Adrian Olivier,

Sunday 5 November – Sunday 12 November:

On Monday, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced in a televised address that he had asked outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to attempt to form a new government, following October’s election: “After a calm analysis and consultations, I decided to entrust the mission of forming a government to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki”. A PiS spokesman welcomed the decision, calling it a “confirmation of the longstanding constitutional tradition of our country”. However, even with the support of all the smaller right wing parties, PiS would still need support from the opposition bloc to have any hope of forming a government. This is not something that is likely. If Morawiecki and PiS fail, it would then fall to lawmakers in parliament to pick a secondary candidate — likely Donald Tusk. Addressing a rally shortly before Duda spoke, Tusk said that he would become prime minister in the end, whatever Duda decided on Monday. “This game… unnecessarily exposes Polish interests to tangible losses, but I will tell you once again, it will not change anything,” Tusk said. The process could still take several weeks.

On Monday, a report published by researchers at AidData showed that China’s outstanding debt to some 165 countries through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) totalled over $1 trillion: “Total outstanding debt — including principal but excluding interest — from borrowers in the developing world to China is at least $1.1 trillion”. China is the world’s largest debt collector. AidData is a research institute at Virginia’s College of William and Mary. BRI was launched in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Beijing has committed financing on almost 21,000 projects since then. Last month, Xi said China would put more than $100 billion of new funds into the BRI, while AidData says Beijing’s lending is “hovering around $80 billion a year” to low and middle-income nations. 

On Monday, heavy snow blanketed swathes of northeastern China, shutting down schools and transportation. Major highways in the city of Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, were closed and flights cancelled, China’s state broadcaster CCTV said. Schools were closed in parts of Heilongjiang as well as the neighbouring provinces of Liaoning and Inner Mongolia. 

On Tuesday, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa accepted Prime Minister Antonia Costa’s resignation after revelation of the prime minister’s involvement in a corruption scandal involving energy contracts. The Office of the Portuguese Presidency said Rebelo de Sousa had convened a meeting of parliamentary parties in order to organise new elections. The announcement came hours after police raided the politician’s home, office and other properties. Police later confirmed that they had raided dozens of properties as part of an investigation tied to potential bribery in the allocation of green hydrogen projects and lithium mining contracts. Police also confirmed that they had detained five people Tuesday, including Costa’s chief of staff. Costa, of the left-wing Socialists, was in his third term as Portugal’s prime minister, having taken office in 2015. “The duties of prime minister are not compatible with any suspicion of my integrity. In these circumstances, I have presented my resignation to the president of the Republic,” Costa said, claiming he had a clean conscience. 

On Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced the formal procedure to withdraw from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), a Cold War treaty signed between NATO and the Soviet Union (and later Russia). The same day, NATO announced that it was also suspending the security treaty in the latest instance of rising tensions between the two adversaries. The CFE was signed in 1990 and ratified two years later, sought to prevent Cold War rivals from building up military forces and equipment near their mutual borders. Russia previously suspended its participation in the pact in 2007 and announced its intent to completely withdraw in 2015. In a statement, NATO said that “a situation whereby Allied State Parties abide by the Treaty, while Russia does not, would be unsustainable”. NATO members will halt their participation in the act “for as long as necessary.”

On Tuesday, U.S. Army Acquisition Chief Doug Bush said that his country had sent more than two million rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition to Ukraine, and would be sending artillery to Israel. He called for Congress to pass a $3 billion supplemental bill to ensure the Army can meet its artillery production requirements. The latest figures have U.S. artillery production at 28,000 rounds a month, with a target of producing 100,000 a month by the end of 2025. The U.S. has also sent rounds to Israel from its own stockpiles but Bush declined to say how many. A plan to route artillery stockpiles from Israel to Ukraine was cancelled, Bush said, after war broke out between Israel and Hamas. Funding would also supply upgrades to M6 propellant to shoot artillery and 155 metal parts for the body of artillery shells. The U.S. is also seeking to increase production of IMX-104 explosives and to double tank ammunition production capacity from 10,000 to 20,000 per year. It also includes $600 million to bring back TNT production to the U.S. instead of relying on allies like Poland. Funding would also go to construction and recommission of black powder. Funding also applies to buying the artillery itself like 600,000 artillery projectiles, 10 million charges to shoot the shells with and foreign military financing given to allies to buy U.S. equipment.

On Wednesday, a U.S. drone was shot down by Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthis say the MQ-9 Reaper was flying in Yemeni air space and was shot down by air defences. A U.S. official said the drone was flying in international waters when it was shot down. A senior U.S. official said the military is still analysing the episode, including whether the drone was in international airspace or over Yemen. 

On Wednesday, two U.S. F-15 jets launched air strikes in Syria in retaliation for Iranian-backed militia strikes on American bases in the region. The strike by two U.S. F-15 fighter jets was on a weapons storage facility linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The latest U.S. strike in Syria was designed to take out supplies, weapons and ammunition in an effort to erode the abilities of the Iranian-backed militants to attack Americans based in Iraq and Syria. A senior military official said Wednesday evening that the facility, located in Maysalun in Deir Ezzor, Syria, is believed to have housed weapons used in “many of the airstrikes that have taken place against our forces here in the region”. 

On Thursday at 1.30pm, the ex-head of Spain’s Popular Party in Catalonia and one of the founders of the far-right party Vox was shot in the jaw by a man whose face was concealed by a helmet and who quickly escaped on a motorbike after the near-fatal shooting. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, 78, was shot in the face on his doorstep in the upmarket neighbourhood of Salamanca in Madrid. The attacker then sped off and burned the motorbike. Vidal-Quadras was rushed to the Gregorio Marañon hospital where he is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing emergency surgery. The attempted murder came just hours after Spain’s Socialists reached a controversial deal with Catalan separatist party Junts per Catalunya over their political amnesty, an agreement which has led to days of right-wing protests across numerous Spanish cities. Vidal-Quadras has blamed Iran for the assassination attempt. Vidal-Quadras features on Iran’s watchlist, among other reasons for his public defence of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which Tehran considers to be the political arm for the MKO. Vidal-Quadras, who founded Vox in 2013 alongside other politicians and was the head of the centre-right Popular Party in Catalonia from 1991 to 1996, now runs a law firm in the Catalan capital and has numerous dissidents of the Iranian regime as his clients. Spanish police are now investigating whether the right-wing politicians’ claims could be true. 

On Thursday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin touched down in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana for talks with his counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev before a regional economic summit in Uzbekistan later on Thursday. Iran and Turkey joined Pakistan’s prime minister and Central Asian leaders for a summit of the regional Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent. Members discussed plans for speeding regional economic integration. “Our vast region, which is home to half a billion people, has a great potential for developing cooperation in trade, economy, industry, investment, innovation and transport,” the summit’s host, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, said in a speech at the summit.

On Saturday, residents of a fishing town in southwestern Iceland left their homes after increasing concern about a potential volcanic eruption caused civil defence authorities to declare a state of emergency in the region. Officials are concerned that a volcanic eruption is imminent in southwestern Iceland after a vast pool of magma just beneath the surface has triggered thousands of earthquakes and heaved the ground throughout the region. The earthquakes began on Thursday. 

On Saturday, Kiev’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said “Strong explosions were heard on the left bank of the capital”, in a post on the Telegram messaging app, referring to the left bank of the Dnipro river. Two strong explosions were heard and trails were visible in the sky in central Kyiv. Air alerts for Kyiv and a nearby region were announced just minutes before the explosions were heard, and city authorities urged residents to stay in shelters. Saturday’s attacks were the first on Kyiv since September 21, when Ukrainian air defences downed a missile over the capital. Falling debris from the missile wounded seven people, including a child. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier this week that Ukraine had deployed more Western air defence systems in anticipation of a second full winter of Russian attacks on energy facilities.

On Saturday, the U.S. military announced that five American service members were killed in a military plane crash over the eastern Mediterranean Sea during a training exercise. U.S. European Command (EUCOM) said all five crew members were killed when the aircraft went down on Friday evening “during a routine air refuelling mission as part of military training”. The military said the cause is under investigation, but there were no indications of any hostile activity involved. It said on Sunday that “search and rescue efforts began immediately, including nearby US military aircraft and ships”. 

One thought on “The World That Was”

Comments are closed.