Africa and Middle East
Oman The Arab world’s longest-serving ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, died, aged 79. Despite the lack of a clear successor, power seems to have transferred peacefully to his cousin, a candidate chosen within three days of the Sultan’s death by the family. The new sultan faces a rapidly rising deficit and with it a rising cost to borrow money.
Syria A secret peace summit was held in Berlin to try to form a basis for peace talks. Most of the factions in the Syrian Civil War were present, including Alawites, Kurdish Yazidis, Sunnis and Christians, and demonstrated that the religious and ethnic divisions along which the Civil War has mostly been fought were not insurmountable obstacles to peace.
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane resigned this week after Police issued an arrest warrant for the First Lady over the death of the Prime Minister’s former wife. Within two months of the death of Lipolelo, his previous wife, Thabane had remarried.
Iran Following the allegedly accidental downing of a passenger jet which has triggered outrage across Iran and the world, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei delivered a Friday sermon in Tehran, his first in over seven years.
Asia & Oceania
Pakistan 86 members of the far-right TYRLA were sentenced for their roles in violent protests in 2018. The protests were in response to the acquittal of a Christian woman who faced the death penalty for blasphemy.
China One man died in Wuhan, having contracted a mysterious illness with pneumonia-like symptoms. Other cases have been recorded in Japan and Thailand, but these people have all recently visited Wuhan. Chinese officials are deeply concerned given that SARS, which killed 349 people in Mainland China in 2002 and 2003, originated from the same area and has similar symptoms.
Panama Seven members of the Ngabe Bugle indigenous group were killed by self-described Christian priests. At an improvised church, the victims were violently beaten with Bibles and stabbed so they would ‘repent their sins’. The police managed to free fourteen victims on their arrival, including two pregnant women.
Venezuela Civilian motorcycle groups and armed security forces loyal to President Maduro arranged themselves around the National Assembly building in Caracas to block the entry of opposition members to the building. The convoy of cars carrying the deputies was violently attacked. They were unable to enter the building, which remains the only part of the Venezuelan government out of Maduro’s control.
Ukraine With the release of audio recordings to Youtube in which he criticised the new President Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk tendered his resignation to Parliament. The recordings captured Honcharuk described the President’s economic position as ‘primitive’, though he claims that the recordings were doctored and misrepresent the overall content of what he said.
Poland New legislation was tabled in the Senate which would give politicians the explicit powers to fire and hire judges. In response, the Speaker of the Senate Tomasz Grodski requested the urgent legal opinions of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission. These European legal experts sharply criticised the legislation; Polish Justice Minister Ziobro vehemently responded that “No one should be lecturing us”.
Russia Mikhail Mishustin, Putin’s preferred candidate was ratified by MPs as the new Prime Minister, which many see as further solidifying Putin’s personal control over the political system. The new appointment comes in light of the resignation of the previous cabinet after Putin proposed significant constitutional changes. RT, Russian state broadcaster, describes the changes as a positive ‘diversification of power’; other analysts (see Politico) view it as an attempt to shift power to the Duma, which Putin can move to when his Presidential term expires