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Aug 2020

Jul 24, 2021

EU Rejects UK Demand for New Post-Brexit Deal on Northern Ireland

  • Britain demanded a new deal to oversee problematic post-Brexit trade involving Northern Ireland, warning it already had the right to unilaterally ignore parts of an agreement struck with the bloc just last year.
  • The European Commission immediately poured cold water on the plea, saying Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit minister David Frost had negotiated the protocol and Britain had to respect its international obligations.
  • The Northern Ireland protocol was part of the settlement, backed by Johnson that finally sealed Britain's bitter divorce from the bloc, four years after British voters backed leaving in a referendum.

Israel Gets Observer Status at African Union

  • Israel has been given observer status at the African Union.
  • "This is a day of celebration for Israeli-Africa relations," Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said.
  • The diplomatic achievement is the result of efforts by the Foreign Ministry, the African Division and Israeli embassies on the continent. This is a corrective step to the anomaly that has prevailed for almost two decades and is an important part of strengthening Israel's foreign relations fabric.
  • Israel currently has diplomatic relations with 46 of the AU's 55 members.
  • Last year, it normalised relations with both Morocco and Sudan.
  • Israel was an observer member of the Organisation of African Unity, which was disbanded in 2002 to make way for the AU.

Jul 23, 2021

US, Germany Reach Agreement on Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline Project

  • The US and Germany have announced an agreement on the issue of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, an effort to reduce the risk that the contentious project could pose to Ukraine.
  • The 1,230-km gas pipeline, expected to be completed next month, would bring 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.
  • According to a US-Germany joint statement, should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions, to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector, including gas.

Taiwan Will Set up its First Office in Lithuania Using the Name 'Taiwan'

  • Using the name "Taiwan," Taiwan's government will set up its first office in Europe, in the Baltic nation of Lithuania. The Taiwan government has come up with this decision as it seeks to strengthen its diplomatic presence across the globe with the ever increasing pressure from Beijing.
  • This decision has drawn a rebuke from China while it was praised by the USA.
  • Joseph Wu, Foreign Minister of Taiwan announced the government's decision to open its office in Lithuania.
  • The other diplomatic outposts of Taiwan on the continent are named "Taipei."
  • Taiwan Affairs Office of Beijing has issued statement saying that the formation of the Lithuania office is an attempt at seeking independence. China has also urged Lithuania to adhere to China's one-China principle.

Jul 22, 2021

Ariel Henry is New Prime Minister of Haiti

  • Amid political turmoil caused by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, Ariel Henry was appointed as the new Prime Minister of Haiti.
  • Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon and former cabinet minister was tapped as Prime Minister by the President just days before he was gunned down.
  • Henry will lead the nation until a new President is chosen in an election scheduled for September.

Belarus' Embattled Opposition Leader Seeks New US Sanctions on Country

  • The main leader of Belarus' embattled opposition has sought and apparently won US support for increasing pressure on the country's authoritarian leader.
  • In meetings with senior US officials, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya said that she asked the Biden administration for active and non-symbolic" measures to be taken in response to a massive crackdown on Belarus dissidents by President Alexander Lukashenko's government.
  • In response, the White House said national security adviser Jake Sullivan pledged to hold the government accountable for its actions to quell massive protests against disputed elections last year, including through the imposition of new sanctions on the former Soviet republic.

UNESCO Strips England's Liverpool of World Heritage Status

  • UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural agency, said that the English city of Liverpool has been stripped of its world heritage status after years of development near its Victorian docks.
  • After a vote in China by members of its World Heritage Committee, UNESCO said that Liverpool should be deleted from the international cultural organisation's list.
  • The vote means that Liverpool will lose the status it has held since 2004 that saw it placed alongside world famous sites like the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

Jul 21, 2021

Pedro Castillo Wins Presidential Election

  • Rural teacher-turned-political novice Pedro Castillo won Peru's presidential election after the country's longest electoral count in 40 years.
  • Castillo, whose supporters included Peru's poor and rural citizens, defeated Right-wing politician Keiko Fujimori by just 44,000 votes. Electoral authorities released the final official results, more than a month after the runoff election took place in the South American nation.
  • Wielding a pencil the size of a cane, the symbol of his Peru Libre party, Mr. Castillo popularised the phrase "No more poor in a rich country".

Saudi Arabia Ends Male Guardian Requirement for Women Attending Hajj

  • According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Saudi Arabia, women can now register for the annual Hajj pilgrimage without a male guardian (marham). In registration guidelines of Hajj for domestic pilgrims, the ministry highlights, women do not need to require a male guardian to register and could do registration along with other women. Women wishing to perform Hajj will have to register individually.
  • India had announced the same rule in 2017 when the Modi government declared that women could go on Hajj without a male companion. Muslim women were exempted from mahram and also from the lottery system.

Jul 20, 2021

US, allies accuse China of Microsoft Exchange hack

  • The United States and its Nato, EU and Five Eyes allies on Monday jointly accused the Chinese government of using "criminal contract hackers" to carry out the hacking of Microsoft Exchange's mail servers earlier this year that impacted tens of thousands of entities around the world.
  • The White House has called the move "unprecedented". This is the first instance of the Nato, a military alliance of 30 nations, condemning China for cyberattacks.
  • The collection of countries in this effort is the largest to jointly denounce aggressive cyber operations by China. The EU has 27 members, and the Five Eyes is an intelligence sharing pact of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

UK Celebrates 'Freedom Day' But Covid Cases Peak

  • Day-to-day pandemic restrictions were lifted in England as the country's "freedom day" met with deep concern from scientists as coronavirus cases surge across the nation.
  • In other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — devolved governments are taking more cautious steps and will not reopen fully.

China, Iran Diplomats Among People in Pegasus list: Report

  • A number once used by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and those of dozens of diplomats in India from countries such as China and Iran are among potential targets selected by users of the Pegasus spyware programme.
  • Paris-based Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International have gained access to a leaked list of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers that clients of the Israeli company NSO Group, the developer of Pegasus, selected for surveillance.
  • More than 1,000 phone numbers in India were part of the list, according to 17 media outlets that examined the list.
  • The records included at least one number once used by Prime Minister Khan and that had been selected by a NSO client for surveillance.
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