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| 08 Friday to 15 Friday December 2017|



 








SOUTH ASIA

1. INDIA. RAHUL GANDHI who had been the Vice-President of the Indian National Congress since 2013, and the sixth leader from the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty was elected as the President of the Congress Party on 11 December 2017. The son, grandson and great-grandson of three Indian Prime Ministers, RAHUL’s reputation as a reluctant leader and his lackluster performance in the 2014 General Election campaign had cast doubt over his suitability for the leadership, but the GANDHI family’s grip on the party ensured his ascension to the top. RAHUL GANDHI faces an immense challenge to revive the centre-left party ahead of the national polls due in 2019. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, Prime Minister NARENDRA MODI is 30 points ahead of RAHUL GANDHI in the popularity stakes and only 58% of Indians had viewed him positively.

2. AFGHANISTAN. The 2017 AFGHANISTAN Opium Survey from the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, confirms that the effort taken by the US Army to curb illicit narcotics trafficking in AFGHANISTAN has failed. The US war on drugs in AFGHANISTAN has come under heavy criticism with the use of even B-52 bombers and F-22 fighter planes to launch attacks on opium labs. Critics say that such weapon systems should only be used to protect core American security interests against dangerous adversaries and not on an inherently unwinnable war on drugs. The drug trade is a crucial part of AFGHANISTAN’s economy, both in regions that the Afghan Government controls and in Taliban-dominated areas. It is estimated that around 3 million poor farmers make their living from the Opium crop and increased eradication efforts will alienate farmers and drive them into the Taliban side, which also collects the revenue from Opium trade. Intelligence agencies have found the involvement of key officials from the Kabul Government benefit heavily from the trade. Escalating the drug war in AFGHANISTAN seems to be an indicator of the overall failure of the US policy concerning one of the longest US Military involvements in history.

MIDDLE EAST

3. MIDDLE EAST. President DONALD TRUMP’s recognition of JERUSALEM as the capital of ISRAEL on 07 December 2017, ignited protests across the Islamic world and violence in the Palestinian territories. Until this announcement was made, no country recognized Israeli sovereignty in EAST JERUSALEM and no country including the US has its Embassy in JERUSALEM. Critics view this unrest as a direct result of ignoring finer points of TRUMP’s speech and dedicating themselves to their own interpretations by both the Israelis and Palestinians and their respective supporters. They point out that the President during his speech endorsed for the first time the “Two-state solution” since assuming the Presidency and he was acknowledging the obvious, that JERUSALEM (annexed by ISRAEL in 1980 defying the UN) is ISRAEL’s capital and it is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. He insisted that he was not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of contested borders. His reference to the boundaries of ISRAEL in JERUSALEM implicates dividing the city and reiterating his support for a solution “if agreed to by both sides”. It should also be noted that the UN General Assembly as recently as 30 November 2017, reiterated that any actions by ISRAEL to impose its laws on JERUSALEM were illegal and therefore null and void. Thus, the US is not in a position to breach such UN resolutions passed by the entire International Community. Critics further say that Vice-President MIKE PENCE who is due to visit the Middle East will have to clear any doubts on TRUMP’s speech with both groups.

4. SAUDI ARABIA. Political observers note that Crown Prince SALMAN’s declared objective of reverting SAUDI ARABIA’s ultra- conservative society to “Moderate Islam” that had prevailed before 1979 which was open to world and other religions is an acknowledgment of the “fallacy” of the “hard-line Islam” professed by SAUDI ARABIA for the past 35 years, since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. During the period, wherever theological reforms occurred with Saudi involvement and influence domestically or internationally there have been extremism, violence and intolerance, reflections of which could also be seen even in SRI LANKA such as Muslim women returning from SAUDI ARABIA adopting the Saudi dress code and Sri Lankan Muslims coming under pressure from Saudi sponsored preachers. It is pointed out that the rigid doctrines applied by the state machinery through the religious police and the Ulama (Religious scholars) which have been enforced as counter measures to the Iranian revolution which had consolidated people’s power against the SHAH’s dictatorial regime raise doubts whether the reform programme initiated by Prince SALMAN could become result-oriented. One notable feature is that the programmes such as “Vision 30” which calls for a greater role for country’s unemployed youth who make up 70% of the population has become popular with the younger generation. However, Prince SALMAN has come under heavy criticism for his actions against QATAR and YEMEN. They say his lack of rationality and hastiness is responsible for those futile decisions and await his official reaction towards President TRUMP’s recognition of JERUSALEM as the capital of ISRAEL. SAUDI ARABIA’s current relationship with ISRAEL and US will certainly make Prince SALMAN to make a hard decision, which could either way create a huge impact upon the entire Middle East region.

FAR EAST

5. SOUTH KOREA. The 2016 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report released on 11 November 2017, listing the World’s “Top 100 Military Services says” that SOUTH KOREA (ROK) is boosting its arms industry and becoming a major exporter in the trade, while facing constant Missile and Nuclear threats from NORTH KOREA (DPRK). The DPRK says it needs Nuclear Weapons to protect itself from a hostile US Army and has vowed to accelerate its weapons programme in response to the heavy sanction-regime imposed by the UN Security Council. The NORTH KOREAN threat has led to major investments in the arms industry in the ROK and the proportion of Government spending that the ROK devotes to defense is among the world’s highest outside Middle East and African conflict zones. For the ROK, which was once mainly a backward agricultural country devastated by war, to become one of the world’s largest importers of Military equipment and technology and then to develop an export-oriented domestic sector is a remarkable achievement. Meanwhile the EU has named 17 countries that included SOUTH KOREA in its first-ever tax haven black-list, in an attempt to clamp down on the estimated $ 506 billion lost to aggressive tax avoidance annually.

6. UNO. The UN Secretary General ANTONIO GUTERRES described the 07 December 2017, attack on the UN Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the worst in the UN’s recent history and a “War Crime”. At least 15 TANZANIAN Peace Keepers and 5 Congolese soldiers were killed and over 50 peacekeepers left wounded, after a local Islamist group Allied Democratic Forces, (ADF) overran a remote Military base in the EASTERN CONGO. The ADF has claimed allegiance to the ISIS and it is reported that the UN attack helicopters had limited night vision equipment and remained grounded throughout the four hour assault. The Rapid Intervention Force of the UN Mission in DRC has a rare mandate to go on the offensive and the Tanzanian contingent is among the best and better-equipped elements of the 21,000 strong UN Force. The DRC mission has so far recorded around 100 deaths of Military, Police and Civilian personnel and is the largest peacekeeping mission tasked with stabilizing the restive East of the DRC. Rival militia groups still control swaths of mineral rich Eastern DRC, almost 15 years after the end of 1998-2003 war that killed millions of people mostly from hunger and disease. The scale of people fleeing violence today is outpacing SYRIA, YEMEN and IRAQ and President JOSEPH KABILA, in power since 2001 does not have any intention to leave and plans to win another term of office


| 1 Friday to 8 Friday December 2017|



 








SOUTH ASIA

1. NEPAL. The first round of the on-going two-phased NEPAL election, held on 26 November 2017 and 07 December 2017, is being interpreted face-off between INDIA and CHINA, who are competing to protect their geo-political interests through the respective Intelligence agencies and favoured Nepali political parties, as in other South Asian countries. The outcome of the election will determine whether INDIA continues to be the dominant external stakeholder in NEPAL or whether NEPAL’s shift towards CHINA would be irreversible. A ‘Communist alliance’ encouraged by CHINA has been formed by the Communist Party of NEPAL (UML) led by K P OLI and Maoists led by PUSHPA KAMAL DAHAL (Prachanda) while INDIA which has been dabbling in internal party politics in NEPAL for a long period was to support the “Democratic Alliance” headed by SUNIL BAHADUR THAPA, the Nepali Congress led by Prime Minister SHER BAHADUR DEUBA, right wing parties and the Madhesi parties of the Terai consisting of people of Indian ancestry in the Southern plains bordering INDIA. With the promulgation of the new Nepali Constitution in September 2015, INDIA wanted the UML to form a Government with the Madhesi parties, but instead, UML leader OLI, included Maoists. It was a coalition which stoked ultra-nationalism, with allegations that the Madhesi protests against the new Constitution at the border region, were actually an Indian imposed economic blockade of NEPAL. Subsequently, INDIA persuaded the Maoists to withdraw from the Government and join the Nepali Congress and which was short lived. This was the turning point in NEPAL’s Foreign Relations where CHINA began influencing internal politics in NEPAL, in a decisive manner. Thus, the Nepali election represents an intensified Great Power contest in the region.

