News Timeline: October 2019


October 3 – East Asia: NORTH KOREA
Ballistic missile test
North Korea successfully conducts a new type of ballistic missile test. Pukguksong-3 is shot from a platform at sea, but it has capability to be launched from a submarine, which makes it harder to be detected and can get closer to other targets. It is also capable of carrying a nuclear weapon. The missile reaches altitude of 565 miles (the International Space Station is at an altitude of 253 miles) and flies 280 miles, although it is capable of reaching 1,180 miles. It comes down into the Sea of Japan. This is North Korea’s 11th test this year. Denuclearization talks between North Korea and the U.S. have stalled.[1]
The nuclear word Trump and Kim can’t agree on
Issue of North Korea’s denuclearization (video: 01:57 min)

October 6 – Middle East / North America / Europe:
U.S. military withdrawal from Syria and Turkey’s incursion into Syria
The United States President Donald Trump orders American troops (about 1,000) to withdraw from northeastern Syria. The move is controversial and seen as a betrayal of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that consists mostly of the Kurdish fighters, and draws condemnation even from the President’s Republican allies. The Kurds have been key US allies in fighting the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria; they also guard thousands of IS fighters in prisons and camps in areas under their control and it is unclear whether they will be able to have them detained. It is feared that the destabilization of northern Syria could lead to jihadist resurgence. It is also feared that the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria clears the way for Turkey to invade the area.[2]
(Oct 9): Turkey’s military launches an offensive on Kurdish–held areas in northeastern Syria.  According to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the operation is intended to create a “safe zone”, a buffer clear of Kurdish fighters regarded by Turkey as terrorists due to their ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey. Turkey plans to repopulate the zone with about two million Syrian refugees that fled to Turkey as a result of the Syrian civil war.[3] The offensive is condemned by many countries around the world.
(Oct 16): The U.S. House of Representatives passes a joint resolution to rebuke President Trump’s decision to pull out the U.S. troops from Syria. It also calls for President Erdogan to cease military operations against Kurdish-led forces in Syria.[4] As a result of the incursion, 300,000 civilians are displaced and 120 civilian killed in 11 days.[5]
(Oct 22): Turkey and Russia make a pact according to which Russian and Syrian forces will oversee the Kurdish pullback from the border area about 20 miles deep and 260 miles along the Turkish border. After that Russian and Turkish militaries will patrol the area. The pact cements Turkey’s annexation of a significant part of Kurdish-held land in Syria where in the past few years they created a self-governing sub-region called Rojava. It also cements Russia’s status as the main power broker in the region.[6]
Turkey vs Syria’s Kurds

October 11 – International Organizations / Africa:
Nobel Peace Prize
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awards the Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He has been recognized for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation. In 2018, he signed a peace deal with neighboring Eritrea after the war between the two countries that lasted from 1998 to 2000 followed by the 20-year-long military impasse. He has also been involved in peace processes in other African countries, including helping to broker an agreement between Sudan’s military leaders and civilian opposition after months of protests. At home, he freed thousands of jailed opposition activists and allowed exiled dissidents to return home. He also increased the participation of women in government by appointing several to prominent positions.[7]
More about Abiy Ahmed
All Nobel Peace Prize winners

October 14 – Europe: SPAIN
Spain’s Supreme Court hands down lengthy prison sentences to nine Catalonian leaders and pro-independence activists for their role in the 2017 Catalonia referendum on independence from Spain. They were charged with sedition and misuse of public funds. Spain also issues a new arrest warrant for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont who fled to Belgium in 2017. The former vice-president of Catalonia, Oriol Junqueras, who got the longest sentence of 13 years, criticizes the decision of putting people in jail for their political ideals and says this will make the Catalonians even more determined to become independent from Spain. Large crowds protest the verdict by marching in Barcelona and engaging in violent clashes with police in some places.[8]
Catalonia crisis in 300 words

The United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson reaches a revised agreement with the European Commission on Brexit. The deal still has to be approved by the Parliament. The main change in the proposal is about the Northern Ireland, which would be aligned to the EU single market with the controversial “backstop” removed. It would remain a part of the UK’s customs territory, but also an entry point into the EU’s customs zone. The UK would not apply tariffs to products entering Northern Ireland as long as they are not destined for onward transportation across the border. Every four years, the Northern Ireland Assembly would vote on whether it wants to continue this trading arrangement.[9]
(Oct 19): In a big defeat for PM Johnson, the Parliament votes for an amendment delaying approval of the deal until the legislation to implement it is in place. The supporters of the bill say it will ensure there is no-deal exit. This also obligates the prime minister to ask the EU for an extension to Brexit deadline.[10]
(Oct 28): In response to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s letter of request, the EU grants the UK a Brexit extension until January 31, 2020. This means that despite Johnson’s repeated vows he would take the UK out of the EU on October 31, even without a deal, the Parliament prevented him from doing so, and forced him to accept the extension.[11]
Why does the UK have to pay the EU £39 billion?

