International Affairs
August 9, 2018

Dozens are dead after a Saudi-led airstrike hit a school bus in Yemen on Thursday, and most of those killed are believed to be children.

The bus was struck while driving through Houthi rebel-held northern Syria on its way to a summer camp, The Telegraph reports. At least 43 people are confirmed dead and 61 injured, a Yemeni official told Reuters, many of them children under the age of 10, the head of Yemen's International Committee of the Red Cross estimated in a tweet.

Yemen is currently fighting the Houthi rebels who hold the area. Saudi Arabia and the United States have backed Yemen's government, while Iran backs the Houthis. A Saudi-led Arab coalition has intervened in Yemen since 2015. It recently captured Yemen's airport in a rebel-held area, and destroyed a water supply that surely exacerbated the area's cholera epidemic.

Thursday's strike was a "legitimate military action" that "conformed to international and humanitarian laws," the Saudi coalition said in a press release. It came in response to Wednesday's Houthi missile strike on a Saudi city, which killed three, per The Guardian. "Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict," the Red Cross in Yemen said in a tweet. Kathryn Krawczyk

April 30, 2017

President Trump has invited controversial Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte to Washington to reaffirm the U.S.-Philippines alliance, the White House said Saturday. The two leaders spoke by phone, and Trump "enjoyed the conversation," expressing his belief that the two nations are "now heading in a very positive direction."

A statement from Duterte's office was similarly friendly. "The discussion that transpired between the presidents was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine president, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs," Duterte's camp said.

Duterte has come under broad criticism for his brutal prosecution of the drug war, which includes encouragement of extrajudicial killings. "My order is shoot to kill you," he notoriously said of drug dealers. "I don't care about human rights, you'd better believe me." Bonnie Kristian

December 17, 2016

After an American underwater drone was captured by a Chinese warship in international waters in the South China Sea on Thursday, the two countries' militaries are working together to peacefully address the seizure. "It is understood that China and the United States are using military channels to appropriately handle this issue," said a statement from China's Foreign Ministry, and Chinese state media announced a "smooth resolution" is expected, Reuters reports.

The Pentagon noted Friday that the craft, used to gather oceanographic information, contains only commercially available technology. Still, said a Pentagon representative, "it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back. And we would like this not to happen again."

Following President-elect Donald Trump's typo-marred tweet Saturday morning accusing China of stealing the drone, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a second statement saying the U.S. is "hyping up" the situation in an "unhelpful" manner and reiterating that the drone will be returned in an "appropriate manner."

The South China Sea is a disputed body of water; while the United States insists it is international waters, China has asserted ownership over the area. The second statement registered China's objections to U.S. activity and surveillance in this sea.

This post has been updated throughout. Bonnie Kristian

August 7, 2016

Thai officials said Sunday that with 94 percent of ballots counted, 61 percent of voters endorsed a new national constitution.

The referendum approved a charter written and supported by Thailand's military junta, which seized power in a 2014 coup and threw out the country's old constitution at that time. The new document will allow elections to take place next year, but will downgrade the authority of political parties and civilian politicians more generally.

The junta, which calls itself the National Council for Peace and Order, arrested activists who spoke against the new constitution before the vote and prohibited debate on the document, with which most Thai voters are not familiar. Outside accreditation of the election was not permitted, though Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha encouraged his fellow citizens to vote because "this is your duty and this is part of democracy, of an internationally-recognized process." Bonnie Kristian

December 27, 2014

Malaysian authorities have evacuated more than 100,000 people from five northern states in the southeast Asian country, Reuters reports.

While Malaysia faces near-annual flooding as a result of the yearly Northeast Monsoon, this year's rains have been especially destructive, and the floodwater levels have made it difficult for officials to relocate residents. Meanwhile, some Malaysians expressed anger toward Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was photographed earlier this week golfing with U.S. President Barack Obama in Hawaii.

Najib defended his actions, BBC News reports, saying that the trip had been planned for some time, and noting that he returned when the flooding "became more serious." Sarah Eberspacher

December 27, 2014

The Ukrainian government agreed to trade more than 200 pro-Russian separatist prisoners of war for 150 Ukrainian servicemen on Friday, Reuters reports.

But, Kiev also announced it would halt all train and bus transportation services to Crimea, citing "deteriorating" security in the region that was annexed by Russia in March. Because Crimea's only land link is with Ukraine, and Kiev has already banned sea and air traffic, the new suspensions will effectively create a transportation blockade to the peninsula.

Russian airlines still service the region, and passenger cars and trucks will still be able to make the journey into and out of Crimea. Sarah Eberspacher

September 2, 2014

On Monday, the U.S. launched a miltary strike against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab in Somalia. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement late Monday only that "we are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate." But NBC News, citing U.S. officials, reports that U.S. drones launched Hellfire missiles at two or more vehicles in remote southern Somalia, with the apparent goal of killing top al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

On Sunday, al-Shabab militants fought their way into a prison in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, apparently to free fellow Islamist militants. All seven militants, three prison guards, and two civilians were killed in the battle, Somali officials say. Al-Shabab is most infamous for the bloody attack a year ago on the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. An al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab controlled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia until an African Union force drove them out in 2011; the group still has enclaves in southern Somalia. Peter Weber

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