Iran seizes British oil tanker

Iranian media is reporting that Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. While the situation is still developing, this seizure may be in retaliation for an Iranian tanker seized by the UK as it headed for Syria.

Turkey attacks Kurds

Turkey launched airstrikes against Kurdish rebel targets in Iraq after a Turkish diplomat was killed there. While there is no claim of responsibility from Kurdish fighters, Turkey has retaliated against the group.

EU gets a new leader

Ursula von der Leyen was elected as President of the European Commission. Leyen, former German defense minister, is the first woman elected to hold the E.U.’s top position.

China eyes the South Pacific

China is continuing to pump millions of dollars of loans and grants into the country of Tonga. Tonga’s debts to China now have reached $108M, or the equivalent of 25% of Tonga’s GDP. While it is not clear what China wants in the South Pacific, it may be eyeing Tonga as a foothold to project power to the West.

Duterte: Impeach me? I’ll put you all in jail

President Duterte last night dared critics of his policies on Chinese fishing in Philippine waters to impeach him, warning that he would put all of them behind bars. He also said the constitutional provision on the country’s exclusive economic zone is for the “thoughtless and the senseless” as he claimed that the Charter would become a mere piece of paper in case war erupts.

David Wearing: Saudi Arabia is running out of friends

“The strategic bonds between the Atlantic powers and the House of Saud have survived many crises over the years, and for all we know they may survive for a second century. But the existential threats are now plain to see, and if anyone in Riyadh, Washington or London has a serious plan to preserve the status quo, they are keeping it a closely guarded secret.”

Angela Merkel seen shaking in public for the second time

Concerns have been raised for German Chancellor Angela Merkel after she was seen trembling at a public event for the second time in two weeks. In the first occasion, Merkel was seen shaking while standing in hot weather next to Ukraine’s president and she later explained that she was dehydrated. But on Thursday, she was seen shaking for a second time at a ceremony in Berlin and refused a glass of water after one was offered to her.

Two US military service members killed in Afghanistan

The deaths are said to have occurred Wednesday, just one day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul. Pompeo said he was hopeful of a peace deal before September 1st in light of direct talks with the Taliban. The war in Afghanistan is in its 18th year, and about 14,000 American troops are currently stationed in the country.

Trump and Kim Jong Un in talks for third summit

Washington and Pyongyang are supposedly locked in “behind-the-scenes” talks to hold a third summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump. That’s according to the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, who said Wednesday: “Both sides have been engaged in dialogue in regard to a third summit… It’s noteworthy that the behind-the-scenes talks have been preceded by the mutual understanding of each other’s position gained through the Hanoi summit.”

Alexander Gorlach: Dual victory for democracy

“In the past two weeks…it has become apparent that people are no longer willing to accept everything from the so-called ‘strongmen,’ as they like to call themselves. This is the lesson from the events in Istanbul and Hong Kong, that ‘everything will be fine.’ Contrary to what populists all over the world would have us believe, for the vast majority of people democracy remains the desired form of government. Democracy, in this context, also means a state order based on the recognition and enforcement of human rights.”

Hong Kong: ‘We have no other choice’

Hong Kong has been rocked by its biggest political crisis in decades in the past two weeks, as millions have thronged to the streets in downtown business districts to protest a proposed law allowing for the the extradition of suspects to mainland China. Many Hong Kongers were already considering leaving because of exorbitant property prices, a high cost of living, and a notoriously intensive education regime. But the recent political turmoil has stiffened the resolve of many to emigrate.

WaPo Ed Board: Trump unfazed by Khashoggi

“The premeditated murder of a contributing columnist who believed in democracy does not concern [Donald Trump], but the care and feeding of the dictatorial kingdom that sent the killers gets his lavish attention and slavish devotion. What does the United States get in return? Complicity in a criminal war in Yemen, and an indelible stain on its moral record.”

NATO calls on Russia to destroy new missile, warns of response

NATO urged Russia on Tuesday to destroy a new missile before an August deadline and save a treaty that keeps land-based nuclear warheads out of Europe or face a more determined alliance response in the region. NATO defense ministers will discuss on Wednesday their next steps if Moscow keeps the missile system that the United States says would allow short-notice nuclear attacks on Europe and break the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Czechs protest their version of Trump

The Czech capital of Prague was the site of massive demonstrations on Sunday, as protesters gathered not to overthrow the political system but to save it from Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a populist billionaire under criminal investigation who they consider a threat to democracy and to the independence of the country’s legal system. Thus far, Babis has ignored the people’s calls for his resignation.

