Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 15th of October, 2017 :-
1. Divide between US & rest of the world spills out at World Bank – IMF meetings in Washington :-
The growing split between the United States and the rest of the world spilled into the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington this week.
The US administration showed a diminished view of the Bretton Woods institutions that shaped a US-led order after World War II, rejecting efforts to expand their activities, and defending its attack on free-trade pacts as part of President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.
And at the same time, the US continued to stymie China’s ambitions to elevate its global role via an expanded stake in both the IMF and World Bank.
The Trump administration spelled out its view by rejecting a capital increase that the World Bank wants to expand its global anti-poverty mission.
“More capital is not the solution when existing capital is not allocated effectively,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement Friday, one day after Bank President Jim Yong Kim said he believed the Trump administration was now supportive of the move.
There was also no movement on the IMF’s long-planned boost in its lending resources that would come with a shakeup of its shareholder quotas. Last year, the Republican-controlled Congress effectively vetoed the move, and the Trump administration has not supported bringing it back to life.
2. After Trump backout, UK, Germany, France ‘stand committed’ to Iran deal :-
The leaders of Britain, France and Germany on Friday said they remain committed to the international nuclear deal with Iran after US President Donald Trump refused to certify the agreement.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they “stand committed to its full implementation by all sides,” according to a joint statement released by May’s Downing Street office.
The leaders said they “take note of President Trump’s decision” not to recertify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) to the US Congress and were “concerned by the possible implications.”
“The nuclear deal was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes,” they added.
“We encourage the US Administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPoA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.”
“Our governments are committed to ensuring the JCPoA is maintained,” they stressed.
The three leaders said they were concerned about Iran’s ballistic missile programme and that they “stand ready to take further appropriate measures to address these issues”
Trump launched a tougher strategy to check Iran’s “fanatical regime” on Friday and warned that the landmark international nuclear deal could be terminated at any time.
3. Virginia State University shooting: Lockdown on US Campus lifted, 1 injured :-
The lockdown on the Virginia State University campus has been lifted.
University Police said they had cleared the scene but that officers would continue to remain vigilant.
Police said first responders had found one person with gunshot wounds but that they were non-life-threatening.
The Virginia State University campus in Petersburg, Virginia had earlier been put on lockdown after reports of a shooting on campus.
University Police had earlier tweeted that the area should be avoided.
4. IS driven out of Raqqa, 100 fighters surrender in 24 hours :-
Dozens of Islamic State group fighters have surrendered over the past day in their one-time bastion Raqqa, the US-led coalition backing the offensive on the Syrian city said Saturday.
“Within the past 24 hours, approximately 100 ISIS terrorists have surrendered in Raqqa, and were removed from the city,” the coalition said in an emailed statement to AFP.
“Foreign fighters are not being allowed to leave Raqqa,” it said.
Earlier on Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said all Syrian IS jihadists — numbering around 200 fighters — had left their former stronghold with their families.
“All Syrian fighters from the Islamic State group left Raqa over the past five days,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, saying they headed to unknown destinations.
A Raqa official told AFP that Syrian IS members had surrendered overnight to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) battling to take full control of the city, without specifying how many.
“They sent a message to the Raqa Civil Council and to the tribal mediators,” the official said.
“Those that surrendered are local, not foreigners — the foreigners have not handed themselves in yet,” he said.
Members of the council — a provisional administration for the city set up by the SDF — had been working with tribal leaders throughout the week to try to secure safe passage for civilians.
Hundreds of civilians have managed to flee the battle-ravaged city, which once served as the de facto Syrian capital of the jihadist group.
According to Abdel Rahman, up to 150 foreign jihadists remain in the city and negotiations on their fate are still ongoing.
“The foreign fighters are asking to leave in one group towards areas under IS control in Deir Ezzor province,” in eastern Syria, he said.
But a spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which spearhead the SDF, denied on Saturday that any discussions were taking place for the surrender of the city.
5. North Korea feadies missile launch ahead of US-South Korea drill: Report :-
North Korea is believed to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile ahead of an upcoming joint naval drill by the US and South Korea, a news report said Saturday, citing a government source.
The US navy said Friday that a US aircraft carrier will lead the drill in the coming week, a fresh show of force against North Korea as tensions soar over the hermit state’s weapons programme.
The move will likely rile Pyongyang which has previously responded angrily to joint exercises.
The Donga Ilbo daily, quoting a government source, said satellite pictures show ballistic missiles mounted on launchers being transported out of hangars near Pyongyang and in the North Phyongan Province.
US and South Korean military officials suspect the North might be preparing to launch missiles capable of reaching US territory, the newspaper said.
This could be the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), whose range could extend to Alaska, or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles which Pyongyang threatened to fire towards the US Pacific territory of Guam in August, the report said.
Another possibility is that the North might be preparing to test a new Hwasong-13 ICBM, it added, that has a longer maximum range than the other two missiles and could potentially reach the US West Coast.
A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying: “We don’t comment on any matters of military intelligence”.
“We are keeping a close watch over the North,” he added.
The joint drills led by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier come after hectic US military hardware movements around the Korean peninsula in recent days.
These follow a flurry of missiles from Pyongyang, which conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test last month in defiance of international sanctions.