Watchlist: North Korea Raises Suspicions Among Pre-Olympic Celebrations


Week of February 5th

An artistic rendering of Olympic rings in PyeongChang, South Korea (Source: AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Africa

Princess's Tomb Discovered in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered the tomb of a 4,400 year old princess. Discovered near Cairo, the princess is believed to be a priestess named Hetpet. The tomb was uncovered during excavations near the Great Pyramid of Giza. The walls of the tomb were covered in very well-preserved paintings depicting the princess fishing and hunting. Hetpet was priestess to Hathor, the goddess of fertility, childbirth, and love, and is believed to have lived during the Fifth Dynasty judging by the architectural design of the tomb. Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani stated, "We know of course that she was a high official and that she had a strong link with the royal palace.” He told reporters that excavations will continue throughout the week and that it is likely more discoveries will be made: “We're going to continue digging in this area and I believe that very soon we're going to discover something.” MAYA ZREIK

Asia-Pacific

North Korea Raises Concerns Despite Diplomatic Milestones

With the Winter Olympics just under a week from opening, recent North Korean actions raise doubts on the celebrated “thaw” in tensions. Reports of sanction violations, illegal arms deals, and a planned military parade a day before the opening ceremony has spurred suspicion amongst foreign observers. While the reopening of a military hotline as well as additional high level talks were certainly praiseworthy, skeptics view the North’s charm offensive merely as a method to buy time for its nuclear program. Indeed, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said: “It is not the time to ease pressure or reward North Korea.” Yet, with the Olympics fast approaching, South Korea has been keen to ensure a smooth event; the possibility of continued dialogue is too important to abandon. All eyes should and will be on the two Koreas this week as they march together—for now. WARREN YU

Americas

Mayan Ruins Found in Guatemala

Archaeologists have used laser technology to discover over 60,000 Mayan ruins in northern Guatemala. The recently-developed technology - called Lidar - was used to digitally remove the canopies of a thick rainforest to discover the ruins beneath the surface, which included houses, roads, palaces, and farmlands. Stephen Houston, Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at Brown University, called the discover “one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology.” The discovery has led researchers to believe that the extent of Mayan civilization has been underestimated, and that the population could have been 10 - 15 million people higher than the originally suspected number of 5 million. Researchers will be revealing further information about their findings later this week. MAYA ZREIK

Europe

Paris Suspect to Face Long-Awaited Trial

The trial of Salah Abdeslam, suspect in the Paris attacks of 2015, takes place today in Brussels. Abdeslam is scheduled to appear in court to the surprise of many. After his capture during the Brussels shootout in 2016, the suspect has refused to speak about his involvement in the bombings or his journey to Europe to anyone, frustrating his lawyers so much that they stopped representing him. Investigators hoped he could provide insights into his role in the attacks; instead, he has kept silent in protest of his solitary confinement. His appearance in Brussels has prompted a massive increase in local security, with reports that hundreds of officers will accompany him on the transport to the capital. Prosecutors are hopeful that his agreement to appear in court means he is ready to share crucial details about the Paris and Brussels attacks in the upcoming days. ANNA HAYNES

Middle East

Israel warns thousands of African Migrants to leave

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the implementation of a plan to deport about 38,000 African migrants who had entered the country illegally, on January 3. This past sunday, Israel began warning these migrants that they had until March to leave voluntarily or risk being jailed if they refused and eventual expulsion. Netenyahu’s plan and reference to migrants as “infiltrators” is quite controversial in the international world, as the UN refugee agency has called on Israel to scrap the plan, calling it “incoherent and safe.” There is opposition to the plan in Israel itself as many Israeli academics and Holocaust survivors have published open letters and petitions calling upon Netanyahu to reconsider. Meanwhile, PM Netenyahu has accused George Soros of funding the opposition campaign to this proposal. It will be worthy to watch if Netenyahu continues with this plan as intended, and if it will spark greater divisions both within the Israel and in the greater international community. AYAH KUTMAH

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