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.
1. Syria peace talks fall apart. UN envoy urges the US and Russia to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. The ceasefire, which had been holding for several weeks, is now falling apart. BBC: “Violence in Syria has intensified in recent days, despite the ceasefire. At least 20 civilians were reportedly killed on Wednesday in government strikes on a hospital and nearby residential building in eastern Aleppo. The dead included children, a dentist and the only paediatrician left in rebel-held areas of the city, civil defence volunteers told AFP news agency.”
2. It was a busy week for North Korea. North Korea claimed to have conducted a submarine-launched ballistic missile test. The missile apparently launched and flew for about 19 miles before crashing into the ocean. A second set of intermediate-range ballistic missile tests failed to launch. Both launches were widely condemned by the international community. Meanwhile, the regime sentenced Kim Dong Chul, a Korean American, to 10 years of hard labor for “unpardonable espionage” including stealing military secrets.
3. Yemen peace talks resume, but concerns about efficacy of ceasefire remain. This Saturday, the two sides of the conflict – the existing government and the Houthi rebels – are set to engage in direct, face-to-face negotiations for the future of Yemen. Whether the sides are willing to lay down their weapons will remain to be seen. But just today, thousands marched in the streets, demanding a ceasefire to the conflict.
4. Iran sentences four journalists to jail terms ranging from 5 to 10 years for “acting against national security.” The arrests were criticized by President Hassan Rouhani, and they were seen as part of a larger crackdown by hardliners within the Iranian regime. From the AP: “They include Davood Asadi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Ehsun Mazandarani was given a seven-year term while Afarin Chitsaz and Ehsan Safarzaiee each have to spend five years behind bars.”
5. Donald Trump gives a widely anticipated speech on foreign policy. The speech, which promoted an “America first” message, was widely criticized by commentators across the political spectrum. Brookings fellow Thomas Wright reviewed the five things he "learned" from the speech (scare quotes his). Most interesting was his final observation: Trump views foreign policy very personally. Wright continued, "Trump spent quite a lot of time talking about how important it is that other leaders respect the American president. He complained about foreign leaders not meeting President Obama when he stepped off Air Force One. He spent a couple of minutes on Obama’s unsuccessful effort to win the Olympics for Chicago. This gave us a window into the temperament of a President Trump—he would read a lot into what others said about him and on his personal rapporteur with other leaders. He would likely to be drawn to men like him."
Have suggestions for a top 5 article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected].