May 20 · 4 min read

A concise weekly digest of the top readings, content, ideas and discussions from our global bureaux and correspondents at ComplexGlobal. This week we explore the Sri Lankan bombings, Hijacking off the UAE coast, Bob Hawke, Australian Elections, The Aeroflot disaster & the Venezuelan coup.

Mourning Bob Hawke — We miss purposeful leadership

We’re mourning the kind of considered, determined, purposeful political change that Bob Hawke and Paul Keating drove — a time when politicians advanced big political ideas and argued their merits, over months, or years, and were given the space to make the argument, even if opinion polls dipped for a while. Even Labor’s political opponents pay tribute to that. We’re mourning a time when politicians made their case in words and sentences they constructed themselves, and continued to make them when vested interests cranked up their campaigns, a time when a politician could reveal flaws and weaknesses without being immediately disqualified from public life.

Saudi Arabia says two oil tankers attacked near UAE

Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers came under attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, describing the assault as a “dangerous threat” to the security of international crude supplies as regional tensions spike in the Gulf. Khalid al-Falih, the Saudi energy minister, said on Monday the Saudi oil tankers were targeted off the coast of Fujairah, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE. The attacks will heighten fears that shipping lanes in the Gulf, crucial to much of the world’s oil exports, could become flashpoints as tensions escalate between the US, its Arab allies and Iran.

Sri Lanka: Family networks behind the bombings

The clues were there in mid-January, when Sri Lankan police stumbled upon 100kg (220lb) of explosives and 100 detonators, hidden in a coconut grove near the Wilpattu national park, which is a remote wilderness in Puttalam district on the west coast of the country. Police were investigating attacks on statues of the Buddha by suspected Islamist radicals elsewhere in the country. Four men from a newly formed “radical Muslim group” were arrested.

Aeroflot crash: Passengers in an emergency

Air disasters are notoriously tricky matters to analyse — especially when there has been significant loss of life. They are emotive subjects which require sensitive discussion, careful consideration of all the available facts, and a refusal to leap to any conclusions. This is certainly the case with SU1492, the Aeroflot flight which crashed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday. Forty-one of the 78 people on board — cabin crew as well as passengers — were killed when the Sukhoi Superjet 100 burst into flames as it landed. It had been returning to the airport shortly after taking off from the Russian capital — bound for Murmansk, a city on the Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle. Footage shows the stricken plane bouncing on the runway before its tail section catches alight.

Picking Up the Pieces After Venezuela’s failed Uprising

A failed uprising by Venezuelan National Assembly Chair Juan Guaidó has emboldened President Nicolás Maduro and deepened the country’s political deadlock. However difficult, outside actors should continue to press the two sides to form a transitional cabinet, stabilise Venezuela’s economy and hold elections. They ended with what, at the time of writing, appears to have been an easily subdued, poorly conceived revolt that left National Assembly chair Juan Guaidó, his regional allies and the U.S. looking outmanoeuvred. Maduro and his own domestic and international partners may well feel empowered and emboldened, with little incentive to talk to a disorganised and ineffectual opposition.

Australia Votes: Scott Morrison returned to power

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has claimed victory in a stunning political “miracle” that has devastated the Labor Party, forced Bill Shorten to step down as its leader and reshaped Australian politics. Mr Morrison vowed to get “back to work” after holding power at the federal election in a shock result that puts the Coalition on course for a narrow majority in federal Parliament. “I have always believed in miracles,” Mr Morrison said to a cheering audience of Liberal supporters in Sydney at midnight on Saturday, shortly after he had received a phone call from Mr Shorten conceding defeat.

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