Hans Binnendijk: Trump’s war?

“Trump’s negotiating style has dug a deep hole for him that he will have trouble climbing out of. Trump tears up agreements he does not like and seeks new ones. He threatens and bullies to strengthen his negotiating position. He then tries to reconcile and diffuse the crisis he has created by engaging in high-wire negotiations. Finally, he hypes whatever modest deal emerges as his own stellar victory. This may work on occasion in real estate deals, and it might even have succeeded with Mexico. It is not working well with China or North Korea. And it certainly is not working so far with Iran.”

Trump imposes tough new Iran sanctions

President Trump has signed off on new sanctions on Iran, stepping up a policy of pressuring the nation’s leaders and further squeezing the Iranian economy in retaliation for recent aggressive acts by Tehran. The new sanctions are in addition to those imposed this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports. The new sanctions are aimed at preventing some top Iranian officials from using the international banking system or any financial vehicles set up by European nations or other countries.

Beijing says it won’t allow Hong Kong to be brought up at G20

A top Chinese Foreign Ministry official said Beijing would “not allow” the Hong Kong protests to be brought up at the G20 meeting in Osaka beginning on Thursday. Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Jun told a press briefing Monday that the G20 usually discusses global trade and economic issues and wouldn’t focus on the week-long protests in Hong Kong.

Pompeo meets Saudi royals for talks about anti-Iran alliance

Mike Pompeo has met Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince for talks as the US secretary of state seeks to promote an anti-Iran alliance at a time of mounting tensions in the region. Before his departure from the US, Pompeo said Saudi Arabia and the UAE were “great allies in the challenge that Iran presents.” He added: “We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition.”

Trump dismisses UN request for FBI to investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

Donald Trump has dismissed a United Nations request for the FBI to investigate the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting it would jeopardise American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. A report on Khashoggi’s assassination published last week by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings said the US should open an FBI inquiry and “pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate.”

Turkey’s opposition wins rerun of Istanbul mayoral vote

In a major blow to Turkish President Erdogan, the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu has declared victory in the rerun of Istanbul’s mayoral election, after initial results showed he was set for a clear win. The Istanbul election is far bigger than any local vote, as the rerun put into question the country’s democracy and threatened the AK Party’s grip on power over the last two decades.

Trump admin considers restricting Indian visas

The U.S. has told India that it is considering restricting H-1B work visas for nations that force foreign companies to store data locally. The plan to restrict the temporary visas, of which India is the largest recipient, comes just days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s scheduled visit to New Delhi. India has upset the U.S. government and companies like Mastercard with its stringent new data storage rules.

A D Miller & R Sokolsky: War with Iran? Bad idea

“At best, should the U.S. go to war against Iran, it will be able to muster the diplomatic and perhaps military support of four countries: the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. Otherwise, the rest of the world has been completely put off by the Trump administration’s unilateralism, belligerent nationalism, its decision to leave the nuclear agreement without a compelling cause, and actions that are clearly aimed at provoking a military confrontation with Iran. A war with Iran without significant international support, and perceived to be America’s fault, would leave the U.S. isolated and bearing full responsibility. More than likely, this kind of unilateralism would hand Russia and China—and Iran—an enormous propaganda advantage and weaken U.S. leverage in the days after.”

Trump approves Iran strike, then pulls back

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations. President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

Malaysian Prime Minister denies clear evidence Russia was behind downing of MH17

Just one day after a team of international investigators laid out clear and extensive evidence of Russia’s culpability in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine in 2014, the prime minister of Malaysia has insisted there’s no proof that Russia was behind the attack. He denied the stance was down to the country’s reliance on Russia as a major buyer of its palm oil as other countries are trying to outlaw it.

Robert Schertzer: Combating nationalism

“Some suggest that to defeat nationalism, we should partly embrace what nationalists are saying. Supporters of this approach call for protectionist economic policies, less immigration, and more programs aimed at boosting the national culture. They believe we need to take what nationalists are saying seriously in order to effectively address the grievances of many majority groups around the world, including Trump’s ‘true Americans.’ This would be a mistake. Giving in to the darker, exclusionary tendencies of nationalist dogma can too easily lead to violence and horrible injustices.”