September 8 – South Asia / North America:
AFGHANISTAN / UNITED STATES
The United States cancels peace negotiations with Afghan Taliban after Taliban militants explode a car bomb at a checkpoint near NATO headquarters and the US embassy in Kabul on September 6, killing 12 people, including one U.S. and one NATO soldier. The peace negotiations that sought to end 18 years of America’s involvement in Afghanistan were secretly conducted in Qatar’s capital, Doha. A meeting between the U.S., Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and a senior Taliban leader was due to take place at Camp David within days. This initial US-Taliban deal was meant to pave the way for intra-Afghan talks on a broader political solution, and reduce the U.S. troop numbers to 8,600. The US currently has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. The Taliban conditions its formal talks with the Afghan government on a timetable for the US troop withdrawal.
Background: US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001, because the militants had given safe haven to the al-Qaeda network to plan the attacks on the US on 11 September. Nearly 3,500 members of the international coalition forces have died in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion, more than 2,300 of them American. The greatest losses, however, from the conflict are carried by Afghans themselves with more than 32,000 Afghan civilians, 58,000 Afghan security personnel and 42,000 opposition combatants in the same period of time. Despite 18 years of the U.S. military involvement, the Taliban again controls sizable swaths of territory.
Tracking the killings in the Afghanistan conflict
September 9 – Europe: UNITED KINGDOM / IRELAND
Gasoline bombs and missiles are thrown at police in the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland during a security raid operation targeting dissident republicans group called the New IRA. The police search comes after finding a mortar bomb in the city of Strabane, 14 miles outside Londonderry.
Background: The IRA was disbanded as part of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The New IRA, however, is a violent paramilitary group based in Belfast formed of dissident Republicans who reject Northern Ireland’s peace process. As the IRA, this group also seeks to liberate Northern Ireland from the British and reunite it with the Republic of Ireland. Most people in Northern Ireland, however, are committed to the peace process and do not support this group.
September 10 – East Asia: MYANMAR
Satellite images show entire villages in Rakhine state, where Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority of Rohingya lives, being demolished. In their place, the government is building police barracks, refugee relocation camps, and other government structures. The officials deny it. In this situation, few of the Rohingya refugees will be able to return to Mayanmar.
Background: In 2017, during a military operation, more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya – who are mainly Muslim – fled the violence to neighboring Bangladesh where they have been staying in refugee camps. Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra‘ad al-Hussein described the episode as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. The remaining Rohingya in Myanmar continue to be persecuted and denied their rights, including the citizenship and freedom of movement.
Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya refugees from The Economist (video 05:08)
September 17 – Middle East: ISRAEL
Israelis are voting in a snap election for members of parliament (the Knesset) after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government after the April elections. His Likud Party was unable to reach a deal with Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party over exempting ultra-Orthodox men from military service. On May 30, the Knesset voted to dissolve and scheduled new elections to prevent Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz from being appointed Prime Minister-designate.
During the campaign Netanyahu, the longest serving prime minister who is seeking the fifth term, appealed to right wing parties by promising to annex the Jordan Valley and parts of the occupied West Bank, which is considered illegal under international law. Benny Gantz, a retired general and a centrist, promised a government that would end Israel’s divisions and work for the majority of the country’s citizens. He did not declare where he stands on annexation of Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, or whether he accepts the idea of a Palestinian state.
The new election, however, ends in a deadlock; Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likyd party loses several seats ending up with 32 (in the 120-seat Knesset), one seat behind Gantz’s Blue and White Party. Liberman’s party also gained several seats to an overall 8 seats. It will take weeks to negotiate a new coalition government.
Israel’s election: The most important things to know
Israeli elections in 1 minute (video: 01:18 min)
September 24 – North America: UNITED STATES
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi initiates an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump over a formal whistleblower complaint to the Senate about a July 2019 phone call President Trump made to newly elected President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. In this phone call he and his top administration officials allegedly pressured Zelensky to investigate his political rival for the 2020 presidential elections, Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. In the now publicly released transcript of the call, Trump links this favor of obtaining damaging information on the Bidens to releasing the military aid to Ukraine previously approved by Congress but blocked by the President about a month before the call. Additional allegations of misconduct emerged in the days afterwards. His critics accuse him of abusing his power by using this aid as a bargaining tool for personal gain. They also say President Trump broke the law by seeking help from a foreign country to find dirt on his political opponent. The president denies any wrongdoing. It is also known that about a dozen people have listened in on the conversation, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Background: Impeachment is the first part – the charges – of a two-stage political process by which Congress can remove a president from office. If the House votes to pass articles of impeachment, the Senate is forced to hold a trial. A Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority to convict. Trump is the first president to be subjected to a formal impeachment inquiry since Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998.
The impeachment process explained