Every Friday, we bring to you the top five international stories of the week, with a particular emphasis on religious liberty, justice issues, and geopolitical issues that impact liberty and justice.
- Three massive car bombs claimed by the Islamic State kill more than 90 people in three different neighborhoods in Baghdad this week. The largest attack was carried out in predominantly Shia Sadr City, outside of Baghdad. The bomb hit a fruit and vegetable market at prime shopping time, killing at least 66 people and wounding 87 others. From the NY Times: “The market is especially busy in the morning. Witnesses said the man driving the truck that exploded had waited in a line of vehicles to enter the market. After parking, he left, and the vehicle exploded about five minutes later, according to Murtadha Ali, 55, who was in the area at the time.”
- Brazil's Senate votes 55-22 to move toward impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Under Brazilian law, President Rousseff must step aside for the duration of the trial which will determine whether she must step down; this trial could take at least six months. At the conclusion of the trial, a two-thirds vote will be required to strip Rousseff, Brazil's first female president, of her office. Some sources have referred to this process as impeachment, but according to the NY Times, this has not yet happened: “‘Formally speaking, she has not yet been impeached,’ said Ronaldo Porto Macedo Jr., a law professor at the University of São Paulo and other institutions. ‘She is only considered impeached when there’s a final judgment.’”
- Kenya announces plans to close all refugee camps in Kenya, including the largest refugee camp in the world. Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, is nearly 20 square miles and houses 344,000 people, most of them Somalis who fled the conflict in Somalia. Some have lived in Dadaab, which is on the Kenya–Somalia border, for 25 years. Kenya's interior minister cited security concerns, but the announcement has been met with widespread condemnation from across the international community. It is unclear what Kenya's objectives are, but the Economist speculates that Kenya may be negotiating with the West: “Money is probably the real reason for the sudden announcement. Mr Kibicho pointedly mentioned in his article that donor funds are being switched from Kenya to deal with the influx of migrants to Europe. Having seen Turkey secure promises of €6 billion of aid in return for taking migrants back from Greece, Kenya doubtless wants more from the West.”
- Iranian citizens will be unable to make annual pilgrimage to Mecca this year. Iran and Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations last year after the Saudi government executed Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, and a mob in Tehran stormed the Saudi embassy in Iran, setting part of it on fire. Because of the lack of direct diplomatic relations between the two countries, there is no mechanism for issuing visas for Iranian citizens to visit Saudi Arabia. Negotiations to create a visa-issue mechanism broke down, with both sides blaming the other. This story highlights how geopolitics can impact the religious liberty of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, many of whom have been planning and saving to make the pilgrimage this year.
- Ceasefire in Aleppo expires, fighting and airstrikes resume. Syrian and Russian airstrikes hit Aleppo and Homs province just as the ceasefire expired. Reuters: “The fighting was focused around the rebel-held Handarat area which is important because it is near the last route into opposition-held areas of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city before the conflict and now divided between the government and rebels.”
Have suggestions for a top 5 article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected].