Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

“Huge win” for 1998 embassy bombing victims

International | Plus, more news and notes from around the world
by Mindy Belz
Posted 5/18/20, 04:29 pm

SUDAN: In a unanimous ruling on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed what representatives for the plaintiffs called “a huge win” to victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, ruling that Sudan owes victims both compensatory and punitive damages. The decision in Opati v. Republic of Sudan vacates a lower court ruling and goes against arguments from the U.S. State Department, which sought to limit damages from the deaths and injuries of 154 U.S. government employees.

Those damages have become a sticking point in removing Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and normalizing relations with a new transitional government in Khartoum. The Sudanese government, then led by Omar al-Bashir (now in prison), played a prominent role in planning with al-Qaeda leaders, then based in Sudan, the twin bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed more than 200 people.

UNITED STATES: Attorney General William Barr announced on Monday that the Saudi military officer behind last year’s Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting in Florida had “significant ties” to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, including before he arrived in the United States. AQAP claimed responsibility for the attack. Already, a U.S. decision to withdraw Patriot missiles from Saudi Arabia this month and tension over the kingdom’s oil output have threatened the strong U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Graphing by University of California, Berkeley, numbers guru Randall Bolton shows the U.S. middling status on coronavirus testing: With 33 percent of the world’s cases, the United States has conducted only 20 percent of the world’s tests. Also, Belgium, Ireland, and Spain all have more cases per capita than the United States. Visit WORLD’s coronavirus page for more news.

INDONESIA: At least 1,000 Rohingya refugees are lost at sea, as Southeast Asian nations tighten their borders to keep out potential carriers of the coronavirus. Refugee and human rights groups urged action to ensure they were not buried in an “invisible graveyard” at sea, though the boats have been adrift and unable to land since mid-April. Reports suggest they’ve been spotted in the Andaman Sea near Aceh perhaps en route to Malaysia. In Bangladesh, where about 1 million Rohingya live in camps, authorities sent hundreds of Rohingya rescued from boats in mid-May to a remote island to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. “We don’t want any more Rohingya,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said.

INDIA has begun evacuating thousands of villagers and halted port operations ahead of Cyclone Amphan, a Category 5 storm expected to hit eastern India and Bangladesh this week, piling pressure on emergency services already grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. India on Monday reported its largest spike in coronavirus cases, as migrant workers return to cities following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

PHILIPPINES: Typhoon Vongfong is headed toward southern Japan after leaving a deadly trail in the Philippines, with at least one person dead and damage to hundreds of homes and coronavirus isolation facilities.

Immigrant nurses—particularly from the Philippines, India, and Nigeria—are taking up front-line positions in treating COVID-19 patients amidst a worldwide nursing shortage.

ISRAEL: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new unity government was sworn in on Sunday, cementing a fragile political alliance with former rival Benny Gantz and ending more than a year of political stalemate. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s unusual visit to Israel last week appeared to signal “a certain pause” in the Trump administration’s approach and Netanyahu’s push for annexation in the West Bank.

RWANDA: The frail old man taking walks from his Paris apartment turned out to be Felicien Kabuga, wanted on seven criminal charges including genocide, for helping to launch the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Authorities arrested Kabuga on Saturday, ending 26 years on the run.

UKRAINE: More than 50 babies born to surrogate mothers are stranded in Kyiv as the coronavirus lockdown is preventing parents from the United States, Europe, and elsewhere from collecting them. Foreign governments in recent years have condemned surrogacy but the practice is allowed in most U.S. states.

IRAQ: ISIS destroyed more than 40 churches in Mosul, but a joint Christian-Muslim effort supported by UNESCO is restoring Our Lady of the Hour, a Roman Catholic church dating to the 19th century, along with others.

SYRIA: Writer, critic, playwright, and former Minister of Culture Riad Ismat, 73, died of the coronavirus in Chicago, where he had been living in exile. The Damascus-born Ismat—well-known throughout the Arab world—staged plays under the Assad regime, including A Streetcar Named Desire, and held two ambassadorial posts despite not becoming a Baath Party member, according to former U.S. diplomat Alberto Fernandez:

“Riad loved the movies and would attend the movie showings held in my living room when I was at U.S. Embassy Damascus. It was there … that he saw Schindler’s List (banned in Syria) and wrote a column praising it in a regime newspaper.”

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

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