Weekly Links

Theodore Robinson, “The Valley of the Seine, from the Hills of Giverny,” 1892. Photo via National Gallery of Art.

By Patrick Pierson.

Chinese troops are busy setting up the country’s first overseas military base in Djibouti; they join American and French bases in the small Horn of Africa country. Al-Shabaab militants beheaded a number of men in an attack on Jima village in Kenya’s Lamu county. In a separate attack, the group took a number of hostages in Lamu, including Maryam El Maawy, a senior government official in Kenya. Reports surfaced that a joint US-Somalia special ops mission killed al-Shabaab’s deputy commander, Sheikh Ali Dhere. Google has unveiled a number of free tools to protect against digital attacks in the run-up to Kenyan elections. A Ugandan reggae star, often referred to as the ‘Ghetto President’, has been sworn into office as a member of Parliament. Just a few short months after the withdrawal of US and Ugandan troops, a UN report suggests that activity from the Lord’s Resistance Army is on the rise. In South Sudan, President Kiir dismissed a number of judges who were protesting over poor pay and living conditions. Nearly one dozen Malian soldiers are missing and thought to have been taken hostage by Islamist militants in an ambush. A Boko Haram attack in northern Cameroon killed 14 people this week. Nigeria’s President Buhari remains abroad for medical care. The Zambian opposition continues to protest against President Lungu’s extension of emergency powers. How much longer can the ANC last in South Africa?

The cholera crisis in Yemen continues to escalate. Meanwhile, the UK’s High Court has ruled that government arms sales to Saudi Arabia are lawful. Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, has been sentenced to a two-year prison term. Iraq’s Haider al-Abadi has officially declared victory in Mosul, but the job is really just beginning. Corruption allegations surrounding Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif don’t appear to be going away any time soon. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported this week that a Chinese aircraft carrier breached the country’s air defense identification zone. Thailand is set to purchase $258 million worth of fighter jets from South Korea.

Europe is battling an increase in measles-related deaths. A group of masked men robbed twenty tourists waiting for a shuttle bus at the Paris airport hotel. Major NATO drills began in Bulgaria this week. Chinese warships conducted live-fire drills in the Mediterranean on Wednesday. A former minister in Serbia has been sentenced to prison on corruption charges. Over 50,000 persons have been imprisoned in Turkey in the wake of last year’s coup attempt. Russia is threatening to expel US diplomats.

US Sec. of Defense James Mattis granted an interview with a high school newspaper. An active duty US soldier has been arrested on allegations of supporting Islamic State. A military transport plane crashed over rural Mississippi, killing 16 service members. An Illinois man was indicted this week over the disappearance of a visiting Chinese scholar. A recent poll by the IRC suggests that 85% of Americans are unaware of current food shortages in parts of Africa and the Middle East. The Haitian government is planning to reconstitute a national army, but not everyone is excited about the idea. Can Latin America effectively confront high homicide levels? A border dispute between Peru and Ecuador continues. The UN encouraged the Venezuelan government to allow an unofficial, opposition-led referendum to take place. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been convicted on corruption charges.

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