Somalia – Amnesty International claims that the US airstrikes against al-Shabab have been taking the lives of Somali citizens, potentially in violation of international humanitarian law. Researchers for the group claim that during five recent US airstrikes, 14 civilians were killed “indiscriminately.” In their report, they claim that loosened rules of engagement have allowed for an increase in inaccurate targeting and misidentification that have ended in fatal attacks. US Africa Command disputed the allegations immediately, claiming that they have investigated 18 cases of possible civilian casualties since 2017 and found none to be credible.
Egypt – Egypt’s Supreme Media Council is allowing the government to block websites and social media accounts in excess of 5,000 followers that are deemed a threat to national security. These measures allow the government to levy fines of up to $14,400 USD without obtaining a court order. These restrictions are a part of a larger set of crackdowns on journalists and media organizations by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in an effort to suppress dissent. Egypt is known as the leader in internet censorship as el-Sisi’s government works to strengthen its authoritarian stronghold.
Israel – The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a three-nation tour to the Middle East aimed at legitimizing President Netanyahu’s bid for re-election and countering Iran. Pompeo said his long-awaited visit is meant to strengthen relations with Israel which “transcend national politics.” He added that he hopes to also to coordinate with Israel to fight radical Islam. President Netanyahu is expected to visit Washington at the end of March, following the Trump administration’s move to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, drawing criticism from Palestinians.
Kazakhstan – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the last remaining Soviet-era head, announced his resignation Tuesday after nearly three decades in office. “I have decided to terminate my powers as president,” Nazarbayev said, “This year marks my 30th year in office as the supreme leader of our country. I was given the great honor of my great people to be the first president of independent Kazakhstan.” During his thirty years in power, Nazarbayev cast himself as a relatively enlightened ex-Soviet leader compared to his more despotic Central Asian neighbors. However, the state department’s 2018 human rights report showed that he ran Kazakhstan like a classic autocrat.
United Kingdom – The European Union has agreed to extend the official departure date for Brexit , but on condition that, the British parliament accepts her withdrawal deal. With the initial March 29th deadline fast approaching, British lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan, delaying legislation to finalize Brexit. If all efforts fail, Britain will have to exit the bloc without a deal, an outcome British parliamentarians wish to prevent at all costs due to potential economic downfall, and in an extreme case, remaining in the EU.