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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - January 2021

Jan 2021

Jul 26, 2021

Tunisian President Kais Saied Sacks Prime Minister

  • Tunisia's President dismissed the Prime Minister and freezed parliament in a major escalation of political feuding in the democratic country following protests in several cities.
  • President Kais Saied would assume executive authority with the assistance of a new Prime Minister, prompting the biggest challenge yet to a 2014 Constitution that split powers between President, Prime Minister and Parliament.
  • Mr. Saied and the parliament were both elected in separate popular votes in 2019, while Mechichi took office last summer, replacing another short-lived government.

China Imposes Sanctions on US Officials under Anti-foreign Law

  • China imposed sanctions on seven US individuals and entity, under Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, in response to the US penalties imposed on the Hong Kong officials over crackdown of democracy in the semi-autonomous region.
  • This action comes in response to the US' recent warning to companies about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong. Last week, the United States had imposed Hong Kong-related sanctions on seven individuals and warned companies of the risks of doing business in the territory.
  • The list of seven US individuals and entity include former US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross; Chairman of US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) Carolyn Bartholomew; former Staff Director of Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Jonathan Stivers; DoYun Kim at National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; senior program manager of the International Republican Institute (IRI) Adam Joseph King; China Director at Human Rights Watch Sophie Richardson, and Hong Kong Democratic Council.

Jul 25, 2021

El Salvador Orders Arrest of Ex-President Sanchez Ceren

  • El Salvador has ordered the arrest of former president Salvador Sanchez Ceren and nine top officials from a past administration as part of a money laundering and corruption probe.
  • The office said Sanchez Ceren was out of the country, but five former high-ranking members of former President Mauricio Funes's government from 2009 to 2014 have been detained. Sanchez Ceren was vice president at the time, before becoming President in the following term. His successor, President Nayib Bukele, has drawn rebukes for a string of controversial moves, including removing the attorney general and closing an anti-corruption office.
  • The Attorney General's office said that Sanchez Ceren and the other officials – including former heads of the health, finance, labor, agriculture and environment ministries – are wanted on charges of money laundering, embezzlement and illicit enrichment after they were transferred unauthorized funds.

El Salvador Orders Arrest of Ex-President Sanchez Ceren

  • El Salvador has ordered the arrest of former president Salvador Sanchez Ceren and nine top officials from a past administration as part of a money laundering and corruption probe.
  • The office said Sanchez Ceren was out of the country, but five former high-ranking members of former President Mauricio Funes's government from 2009 to 2014 have been detained. Sanchez Ceren was vice president at the time, before becoming President in the following term. His successor, President Nayib Bukele, has drawn rebukes for a string of controversial moves, including removing the attorney general and closing an anti-corruption office.
  • The Attorney General's office said that Sanchez Ceren and the other officials – including former heads of the health, finance, labor, agriculture and environment ministries – are wanted on charges of money laundering, embezzlement and illicit enrichment after they were transferred unauthorized funds.

Kenneth Juster Named Advisor to Global Board of US India Business Council

  • Kenneth Juster, America's former Ambassador to India, has been named as an advisor to the Global Board of the US India Business Council (USIBC).
  • USIBC also announced the addition of Kamal Ahluwalia, president Eightfold AI; Guru Bandekar, Chief Procurement Officer, Global Strategic Sourcing Stanley Black & Decker and Raghu Raghuram, CEO VMware, to its Global Board of Directors, further solidifying the Council's leadership in key sectors.

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.
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