Compass World: Jack Ma Steps Down
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Cuba Prepares for Fuel Crisis
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel is predicting fuel will become hard to find in the country soon. Cuba primarily imports fuel from Venezuela, and hard-hitting sanctions imposed on the South American country will likely have profound effects on its trading partner as well. Diaz-Canel said that the government would implement emergency measures and that he could not guarantee that there will be no blackouts after September 15. However, he also stated the severity will not reach the same levels as those faced following the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Jack Ma Steps Down as Alibaba Executive Chairman
Chinese business magnate Jack Ma stepped down from his role as executive chairman of Alibaba on September 10, just over twenty years after he founded the company. According to Forbes, Alibaba is now valued at just under $500 billion, and Ma is China’s richest man with a net value of $38.6 billion. Following Ma’s departure, Daniel Zhang, currently Alibaba’s chief executive, will take over as executive chairman. Ma drew criticism earlier this year for making comments in support of China’s “996” working culture, whereby employees work from twelve hour days for six days a week.
MIDDLE EAST & CENTRAL ASIA
Hezbollah Strikes, Captures Israeli Drone
Hezbollah downed an Israeli drone on September 9 amid heightened tension between the militant group and its southern neighbor. A Hezbollah spokesperson said that the drone “is now in their hands.” Observers speculate that the strike was in retaliation for an earlier strike in Lebanon that Israel has been blamed for. Israel has in recent weeks taken active measures to prevent Iran, which has been supplying Hezbollah and other groups with funding and weapons, from distributing sophisticated weapons to areas within striking range of Israel. This latest escalation adds fire to an already-contentious Israeli election set for September 17.
EASTERN EUROPE & RUSSIA
Ukraine and Russia Conduct Prisoner Swap
The governments of Russia and Ukraine each released 35 prisoners on September 7 in a move widely expected to decrease tensions between the two countries. Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, Ukrainian forces have been fighting pro-Russian separatists in the country’s eastern region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saw the exchange as a diplomatic victory and an important step toward ending the war in the East. Included among the released Russian prisoners was Vladimir Tsemakh, who is suspected of involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Tunisian Opposition Candidate Goes on Hunger Strike
The frontrunner in Tunisia’s presidential election, TV station owner Nabil Karoui, began a hunger strike in prison to demand his right to vote. Karoui was detained on charges of tax evasion and money laundering three weeks ago. His trial is on September 13, just two days before the election. Karoui is running against 26 candidates in Tunisia’s election, but his chief rival is Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. Chahed’s campaign has criticized “adventurers who threaten the democratic transition,” while not referring to Karoui by name. Members of Karoui’s campaign see his arrest as part of an undemocratic effort by Tunisia’s political elites to keep him out of office.
WESTERN EUROPE & CANADA
Johnson Claims He Did Not Lie to Queen
While speaking to reporters on September 11, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed he did not lie to the queen when he was consulted on the matter of suspending Parliament. The power to suspend Parliament lies with the queen, who conventionally acts on the advice of the prime minister. The current five-week suspension began in the early hours of September 10, and members of Parliament (MPs) are not scheduled to return until October 14. Opposition Labour Party MPs see the suspension as an attempt by Johnson to prevent criticism of his Brexit strategy and stifle debate of contingency plans for a no-deal exit.
Writing contributed by Adam Hilelly, Ben Richmond, and Benjamin Barth.