Mon. Jun 17th, 2024


Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at a proposed cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 10-year prison sentence, and joint U.S.-China counter-narcotrafficking efforts.

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at a proposed cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 10-year prison sentence, and joint U.S.-China counter-narcotrafficking efforts.

On the Negotiating Table

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh announced on Tuesday that the militant group had received a proposal for a six-week cease-fire in the war with Israel. Top Israeli, Egyptian, Qatari, and U.S. officials, including senior intelligence chiefs, formed the deal’s outline during talks in Paris this weekend. Although Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said “good progress” was made during the negotiations, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “significant gaps” remain, though it did not specify what those gaps were.

Hospital Raid and Gaza Proposal by Hamas Under the proposed deal, Israel and Hamas would abide by a six-week suspension of fighting to allow for the release of hostages and Palestinian prisoners in a multiphase swap. During the first 30-day phase, Hamas would release the remaining women, older adults, children, and wounded captives it is still holding hostage in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. It is unclear how many Israeli hostages are still alive and how many Palestinian prisoners would be released. Hamas continues to demand a permanent cease-fire from Israel and the complete withdrawal of all Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip. Its leaders have also called on Israel to lift its nearly 17-year blockade on fuel and humanitarian goods entering the region, as well as for the reconstruction of Gaza and the release of more Palestinian prisoners. Netanyahu, however, reiterated on Tuesday that Israel would not withdraw its military or free the thousands of Palestinians behind bars. “We will not compromise on anything less than total victory,” he said. The proposal must still be presented to Hamas’s military leaders, which could take some time, as Hamas’s top military officials are believed to be hiding in underground tunnels across Gaza. While international talks focus on Gaza, the West Bank continues to face deadly raids. Israeli soldiers disguised as civilians and medical workers killed three alleged Palestinian militants at Ibn Sina Hospital in the city of Jenin on Tuesday. Israeli forces accused the men of using the medical center as a hideout and said one of them was planning an attack

What We’re Following

Cypher conviction. A Pakistani court sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan to 10 years in prison on Tuesday for releasing state secrets. Known as the “cypher case,” Khan was accused of leaking an encrypted diplomatic cable in March 2022 in an effort to prove that his parliament’s no-confidence vote against him was part of a conspiracy to remove him from office. All parties accused of fomenting Khan’s ouster, including the nation’s military and the United States, denied involvement. Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also sentenced to 10 years in prison on Tuesday for the same charges.

This is Khan’s harshest sentencing yet and comes just days before Pakistan holds general elections. His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party called the trial a “sham” and said it planned to appeal the decision. However, Khan is still barred from running in the Feb. 8 election regardless because in August 2023, he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to three years in jail.

Targeting fentanyl. U.S. and Chinese officials convened in Beijing on Tuesday for their first joint working group on fentanyl trafficking and manufacturing. The potent opioid’s key ingredients are made in China, among other places, and addiction to it has devastated hundreds of thousands of people’s lives in the United States and elsewhere. More than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2022, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80,000 of which involved opioids.

This week’s two-day talks are one of the first indications of bilateral cooperation between Beijing and Washington since Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to prioritize countering narcotrafficking during a November 2023 summit in San Francisco. The United States has accused China of being “the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States” and, through sanctions, has urged Chinese authorities to crack down on the production of the drug’s chemical precursors. Beijing denies any culpability in the United States’ drug crisis.

Broken promises. The U.S. State Department announced on Tuesday that it will not renew some of its sanctions relief on Venezuela’s oil and gas sector unless the country adheres to previously agreed upon measures of “political progress.” The warning was issued after Venezuela’s highest court upheld a decision last Friday barring opposition leader María Corina Machado from running for office for 15 years. The U.S. exemptions are set to expire on April 18.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s actions are “inconsistent” with the reform package that Maduro and the U.S.-backed opposition Unity Platform signed in Barbados last October, Washington said. The United States had agreed to loosen its sanctions on Venezuela if Maduro adhered to the Barbados summit’s groundwork for a free and fair election. But the State Department said continued political arrests and legal action against opposition candidates violate that agreement. Venezuela is set to hold presidential elections this year.

Odds and Ends

You won’t find Prince Charming in one of the 130 poisonous frogs discovered in a Brazilian woman’s luggage on Monday. Colombian police confiscated the dehydrated and stressed amphibians at a Bogotá airport and charged the traveler with wildlife trafficking. The suspect, however, claims the frogs were a gift from a southern Colombian community. According to Bogotá Environment Secretary Adriana Soto, possession of just one of these frogs could result in a $14,300 fine.

By admin

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