2. MALDIVES. The MALDIVES entered into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with CHINA on 29 November 2017, the first FTA with any country, in spite of the Maldivian Foreign Minister Dr. MOHAMED ASIM reiterating the ‘India - First policy’ in a meeting with the Indian Minister for External Affairs SUSHMA SWARAJ last year. The development has stunned INDIA into silence, as it raises question about growing Chinese influence at a strategically important location in the Indian Ocean. INDIA is especially concerned about the possibility of Military activities in atolls leased for tourism purposes. Indian analysts claim that CHINA is demonstrating the kind of sway it holds on the SAARC nations and completing its ‘String of Pearls’ strategy aimed at strategic encirclement of INDIA and is CHINA’s second FTA with any country in South Asia after PAKISTAN. Meanwhile, CHINA’s influential ‘Global Times’ says that if INDIA thinks its position is threatened, it should consider how it can give more benefits to its neighbours through “a Win-Win economic cooperation.”

ASIA

3. HONG KONG. CHINA declared that the new law introduced by the Government against disrespecting CHINA’s national anthem would also be applied to HONG KONG governed under a “One country, Two systems” deal, which grants it freedoms unseen on the mainland CHINA. With a fledgling pro-independent movement, CHINA is pushing a tougher line on HONG KONG. JOSHUA WONG, an activists in the movement who was jailed in August over his role in the democracy protests of 2014 said, “HONG KONG is at risk of losing its rights and liberties in the face of growing Chinese pressure on the semi-autonomous city”. They conducted a march through HONG KONG on 03 December 2017, calling it as an “anti-authoritarian” protest, while also referring to the new law concerning the National anthem. Meanwhile, CHINA is expected to introduce an anti- subversion law in the future to meet the growing protest campaign, suspected of having foreign influence.

MIDDLE EAST

4. YEMEN. YEMEN’s civil war which is one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises took a new turn on 04 December 2017, with the killing of former President ALI ABDULLAH SALEH by alliance partner Houthi rebels, who are at war with the Saudi - backed Yemeni regime of President ABDRABBUH MANSOUR HADI, presently in exile in SAUDI ARABIA. After the fall of the capital city SANAA to the Houthi - Saleh alliance in 2014, the HADI regime supported by US, the UK and FRANCE has been operating from ADEN, the second largest city of YEMEN. The Yemenis who are not worried by the Sunni-Shia conflict prevailing in several Arab countries formed an alliance with Shia Houthi rebels and SALEH’s Sunni followers. Obsessed by the ‘Shia threat,’ SAUDI ARABIA sees Iranian plots, especially when there is Shia involvement and launched a bombing campaign in March 2015, along with 8 Arab allies against Houthi rebels in YEMEN. However, the Saudi coalition is not willing to induct ground troops into the conflict and hence the battle lines on the ground remain without change for the past two years making the ‘air war’ very costly. The October blockade of impoverished YEMEN imposed by the Saudi coalition, [after a rebel missile reached RIYADH] was a desperate attempt to weaken the opposition but has drawn severe international condemnation. Analysts claim that the Saudi and Western intelligence agencies had been able to influence SALEH to abrogate the agreement signed between his General People’s Congress (GPC) and the ANSAR ALLAH, the political wing of the Houthis led by ABDEL-MALEK AL-HOUTHI in May 2015 and to change sides after making an appeal to his Sunni followers. The Houthis who had been suspicious of ALI ABDULLAH SALEH’s ultimate motives and had little ideological ground with SALEH, killed him on 02 December 2017, after a fierce battle, in SANAA.

5. ISRAEL. Analysts claim that US President DONALD TRUMP’s official recognition of JERUSALEM as ISRAEL’s capital could inflame the Middle East tensions as never before and the divisive decision drew Arab accusations of potential collusion with the Israeli Government and the powerful Jewish lobby in AMERICA. A number of EU countries too expressed their opposition to the change of US policy on the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas who controls GAZA threatened to call for a new “Intifada” and criticized the decision as a cover for ISRAEL to continue its crime of Judaising the city and emptying it of Palestinians. The Turkish President RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN who regards himself a champion of the Palestinian cause said on 05 December 2017, that such a move could go as far as to that of severing Diplomatic relations with ISRAEL.