October 27: Latin America: CHILE
Anti-government protests
Under the pressure of weeks-long anti-government protests, Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera, dismisses his entire cabinet and promises to form a new government, which would address the protesters’ demands. He also says he will end the state of emergency and a curfew imposed during the protests.[12]

Background: The protests began in response to a now-suspended increase of the city metro fare, which quickly grew into mass demonstrations over low wages and high costs of living, high-income inequality, with economic policies favoring the rich, and corruption. More than a million people took to the streets, the most serious unrest since the fall of Augusto Pinochet. The government deployed the military and thousands of police, which clashed with the protesters. At least 19 people have been killed, hundreds injured, and thousands arrested.[13]
What You Need to Know About the Unrest in Chile from NYT

October 21 – Middle East: LEBANON
Anti-government protests
After five days of mass anti-government protests and strikes across Lebanon, the government approves economic reforms that include cutting the country’s huge deficit, cutting the salaries of the politicians by half, and financial help for people in poverty. Initially, the protests erupted after the government announced a monthly tax on using WhatsApp, and although the government withdrew the proposed tax, protests continued with people turning their anger at corruption on the highest levels and deepening economic problems.[14]
(Oct 29): Amid continued protests and economic crisis, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his coalition government resign.[15]

Background: Lebanon has the third highest public debt in the world, 147 percent of the country’s gross domestic products (GDP). Unemployment is close to 10 percent and 30 percent of people live below the poverty line.[16] The country’s public services, such as electricity and water, have been regularly disrupted.[17]

October 21 – North America: CANADA
Canada is holding federal general elections for the House of Commons of the Parliament. With a turnout of 66 percent, the Liberal Party, led by incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, wins the most seats, 157, but loses its majority from 177 seats in the previous parliament. Since it is needed 170 seats to secure a majority government, the Liberals will govern as a minority government, which might be harder to push through its policies. The Conservative Party, led by Andrew Scheer, wins 121 seats (up from 95) and will remain the official opposition. The Bloc Québécois, under Yves-François Blanchet, wins 32 seats (up from 10) and regains official party status, becoming the third party for the first time since 2008. The Green Party saw its best election results receiving over one million votes and winning three seats.

The election was seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Trudeau who has been criticized for abandoning some of his progressive promises he made in 2015, such as his anti-environmental support for the Trans Mountain oil pipeline project and federal electoral reform.[18]
The History of Canada’s Parliament in a Nutshell

October 27 – Middle East / North America / Global:
Islamic State
The leader of the Islamic State (IS) group and the world’s most wanted man, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, kills himself and two of his children by detonating a suicide vest during a military raid conducted by the US forces on a compound where he was hiding in Syria’s village of Barisha in northwestern Idlib Province.[19]
(Oct 31): Islamic State confirms the death of al-Baghdadi and announces that little known Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al-Qurayshia become its new leader.[20]

Background: In 2014, Baghdadi announced the formation of the caliphate in areas belonging to Iraq and Syria and declared himself its leader. Baghdadi and his ISIL jihadist group were known for their brutality and atrocities committed under their rule, as well as various terrorist attacks around the world. Although the group steadily has lost most of its territory to Iraq and Syria, its fighters remain active and dangerous.
Who was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?


[1] “North Korea tests submarine-capable missile fired from sea.” BBC News. October 3, 2019. Web. Accessed November 6, 2019.
[2] “Turkey launches offensive in northern Syria with air strikes.” BBC News. October 9, 2019. Web. Accessed November 11, 19.
[3] Ibid 2.
[4] ”Turkey’s Erdogan ‘threw Trump’s Syria letter in bin’.” BBC News. October 17, 2019. Web. Accessed November 8, 19.
[5] “11 days of Operation “Peace Spring”: 120 civilian casualties, SDF withdraws from “Ras al-Ain” and the international coalition withdraws from 2 military bases.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. October 2019. Web. Accessed November 13, 2019.
[6] Lara SeligmanElias GrollRobbie Gramer. How Turkey and Russia Carved Up Northern Syria.” Foreign Policy.  October 23, 2019. Web. Accessed November 13, 2019.
[7] “Nobel Peace Prize: Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed wins.” BBC News. October 11, 2019. Web. Accessed January 10, 2020.
[8] “Catalonia leaders jailed for sedition by Spanish court.” BBC News. October 14, 2019. Web. Accessed October 21, 2019.
[9] “Brexit: EU and UK reach deal but DUP refuses support.” BBC News. October 17, 2019. Web. Accessed October 28, 2019.
[10] “Brexit: Johnson vows to press on despite defeat over deal delay.” BBC News. October 19, 2019. Web. Accessed October 28, 2019.
[11] “Brexit: European leaders agree extension to 31 January.” BBC News. October 28, 2019. Web. Accessed October 28, 2019.
[12] “Chile protests: President sacks whole cabinet after protests.” BBC News. October 27, 2019. Web. Accessed November 8, 19.
[13] Jonathan Franklin. “Hundreds shot and beaten as Chile takes to the streets.” The Guardian. October 27, 2019. Web. Accessed November 8, 19.
[14] “Lebanon protests: Huge crowds on streets as government acts.” BBC News. October 21, 2019. Web. Accessed October 22, 2019.
[15] “Lebanon’s PM Saad Hariri resigning amid protests.” BBC News. October 29, 2019. Web. Accessed October 29, 2019.
[16] Central Intelligence Agency. “Lebanon: economy.” The World Factbook.” 2019. Web.
[17] Ibid 15.
[18] Nadine Yousif, Omar Mosleh, Madeline Smith, Rosa Saba, Amy Tucker, Kashmala Fida and Hamdi Issawi. “Election 2019 Canada: Alberta election results return a sea of Conservative blue with one orange blip.” The Star. October 21, 2019. Accessed October 29, 2019 from and “Canada election: Trudeau’s Liberals win but lose majority.” BBC News. October 22, 2019. Web. Accessed October 28, 2019.
[19] “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: IS leader ‘dead after US raid’ in Syria.” BBC News. October 28, 2019. Web. Accessed November 4, 2019.
[20] Martin Chulov. “Islamic State names new leader after death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” The Guardian. October 31, 2019. Web. Accessed November 4, 2019.