Top news stories for today – June 2, 2016
International court ruling over South China Sea
An international tribunal is expected to soon issue a ruling on a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Though the decision will not determine sovereignty of the territory in question, it could have wide-ranging implications for China’s sweeping claims in one of the world’s most important and bitterly contested waterways.
China claims nearly the entire 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, based on its so-called “nine-dashed line,” which it says is based on ancient maps. China’s claims overlap with not only the Philippines, but also Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. Some of the disputes stretch back decades or even centuries.
The Philippines filed the case against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in January 2013. Manila argues Beijing’s territorial claims and recent aggressive activities in the South China Sea violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international treaty both nations have ratified.
China refuses to participate in the tribunal, arguing it has no obligation to do so under UNCLOS. Beijing has also repeatedly insisted it will not recognize what it predicts will be a biased ruling. In the meantime, China has continued to build artificial islands and military outposts in the contested waters, in an attempt to create “facts on the ground.” VOA
Battle of Fallujah
Iraqi forces have launched an offensive aimed at retaking the city. At least 20,000 children are trapped inside the city, according to a statement released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The organization has urged all parties to ensure the safety of these children who risk being recruited as child soldiers.
The U. N. refugee agency has received reports of civilians being killed in heavy shelling or buried alive under the rubble of their homes. Some 625 families have managed to escape the fighting since last week.
The presence of the pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias also feeds into concerns over Iran’s growing power in the region. Iranian General Qassim Suleimani visited the Fallujah front over the weekend, raising the hackles of Sunni leaders in Baghdad. Fallujah is a traditionally Sunni stronghold.
Kareem Nouri, spokesman for the Hashd al-Shaabi, defended the presence of Iranian advisors. “We have American security advisors sitting in the Green Zone and we have Iranian security advisors are on the front line helping us, but only with advice. Nothing else. The Iranian advisers are more helpful than the Americans,” Nouri told. VOA
At least 10 killed in Somalia hotel attack
Somali lawmaker Mohamed Ismail Shuriye told VOA that two parliamentarians, Abdullahi Jama Kaboweyne and Mohamud Gure, were killed during the attack. He said a third lawmaker, Abdullah Hashi, was injured.
Most of the casualties were reported to be caused by a car bomb that detonated while many people were performing evening prayers. The hotel is used by Somali lawmakers, businessmen and visitors from abroad.
No one has claimed responsibility for the hotel attack but suspicion fell on al-Shabab, which has attacked several other Mogadishu hotels in a similar manner. VOA
German lawmakers recognize Armenian Genocide
German lawmakers voted Thursday to recognize the World War One-era killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned that if the bill passed it would damage diplomatic, economic, commercial, political and military relations between Turkey and Germany.
Armenia says 1.5 million people were killed between 1915 and 1917. Turkey acknowledges that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died, but denies that their killings constituted a campaign of genocide. Germany joins about 20 others countries that label the killings as genocide. VOA
India convicts 24 for Gujarat Riots Massacre
An Indian court convicted 26 people Thursday for their roles in the killing of 69 Muslims by a Hindu mob in the Indian state of Gujarat in 2002.
Eleven of the 24 were charged with murder in one of the worst single incidents in three months of violence which left more than 1000 people dead fourteen years ago.
Since 2002, more than 100 people have been convicted over the riots, but many cases remain to be heard. The sentences of the 24 accused will be announced Monday, and the 11 accused of murder could be sentenced to death.
The 2002 riots continue to cast a shadow on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was chief minister of the state of Gujarat at the time and has been accused of turning a blind eye to the anti-Muslim violence. Modi has denied these allegations, and they did not hinder his election as India’s leader in 2014. VOA
US Presidential election
Clinton to fignt Trump’s foreign policy in speech: Hillary Clinton will give a speech in San Diego on Thursday that her aides say will directly target Donald Trump’s foreign policy. “It’s important that people understand this is not just about Republican versus Democrat, that Trump is unlike any presidential candidate we have seen and he is fundamentally unfit to be our commander in chief,” Clinton aide Jake Sullivan said. Sullivan said Clinton will focus on Trump’s willingness to sit down with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and his comments about NATO being obsolete and a bad deal for U.S. taxpayers. Some voters have found Trump’s unorthodox foreign policy ideas refreshing, Sullivan added, but “once people fully understand what Donald Trump is proposing… it will not be appealing to any of them.” Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, The Week
Obama rips Trump in Indiana: President Obama returned to Elkhart, Indiana — a manufacturing city he once visited deep in the Great Recession — to stage what he called an “intervention” for voters swayed by Republican policies and promises. “Don’t think this agenda is going to help you,” he said. “It is not designed to help you.” Obama also said presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump “would explode our deficit by more than $10 trillion.” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) said Elkhart bounced back by ignoring Obama’s example, and lowering taxes and cutting regulation. The Washington Post, The Week
Most Americans unhappy with presidential campaign: A new poll has found that most Americans are not happy about this year’s presidential election campaign. Seventy percent of Americans are frustrated, while 55 percent feel helpless and a similar percentage are angry, according to a poll conducted by The Associated Press and the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC). Although many Americans are not excited about the presidential race, 65 percent of them said they are interested in this presidential election.
Some of the negative feelings are fueled by the perception that neither the Democratic nor Republican party is receptive to new ideas. Seventeen percent of the respondents said the Democratic Party is open to new thoughts about solving the country’s problems, compared to only 10 percent of those responding about the Republican Party. VOA
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- Japan’s Important Sideshow to Arbitration Decision in the South China Sea (cfr.org)
- Legal minds say negotiation is a safer in addressing South China Sea Rows (newsghana.com.gh)