By Patrick Pierson.
Mexico is struggling under fuel shortages. Twenty-nine people were killed in gang-related violence in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas in just 48 hours. Nicaraguan Supreme Court Justice Rafael Solís has decried the Ortega regime as “a state of terror.” Guatemala’s Supreme Court has blocked President Morales’s attempt to unilaterally disband a UN anti-corruption commission. Authorities in Costa Rica seized a record number of illegal firearms in 2018. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro started his second term this week. A Venezuelan Supreme Court judge has defected to the US and is denouncing the Maduro government. The country’s opposition-led congress is considering offering legal incentives to military officers who disavow the president. Congressional leader Juan Guaido says he is ready to assume the presidency on an interim basis and usher in elections—the Brazilian government issued a statement saying it recognized Guaido as the rightful president of Venezuela. In Argentina, tens of thousands of people took to the streets this week to protest against austerity programs.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visited Britain this week. Spain’s far-right Vox party has dropped some of its most extreme positions in order to join a coalition government in Andalusia. A French fighter jet disappeared over eastern France this week during a routine training flight. France’s Yellow Vests protests are now in their ninth week. Officials in the Netherlands have accused Iran of hiring hitmen to murder two Iranian dissidents in the country. A leading far-right politician in Germany has split from the AfD to launch his own party. Four months after elections, Sweden has finally formed a coalition government. Authorities in Poland arrested two employees of Chinese telecom giant Huawei on allegations of spying. Three months after elections, Latvia is still trying to form a government. The Macedonian parliament has approved a deal that would rename the country North Macedonia, paving the way to end a 27-year dispute with Greece.
The withdrawal of US equipment from Syria has begun. Turkey is preparing to ramp up their own operations in Syria. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is optimistic about the potential for Turks and Kurds to co-exist in Syria. New York Knicks Center Enes Kanter, a vocal critic of the Erdogan government, will not join his team for an upcoming game in London citing security concerns. Lebanon is filing a complaint against Israel at the UNSC. A teenage defector from Saudi Arabia has been granted asylum in Canada. Peace talks in Yemen are under fire after the Houthis used a drone to target a Yemeni government military parade. Iran has detained an American citizen on unknown charges.
A Bangladeshi man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for posting distorted pictures and derogatory remarks pertaining to PM Sheikh Hasina online. A court in Myanmar has rejected an appeal by two Reuters journalists currently serving seven-year prison terms for illegally investigating the government’s crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. In the Philippines, President Duterte has renewed his attack on the Catholic Church as the institution continues to criticize his controversial war on drugs. Russia is taking back thirty WWII-era tanks from Laos. Facebook is in hot water for potentially violating Vietnam’s stringent new cybersecurity law. China’s anti-corruption campaign returned more than $519 million to state coffers in 2018. China is allowing thousands of ethnic Kazakhs to renounce their Chinese citizenship and leave the country. France has brought corruption charges against Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of Japan’s Olympic Committee. An Australian man has been detained after mailing dozens of suspicious packages to diplomatic missions across Australia.
2018 was the first year in almost three decades in which Algeria experienced no serious terrorist attacks. Protests continue in Sudan—is foreign backing keeping al-Bashir in power? Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz lead a rally this week to quell ethnic tensions in his country. The Ethiopian government has charged dozens of people for alleged involvement in deadly riots last fall. Congolese opposition leader Martin Fayulu is challenging the country’s election results; the SADC is also calling for a recount of votes. A campaign rally by Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress party turned violent this week when the event was stormed by members of a transport union. The Gabonese government survived a coup attempt this week—the political reshuffling in the wake of the coup has begun. A British man that knocked the entire country of Liberia offline in 2016 has been jailed for nearly three years. Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission launched this week. Tanzanian President John Magufuli revealed this week that he frequently monitors his ministers’ phone conversations. Zimbabwe has announced a plan to launch a new currency this year as the country’s shortage of US dollars continues to plague the economy. King Mswati maintains his firm grip on power in eSwatini.