19/05/2017 — Iranians choose President; US-led coalition attacks Assad’s forces.
Yemen (war & disease): In the last 3 weeks almost 250 people died of cholera, with further 23.500 suspected of being infected. According to the World Health Organization the “speed of Yemen cholera outbreak is unprecedented”.
Lybia (war): At least 60 people have reportedly been killed after an attack on a military base in southern Libya following a brigade from the western city of Misrata attempt to take over the Brak El-Shati airbase which they had ceded to a faction aligned with Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Dominican Republic (floods): 80 people have been evacuated and over 150 houses have been damaged in the provinces of Puerto plata, Valverde and La Vega.
Kenya (floods): 26 killed this month, 25,000 displaced from their homes and 9,000 cattle lost by raging floods.
Thailand (floods): 800 people have been evacuated in Mueang Kamphaeng Phet, the capital district of Kamphaeng Phet Province.
South Sudan (war): 900,000 South Sudanese refugees in need of humanitarian aid in Uganda:
Foreign Affairs Council meet today to discuss the humanitarian crises in the wider horn of Africa region, Yemen and Syria. Over lunch, ministers will discuss the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, with UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
ASEAN and China agree to draft code of conduct in South China Sea, 15 years after the draft was mentioned for the first time; Surin Pitsuwan, former secretary-general of ASEAN said today that the group could play a peace broker role in the ongoing crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
An OPEC panel reviewing scenarios for the oil producer group’s meeting next week is looking at the option of deepening and extending a deal to reduce crude output, OPEC sources said today, in an attempt to drain inventories and support prices.
In the first such meeting, in Berlin on May 19–20, Ministers will discuss epidemic response and antimicrobial resistance, among other topics.
In Jordan on May 19–21, it will bring together over 1,000 public, business and civil society leaders from over 50 countries to discuss common responses to economic, geopolitical and humanitarian challenges in the region, focusing on public-private cooperation, innovation and business development. Focus will also be placed on providing support to countries in the region in managing the impact of the conflict in Syria and working towards regional peace and stability.
US president Donald Trump travels today to Saudi Arabia in the midst of a power struggle between two princes eying King Salman’s throne. Trump will also give a potentially fraught speech about Islam before continuing on to Israel, Rome, and meetings with NATO leaders in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily. Further Readings: 5 Objectives To Watch For During Trump’s First Overseas Trip (NPR).
South Sudan: Newly appointed Chief of General Staff, General James Ajongo, has pledged his cooperation with the United Nations-funded Regional Protection Force (RPF) to restore peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.
Nigeria: The Minister of Defence Muhammed Dan-Ali has said over 20,000 ghost workers were discovered after verification exercise of military pensioners payroll.
US: Presidential advisor Jared Kushner called the chief of Lockheed Martin to ask if the company would lower the price of a radar system Saudi Arabia seeks to purchase, according to several administration officials. The Trump administration hopes to finalize a weapons sale worth $110 billion before the president’s weekend visit to Saudi Arabia.
Venezuela: The US announced sanctions against 8 of Venezuela’s Supreme Court judges, freezing any U.S. assets they have and prohibiting U.S. citizens from doing business with them. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said yesterday that authorities seized his passport, preventing him from leaving Venezuela to address the UN in New York.
Brazil: The Supreme Court released plea-bargain testimony today that includes accusations President Michel Temer received 15 million reais ($4.6 million) in bribes in 2014 before he took office from executives of meatpacking giant JBS SA.
Colombia: According to an internal police memo leaked Tuesday, Colombia’s largest illegal armed group, the AGC, also known as “Los Urabeños” is planning terrorist attacks in Colombia’s largest cities of Bogota and Medellin. Further Readings: Why has Colombia seen a rise in activist murders? (BBC).
Iran: Iranians go to the polls to choose their President among 5 candidates. Incumbent Hassan Rouhani is the favorite but hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi, who is viewed as close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and possible sucessor, is not far behind. Further Readings: Voting, governance and clerical power in Iran (AP);
Iraq: Nawshirwan Mustafa, the leader of Iraqi Kurdistan’s main opposition party Gorran has died today following an illness. Party members fear party disintegration unless a strong leader emerges.
Japan: The government approved a bill that would allow Japanese Emperor Akihito, 83, to abdicate. Akihito said his age and health make it difficult to fulfill official duties. The bill is widely expected to pass in parliament.
Syria: The US-led coalition struck Syrian forces and regime allies yesterday as they approached US-backed rebels near the Jordanian border, marking a rare intentional strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Russia called the air strike “unacceptable”.
Philippines: President Rodrigo Duterte said today Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea.
Sweden: Swedish prosecutors dropped an investigation into alleged sexual assault by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has lived in London’s Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition. Assange still faces an arrest warrant in Britain and may be subject to criminal charges in the United States.
Poland: Refused yesterday to yield to pressure from the European Union to take in any asylum seekers under a relocation scheme despite an EU threat of legal action.
Hussain Indorewala in The Wire explains how India is moving towards aBig Brother with the Aadhaar programme— “The Aadhaar programme’s most important function is to create ‘linkage’ between databases, by attaching identification data — biometric and demographic — with behavioural data — bank transactions, communications, locational information or anything that can be picked up by surveillance systems.”
Omar Robert Hamilton in n+1 shows us the life of refugees in a Greek camp — “They have tried this in the past: to make people self-deport. They did the same after the Yugoslav war, and they were not successful. What happens is people go insane if they are not allowed to work and are kept from working for several years. And once they’ve gone insane you can’t deport them anymore.”
Jason Hickel in The Guardian examines how the world is tackling the 10th Goal of the UN sustainable development:“reduce income inequality within and among countries”.
Susanne Koelbl interviews Hisham-Sharaf Abdullah in Spiegel — “SPIEGEL: The Houthis used to have excellent contacts to Riyadh and the USA. What changed? Sharaf: The Saudis are afraid of Iran and the U.S. is taking advantage of that fear to do business in Saudi Arabia. They are selling Riyadh advanced military equipment and expensive consultants along with surveillance and weapons systems so that the American economy prospers. Yemenis are the victims of these mutual interests between the Saudis and the Americans.”
The second of two teleSUR films about two Senegalese youth resistance movements: “Y’en a marre” and “Boulfalé”.
Banjar is a short documentary which explores the effects, causes and impact of overfishing on the future of marine life in Maharashtra.
Emanuele Kabu’s “Azulejos” is a heartfelt tribute to Lisbon, Portugal.