Prime Minister missteps, ongoing conflict between the U.S. and Iran, and climate change strikes around the world are big news stories this week.
President Donald Trump reversed a precedent set by several conservative American presidents by suggesting that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was due to a fight against terrorism.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani “described the battle against the Soviets as a “national uprising for gaining freedom” and noted that the Soviet invasion was condemned by the United Nations and the United States at the time” according to The Washington Post.
An Afghan assault on the Islamic State killed 27 militants on New Year’s Day, according to The Associated Press. Officials reported 15 members of the security forces were killed, and the Taliban has mounted almost-daily attacks on security forces.
About 7,000 American forces are expected to leave Afghanistan this summer, per an announcement by President Trump. Almost half of Afghanistan remains under Taliban control. Has President Trump’s troop withdrawal announcement strengthened the Taliban’s negotiating position with the Afghan government?
Presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo were held last Sunday, but results have not yet been announced. These elections are supposed to be the first peaceful transfer of power in the DRC in 59 years. However, al-Jazeera reports that over a million Congolese were unable to vote due to an outbreak of Ebola, as well as “security concerns, local factional conflict and various logistical problems.” In addition, internet service was shut down “to preserve public order after ‘fictitious results’ began circulating on social media,” according to an interview that a senior official gave to Reuters*.
The new Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro was sworn in this week.
Congratulations to President @JairBolsonaro who just made a great inauguration speech – the U.S.A. is with you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2019
Already, Bolsonaro has acted upon some of his campaign promises.
[Bolsonaro] has already issued orders that undermine protections for LGBTQ populations and indigenous groups, undercutting the defenses of some of his supporters, who dismissed the seriousness of his rhetoric.
Bolsonaro’s rise has roiled Brazilian politics — and the ascendance of the polarizing figure could set the Latin American country on a new, unpredictable path.
And we also saw a relic of the ancient solar system up close for the first time.
#UltimaThule is the 1st primordial contact-binary ever explored up-close by a spacecraft. It is a pristine specimen, preserved as it was formed. Other similarly shaped objects have been modified over time due to their closer proximity to the Sun: https://t.co/cp8lE03Cl5 pic.twitter.com/sQtTqwv1AQ
— NASA (@NASA) January 3, 2019
We’re wrapping up the news from around the globe for the first international News Roundup of the new year.
- Indira Lakshmanan Executive editor, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; columnist, The Boston Globe; @Indira_L
- Christian Caryl International op-ed editor at the Opinions section of The Washington Post; author of "Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century"; @ccaryl
- David Rennie Beijing bureau chief, The Economist; @DSORennie
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