Weekly Links

By Patrick Pierson.

Edward Hopper, The Locomotive, 1923. Photo via National Gallery of Art.

In the run-up to mid-term elections, Twitter has deleted thousands of fake accounts that were posting messages discouraging people from voting. The US—in partnership with more than a dozen European countries—has invoked a rare diplomatic maneuver to initiate investigations into potential human rights abuses in Chechnya. On Thursday, the White House announced new sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba. In Mexico, the results of a recent referendum have cancelled construction on a new airport for Mexico City that is already partially constructed. Are gangs the single largest employer in El Salvador? The economic crisis in Venezuela is affecting health outcomes across the region. Peru took in nearly 7000 Venezuelan migrants in just one day this week. Has the Fujimori dynasty in Peru finally come to an end? Chile has announced plans to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Brazil has a new president.

The EU is not happy with the decision of Austria and Hungary to not join the UN’s global migration pact. The budget fight between Italy and the EU continues. After a twelve year hiatus, Greece has resumed flights to Macedonia. Alice Weidel, the head of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany party, has cancelled a speaking engagement at Oxford over security concerns. Authorities in Denmark have detained a man over an alleged plot by Iran’s intelligence services to assassinate an opposition figure. The US embassy in Kyiv is calling on Ukrainian officials to investigate ongoing crimes against journalists. Russia has announced sanctions against more than 300 senior Ukrainian officials.

Turkey and the US have both lifted sanctions after the October release of US pastor Andrew Brunson. What does Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Oman mean for regional politics? Lebanon and Armenia have signed a new military cooperation agreement. The US is calling for a ceasefire in Yemen. The Yemeni government says it would be willing to restart peace talks with the Houthis. Iraqi troops are bolstering their positions along the Syrian border in fear of spillovers from recent conflicts between IS and US-backed forces. A recent report suggests that the Taliban controls more territory in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001. A Pakistani cleric with close ties to the Taliban was killed by unidentified attackers this week.

Sri Lanka is facing a constitutional crisis. A young girl was beheaded in India this week amidst caste-based violence. Separatist rebels killed five people this week in India’s northeastern Assam state. The US Justice Department has brought criminal charges against a Malaysian financier and a pair of Goldman Sachs bankers over a massive financial scandal. The Chinese government is now enlisting civilians in efforts to ‘re-educate’ Uighur Muslims. Observers estimate that one million Uighurs are currently detained in internment camps. The treatment of Uighurs is part of a larger story of increased repression under the leadership of Xi Jinping. A Japanese island just disappeared. Kim Jong Un is set to visit South Korea in the near future. North and South Korea have announced plans to compete as a unified team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and are putting in a bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Games.

Is China exporting its internet repression capabilities to African countries? ISIS has claimed credit for an attack on Coptic Christian pilgrims in Egypt. Amnesty International is condemning the recent detention of 19 human rights activists by the Egyptian government. The UN Security Council is preparing to lift sanctions on Eritrea. In the latest reform in Ethiopia, the country’s Parliament voted this week to install a women’s rights activist, Meaza Ashenafi, as head of the Supreme Court. Tanzanian authorities are launching a task force to round up gay people in Dar es Salaam. Things got chaotic in the Central African Republic parliament this week when a disgruntled lawmaker fired two shots into the air in protest over the removal of the parliamentary speaker. Dozens of Shia Muslims were killed by Nigerian security forces this week during peaceful protests. In Senegal, the government has announced plans to resume de-mining efforts in the Casamance region. The Burundian government has yet again boycotted efforts by regional players to promote peace talks. Angola is forcibly expelling tens of thousands of Congolese refugees. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, South Africa’s leading anti-corruption fighter, has given President Ramaphosa less than three weeks to take action against current home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba for lying under oath during a corruption investigation

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