroyed. A far-right front-runner for Brazil’s October elections was stabbed this week during a campaign rally. Paraguay’s new government announced plans to return its Israeli embassy to Tel Aviv.

UK allegations that Russia was behind a poison attack in Britain earlier this year have been backed by the US, Canada, France, and Germany. Though largely out of the headlines, deadly migrant crossings in the Mediterranean continue. French defense minister Florence Parly claims that a Russian spy satellite attempted to intercept transmissions from a French-Italian military satellite last year. French authorities detained a man this week thought to be a former militant commander during Liberia’s civil war in the 1990s. Racism is alive and well in Belgium. A ‘mystery kangaroo’ is on the run in Austria. Far-right rallies continue in Germany. By 2020, the US military will station another 1500 soldiers in Germany, bringing the total number of US forces in the country to nearly 35,000. The largest NATO exercises to occur in Norway since the end of the Cold War took place this week. Sweden goes to the polls today and observers expect the far-right Sweden Democrats to gain ground in the elections. Denmark is taking steps to safeguard upcoming elections against foreign meddling. The Belarusian Football Federation has unveiled its new mascot, an eight-foot tall, sword-swinging robot named Vayar. NATO Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg is urging Macedonians to vote to join NATO in the country’s upcoming referendum.

More than 100 US troops launched an unexpected exercise in Syria this week in response to ongoing Russian military action in the region. Leaders from Russia, Iran, and Turkey met on Friday to discuss the future of Syria. The Israeli military is building a 130-kilometer wall along the border with Lebanon. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was in Jordan this week to offer support in the fight against extremism. Saudi Arabia’s air defense system intercepted a missile fired by Houthis in Yemen this week. Yemen peace talks are not gaining much traction. Qatar announced plans to invest $10 billion in Germany over the next five years. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis made a surprise visit to Afghanistan. Mass protests took place this week in Iraq’s Basra region.

Opposition protesters are taking to the streets in Sri Lanka. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited India this week in an effort to strengthen relations between the two countries. What does this mean for the military relationship between India and the US? The ICC claims that it has jurisdiction to look into potential crimes against humanity in Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya. The Cambodian parliament is in session, but all 125 seats are held by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. In the Philippines, three mayors have been killed in the last three months. Indonesia’s conservative Aceh district has banned unmarried couples from dining together. Women are taking to the streets in South Korea as the number of illicit spy cam cases has skyrocketed in recent months. The leaders of North and South Korea will meet for another summit later this month. President Trump is ratcheting up the trade war rhetoric against China.

Eritrea and Djibouti are normalizing relations for the first time in more than a decade. The US is releasing hundreds of millions in military aid to Egypt despite the latter’s ongoing human rights abuses. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the 81-year old president of Algeria, is dismissing generals in a bid to solidify his own grip on power. Seven years after the fall of Gadhafi, unrest persists in Libya. Moroccan authorities claim to have stopped more than 50,000 illegal migrants en route to Europe this year alone. The conflict in Cameroon continues. In South Sudan, a military court sentenced 10 soldiers for raping foreign aid workers and killing a journalist in 2016. A Chinese man has been deported from Kenya after making racist remarks about Kenyans and their president, Uhuru Kenyatta. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni says he has the authority to shut down parliament. According to a new UN report, crimes against humanity continue in Burundi. In Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos is (at least formally) out of politics. Authorities in Botswana discovered nearly 90 elephant carcasses near a wildlife sanctuary—the animals had been killed by poachers for their tusks. South Africa witnessed a burst of anti-foreigner violence this week.

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