2019, April, Newsletter

World Newsletter Apr 30, 2019

World News April 30

CHINA SPENDS MORE ON DEFENCE THAN INDIA, JAPAN, KOREA, AUSTRALIA PUT
TOGETHER

India was the world’s fourth biggest military spender last year behind the
United States, China, and Saudi Arabia, according to new data think tank
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday.
India was the fifth largest military spender in 2017.
France also figures on the list of top five spenders that together accounted
for 60% of the global military spending in 2018, the think tank said.
According to the SIPRI data, China was the second-largest military spender
last year. Beijing increased its military expenditure by 5% to $250 billion
in 2018. It accounted for 14% of global military spending.
In contrast, India’s military spending went up by 3.1% to $66.5 billion.
India accounts for 3.7% of the global defence spending.
With military spending of $11.4 billion, Pakistan was at the 20th place.
China’s expenditure is much greater than the collective expenditure, $ 182.9
billion, of India ($ 66.5 billion), Japan ($46.6 billion), South Korea ($
43.1 billion) and Australia ($ 26.7 billion).
India, Japan, Korea and Australia, respectively, are the fourth, ninth,
tenth and thirteenth largest spenders on defence in the world.

IS ‘LEADER’ AL-BAGHDADI APPEARS IN FIRST VIDEO IN FIVE YEARS

The Islamic State group has released a video of a man it says is its leader,
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, vowing to seek revenge for its loss of territory.
He has not been seen since 2014, when he proclaimed from Mosul the creation
of a “caliphate” across parts of Syria and Iraq.
In this new footage, Baghdadi acknowledges defeat at Baghuz, the group’s
last stronghold in the region.
It is not clear when the video was recorded. IS says it was shot in April.
The footage was posted on the militant group’s al-Furqan media network.
Baghdadi says the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka attacks were carried out as
revenge for the fall of the Iraqi town of Baghuz.
The BBC’s Mina al-Lami points out initial IS claims regarding the Sri Lanka
attacks make no reference to the town.
He also says that he has had pledges of allegiance from militants in Burkina
Faso and Mali, and talks about the protests in Sudan and Algeria – claiming
that jihad is the only solution to “tyrants”. Both countries have seen their
long-term rulers overthrown this month.
However, Baghdadi’s image disappears towards the end of the video and an
audio recording of him discussing the Sri Lanka attacks is played instead,
suggesting that this part was recorded after the main video was filmed.

PAK TO MAINSTREAM MADRASSAS, BRING THEM UNDER GOVT CONTROL: ARMY
SPOKESPERSON

Pakistan will bring over 30,000 madrassas into the mainstream education
system as part of a determined campaign to combat extremism, the military
spokesperson said on Monday.
Addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi, Major General Asif Ghafoor said
Pakistan had witnessed a surge in religious seminaries from 247 madrassas in
1947 to 2,861 in 1980.
“And now there are over 30,000 madrassas. Out of these, only 100 are
involved in propagating terrorism,” he said, adding that several steps were
afoot to control and bring the seminaries into the mainstream.
“All madrassas will be brought under the Ministry of Education so that
contemporary subjects can be taught. We will formulate a syllabus which will
not have hate speech and students will be taught respect for different
sects,” he said.
The military spokesman said the students will also receive a degree which
will be associated with the education board.
“In February, money was allotted to bring the seminaries into the
mainstream. To control the welfare activities of proscribed organisations,
the government has made a system to mainstream their social activities,”
Ghafoor said to bring the madrassas into the mainstream they will have to
start teaching other subjects so that students have skills other than
religious studies.

SRI LANKA: PRESIDENT SIRISENA APPOINTS NEW DEFENCE SECRETARY, ACTING POLICE
CHIEF

President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday appointed a former Army commander
to the post of Defence Secretary, and named a new police chief, as part of
his promised effort to overhaul Sri Lanka’s security establishment in the
wake of the Easter blasts that killed over 250 people.
General S.H.S Kottegoda was appointed the Secretary of Defence, after
Hemasiri Fernando resigned from the post. While taking responsibility of for
the attacks, Mr. Fernando had said, “there was no failure” on his part.
President Sirisena also named Deputy Inspector-General Chandana
Wickramaratne as the acting police chief. The incumbent Pujith Jayasundara,
who Mr. Sirisena had earlier asked to resign, was on Monday asked to go on
“compulsory leave” after he “refused to resign”, official sources said.
As per Sri Lankan law, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) can be removed
from the post only with a parliamentary resolution backed by a majority and
based on a subsequent inquiry by a committee.
President Sirisena, who addressed media heads last week, squarely blamed the
Defence Secretary and the IGP for “failing” to pass on the information to
him.

