Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Former Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army Commander Dominic Ongwen was convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
  • AMERICAS: Canada revealed that Hong Kong authorities forced a dual-national in a Hong Kong prison to make a declaration of nationality, enforcing what they said was a little-used regulation for the first time in decades.
  • ASIA: The Gavi vaccine alliance says North Korea asked for coronavirus vaccines, even though the isolated country insists it is virus-free.
  • EUROPE: British government researchers are conducting a study to determine if mixing and matching different coronavirus vaccines is safe and effective.
  • MIDDLE EAST: South Korea said the crew of a ship seized by Iranian authorities were still onboard the vessel, despite Tehran’s earlier announcement it would release them.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: Myanmar’s army is now blocking access to social media apps Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, days after it ousted Myanmar’s democratically elected government in a coup.

Top Story

  • Belgium: Iranian diplomat given 20-year prison sentence over bomb plot.
    • A court in Antwerp has convicted Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi of plotting to bomb a 2018 rally in France that was being held by the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran, before being foiled by German, French, and Belgian police.
    • The court sentenced Assadi to 20 years in prison for his role in planning the attack, while three other Iranian nationals were convicted as Assadi’s accomplices.
    • This is the first time an Iranian official has faced such charges in the European Union since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
    • France previously blamed Iran’s intelligence agencies for the planned attack, while Iran previously called the planned attack a “false flag”.
    • Reporting: AFP, Reuters, BBC, AP, Deutsche Welle

Africa

  • Region: The African Union (AU) said 16 countries expressed an interest in securing coronavirus vaccines under an AU initiative, and the AU aims to deliver the vaccines in the next three weeks. (Reuters)
  • Cameroon: Human Rights Watch accused the country’s army of killing nine civilians, including a six-year-old girl, during a raid in the country’s restive English-speaking western region. (AFP)
  • DR Congo: Christophe Mboso, a lawmaker loyal to President Felix Tshisekedi, was elected as the new speaker of parliament by lawmakers. (AFP)
  • Ethiopia: All members of the UN Security Council reportedly called for allowing more humanitarian aid to enter the country’s embattled Tigray region during a closed-door meeting. (AFP)
  • Uganda: Former Lord’s Resistance Army Commander Dominic Ongwen was convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court. (BBC)

Americas

  • Region: The US expelled dozens of Haitian immigrants to the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, in a move that appeared to contradict a policy agreement between the previous US administration and Mexico. (Reuters)
  • Region: The US reaffirmed its recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president and ruled out holding negotiations with Nicolas Maduro. (Reuters)
  • Canada: Ottawa revealed that authorities in Hong Kong forced a dual-national in a Hong Kong prison to make a declaration of nationality, enforcing what they said was a little-used regulation for the first time in decades. (AFP)
  • Guyana: Taiwan opened a trade office in the country to focus on cooperation in trade, agriculture, and education. (AP)
  • United States: The State Department said it was “disappointed” by the UN’s top court ruling that it can take up Iran’s bid to repeal sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump. (AFP)

Asia  

  • Region: Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia warned that they were considering withdrawing from the Pacific Islands Forum over a leadership dispute. (AFP)
  • Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison discussed the recent coup in Myanmar and cooperation against China during a phone call with US President Biden. (Reuters)
  • Nepal: There were sporadic clashes between protesters and police during a nationwide strike called by a faction of the country’s ruling party, in protest of Prime Minister KP Oli’s dissolution of parliament. (DPA)
  • North Korea: The Gavi vaccine alliance says Pyongyang asked for coronavirus vaccines, even though the isolated country insists it is virus-free. (AFP)
  • Sri Lanka: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he had received the final report by the commission investigating the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks in the country and pledged to make those responsible for the attack face justice. (AP)

Europe

  • Region: Denmark and Norway said they will not administer the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to people over the age of 65, citing a lack of documentation regarding the vaccine’s effectiveness among that age group. (DPA)
  • Germany: The country’s ruling coalition agreed to provide more assistance to families with children and people on benefits, as well as tax help for companies, to help the country’s economy grow out of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (AP)
  • Turkey: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called students and teachers protesting his appointment of a new rector at Istanbul’s Bogazici University “terrorists” and vowed to disallow the ongoing protests. (Reuters)
  • United Kingdom: Government researchers are conducting a study to determine if mixing and matching different coronavirus vaccines is safe and effective. (AP)

Middle East

  • Iran: South Korea said the crew of a ship seized by the country’s authorities were still onboard the vessel, despite Tehran’s earlier announcement it would release them. (AFP)
  • Lebanon: Lokman Slim, a prominent publisher and vocal critic of the Hezbollah group, was found dead in his car with several gunshot wounds. (AP)
  • Syria: The WHO plans to deploy teams to the country to conduct a coronavirus vaccination campaign in both government-held areas and territories not under the government’s control. (Reuters)
  • United Arab Emirates: The Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed “strategic relations and Middle East regional issues” over the phone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Reuters)

Tech & Communications

  • Social Media: Myanmar’s army is now blocking access to social media apps Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, days after it ousted Myanmar’s democratically elected government in a coup. (Guardian)

World

  • Cyclones:
    • Tropical Cyclone Eighteen
      • Location: 128 nautical miles south of Learmonth, Australia
      • Wind: 40 mph
      • Movement: W at 6 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 04FEB21)
      • Confirmed cases: 104,468,800
      • Total recovered cases: 58,086,420
      • Deaths: 2,270,774
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 192
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (05FEB21)

  • Global: The 10th anniversary of the New START nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia coming into force.
  • Global: UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Board will hold an executive session.
  • Europe: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will hold a virtual meeting to discuss defense issues.
  • Brazil: The Health Ministry will meet with delegations from Russia and India to discuss the purchase of Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V and Indian coronavirus vaccine Covaxin.
  • Chad: The opposition is expected to hold protests against President Idriss Deby. (to 07FEB)
  • Indonesia: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will visit and meet with President Joko Widodo.
  • Libya: Delegates from the country’s opposing sides will hold a meeting to choose an interim prime minister and a three-person presidency council.
  • Russia: Opposition politician Alexei Navalny is expected to face another court hearing, this time over alleged libel of a WWII veteran.
  • Russia: European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will visit and meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (to 06FEB)
  • Turkey: The Constitutional Court is expected to hear human rights activist Osman Kavala’s appeal to be released from prison.
  • United States: President Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks on the latest monthly employment report.
  • United States: President Joe Biden will visit the State Department for the first time in his presidential term.
  • United States: Outgoing Mexican Ambassador to Washington will speak at an event held by think tank CSIS.
  • Zimbabwe: The National Assembly is expected to resume operations after a coronavirus related closure.

END