Weekly Links

By Patrick Pierson.

Ippolito Caffi, “The Arch of Titus and the Temple of Venus and Rome near the Roman Forum”. Photo via National Gallery of Art.

Puerto Rico is still working to get the power back on in the wake of Hurricane Maria…the state power company has seen three CEOs over the course of the past two weeks. Is Mexico going to address the problem of cartel violence by legalizing drugs? US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for his government’s heavy-handed response to ongoing anti-government protests. For his part, Ortega contends that anti-government protests are led by a “coup-mongering satanic sect” supported by the US. In Costa Rica, officials are stepping up efforts to provide shelter for Nicaraguans fleeing the country, with estimates of 100–150 new arrivals daily. Former FARC rebels are officially filling seats in the Colombian Congress. Residents of Tabacundo, Ecuador, are working on a pyramid of roses in a bid for a Guinness world record. The corruption scandal in Peru’s judiciary is gaining steam…the head of the country’s courts resigned this week.

Pablo Casado has been appointed as the new leader of Spain’s Popular Party. Spanish authorities dropped the arrest warrant for former Catalan leader Carles Puidgemont. After concluding a deal with Russia, France is now sending humanitarian aid to Syria. Italian police recovered stolen art—a Renoir and a Rubens—worth tens of millions of dollars. Beginning in 2019, Austria will no longer provide the option of taking driving tests in Turkish. Several people were injured this week during a knife attack on a bus in northern Germany. The Netherlands has reopened diplomatic ties with Turkey. The US is sending $200 million to Ukraine to strengthen the country’s defensive capabilities.

You should be following the on-going violence in Gaza. Syrian government forces are moving to retake large parts of the country’s southwest. This piece touches on the important—and largely overlooked—role that Sudan is playing in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. According to government officials, Oman thwarted millions of cyber-attacks against government networks last year. Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded an important set of bilateral meetings in the UAE this week. Is Qatar trying to launch a disinformation campaign in Bahrain? Qatar is purchasing significant military equipment from Russia. The top US commander in Afghanistan announced a newfound willingness to conduct direct talks with the Taliban…despite the overture, Taliban attacks against Afghan National Security Forces continue. Pakistanis go to the polls this week, but observers warn that the electoral climate looks to be anything but ‘free and fair.’ Is WhatsApp fueling violence in India? Also in India, a Muslim man was killed by a mob this week after being accused of working as a cattle smuggler.

Physicians working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are calling for investigations into alleged crimes against humanity in Myanmar. Authorities in Malaysia are cracking down on illegal immigration. A French citizen—detained for the past 18 years in Indonesia for smuggling drugs—has been deported. Is China waging a “cold war” against the US? Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been sentenced to an extra eight years in prison. Australians are pressing their government to shutter refugee detention centers on Nauru and Manus Island. Japan signed a far-reaching free trade deal with the EU this week.

Is the Muslim Brotherhood to blame for Egypt’s poor showing in the World Cup? Algeria has purchased the lion’s share of Russian weapons sold in Africa. In Senegal, more than a dozen individuals have been sentenced to prison terms for supporting terrorism. Boko Haram fighters overran a Nigerian military outpost this week…hundreds of Nigerian troops are missing in the wake of the assault. In Cameroon, separatists are abducting traditional leaders suspected of collaborating with the government. More than 250,000 CAR refugees are currently seeking refuge in Cameroon. Forces in Burkina Faso have captured dozens of extremists over the past two weeks. The Ugandan government has refused to back down from its controversial imposition of a tax on social media. Civil society groups are working hard to ensure that Zimbabwe’s upcoming election is free of all forms of political violence. Illegal fishing is costing Mozambique nearly $60 million annually.

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