News Timeline: August 2018


August 4 – Latin America: VENEZUELA
Two drones carrying explosives detonate in Venezuelan capital of Caracas, near the podium where the country’s President Nicolas Maduro is addressing a crowd during a military parade. Seven soldiers are injured. The Venezuelan government calls it an assassination attempt on Maduro and without evidence blaming Colombia and the Venezuelan opposition. Government critics, however, point out that this was a staged operation in order to justify a crackdown on the opposition in Venezuela. Some of the opposition leaders are quickly arrested.[1]

Severe economic crisis, rampant inflation, and shortages of even basic goods and medicines in Venezuela are causing an exodus of its people to neighboring countries. It is estimated that since 2014, more than 2.3 million Venezuelans—7 percent of the total population— have fled the country. Over a million people have migrated to Colombia. From there, thousands crossed into Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil.[2]
Video (1:48 min): Venezuela crisis: Why has 7% of the population fled the country?
How Venezuela’s crisis developed and drove out millions of people

August 6 – Middle East / North America:
The United States President Donald Trump signs an executive order reimposing some of sanctions on Iran, three months after he pulled the U.S. from the seven-party Iran nuclear deal. Trump accuses Iran of malign activities, such as its ballistic missile program and support for terrorism.[3] The sanctions target transactions related to the US banknotes and the Iranian rial, Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals, graphite, aluminum, steel, coal and software used in industrial processes, as well as the automotive sector. A second set of sanctions, including against Iran’s oil industry and shipping and shipbuilding sectors, will come into effect in November of this year. The Trump Administration puts pressure on other countries and warns that anyone doing business with Iran will not be able to do business with the United States.[4] This complicates relations for other countries who have invested in Iranian businesses.

August 12 – Global Issues / Europe / Middle East / East Asia:
The leaders of five states surrounding the Caspian Sea – Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, and Turkmenistan – sign the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea after more than 20 years of disputes and negotiations on demarcation of the sea. The Caspian Sea is the largest inland water of body in the world without outflows and is located between Europe and Asia. It has vast oil and gas reserves, as well as a wealth of fish, including different species of sturgeon which is highly prized for its caviar.

The new deal gives the Caspian Sea a “special legal status” meaning it is not classified as a sea or a lake. Its surface will be in common usage, giving freedom of access for all five states that border it beyond territorial waters. The seabed, however, with its resources, will be divided up. The convention also sets national quotas for fishing and includes a clause that does not allow non-Caspian countries to deploy military forces on the Caspian Sea.[5]
The Caspian: Sea or Lake?

Israel reopens the Kerem Shalom border crossing into the Gaza Strip after weeks allowing only humanitarian aid. Israel also extends the fishing zone for the Palestinians. The opening of the crossing point is a result of a truce between Israel and Hamas mediated by Egypt and the United Nations envoy. The closure was a result of Palestinians cross border arson attacks, but criticized by human rights organizations as an illegal collective punishment. The Kerem Shalom crossing is the main lifeline for people living in Gaza, and the territory’s economy is almost entirely dependent on it.[6]

August 27 – North America / Europe:
A new set of U.S. sanctions against Russia comes into effect in response to Russia’s use of an internationally banned nerve agent in an attempt to kill a former Russian spy turned double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Britain’s town of Salisbury. The nerve agent called Novichok is a military-grade chemical weapon developed in the former Soviet Union. These new sanctions terminate assistance to Russia except for urgent humanitarian issues, end some arms sales and financing, restrict access to U.S. credit or other financial assistance, and prohibit the export of restricted goods or technology to Russia. Another set of sanctions will be imposed on Russia after 90 days if Russia does not allow inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to confirm that it no longer has chemical weapons. Russia rejects the accusations and says the sanctions will only create more tension between the two countries.[7]
More on Russia sanctions from the U.S. Department of State

August 28 – Middle East / International Organizations: 
A detailed report for the United Nations Human Rights Council published by experts who carried out a comprehensive examination of the human rights situation in civil war-torn Yemen concludes that all sides to the conflict—Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, seven other Arab states in their coalition, and government and rebel forces in Yemen—may have committed war crimes. The report notes that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties, hitting residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats, and even medical facilities. From March 2015 to June 2018, at least 6,475 civilians have been killed and 10,231 injured in the conflict. All sides are also accused of arbitrary detentions, torture, enforced disappearances, and recruiting children.[8]
Full report


[1] “Venezuela ‘drone attack’: Six arrests made.” BBC News. 5 August 2018. Web. Accessed 23 August 2018 and “Venezuela cracks down on opposition in wake of ‘attack’. BBC News. 8 August 2018. Web. Accessed 23 August 2018.
[2] “Venezuelans rush to Peru to beat passport deadline.” BBC News. 23 August 2018. Web. Accessed 23 August 2018.
[3] Andrew Buncombe. “Trump signs order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it “deeply” regrets.” Independent. 6 August 2018. Web. Accessed 29 August 2018.
[4] “Iran sanctions: Trump warns trading partners.” BBC News. 7 August 2018. Web. Accessed 29 August 2018.
[5] “Caspian Sea: Five countries sign deal to end dispute.” BBC News. 12 August 2018. Web. Accessed 23 August 2018 and “Five States Sign Convention On Caspian Legal Status.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 12 August 2018. Web. Accessed 28 August 2018 from
[6] “UN chief urges support for UN-Egypt truce deal on Gaza.” The Times of Israel. 16 August 2018. Web. Accessed 30 August 2018.
[7] “U.S. Sanctions On Russia Over Poisoning In Britain Start Aug. 27.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 24 August 24 2018. Web. Accessed 30 August 2018.
[8] Human Rights Council. “Situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014.” Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General. 17 August 2018. Web. Accessed 28 August 2018 from