World update: June 12 2018



According to Malian authorities, militants attacked a town in the country’s central Mopti Region on Tuesday but were driven out by Malian forces. Ten of the attackers were reportedly killed. It’s unclear who the militants were.


Amnesty International has a new report on violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone region:

In a new report on Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis, ‘A turn for the worse: Violence and human rights violations in Anglophone Cameroon’, which is based on in-depth interviews with over 150 victims and eye-witnesses, and material evidence including satellite images, the organization documents how general population is paying the highest price as violence escalates in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.

“People in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are in the grip of a deadly cycle of violence. Security forces have indiscriminately killed, arrested and tortured people during military operations which have also displaced thousands of civilians. Their heavy-handed response will do nothing to calm the violence – in fact it is likely to further alienate Anglophone communities and fuel further unrest,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy Director for West and Central Africa.

“For their part, armed separatists have killed dozens of members of the security forces. They also carried out attacks designed to strike fear amongst the population, going as far as burning down schools and targeting teachers who did not enforce the boycott.”


One United Nations peacekeeper was killed and another wounded on Sunday when an armed group attacked a UN patrol in the town of Bambari. Another armed group attacked a UN convoy in southeastern CAR on Sunday, wounding three people.


DRC Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala made a major announcement on Tuesday:

“The elections are going to take place without the participation of President [Joseph] Kabila, who will abide by the spirit and the letter of the constitution,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas conference in Montreal, Canada.

Kabila, despite previously agreeing not to run and despite the fact that he’s in year seven of what was supposed to be his second and final five year term, has not explicitly said he won’t run in December’s election, and opposition leaders have begun to suspect that he was planning to stick around somehow. Assuming Tshibala wasn’t speaking out of turn this is a very important development.



The Greek and Macedonian governments announced on Tuesday that they’ve reached an accord over the latter country’s name, which has been a sticking point for them ever since Macedonia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Greece has long maintained that the use of the name “Macedonia” implies designs over Greek Macedonia, and has blocked the Republic of Macedonia from joining pan-European bodies like NATO and the European Union as a result. Well, problem solved, I guess, because now the Republic of Macedonia is the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece is cool with it.

Both countries’ parliaments now have to ratify the deal, and there may be problems there. The North Macedonian parliament shouldn’t block the name change, but the Greek parliament might–a substantial number of Greek voters have made it very clear, via protest, that any use of the word “Macedonia” in the former Yugoslav republic’s name is more than they can accept.


A brief hostage situation gripped Paris on Tuesday when an unidentified man, who has since been arrested, took two captives and “demanded to be put in touch with the Iranian Embassy to deliver a message to the French government.” I’m sure it must have made sense to him. Both hostages were recovered unharmed. This seems more like a disturbed individual than a would-be terrorist, but I suppose we can’t be entirely sure.



Yet another new poll has Andrés Manuel López Obrador widening his lead ahead of Mexico’s July 1 presidential election. The new poll by firms Berumen and Ipsos shows López Obrador with 41.7 percent, compared to Ricardo Anaya’s 21 percent. One bit of a cautionary note for the frontrunner: this survey has 21.5 percent of respondents undecided, which in the admittedly highly unlikely event they all voted and all broke for Anaya would be enough to…well, yeah, that’s not going to happen. Never mind.


It’s strange to think that a sitting US president likes the ruler of North Korea more than the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and yet that’s the world in which we currently live:

At a news conference on Tuesday after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump referred to the Canadian prime minister’s pledge to proceed with retaliatory measures in response to Trump’s move to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel.

“That’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He learned,” Trump said, wagging his finger. “You can’t do that. You can’t do that.”

Trump offered no detail, but his comments marked the latest in a string of abrasive remarks from senior US officials – and appeared to dash any hopes of a swift resolution to the trade row which has helped push relations between the two countries to their lowest point in recent memory.

There’s a reasonable chance that Trump will impose tariffs on Canadian automobile imports, which will be a huge blow both to the Canadian economy and to pretty much the entire US auto industry and which could trigger a wider trade war with Europe and Mexico in addition to Canada. He remains convinced that not only does the US have a trade deficit with Canada (it does not, though Trump apparently doesn’t count trade in services so under that tortured framework he’s correct) but that trade deficits represent other countries “taking advantage” of the US. Trade deficits don’t work that way, but whatever. It’s Donald Trump’s world now.


It really is Donald Trump’s world. His reality, more to the point. And in that regard, Joshua Keating writes, Trump is merely perfecting what the Bush administration started:

In one of the most famous summations of the George W. Bush administration, an anonymous White House aide—widely believed to be Karl Rove, though he denied it—dismissed the administration’s critics as the “reality based community,” telling the New York Times in 2004,“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.” With respect to Bush’s team, when it comes to creating new realities through ceaseless action, they were rank amateurs compared with Donald Trump.

I think this is true of Trump’s team but not of Trump himself. His team knows that they’re routinely dealing in falsehoods. But I remain convinced that Trump believes his own falsehoods. He’s not just creating a fake reality for the rubes, he’s living his own fake reality every single day.

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