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Curated top stories
- Voting has begun in Somaliland in its first presidential election since 2010. The election is the third since Somalia’s northern region decided to separate from the rest of the country in 1991. President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo”, whose government has been accused of corruption and nepotism, is stepping down and three candidates are vying to replace him. Social media has been blocked in order to limit hate speech and “fake news”. The results are expected to be announced on November 17.
- The European Union approved sanctions on Venezuela, including banning arm sales and travel restriction on some Venezuelan officials in an effort to pressurise President Nicolas Maduro. Earlier this year, the United States also imposed sanctions. Representatives of Maduro’s government are due to meet investors in Caracas to discuss renegotiating Venezuela’s foreign debt of $60 billion.
- Saudi Arabia said it will reopen airports and seaports in Yemen, days after closing them over a ballistic missile attack in Riyadh. The reversal came after intense international criticism from the UN and aid groups who said that the closure was bringing millions of people closer to “starvation and death.”
- Former top U.S. intelligence officials say Russian President Vladimir Putin is manipulating U.S President Donald Trump with flattery. During his multi-day trip of Asia, Trump said he believed Putin when he said there had been no Russian interference in the 2016 general election, despite U.S intelligence agencies all confirming that there had been. Former CIA director John Brennan told CNN that Trump was “giving Putin a pass” in accepting the Russian leader’s word. “I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.” In response, Trump referred to Brennan and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper as “political hacks.”
A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Iran and Iraq, killing at least 328 people in Iran and seven in Iraq. Around 70,000 people are in need of emergency shelter. The U.S. Geological Survey said the Sunday’s earthquake was centered close to the Iraqi city of Halabja. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake near the city of Bam, killed more than 20,000 people.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he will return home to formally submit his resignation despite his cabinet allies saying he is being held captive in Saudi Arabia. Hariri spoke to Future TV from Riyadh, his first public remarks since he announced he was stepping down last week. The Washington Post says the interview was full of “odd moments.” Hariri has blamed the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement for his resignation. Hariri, a Sunni leader and businessman, was nominated to form Lebanon’s government in November 2016. This summary by WikiTribune launch editor Peter Bale helps makes sense of what is going on in the region.
What we’re reading
- South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been accused of allowing members of the Indian-born Gupta family to wield undue influence. The country is the continent’s most important economy but as this Bloomberg Businessweek piece shows, it increasingly appears to function for the benefit of one powerful family. — Charles Anderson
- The NSA, and to a lesser extent, the CIA, has been profoundly affected by a series of hacks that have exposed many of their top-secret cyber weapons. The full extent of the damage isn’t known – leaks are still being drop-fed to the public and the hackers still taunt both agencies. Many of these weapons, experts fear, have been turned against Western institutions and businesses. The very purpose of the NSA – to collect intelligence undetected – has been rocked. — George Engels
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