Briefing: N. Korea "begging for war" says Haley, Turkey accuses Merkel of populism

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  • Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has told a meeting of the Security Council that North Korea is “begging for war” after its latest nuclear warhead test. Haley moderated her remarks by saying that “war is never something the United States wants” and urging the council to “exhaust all diplomatic means before it is too late”. She was speaking at an emergency meeting of the Security Council, convened to discuss how to respond to the latest ratcheting up of North Korea’s provocative weapons testing (more below).
  • The violence that has caused nearly 90,000 Rohingya to flee their homes in Myanmar has followed them to the border as two explosions and gunfire were reported on the Myanmar side of its border with Bangladesh, apparently targeting those fleeing. A spokesperson for Myanmar’s President Aung San Suu Kyi said that more information was needed to establish who was responsible.


  • The President of neutral Switzerland, Doris Leuthard, said her country is prepared to act as a mediator in the North Korea crisis after its recent series of nuclear tests. “We are ready to offer our role … as a mediator,” she told a news conference in Bern on Monday. Though Switzerland has represented U.S. interests in the past in places like Cuba and Iran, Leuthard stressed that the U.S. and China must also take responsibility, especially in engaging in “dialogue” with North Korea. “Twitter won’t be an adequate instrument”, she said, possibly alluding to the series of tweets by Donald J. Trump, including his threat of “fire and fury” on North Korea.
  • A spokesperson for the Turkish government has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of indulging in populism after she said in a debate on Sunday that she would seek an end to the Ankara Agreement, a co-operative treaty between Turkey and the European Union. Merkel has previously expressed doubt over whether Turkey could join the EU, and on Sunday, she criticised President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership of the country. “Turkey is departing from all democratic practices at breakneck speed,” she said. The spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, in defence, later tweeted on Monday: “We do not accept these disrespectful messages against Turkey.” Relations between Germany and Turkey have plummeted ever since Berlin banned a political rally for Erdogan in March, and this recent accusation only widens the rift.


  • North Korea got the world’s attention again with its largest nuclear test, creating a physical earthquake which rocked neighboring Chinese territory and a diplomatic earthquake in Washington, Beijing and Seoul. The New York Times brought together all elements of the story including the U.S. threat of “massive military response”. The missile test overshadowed a meeting of the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries hosted by Chinese premier Xi Jinping. President Donald J. Trump appeared to criticise his closest ally in the crisis – South Korea – saying that its advocacy of talks with North Korea smacked of “appeasement”. Such loose talk caused consternation in the region as this report in the Singapore Straits Times suggested. In a commentary, noted Financial Times correspondent, Gideon Rachman said the nuclear test brought a final reckoning of the crisis closer with the focus on China.
  • Tens of thousands of Muslim Rohingya people from Myanmar’s Rakhine province fled into neighbouring Bangladesh after the army escalated its attacks on villages to root out what it sees as Islamic guerrillas living among the local population after prolonged pogroms by the Bhuddist majority aided by authorities.
  • Cambodia’s long-established strongman leader Hun Sen clamped down on democratic and press freedom at the same time, arresting the leader of the opposition on what were clearly trumped up charges of treasonous collusion with the United States, and forcing the closure of one of two remaining English-language publications with any semblance of independence. His moves to cement near absolute power call into question decades of international aid to Phnom Penh since the era of the Khmer Rouge and shows Hun Sen’s fondness for the techniques of mentors in Beijing and Moscow rather than Washington.

What we’re reading and watching

  • Reuters uses data visualization to construct a timeline of North Korea’s progression in realizing nuclear weapons, and how the international community has reacted.
  • Open-source investigation website Bellingcat has called for collaboration on a project to assist the International Criminal Court by locating an alleged war criminal via his own social media activity.
  • In The Observer, academic and technology commentator John Naughton, highlighted a U.S. legislator’s attempts to limit the freedom of major Internet companies to avoid taking responsibility for what’s published on their platforms, noting that in tackling offensive and criminal material they had crossed the barrier to becoming editors.
  • Another Observer piece explores Silicon Valley’s dominance in the U.S. lobbying industry, and consequential rise in politics. Silicon Valley has come under fire in the past for attending Donald J. Trump’s tech meeting in June, in which Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, and Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder, attended.


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