Adrian Olivier,

Sunday 10 September – Sunday 17 September:

On Sunday, an Israeli delegation made history when it arrived in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. As there are no direct flights Israel to Saudi Arabia, the five-member delegation travelled through Dubai to reach Riyadh for a UNESCO meeting – to update UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites – on Monday. The meeting fuelled speculation about a normalisation of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

Early on Monday, rains brought by Storm Daniel swelled the Wadi Derna river, which runs from Libya’s inland Akhdar Mountains and burst two dams near the city of Derna. Tsunami-like waves then crashed through the city, carrying debris with it. It’s thought that the sheer weight of water and the debris caught up in the floods is what caused the most damage and took so many lives. The port city, once home to 100,000 people has had entire neighbourhoods swept away in the flooding and the eventual death toll may be as high as 20,000. 

On Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia to begin a six-day tour of the Russian Far East. This was the North Korean leader’s first official visit abroad since the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Kim met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, where the two leaders had a symbolic exchange of rifles and a tour of a fighter jet factory in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The meeting at the Cosmodrome lasted more than four hours and the possibility of sending a North Korean cosmonaut into space on a Russian rocket was discussed. North Korean state TV described the meeting and the relationship between the two countries as “fervent and warm” which signalled a “new era of friendship, solidarity and cooperation”. Western officials are worried that Moscow intends to buy North Korean ammunition to supply its forces in Ukraine. In return, North Korea expects assistance on its sanctioned missile program. The Kremlin said that no agreement was signed between the two countries, though the U.S. Department of State said on Wednesday that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration “won’t hesitate” to impose more sanctions on Russia and North Korea if they conclude any new arms deals. On Saturday Kim met with the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, where he inspected the latest Russian weapons, including a hypersonic missile system. As a parting gift, the “leader of the DPRK [North Korea] received five kamikaze drones and a ‘Geran-25’ reconnaissance drone with vertical takeoff”, as well as a bulletproof vest from the regional governor. On Sunday, Kim ended his visit and boarded his armoured train in the city of Artyom, north of Vladivostok. 

On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was able to leave India after aircraft trouble prevented his departure in previous days. Trudeau was in India for the two-day G20 meeting in New Delhi, India, but a mechanical fault in his aircraft prevented his departure for two days. The visit to India was not very successful and indicated a growing tension between Canada and India. Indian Prime Minister Modi held many bilateral meetings with world leaders – Trudeau was not among them. 

On Wednesday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said that China had launched the “largest” military drills in the western Pacific. These drills involved the Shandong aircraft carrier – the first domestically-built Chinese aircraft carrier – and 35 Chinese warplanes. 28 of these planes flew into the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ). A Taiwanese Keelung class warship was monitoring the actions of the Chinese carrier. 

Also on Wednesday, the wife of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Emma Coronel Aispuro, was released from an American prison, though the FBI, for “privacy, safety and security reasons” would not elaborate on why they did so. Colonel was sentenced to three years in prison in November, 2021 and was only due for release in 2024.

Early on Thursday, Nigeria suffered a “total system collapse” of its national power grid. Connections were gradually restored throughout the day. The outage was the worst in a year – the country’s grid collapsed at least four times in 2022 – and was caused by an explosion of a transmission line connecting two power plants in Niger state, which tripped the grid.. President Bola Tinubu, who has been in office for just over 100 days, has promised to improve supply by allowing state governments to build their own power plants.

On Saturday, the three Sahel nations of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso signed a mutual defence pact. Officially knows as the Alliance of Sahel States, the pact binds each nation to come to the aid of the others in the event of an attack on any of them: “Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties”. The leaders of the three countries met in the Liptako-Gourma border region – where Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger meet – an area that has seen armed rebellion in recent years. “This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries”, Mali’s Defence Minister Abdoulaye Diop said. 

On Saturday, a plane crash in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest claimed 14 lives. Officials say the plane, an Embraer Bandeirante with the registration PT-SOG, likely crashed because heavy rainfall and poor visibility caused the pilot to misjudge the landing route and overshoot the runway. Wilson Lima, the governor of the Amazonas state where the crash took place said on X (formerly Twitter) that he deeply regretted the death of the 12 passengers and two crew members. Lima said the bodies were removed from the aircraft and all the victims were Brazilian tourists. The plane crashed in an area bordered by several national parks which are popular fishing spots for tourists looking to catch tropical river species. 

On Sunday, Israeli security forces ejected Palestinian worshippers from Bab as-Silsila, one of the main entrances to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. They denied access to any Palestinians under the age of 50 to clear the way for Israeli settlers. In celebration of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah (New Year), hundreds of ultranationalist Israelis forced their way into the Al-Aqsa courtyard under the protection of Israeli forces. Israeli settler groups had been calling for unfettered access to the compound to celebrate Rosh Hashanah on what is known to Jews as the Temple Mount. At least two men were arrested inside the compound. 

In the week ahead:

The next Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting will be held on September 19-20, 2023.