News Timeline: May 2018


May 8 – Middle East / North America / Europe / Global Issues:
United States President Donald Trump announces that he will withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, one of the most important foreign policy achievements of his predecessor President Barack Obama. He says the agreement was flawed. The United States will now re-impose the sanctions on Iran from before the deal and is considering new penalties. European companies will also have to stop their operations in Iran, or they will face American sanctions. The sanctions on oil will require European and Asian countries to reduce their imports from Iran. Both U.S. Western allies and Iran accuse the U.S. of violating the accord and not honoring international treaties.[1]

The Iran nuclear deal took over two years to negotiate and was signed between Iran and so called P5+1, the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) plus Germany. Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
(May 11): France, Britain and Germany say they will work with Iran to salvage the Iran nuclear agreement. They also condemn the U.S. threat to re-impose sanctions on European companies that have engaged in multi-billion dollar deals with Iran since the agreement. They say they will work to block these measures. They also warn that discarding the agreement will lead to rising oil prices and fuel an arms race in the Middle East.[2]
Key details on the Iran nuclear deal

May 14 – Europe: SPAIN
The parliament of Spain’s autonomous region of Catalonia swears in its new separatist leader, Quim Torra, who vows to continue the region’s fight for independence from Spain. He takes over from Carles Puigdemont who is in self-imposed exile facing charges of rebellion and sedition in Spain. He fled after declaring Catalonia’s independence following the October referendum with pro-independence results. Since then, Catalonia has been under Spain’s direct rule.[3]
Background on Catalonia’s bid for independence

Israeli soldiers open fire at tens of thousands of Palestinians who gathered alongside Israel’s border fence with the Gaza Strip to protest the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The death toll from May 14 is 61 people and 2,700 injured, including women and children, half of whom were killed by live ammunition. No Israeli soldiers were killed or wounded. The embassy opening coincides with Israel’s independence day, but for the Palestinians this day marks mass displacement after Israel’s creation. They have been demonstrating for the last seven weeks as part of a protest called the Great March of Return. The international community widely condemns Israel for its excessive use of force and the scale of the killings. Israel and the United States, however, put blame on Hamas.[4]
The issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
A two-state solution and alternatives

May 20 – Latin America: VENEZUELA
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is elected for another six-year term with 67.7 percent of the vote. Maduro’s main rivals, Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci, declare the poll illegitimate due to alleged widespread irregularities, such as vote buying and electoral fraud. As the opposition boycotted the vote, the turnout was low at 46.1 percent down from 80 percent in the 2013 presidential elections.[5] The opposition accuses the National Electoral Council of inflating its figures and claims the real number is closer to 30 percent.[6]
(May 21): The 14 Latin American countries that form the Lima Group plus Canada issue a statement saying they do not recognize the result of Venezuela’s presidential election and plan to curtail diplomatic relations with the country.[7] The United States places new sanctions on Venezuela that bar U.S. companies or citizens from buying debt or accounts receivable from the Venezuelan government, including Petróleos de Venezuela, the government-owned oil company that is the parent of Citgo Petroleum Corporation.[8]

May 24 – Europe: RUSSIA
Dutch-led international investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines passenger plane MH17 in 2014 concludes that Russia is directly responsible for the deployment of Russian-made Buk missile installation that was used to shoot down the plane. The investigators have evidence that all the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile in the rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine were part of the Russian armed forces. All 298 passengers on the plane were killed. Russia continues to deny any involvement. The Netherlands and Australia also say that the incident violated international law and plan to hold Russia formally responsible.[9]

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reports a new Ebola outbreak, with 45 cases and at least 26 deaths.[10] Working with international partners, the DRC Ministry of Public Health began an experimental ring vaccine for people with potential exposure to Ebola in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Ring vaccination is a strategy to inhibit the spread of a disease by vaccinating only those who are most likely to be infected.[11] Some of the challenges in providing the vaccines are unreliable electricity supply in the DRC, which is required to vaccine storage, as well as transporting it to the country’s remote rural areas.

Ebola is an infectious disease that causes internal bleeding and is often fatal. It spreads rapidly through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid. It is believed to be spread by fruit bats and transmitted to humans eating wild animal’s meat.
About Ebola

May 29 – Latin America: NICARAGUA
Weeks of anti-government protest throughout Nicaragua continue despite fatalities. The protests erupted in April when President Daniel Ortega signed a decree to raise taxes and slash pensions. Although by now, he revoked this controversial welfare reform package, the protests continue expressing overall grievances with the government and accusing Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo, who is also the country’s Vice President, of dictatorial rule, calling for their resignation. President Ortega’s forces are accused of using live ammunition, rubber bullets, and tear gas to quell these demonstrations. It is estimated that at least 70 people have been killed. Ortega has been in power since 2007 and during these years he consolidated his and his family’s power in all branches of the government. The protesters accuse him of eroding democratic institutions.[12]
The photos that explain Nicaragua’s crisis


[1] Mark Landler. “Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned.” The New York Times. 8 May 2018. Web. Accessed 11 June 2018.
[2] “Iran nuclear deal: France condemns US move to reimpose sanctions.” BBC News. 11 May 2018. Web. Accessed 10 June 2018.
[3] “Catalans elect new separatist leader Quim TOrra.” BBC News. 14 May 2018. Web. Accessed 29 May 2018.
[4] Loveday Morris and Hazem Balousha. “Israelis kill more than 50 Palestinians in Gaza protests, health officials say.” The Washington Post. 14 May 2018. Web. Accessed 10 June 2018.
[5] Tom Phillips. “Venezuela elections: Maduro wins second term.” The Guardian. 21 May 2018. Web. Accessed 5 June 2018.
[6] “Venezuela election: Maduro wins second term amid claims of vote rigging.” BBC News. 21 May 2018. Web. Accessed 2 June 2018.
[7] “Lima Group recalls Venezuela ambassadors, condemns vote.” Deutsche Welle. 21 May 2018. Web. Accessed 6 June 2018.
[8] Julie Hirschfeld Davis. “U.S. Places New Sanctions on Venezuela Day After Election.” The New York Times. 21 May 2018. Web. Accessed 5 June 2018.
[9] “MH17: Russia ‘liable’ for downing airliner over Ukraine.” BBC News. 25 May 2018. Web. Accessed 3 June 2018.
[10] “Ebola outbreak: Experimental vaccinations to begin in DR Congo.” BBC News. 21 May 2018. Web. Accessed 2 June 2018.
[11] The World Health Organization. “Ebola vaccine provides protection and hope for high-risk communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” 30 May 2018. Web. Accessed 5 June 2018 from
[12] Carrie Kahn. “Nicaragua Withdraws Social Security Changes That Sparked Unrest.” NPR. 23 April 2018. Web. Accessed 6 June 2018.