6. ICIJ. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a network of more than 380 Journalists in 67 countries released new data on 03 December 2017 in the Offshore Leaks Database on close to 25000 entities connected to the Paradise Papers investigation. The Data base now includes information on more than 520,000 entities linked to ICIJ’s 2016 Panama Papers and Bahamas Leaks investigations and its 2013 Offshore Leaks investigations connected to 200 countries. More than 70% of these entities are incorporated in BERMUDA, CAYMAN ISLANDS, ISLE OF MAN, JERSEY and MAURITIUS. The global journalistic collaboration has now exposed an enormous number of offshore deals of politicians and corporate officials. More revelations are expected as regulators and ordinary citizens around the world begin to explore the new data released this month. Professor BROOKE HARRINGTON of the Copenhagen Business School says that the offshore industry makes “the poor poorer” and is “deepening wealth inequality” and the small group of people who are indulging in this “tax avoidance industry” are not equally subject to the laws as the rest of the people.


| 24 Friday November to 01 Friday December 2017|



 








SOUTH ASIA

1. PAKISTAN. The supporters of the little-known Islamist group of cleric KHADIM HUSSAIN RIZVI and his political party “Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan” paralyzed the capital ISLAMABAD and LAHORE and KARACHI with protests due to a revision of the oath to be taken by the election candidates omitted to mention the name of Prophet MUHAMMAD. The protesters claimed the revision was blasphemous which a highly contentious issue in PAKISTAN. Critics state that the Government had changed the oath to enable the participation of Ahmadis, a long persecuted Islamic minority sect. The Law Minister ZAHID HAMID resigned over the issue as demanded by the anti-blasphemy protesters and the revision was reversed with immediate effect.

SOUTH EAST ASIA

2. MYANMAR. A 3- phase plan for resolving the Rohingya crisis was proposed by Chinese Foreign Minister WANG YI at the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) of Foreign Ministers on 20 November 2017 at the MYANMAR capital. He said the first phase’s has already been achieved with a ceasefire that is working and that proper mechanisms should be in place to ensure that there is no rekindling the flames of war. The Minister said a bilateral dialogue should follow to find a workable solution and the third and final phase should be to work toward long-term solutions based on poverty alleviation, since the poverty is the root cause of the conflict. MYANMAR’s Military remains on guard against incursions by the Arakan Rohingya Salutation Army (ARSA) insurgents who fled to BANGLADESH with over 600,000 Muslim refugees and declared a one month ceasefire on 10 September 2017, which was rejected by the Government. The Army confirms that fighting stopped on 05 September 2017 and no serious clashes have taken place since then. Meanwhile, POPE FRANCIS who had visited MYANMAR on 28 November 2017 avoided using the name “Rohingya” or directly addressing their situation after church leaders advised him that doing so would aggravate the situation and put the country’s tiny Catholic population at risk.

FAR EAST

3. JAPAN. JAPAN’s reluctance to accept refugees has drawn sharp criticism from International Human Rights groups and it has been at odds with its traditional status as a major International donor on refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees FILIPPO GRANDI on 20 November 2017, urged JAPAN to resettle more asylum seekers pressuring the country to help solve a global crisis after giving refugee status to just three people in the first half of the year 2017. JAPAN accepts only about 20-30 refugees a year and has become one of the developed world’s least welcoming countries for asylum seekers due to its wider caution towards immigration as many Japanese people pride themselves on cultural and ethnic homogeneity. Further, JAPAN has a fast-shrinking and ageing population that blunts the potency of Government efforts to rouse the economy from over two decades of low growth and deflation. This year more than 2 million people joined the ranks of the world’s refugees, which stood at 17.2 million at the end of the year 2016, due to wars or persecution.

MIDDLE EAST

4. ISRAEL. Israel’s Energy Minister YUVAL STEINITZ, a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Security Council confirmed on 19th November that Israel has had covert contacts with SAUDI ARABIA, in a first-ever disclosure by the Israeli Government on this highly sensitive issue. SAUDI ARABIA has so far been maintaining that any relations with ISRAEL hinged on Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. However, both SAUDI ARABIA and ISRAEL along with the current US administration view Iran as the main threat to the MIDDLE EAST and increased tensions between Iran and SAUDI ARABIA have fuelled speculations that shared interests may push SAUDI ARABIA and ISRAEL to work together through covert operations. Minister STENITZ further revealed that ISRAEL has ties that are indeed partly covert with many Muslim and Arab countries. Last week, Saudi Foreign Minister ADEL JUBEIR cited a Saudi peace initiative, first adopted in 2012 by the Arab League as key to forging any relationship with ISRAEL. The 2002 peace plan makes those relations contingent on a full withdrawal by ISRAEL from all occupied territories including East Jerusalem.