AFGHAN ‘GRAND ASSEMBLY’ BEGINS

Thousands of politicians and officials from across Afghanistan gathered amid
tight security in Kabul on Monday to discuss the war and U.S. efforts to
forge a peace deal with the Taliban.
More than 3,000 people have been invited to the rare “loya jirga”, which is
being billed as the largest in modern Afghan history, in a bid to set
possible conditions under which they might accept a peace settlement.
The loya jirga – literally “grand assembly” in Pashto – is being held as the
U.S. and Taliban are discussing a possible foreign troop withdrawal from
Afghanistan in exchange for a permanent ceasefire and various Taliban
pledges.
“We want to specify the main lines for the negotiations with the Taliban,”
Mr. Ghani said at the start of the summit. “We want clear advice from all of
you.”
Mr. Ghani’s government hopes the high-stakes meeting will set out Kabul’s
conditions for any deal, including the continuation of the Constitution and
the protection of women’s rights, the media, and free speech. Mr. Ghani had
invited the Taliban but the insurgents refused. Much of Kabul was locked
down on Monday, with a week-long public holiday declared for the duration of
the four-day event.
Streets across the capital were closed and hilly overlooks blocked. In the
past, the Taliban have blasted rockets at a tent hosting a loya jirga. In a
statement, the Taliban vowed that any decisions or resolutions made at a
loya jirga are “never acceptable to the real and devout sons of this
homeland”.

US DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ROD ROSENSTEIN QUITS

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has handed in his resignation to
President Donald Trump.
The two men had a rocky relationship. In 2017, Mr Rosenstein appointed
Special Counsel Robert Mueller to probe claims of Russian interference in
the 2016 presidential election.
In a resignation letter, he wrote: “We enforce the law without fear or
favour because credible evidence is not partisan.”
He will leave the post on 11 May.
Correspondents say Mr Rosenstein had been expected to resign in March,
following the appointment of William Barr as attorney general.
However, he stayed in the job longer to help Mr Barr manage the public
release of the special counsel’s findings from the investigation, which has
dominated much of Mr Trump’s presidency so far.
Mr Trump has repeatedly called the investigation a “witch hunt”, although Mr
Barr and Mr Rosenstein eventually cleared him of the obstruction of justice
charge.

38 KILLED AS FLOODS WORSEN IN MOZAMBIQUE AFTER SECOND CYCLONE

PEMBA, Mozambique – Heavy rain battered northern Mozambique on Monday as
residents and relief workers confronted the widespread devastation wrought
by Cyclone Kenneth, the strongest cyclone to ever hit Africa, which killed
38 people and destroyed thousands of homes.
Roads have been washed away, fields submerged and many buildings wrecked by
the storm, which came weeks after Cyclone Idai hit the Mozambican city of
Beira, 1,000 kilometers to the south.
Cyclone Kenneth made landfall late on Thursday in Cabo Delgado province,
packing wind gusts of up to 220 kilometers per hour.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) described
it as the strongest cyclone to ever lash the continent, and predicted
further heavy rain over the coming days.
“Cyclone Kenneth made landfall at the end of the rainy season, when river
levels were already high, increasing the risk of river flooding,” the UN
agency said in its latest update.

SRI LANKA ON ALERT FOR ATTACKS BY MILITANTS DRESSED IN MILITARY UNIFORMS

Sri Lankan security officials have warned that Islamist militants behind
Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings are planning imminent attacks and could be
dressed in military uniforms.
The militants were targeting five locations for attacks on Sunday or Monday,
security sources said.
“There could be another wave of attacks,” the head of ministerial security
division (MSD), a unit of the police, said in a letter to lawmakers and
other officials, seen by Reuters on Monday.
“The relevant information further notes that persons dressed in military
uniforms and using a van could be involved in the attacks.”
There were no attacks on Sunday, and security across Sri Lanka has been
ramped up, with scores of suspected Islamists arrested since the April 21
attacks on hotels and churches that killed more than 250 people, including
40 foreign nationals.
Two cabinet ministers and two opposition lawmakers confirmed to Reuters that
they were aware of the latest security alert.
“We have been informed about this by the MSD,” Health Minister Rajitha
Senaratne said.

POMPEO SAYS RUSSIA WILL STILL BE MEDDLING ‘IN 2050’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday warned that Russia would seek to
interfere in elections for decades ahead and vowed that Washington would try
to thwart its efforts.
Pompeo was asked if he expected Russia to meddle in next year’s US election,
after a long-awaited report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found that
Moscow tried to sway the 2016 presidential race to Donald Trump.
The top US diplomat said to expect a similar Russian campaign next year but
criticized the spotlight inside Washington on the Russian role, which has
infuriated President Donald Trump.
“It goes without saying, they were a threat to our elections in 1974, too,
and they interfered in our elections in the ’80s,” Pompeo told a forum of
The Hill newspaper.
“The fact that this town seems shocked by the fact that the Russians don’t
care for us-in that case the Soviet Union-I find stunning,” he said.
“And we should expect in 2050, the Russians will be at it still.” Pompeo,
however, said that Trump “has directed us all to be incredibly focused” on
countering meddling by Russia as well as other adversaries.

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