Nadia Murad, a prominent Yezidi human rights activist and survivor of ISIS gender-based violence, delivers remarks at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.

The World This Week: October 8th, 2018

Middle East and North Africa

After claims that a journalist was murdered within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey is requesting access to search the premises. The journalist, who is a Saudi national, was last seen on Tuesday inside of the consulate. While Turkey states that they have proof of their claims, Saudi Arabia is denying any foul play and has said they will welcome a search of the consulate.

Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi who escaped the Islamic State, has won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize along-side Denis Mukwege.  Nadia Murad had to endure three months as a sex slave while she was held captive by ISIS.  After escaping, she went on to campaign on behalf of the Yazidi people, calling for an end to human trafficking and persecution of minorities. She hopes through her activism that countries will also take a tougher stance on rape as a weapon of war.

On Monday in Afghanistan, the Taliban called for citizens to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections. They stated the only way to end the ongoing war is a complete withdrawal of foreign troops. This statement coincides with the visit of U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been tasked with leading peace efforts with the Taliban.


Latin America and The Caribbean

The Brazilian Presidential election – decided, but not finished. Sunday, voters took to the polls across Brazil. Congressman Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party (Far Right) finished first with 46% of the vote. Bolsonaro, a former army Captain, campaigned on an anti-corruption and zero-tolerance stance on violent crime. Since no candidate met the 50% majority threshold, Bolsonaro will face off against the Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, in a referendum vote October 28th. The Worker’s Party (Leftist) did hold 56 seats in the Chamber of Deputies but only 6 in the senate. The Brazilian Democratic Movement (Centrist) led the senate selections with 12 seats.

​President Maduro’s regime announced the creation of a new border force. The police unit would monitor the massive migration flows out of Venezuela and enforce various border controls. Maduro claims the reported numbers are gross overestimates by the United States and foreign enemies to rationalize meddling. Vice President Delcy Rodriguez also rolled out price increases for passport issuances and mandatory purchase with the Petro cryptocurrency. It will now cost citizens four months’ wages under the new fee structure. This will further exacerbate difficulties for Venezuelans to acquire necessary identity documents.


East Asia and Pacific

China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection released a statement Sunday saying that the missing president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, was under investigation “on suspicion of violating the law.” Mr. Hongwei was first reported missing by his wife on October 4th after he left for a trip to China. She said in a televised statement Sunday that shortly after arriving in China her husband had sent her an emoji of a knife indicating danger. The move by the Chinese Communist Party represents one of the highest profile arrests yet in Xi Jinping’s six-year anti-corruption campaign. Mr. Meng’s appointment in November 2016 to head of Interpol represented the first time a Chinese national was appointed to lead the agency, but his arrest this past week could give other international organizations pause before following suit. Mr. Meng’s detention could last months or even years.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reported tentative progress on denuclearization after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Sunday. Pompeo stated that both countries are close to finalizing the terms for a second summit between Trump and Kim of which Trump tweeted, “I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim again, in the near future.” The State Department also stated that Kim had agreed to allow inspectors to visit the country’s Punggye Ri nuclear test site to confirm that it had been irreversibly dismantled. The main issue for the next summit involves whether or not the US should endorse a public statement declaring an end to hostilities on the Korean Peninsula, and what North Korean concessions should be demanded in return. The US has indicated it is open to such a declaration for which president Moon Jae-in of South Korea has been pressing. Skeptics say the declaration could be a ploy by the North to undermine the rationale for keeping US troops in South Korea. Pompeo now heads to Beijing for the final stop of his tour after meeting with the leaders of North and South Korea and Japan last week.


Sub-Saharan Africa

Authorities in Kenya and Zambia have arrested Chinese nationals deemed as threats to their respective national security. The incident began last week in Zambia when police reported the arrest of two Chinese citizens over allegations that they were giving illegal military training to members of a local security firm. Police said the two were picked up in Livingstone, the tourist capital, along with a number of Zambians that were also arrested as part of the operation.

Vote counting for Cameroon’s most recent election has been disrupted by rebels from the English-speaking region of the country attempting to slow the transportation of ballot boxes with a new travel ban. In many parts of this region no voting took place at all due to the insurgency. On Sunday, three separatists who were accused of opening fire on passers-by were shot dead by security forces. President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 36 years, is widely expected to win a seventh term in office.

While the African Union’s promise of easy travel for Africans across the continent will not likely be fully implemented for some time, Ethiopia is taking initiative in the process by promising African nationals visas upon entry in the country rather than applying in advance. Speaking at the opening of parliament and outlining the government’s legislative program, President Mulatu Teshome stated that the country will now join the Seychelles as the only countries with visa-free travel for Africans.

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