AFRICA

5. ZIMBABWE. Since the takeover of the Government by former Vice President EMMERSON MNANGAGWA as the interim President of ZIMBABWE, international observers note that Transnational Companies (TNCs) anticipate that MNANGAGWA administration would open the country for TNCs to engage in industry and trade targeting its minerals (diamonds, gold, platinum, coal, iron, chromium, nickel, copper, lithium etc). Former President ROBERT MUGABE had been demonised by the corporate media in the West for leading his ZANU-PF movement along with JOSHUA NKOMO’s African People’s Union (ZAPU) in a fierce guerrilla war of independence against white dictator IAN SMITH’s rule in SOUTHERN RHODESIA (ZIMBABWE) and carrying out socio-economic reforms against whites who owned 70% of the arable land in independent Zimbabwe. Under MUGABE’s indigenisation law all foreign companies were required to be controlled by Zimbabweans. Unfortunately due to economic sanctions imposed by the West, corruption, MUGABE’s own out-dated idealism, ZIMBABWE became a failed state.

EUROPE

6. RUSSIA. The Security Council of the Russian Federation on 27 November 2017 ordered the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Communication Ministry to take additional measures to regulate information exchange on the Internet as endorsed at its special session in late October. It claims that terrorists use anonymous in-game chats for secret communication. It is understood that a new data-protection law will come into force and make the identification of users obligatory for internet messengers from January 2018 onwards. The law will be extended to cover all users of social media and online games in order to address the problem. Justifying the security measures that will be taken in the national interest, VLADIMIR ZHAROV, head of the Russian internet watchdog, ROSKOMNADZOR refers to the deadly PARIS attacks in November 2015 and says that the terrorists had organized their communications not only through messengers that use encoding but also through the Playstation4.

7. GERMANY. The breakdown of the talks to form a three-way Coalition Government in GERMANY on 20 November 2017 left Europe’s largest economy with two unprecedented options in the post-World War II era. Either Acting Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) forms a minority Government or President FRANK- WALTER SEAMIER calls for a new election, if no Government is formed. Chancellor ANGELA MEKEL was weakened after the September election as voters angry with her decision in 2015 to open GERMANY’s borders to more than a million asylum seekers, turned away from her conservative party by voting for the Alternative for Germany (AFD) far-right party.


| 17 Friday to 24 Friday November 2017|



 








SOUTH ASIA

1. MALDIVES. The Maldivian Minister for Environment and Energy who is also the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) addressing the recently concluded 23rd Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP 23) held in BONN, GERMANY from 06-17 November 2017, referred to the unprecedented weather; Hurricanes HARVEY, IRMA, JOSE, MARIA, wildfires in the US and Europe, mass flooding, drought in South Asia, in SRI LANKA and East Africa. He pointed out that collectively the G20 nations account for close to three - quarters of global emissions and unless act in line with their commitments to reduce emissions , global efforts to save the planet will be in vain. He further said that the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for loss and damage has failed to provide sufficient financing for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that face unique challenges arising from climate change. Minister IBRAHIM stressed that the COP 23 should figure out how exactly each nations implements its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on Green House Gas (GHG) reductions since all rich Nations have been benefitting from vast historical GHG emissions, that helped them build the affluence of the modern world. Further that AOSIS states like the MALDIVES that are on the frontline of climate change will suffer through no fault of their own, if G20 nations fail to honour their obligations. Meanwhile scientists warned on 13 November 2017, that GHC emissions are set to rise 2% this year, to a new record.

SOUTH EAST ASIA

2. CAMBODIA. The Supreme Court of CAMBODIA dissolved the main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on 16 November 2017, at the request of the Government of Prime Minister HUN SEN. The Government claims that CNRP leader KEM SOKHA who has been under detention since 03 September 2017, had been planning to take power with American assistance. A 5-year political ban has now been imposed on 118 CNRP members and the Prime Minister who has been in power for over 30 years appealed to rest of the opposition to join his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). HUN SEN’s critics charge that he is making an attempt to postpone the elections due in 2018, which will be a setback for democracy where the West has spent billions since 1993, to build a multi-party system after decades of war and called for sanctions on CAMBODIA. However, the Government is confident of the support of CHINA, the biggest aid donor and investor in CAMBODIA.

