World update: December 6 2017



Voters in southern Nepal are heading to the polls on Thursday for the second stage in the country’s legislative election. The first stage, in northern Nepal, was held late last month. It’s Nepal’s first election since 1999.


The United States has begun flying B-1B bombers over South Korea along with F-22s and F-35s. So everything seems to be going well there. The North Korean government, as it always does, said on Wednesday that joint US-South Korean military exercises threaten to cause a war, and Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday that the Pentagon should move military dependents out of South Korea since the risk of war was so great. I cannot comment on rumors that Graham was in a state of ecstasy as he said this.



Libyan electoral officials have decided to kick off a two-month voter registration drive. Which is interesting, because they don’t actually have any elections planned yet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Libya is going to have to have an election at some point for something–ideally by the end of next year, and for pretty much everything. But you’d think they’d nail those details down before they start signing people up to vote. At the very least you’d think they’d try to end the civil war before jumping to the next phase like this.

Speaking of Libyan elections, though, if Libya does have them next year you can probably expect to find Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s name on the ballot somewhere. Yes, Libya has come so far that Muammar Gaddafi’s son, who was in line to be his heir, is right back in the mix to run the country. What a time to be alive. Currently, Saif al-Islam says he’s “leading a military campaign against terrorists around Tripoli,” so he’ll be able to put that on his resume. It’s possible that he’s actually claiming credit for operations that haven’t been his, but when have you ever known a Gaddafi to lie about anything? Also there are reports that his forces have been getting their asses handed to them, but who can say for sure? Gaddafi has one teensy problem if he wants to be Libya’s next president, which is that he’s wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity he allegedly committed during his father’s reign.


The war against Boko Haram is going so well that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari canned the general commanding it on Wednesday after all of six months on the job. Weird, because Buhari was telling everybody at the end of 2016 that Boko Haram was finished.


An airstrike, presumably conducted by the US, hit the village of Ilimey, southwest of Mogadishu, on Wednesday. Somali officials say the target was an al-Shabab convoy, but al-Shabab is claiming the strike killed several civilians.


Hold on to your hats, because in a major surprise, it turns out that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is in favor of legislation that would allow him to run for president again in 2021. Currently, the 73 year old Museveni is going to pass the Ugandan constitution’s presidential age limit (75) during his current term, making him ineligible to stand for reelection to what would be, according to archeologists, his 132nd term. But seriously he’s been president since 1986. The legislation in question would amend the constitution to remove the age limit.


The Cameroonian military looks set to begin cleansing operations in villages in the country’s southwestern anglophone region. Under the guise of combatting separatist violence in the area, Paul Biya’s government seems prepared to commit more of the same violent, repressive acts that created the separatist insurgency in the first place.


Despite all the conflict and dysfunction in the Middle East, the country most affected by displacement in 2017 was, for the second year in a row, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where an estimated 1.7 million people were displaced this year:

In a new report, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre said that an average of 5,500 people fled their homes every day this year.


The reasons include new armed conflicts, a rise in existing conflicts and the delay in holding elections, the report said.


Despite there being four million displaced people, as well as more than seven million struggling to feed themselves, international aid has been slow to materialise, Ms Blom said.

Compounding the problem, the World Food Program says it’s running out of funds to continue providing food aid to 500,000 at-risk people in the DRC’s troubled Kasai region.



Vladimir Putin is going to run for another term as president next year. I definitely didn’t see that one coming.


Apparently dissatisfied with being completely humiliated on Tuesday, Ukrainian police tried to arrest Mikheil Saakashvili again on Wednesday. This time, the former Georgian president and Odessa governor escaped by painting the image of a tunnel on the side of a mountain and letting the police all run right into it and concuss themselves apparently wasn’t in the protest camp where police went looking for him. Ukrainian authorities say they have evidence that Saakashvili has been taking money from Russia to overthrow the Ukrainian government, which is a stretch to put it mildly.


Erratic billionaire Andrej Babiš was sworn in as Czech prime minister on Wednesday and immediately promised to crack down on “illegal migration.” Something tells me he’s going to fit in just fine.


Theresa May seems to have mostly caved on the issue of the rights of European Union citizens in Britain after Brexit, agreeing to protect them for 10 years after the UK leaves the union and to allow the European Court of Justice to rule on cases involving EU nationals. She further has apparently agreed to allow those EU nationals to bring their families to the UK with full rights, including children born after Brexit. This deal would presumably be enough to push Brexit talks into their next phase, the trade agreement, were it not for the fact that everybody is still stymied over the Irish border problem. May has met with Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster over the issue but they don’t yet seem to have made much headway.

Meanwhile, Thursday is a day ending in “-y” so you can be sure that UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is planning to say something stupid:

Boris Johnson will pin the responsibility for the “crack cocaine of jihadi terrorism” on repressive states, and not western foreign policy, in a major speech in which he will also say that Britain will be as committed to defeating terrorism in Europe after Brexit as now.


The foreign secretary will argue that blaming western military interventions for the rise of Islamic extremism only plays into the jihadi narrative, adding that Islamist jihadism can have the addictive power of crack cocaine.

Somebody might want to sit down with the esteemed foreign secretary and explain the past couple of centuries’ worth of intersection between repressive states around the world and Western foreign policy. It might be quite illuminating.



The Organization of American States may ask Honduras to redo its November 26 presidential election over irregularities that have caused many inside and outside the country to question results showing a slim victory for incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández. The Honduran election tribunal says it’s waiting for ballot sheets from challenger Salvador Nasralla’s party before it can conduct a recount. Hernández said late Tuesday that the tribunal should conduct a full recount, but he’s said nothing as far as I’ve seen on the possibility of doing the whole thing over again.


Despite its setbacks in the Middle East, US counterterrorism officials told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that the group continues to thrive online:

“Unfortunately, we don’t see ISIS’ loss of territory translating into a corresponding reduction in its inability to inspire attacks,” she told a U.S. Senate committee.


“ISIS’ capacity to reach sympathizers around the world through its robust social media capability is unprecedented and gives the group access to large numbers of HVEs,” Shiao said, using the government’s acronym for homegrown violent extremists.

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