Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes — the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.
It’s been another interesting, if unsettling week around the world.
On August 15th, the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, registered his candidacy for October’s presidential election from the jail where he is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering. It should be noted that following Lula’s conviction, the near-universal opinion from academics, politicians and human rights advocates around the world was that the charges and conviction were politically motivated to keep Lula from running and winning the coming election. The conviction could prevent him from running, which could then open the door to a far-right candidate, Jair Bolsinaro.
And this week, more than 2 million Muslims began the 5-day Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam. The pilgrimage is required of all financially and physically capable Muslims at least once in their lives. Saudi Arabia’s management of the pilgrimage has come under fire in recent years because of the 2015 crane accident that killed 111 and the stampede that killed over 2,000. In addition, the Saudi/UAE blockade on Qatar is preventing Qatari pilgrims from participating. And Canadian pilgrims now have concerns about transportation home after the pilgrimage, as the Saudis have suspended all national carrier flights into Toronto after Canada criticized the Saudi imprisonment of human rights dissidents. As guardian of the holiest sites of Islam, Saudi Arabia is seen as having a profound responsibility to the world’s Muslims, which should be taking precedence over political spats.
Next, Russian president Vladimir Putin is meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel, and both Ukraine and Syria are on the agenda. Putin engaged in some of the most brutal bombing of civilian targets in the entire Syrian War, as he sought to prop up Syrian president Bashar al Assad and meet his military and strategic objectives. Now he’s telling Merkel: “We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict.” Stranger still is that he wants the EU to foot the bill.
And Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues to tighten his grip on all criticism and political dissent in the country. With over 500 websites already blocked, new legislation will threaten with fines or imprisonment anyone running or visiting a website deemed to pose a threat to “national security or the economy.” Human Rights Watch issued a warning last month regarding the unjust prosecution of journalists and peaceful critics and activists in Egypt.
And finally, on August 19th, the foreign minister of Iran Javad Zarif tweeted: “65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years.”
And it’s true — the U.S. government is responsible for exactly that. If more Americans knew that history, it would be harder for U.S. politicians to make the claims they do about U.S./Iran relations. And it would make even less sense for the the U.S. to be pulling out of the Iran nuclear accord.
This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting far too little attention. Tune in next week for more.
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