July

UAE by Lewis McKinnon

In the affairs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UAE government has launched an investment initiative to boost competitiveness in a number of different sectors in a bid to establish Dubai as a manufacturing hub. The United Arab Bank, following the suit of other banks in the Gulf has secured a $150 million dollar loan. The UAE has warned its citizens to refrain from wearing traditional garments when abroad. The government of the UAE has signed an agreement to open a new UN women Liaison office in Abu Dhabi. The UAE’s foreign minister made his first ever visit to Malta to discuss bilateral relations. The UAE announced the opening of an embassy in Budapest, Hungary next year. The UAE has acquired a new technology system to tighten its security on its civilian population. The United States (US) State Department approved the possible sale of $785 million dollars worth of munitions and support to the UAE. A source close to the Turkey Intelligence Agency has claimed that the UAE government collaborated with coup plotters. 

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Turkey by Lewis McKinnon

The most defining event of July was the failed coup d’état that occurred on the evening of 15 July. The coup attempt was led by a military faction, who vowed to 'protect democracy from President Erdogan; however, the coup ultimately failed due to a lack of support among the public and military. The failed coup led to a strong crackdown against educators, police, armed forces, and the media. A three-month state of emergency was declared, granting President Erdogan additional powers. The army has lost influence and over 15,000 people have been detained as a result of the coup attempt. It is believed that the coup attempt was led by army defectors who were alleged supporters of Fetullah Gulen, a United States (US)-based cleric; however, Gulen has denied these claims. WikiLeaks published the first 300,000 of their emails from the incumbent AK Party’s mailboxes. The Baghdad bombings may improve Turkish-Iraqi relations. Turkey has closed additional border locations to curb the flow of terrorists into Syria. The attempted coup has had serious consequences for financial markets in Turkey. Tourism reached a historic low, but the return of Russian tourists may generate some revenue. 

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Sierra Leone by Lewis McKinnon

Dr Jonathan Bonopha Tenge, a Sierra Leone presidential candidate, visited the United States to meet with members of the North American Team Tengbe Campaign Committee. President Koroma supervised the signing of the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa project, which will provide funds to improve Fourah Bay College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Sierra Leone. The Sierra Leone embassy to Nigeria reportedly paid a ransom to secure the release of kidnapped Major-General Alfred Nelson Williams. The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) followed up a year after training health workers and providing machines to encourage early testing and diagnosis for HIV-positive babies. The Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation urged health workers to increase their efforts to improve the health of Sierra Leone’s citizens and to expand health care to all chiefdoms and districts. The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Water Resources partnered with the Sierra Leone Water Company to work on potable water supply projects to increase access to clean drinking water. Sierra Leone’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development travelled to China to attend the follow up meeting of the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Summit. Sierra Leone’s government approved the first Local Content Policy, which will encourage businesses to hire Sierra Leoneans to further improve the economy. The Minister of Finance and Economic Development said the budget for the 2017 financial year would reflect the recent measures undertaken by the government, which are to diversify the economy and focus on the private sector. 

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Russia by Lewis McKinnon

Thirty-seven Russian athletes were banned from competing in the 2016 Olympic Games hosted in Rio de Janeiro. The Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) stated at the NATO summit in Warsaw that NATO military decisions were creating a new Iron Curtain across Europe. The Russian government strongly opposed the United States' installation of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile system. The Russian and Syrian governments promised to open a route from the city of Aleppo to allow besieged civilians and surrendering rebels to exit the city. After an internal audit of Baltic Sea leadership, the Russian government discharged 50 senior naval officers for dereliction of duty. Prior to the Central Bank of Russia's annual policy meeting, Russia's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.5 per cent. However, Russia’s economic slowdown has levelled out, with the GDP contracting by 0.6 per cent during the second quarter of 2016. 

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Pakistan by Lewis McKinnon

Officials from Pakistan and Iran met on 25 July to confront the threat from the Islamic State (IS). The leader of Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan, spoke out against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government and was accused of promoting a military coup against Sharif. Posters calling for a military takeover appeared in 13 different cities across Pakistan, resulting in two arrests. After Burhan Wani was killed in Kashmir, relations between India and Pakistan became tense. Farooq Haider Khan was elected Prime Minister of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir region. Officials from the United States (US) visited Pakistan and met with General Raheel Sharif to discuss border security and improving relations with Afghanistan. Tensions between the US and Pakistan rose this month after a US congressman gave a controversial presentation that questioned Pakistan’s loyalty. Pakistani Taliban leader Umar Narai was killed in an air strike in Afghanistan. The son of the Sindh High Court Chief Justice was rescued on 19 July. Four people were killed in supposed honour killings in July, inspiring the Pakistani Parliament to approve a new draft of legislation that closes a loophole for permissible honour killings. China’s People Liberation Army and Pakistan held a joint border patrol near Kashmir to display their joint security efforts and positive relations. A new gate at the Torkham crossing will open for traffic on 1 August. At least 16 civilians were killed in roadside bomb attacks, and 18 militants were killed and several terror attacks foiled throughout July. Flash floods have killed 82 people so far according to the Disaster Management Agency. Pakistan and China signed numerous trade and investment agreements. China’s foreign direct investment into Pakistan is constantly increasing in accordance with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that Pakistan’s currency is overvalued by as much as 20 per cent. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced that foreign exchange reserves reached an all-time high of $23 billion. Pakistan announced plans to auction onshore oil and gas blocks later in the year. The Pakistan Stock Exchange was labelled the fifth-best performing stock globally. Oil and gas stocks fell at the end of July after global crude oil prices fell, but refinery stocks rose with investor interest. 

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Morocco by Lewis McKinnon

The Moroccan government will raise the state retirement age from 60 to 63 by 2021 on 1 July. Protests were held on the streets of Rabat on 24 July to protest against the raising of the state retirement age from 60 to 63. The Moroccan government formally made a request to reintegrate into the African Union (AU) on 18 July. The Moroccan House of Representatives voted on 20 July in favour of a draft bill targeting violence against women. A new law prohibiting those under the age of sixteen to be in employment in Morocco was passed by the House of Representatives on 26 July. A new organisation to combat the threat of extremism has been created by Morocco’s community of academics and researchers. The Moroccan government, in cooperation with the United Nations (UN), agreed to fully restore the mandate of The United Nations Mission to the Western Sahara (MINURSO) on 14 July. A network of Islamic State (IS) cells, operating in Agadir, Amezmez and Laqliaâ, was dismantled by Moroccan police on 14 July. The United Kingdom’s (UK) Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a travel alert for Morocco on 20 July due to the high threat of terrorism in the country. Morocco took its first delivery of the United States (US) manufactured Abrams M1A1 tanks on 26 July. Morocco’s central bank approved the creation of Islamic banks in the country for the first time. Morocco’s King Mohammed Vl presided over the signing of agreements worth around USD 770 million on 4 July. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a new two year agreement on 22 July, which will give the Kingdom access to USD 3.47 billion of emergency funding. The number of internet users in Morocco increased has increased so far this year by 34.4 per cent compared to 2015. The African Development Bank (BAD) announced in Morocco the allocation of USD 3 billion towards a fund for female entrepreneurs in Africa. 

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Kuwait by Lewis McKinnon

On 14 July, the Kuwaiti government passed a law to improve working conditions for domestic staff in Kuwait, including setting a minimum wage. Kuwaiti Member of Parliament, Abdulhameed Dashti, was sentenced to 14 years and six months incarceration in absentia on 27 July. The Kuwaiti ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Jamal Al-Ghunaim, announced Kuwait’s commitment to uphold international laws concerning torture and the maltreatment of human beings during a meeting with delegates from the UN Convention Against Torture on 26 July. An official spokesman for the Kuwait National Petroleum Company announced on 2 July that increased security measures will be enforced at oil installations throughout Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government gave the warring factions of the Yemeni conflict 15 days to negotiate an agreement on the conflict on 21 July. The Kuwaiti embassy in Tanzania announced on 23 July that closer security ties with the Republic of Tanzania will be developed in the near future. The Kuwait and Saudi Arabian governments have issued a formal complaint to the UN concerning repeated incursions into their sovereign waters by military vessels from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Kuwait’s ambassador to Kazakhstan, Tariq Al-Faraj, confirmed on 13 July that the two countries are looking to broaden cooperation in many fields and strengthen economic ties. The Kuwaiti government and the European Union (EU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 18 July. The National Bank of Kuwait released new figures on 23 July that highlighted the continued growth in Kuwait’s project market. The Kuwaiti government provided $4.4 billion to kick-start the construction of the new terminal of Kuwait International Airport on 23 July. 

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Iraqi Kurdistan by Lewis McKinnon

The United States (US) Defence Secretary announced on 11 July that 560 additional troops would be deployed to the Qayara air base, Iraq. Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shi’ite Muslim cleric, instructed his followers through his website to target US troops. The Iraqi Prime Minister fired three officials in charge of Baghdad’s security following the truck bomb on 3 July. On 28 July, the US military announced that it had killed 14 civilians in Iraq and Syria in six airstrikes between 28 July 2015 and 29 April this year. On 3 July, Iraqi security services were ordered to stop using fake bomb detectors by the Iraqi Prime Minister following the truck bomb attack. On 25 July, a suicide car bombing, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) killed 16 people outside Khalis, with a further five civilians killed during an attack on two energy facilities. On 7 July, three suicide bombers killed at least 35 people and wounded a further 60 near the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi, near Balad. IS claimed responsibility for a truck bomb attack on 3 July in Baghdad that killed 292 people and injured a further 200. On 1 July, a spokesman for the Pentagon announced that a US-led coalition airstrike on 25 June killed two senior IS military commanders. On 7 July, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated that its executive board approved a new standby arrangement for Iraq. On 18 July, the United Nations (UN) announced that the humanitarian situation caused by the upcoming operation against Mosul could cost up to $1.8 billion. 

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Iran by Lewis McKinnon

Iranian public approval of the nuclear deal has declined since it was finalised one year ago. After one year, 74 per cent of Iranians say that there has been no tangible economic improvement, and three out of four Iranian citizens accuse the United States government of actively preventing other countries from normalising economic relations with Iran. Iran reached an agreement with France to take part in a multi-national nuclear fusion project. Trials commenced for the 48 people charged with storming the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran. Iran denied claims by Washington that three senior al-Qaida figures are currently based in Tehran, stating that the country has no knowledge of their presence. Iranian forces foiled an attempted terrorist infiltration from Turkey. Iran is exploring a return to the bond market for the first time since 2002, in an attempt to finance an economic recovery. The United States House of Representatives approved two amendments to a financial services spending bill, aimed at blocking Boeing’s planned sale of over 100 commercial aircraft to Iran. Iran resumed petrochemical exports to Britain for the first time since economic sanctions were lifted in accordance with the nuclear deal. Iranian Petroleum Contracts are expected to replace the current buy-back model. The new contracts could ease investment risks which could open new doors for foreign investment. 

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Egypt by Lewis McKinnon

Egypt's National Council for Human Rights denounced the authorities’ failure to change the human rights situation in the country. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Israel on 10 July, marking the first Egyptian high-level visit to Israel in nearly a decade. Amnesty International released a report on 13 July that revealed a growing trend of disappearances at the hands of the state. Egypt launched a program to force Muslim clerics to read standardised government-written sermons at Friday prayers. Egypt blocked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemnation of the violence and unrest in Turkey. A presidential spokesperson denied a report that an assassination plot against President El-Sisi kept him away from the Arab League summit in Mauritania. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised improved relations with Egypt and its president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Hisham Geneina, Egypt's former top auditor, was sentenced to a year in jail and fined $2,200 on 28 July. A Muslim mob attacked Christian priests on 18 July regarding an issue of religious preference. In response to a request for a multibillion dollar bailout, a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Egypt on 30 July. 

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