Weekly Links

By Patrick Pierson.

Fitz Henry Lane, ‘Lumber Schooners at Evening on Penobscot Bay’, 1863. Photo via National Gallery of Art.

The US military’s new Space Force is projected to cost $13 billion over the first five years. AMLO, Mexico’s leftist president-elect, has vowed to sell the country’s presidential jet. Attacks against journalists continue in Mexico. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker paid a visit to Cuba’s President Diaz-Canel this week. Chinese officials inaugurated a new embassy in the Dominican Republic this week—this comes in the wake of the DR’s recent decision to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Colombian police have raided a ‘Pablo Escobar museum’ in Medellín that is operated by the former drug-lord’s brother. A recent UN report claims that cocaine production is at an all-time high in Colombia. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US is preparing to step up the pressure against embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. In 2017, the government of Ecuador attempted to assign Julian Assange—the Wikileaks founder currently holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London—to a special diplomatic post in Russia. A troop of golden retriever puppies stole the show at Chile’s annual military parade. Brazilian authorities arrested Assad Ahmad Barakat this week, a fugitive that is alleged by US officials to be Hezbollah’s financier.

Not surprisingly, Brexit is a mess. Spain is now officially the main entry point for migrants headed to Europe. Austria is on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to welcoming migrants. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right, has been ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluations in the wake of her decision to re-tweet graphic images of acts committed by the Islamic State. Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi doubts the long-term viability of Italy’s current populist government. Germany has officially declared a state of emergency over a wildfire that was sparked two weeks ago after a military rocket test near the Dutch border. Poland has been pushing for the US to establish a permanent military base in the country for years. Polish President Andrzej Duda took things a step further this week when he suggested, during a joint press conference with President Trump, that the installation be called ‘Fort Trump’. The Serbian military is in talks to purchase drones from China.

A Russian military aircraft was inadvertently shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles this week. Russia and Turkey have agreed to set up a demilitarized zone around the Syrian enclave of Idlib. Turkish officials detained more than 100 air force personnel this week for alleged ties to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. In Yemen, the fight for Hodeida continues. The international community is working hard to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite US efforts to scuttle the deal. Meanwhile, Iran conducted a number of military drills in the Gulf this week in a ‘show of strength.’ An attack on a military parade in Iran this week killed 11 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and left dozens injured. India and Pakistan agreed to talks on the sidelines of next week’s UN General Assembly meetings, but the plan for talks barely made it 24 hours before being cancelled.

In an important step for officials in Kathmandu, China has granted Nepal access to both its land and seaports. Members of the Canadian parliament have unanimously voted to declare crimes against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as genocide. Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo, has launched his re-election bid for next year’s April elections. Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang—one member of the three-man ruling junta in the country—died this week. The US imposed sanctions on the Chinese military this week for buying fighter jets from Russia. Japanese leader Shinzo Abe is set to become the country’s longest-serving prime minister. South Korean President Moon Jae-in spent three days in North Korea in an effort to keep denuclearization talks alive.

It hasn’t been receiving much attention, but the situation in Libya continues to deteriorate. France is pushing Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to implement peace deals with various rebel factions challenging the government. An Italian priest has been kidnapped in Niger. Authorities in Burkina Faso arrested more than 30 individuals for conducting illegal female genital mutilations on nearly 60 young girls. New Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed is learning that the road to reform is a rocky one. This week marks the fifth anniversary of al-Shabaab’s attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. Nigeria is dealing with a cholera outbreak. Togo has announced dates for local and legislative elections in addition to a referendum on constitutional reform. Liberia is missing more than $100 million in cash. Citizens took to the streets in Malawi this week to protest against government corruption. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a stimulus and recovery plan in hopes that it will revive the country’s slumping economy. Mmusi Maimane, the party leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, says that a change of the political guard is the only hope for achieving serious change in South Africa.

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