According to American, Arab, and European officials, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, an American security company, held a secret meeting with a Russian official in Seychelles, to establish a Trump-Putin backchannel. Prince was an avid Trump supporter, and the FBI is currently investigating his ties to Trump and Russia as a part of the probe on Russian involvement in the previous election.
Protests calling for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma have broken out across South Africa. The recent public outcry came after Zuma removed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, a respected figure in the struggling South African economy.
Protests broke out across Serbia in resistance to the newly-elected President Aleksandar Vučić. His critics have accused him of rigging the election, corrupt practices, and leading the country towards a dictatorial path. Protesters also accused the media of failing to facilitate the election without bias.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced that the country was close to a ‘breaking point’ due to the amount of refugees present, and called for international supporting in resettling them. Lebanon has a population of five million and is currently hosting more than one million refugees.
In response to recent reports of chemical attacks led by the Assad regime in Syria, the United States military attacked a Syrian air base with 50 missiles. Supported by most NATO allies, the attack was later condemned by Russian officials.
US President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time in his presidency. Topics discussed include further trade cooperation and efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.
Anonymous sources report that in his application for top security clearance, White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner failed to mention dozens of contacts with foreign officials, including those from Russia. His lawyer claimed that the omissions were merely an error.
US Congressman Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, announced that he would step away from the House’s investigation on Russian interference in the recent election. Nunes was a known Trump ally and critics argued that he was part of a partisan effort to protect Trump during the investigation.
French Guiana had its second straight week of widespread protests where demonstrators blockaded the main seaport of Kourou. The territory, which remains a sovereign part of France, has been protesting the lack of investment from the French government, resulting in poor living standards. Kourou is known as the home of the main spaceport of the European Space Agency to launch satellites. Protesters argued that Europe has focused all its funds in aerospace, but not the well-being of the Guianan people.