Watchlist: Military Parade Attack & Millions of Dollars Missing

Week of September 23

Fleeing the scene of the attack during the military parade in Ahwaz. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Shipping Container Containing $104 Million Goes Missing

On Monday, George Weah’s administration launched an investigation into missing shipping containers carrying $104 million in bank notes, meaning that 5% of Liberia’s GDP was literally misplaced. Weah quickly tried to place the blame on the Sirleaf administration that came before him, but documents show that the containers were cleared in the spring of this year, during Weah’s first term. In addition to the economic implications of the vanishing money, confidence in Liberian leadership was already fragile and this mistake only further discourages the public from trusting their government. The false information given by Weah’s administration to handle this situation dissolves his reputability as a leader. LAUREN CAMP


China’s latest theme park: a salute to Southeast Asian heritage or appropriation?

At last week’s annual China-ASEAN exposition, which promotes cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China unveiled the southern city of Nanning’s latest theme park – and it comes with a twist. Asian Legend theme park delivers visitors to replicas, some plastic, of ten landmarks across Southeast Asia, which includes one of a UNESCO World Heritage site. A park press release said that officials from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Laos attended an August opening, according to Southeast Asia Globe. But spokeswoman for Cambodia’s Apsara Authority, which maintains the legendary Angkor Wat complex, Kerya Chau Sun told the Globe that her organization was unaware of the park until hearing of it on local news. Tourism numbers in Southeast Asia increased by 10% in the first four months of 2018, according to a recent report by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the largest such growth of any region in the world. Much of that growth mirrors an increase in Chinese tourists globally, which has brought an influx of commerce to countries like Cambodia, but Cambodian authorities are not concerned about a drop off in those numbers. “About… less Chinese tourists travelling to Cambodia, I don’t think so,” Kerya told the Globe. “Because for somebody who really likes heritage, it is always better to visit the authentic one.” WILL FEUER


Chinese Hospital Ship Aids In Venezuelan Crisis

A Chinese Hospital ship has docked near Caracas, beginning a week-long aid mission to the capital. Venezuelan officials welcomed the help of their close allies in the midst of an ongoing economic and political crisis that has caused hundreds of thousands to flee and has left the public health infrastructure in shambles. The Chinese “Peace Ark’s” arrival serves as a show of good faith by China after President Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Beijing last week, during which he pledged to increase Venezuelan oil exports to China. Upon the ship’s arrival, Venezuelan Defense Minister Padrino Lopez remarked that Chinese actions demonstrated "a true diplomacy of peace”. ANNA HAYNES


Turmoil at the Top of German Intelligence

Last Tuesday, Hans-Georg Maassen was relieved from his position as Germany’s chief of domestic intelligence after doubting the authenticity of a video showing radical right-wing protesters chasing an immigrant at a rally in the town of Chemnitz. His statement incurred the ire of the German public and fellow colleagues, who perceived Maassen’s remarks to be too sympathetic towards the far right, contradicting the neutrality expected from an official tasked with keeping dangerous domestic threats like rising neo-Nazi groups in check. Outright removing Maassen from office proved difficult to accomplish, however, given his close ties to Horst Seehoffer, the leader of the Bavarian conservative party and an important component in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition. Instead, he was moved to the position of deputy interior minister with a rise in salary, a change criticized by the Social Democrats as a promotion. To quell the outrage, leaders of the coalition reached a compromise that would appoint Maassen to a “special adviser” role at the interior ministry without a pay raise, a change expected to be confirmed this week. Regardless, the debacle shed light on the fragility of Merkel’s current governing coalition in the wake of this summer’s showdown between Merkel and Seehoffer. DANIEL EVANS

Middle East

Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei blames Gulf states and the West for military parade attack

An armed attack targeting a military parade on Saturday in the city of Ahwaz killed at least 25 people and wounded another 75. The terrorist attack, one of the worst in Iranian history, was claimed by the Ahwaz National Resistance, an Iranian ethnic Arab opposition movement seeking a separate state, and the Islamic State. Neither group provided evidence. The attack occurred during an annual military parade marking the start of Iran’s 1980-88 war with Iraq. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and the US-backed Gulf Arab states of carrying out the attack, stating, “This crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States, and their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country.” Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman all condemned the attack on Sunday. Additionally, Iran summoned the envoys of several European countries on Saturday night, accusing them of harboring Iranian opposition groups in their countries. AYAH KUTMAH

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