Compass World: Russian Officials Arrest Siberian Shaman
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Duque Calls for International Sanctions on Venezuela
Colombian President Ivan Duque called for coordinated international sanctions targeting Venezuela while speaking with Reuters on September 21. Duque has accused President Nicolas Maduro of attempting to destabilize Colombia by harboring Colmbian rebel groups and drug traffickers. Duque’s government believes Venezuela is supporting the now-demobilized FARC rebel group and still-active ELN rebels. Duque also said that Latin American countries could invoke the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, which considers an attack on any of its signatories an attack on all. He clarified, however, that a response would not necessitate military action. Maduro’s government, nevertheless, says it is wary of an invasion by Colombia in coordination with the United States. Colombia and the United States are among the countries which back opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful president.
Modi Rallies With Trump
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in a 50,000-person rally in Houston, Texas, alongside President Donald Trump on September 22. The rally is a part of Modi’s trip to the United States, which includes a visit to the United Nations General Assembly that will likely include discussions of trade, tensions in Kashmir, and relations between India and Pakistan. In fact, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will also be visiting the UN and meeting individually with Trump this week. For Modi, who won reelection earlier this year, the rally has received wide coverage back home, and Trump’s praise for Modi has stemmed mounting domestic criticism of his policies.
MIDDLE EAST & CENTRAL ASIA
Iran to Put Forth Middle East Peace Plan
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised to present a peace plan for the Middle East at this week’s United Nations General Assembly. Rouhani, speaking at a military parade during the country’s Holy Defense Week, also criticized the U.S.-led coalition patrolling the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, calling on the United States and other European countries to end their military presence in the region’s waterways. He said Iran’s plan would focus on providing security in the Middle East “with help from regional countries.” Tensions in the region, however, continue to escalate in the wake of a September 14 attack on the world’s largest oil processor in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia accused Iran of backing the Yemeni Houthi rebels in an attack on the oil facilities.
EASTERN EUROPE & RUSSIA
Russian Officials Arrest Siberian Shaman
Russian officials arrested a Siberian shaman who was walking from Russia’s far east to Moscow in an attempt to exorcise President Vladimir Putin. The shaman, Alexander Gabyshev, began his trek back in March, promising to walk 8,000 kilometers across the country to drive out Putin. The shaman was detained on September 19 after walking nearly 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles). Officials said the shaman was taken to a psychiatric hospital, but the hospital in question has no record of his admittance. According to reports, Gabyshev could face up to four years in jail on charges of calling for extremist activity. Amnesty International’s Russia director, Natalia Zviagina, criticized the government’s handling of the issue, saying "The shaman’s actions may be eccentric, but the Russian authorities’ response is grotesque. Are they afraid of his shamanic powers?"
D.R.C. Plans to Deploy Second Ebola Vaccine
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is planning to deploy a second Ebola vaccine to combat the country’s second-largest outbreak to date. The World Health Organization classified this outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern.” The vaccine was developed by Johnson & Johnson and has, according to D.R.C. officials, been deemed safe for use. The pharmaceutical company has said that 1.5 million doses are available to be distributed, but the release date has not yet been set. This second vaccine should complement an existing vaccine that has had trouble curbing the outbreak. The government’s efforts are challenged by the need to convince skeptical citizens to trust the treatment and the difficulty of deploying the new vaccine in an efficient and timely manner.
WESTERN EUROPE & CANADA
Trial of Five Women Begins in France
The trial of five French women who failed to detonate a car bomb near Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral in 2016 began on September 23. The lawyer for the defendants argued that they had been brainwashed on the internet. The five women, all converts to Islam, attempted to ignite gas canisters doused in diesel with a lit cigarette. Police found a handwritten pledge of allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi inside the purse of one of the defendants. A sixth defendant, Rashid Kassim, will be tried in absentia for his role in instructing the women to carry out the plot as an ISIS handler, according to authorities. Kassim is believed to have been killed in a 2017 drone strike, but his death has not been confirmed.
Writing contributed by Adam Hilelly, Ben Richmond, and Benjamin Barth.