MIDDLE EAST

3. SAUDI ARABIA. At a time tensions between Sunni SAUDI ARABIA and Shiite IRAN have been rising, Foreign Ministers of the Arab League gathered in CAIRO, on 19 November 2017, at the request of SAUDI ARABIA to discuss alleged violations committed by IRAN in the region. SAUDI ARABIA refers to the 04 November 2017, Yemeni rebel missile intercepted near RIYADH and a pipeline fire in BAHRAIN on 10 November 2107 and claims that IRAN undermines peace and security in the region and also around the globe. BAHRAIN and the UAE supported the Saudi request for this meeting which was also endorsed by DJIBOUTI, the current Chair of the pan-Arab bloc. The Arab league has 22 members, but SYRIA’s membership was suspended in 2011. After Crown Prince Mohammed BIN SALMAN took over on 21 June 2017, SAUDI ARABIA has been dangerously increasing its anti IRAN rhetoric in many fronts. It seems that SAUDI ARABIA feels politically outsmarted and increasingly overtaken by Iranian moves across the region. Further, the possibility of potential instability in Saudi politics centering on the Saudi Royal family came to light, with the speed and secrecy with which Prince SALMAN, acted to consolidate power with a massive crackdown, that included a large number of Royals. Meanwhile, the Saudi Military campaign in YEMEN has become a deadlock with no end in sight and goes under-reported. IRAN on the other hand has forged a multi-prong and strategically calculated approach to spread its power in the region, while managing its global Diplomacy effectively. The possibility of the rivalry between SAUDI ARABIA and IRAN leading into a war exists and will have global ramifications for which the countries like SRI LANKA should stay prepared.

AFRICA

4. ZIMBABWE. The Military takeover of the Government on 17 November 2017, under the command of General CONSTANTINE CHIWENGA signalled the collapse in less than 36 hours of the Intelligence, Security and Patronage networks that sustained President ROBERT MUGABE’s 37-year autocratic rule in ZIMBABWE since independence, in the former British colony of RHODESIA. The Army’s intervention came following the power struggle in the ruling Zanu-PF party, with the dismissal of Vice President EMMERSON MNANGAGWA, the 75-year old Chinese- trained war veteran and the elevation of MUGABE’s 52- year old wife GRACE MUGABE to succeed the 93-year old President. The Army wanted MUGABE to resign voluntarily, which he did on 21 November 2017, as they wanted to imply that its action was not a Military Coup as the African Union no longer tolerates Military Coups D’état’s. The War Veterans’ Association headed by CHRIS MUTSVANGWA, called for people’s protests that forced MUGABE’s resignation, while the Zanu-PF party removed MUGABE from the leadership and expelled his wife from the party.

EUROPE

5. ITALY. TOTO RIINA, the Sicilian Mafia’s most powerful boss of the 20th century who had been instrumental in demonstrating to the world the way a powerful Mafia could control politics and economy of even in an industrialized nation, died on 16 November 2017, in the prison ward in PARMA, NORTHERN ITALY. He was in jail for a quarter of a century and had been serving 26 life sentences for numerous homicides committed between 1969 and 1992. His victims included the two Magistrates who led the campaign to bring his organized crime group, Cosa Nostra (“Our Thing”) and its Mafia figures to justice. Cosa Nostra was trafficking heroin to North America since the end of World War II and had been controlling the levers of ITALY’s corrupt post-war political system. It was RIINA’s savagery that pushed his mobsters to break their code of silence and testified against him after his arrest in January 1993 following the killing of the two Magistrates.

6. INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (ICC). The US Government responding to the ICC Chief Prosecutor FATOU BENSOUDA’s report issued on 21 November 2017, concerning war crimes committed by the US Armed Forces and the CIA in the Afghan conflict said that, any investigation would not serve the interests of either peace or Justice in AFGHANISTAN and that the US has a national system of investigation and accountability that more than meets international standards. He further said that such an investigation by the ICC would be “wholly unwarranted and unjustifiable”. The ICC report points out that “ US military personnel and CIA appear to have subjected detainees to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and rape on the territories of AFGHANISTAN and also in POLAND, ROMANIA and LITHUANIA which had secret detention facilities called “Black Sites” between December 2002 and 31 December 2014. The prosecutor after a preliminary examination conducted in AFGHANISTAN for the last 10 years, decided to open up the investigation on her own, in the absence of any request from the state party AFGHANISTAN since the ICC has Jurisdiction over any Rome Statute Crime (War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity, Genocide) committed in member countries. Even though the US is not a member of the ICC, its citizens could still face prosecution if they commit crimes within ICC member countries. Authorization has also been sought from the ICC’s Judiciary to investigate alleged war crimes of the Taliban and the militant group, Haqqani Network and war crimes committed by Afghan National Security Forces.




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