World News at a Glance
Posted January 18, 2018 10:08 p.m. EST
Egypt’s El-Sissi Fires Spy Chief as Shuffle of Top Aides Continues
Three months ago, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt had three close advisers: his army chief, his spy boss and his chief of staff. Just one still has a job. In October, he fired the defense chief. On Thursday, he fired the spy chief, Khaled Fawzy. El-Sissi’s office did not offer a reason for Fawzy's dismissal. But there were signs the decision was made quickly, mostly notably in the choice of el-Sissi’s chief of staff, Abbas Kemal, to fill the position temporarily. Some U.S. officials had found it hard to work with Fawzy, said Andrew Miller of the Project on Middle East Democracy.
Gabon Says It Busted a Major Ivory Smuggling Network
Gabon officials say they have dismantled the African nation’s largest ivory trafficking network, which last year was responsible for trading, selling and shipping 6 tons of ivory across the continent. A two-year investigation resulted in the arrests of a Chadian, Abdoulaye Mohamoud Ibrahim, and eight others. Officials said their analysis of the suspects’ laptops and cellphones had revealed links to Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that has waged war in northern Nigeria and neighboring areas for nearly nine years. President Ali Bongo Ondimba has faced widespread allegations of election fraud from both opponents and outside observers, but he is heralded by conservationists for his work to protect animals.
Police Bust a Chinese Mafia in the Country that Invented the Term
Police officers in Italy swooped down on a Chinese mafia organization Thursday, arresting 33 people on suspicion of running a criminal enterprise that dominated the transport of Chinese products in Europe, financed with money from prostitution, gambling and drugs. The arrests captivated attention in Italy, where the term mafia originated. The network’s headquarters was in Prato, a Tuscan city that has long been home to a large Chinese community that manufactures low-priced garments. The police operation broke up “a dangerous organization that had used force to take control of trucking, and was financed by its illegal activities,” Interior Minister Marco Minniti said in a statement.
Lebanese Intelligence Turned Targets’ Android Phones Into Spy Devices, Researchers Say
Lebanon’s internal intelligence agency appears to have been caught spying on thousands of people — including military personnel — in more than 20 countries, according to researchers at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Lookout, a mobile security company. The operation, revealed Thursday, is among dozens around the world uncovered by human rights groups and technical organizations in recent years as governments and intelligence agencies have started relying more on mobile and desktop spyware than on cloak-and-dagger espionage. The researchers found what they said was evidence that Lebanon’s intelligence agency spied on their targets’ Android mobile devices and desktop computers for more than six years.
Rising Oil Prices Buoy Russia’s Economy, Despite Sanctions
In Russia, as in energy dependent regions around the globe, a rising tide (of oil) lifts all boats. That helps explain why on Thursday, as four U.S. senators asked the State Department and other government agencies to blacklist two senior officials, the Russian stock market rose. It was not the prospect of more sanctions, of course, that was buoying the Moscow markets but the global price of oil, which has been soaring to heights not seen in several years. Rising global oil prices, which hit a three-year peak last week above $70 a barrel, are brightening Russia’s once gloomy outlook.
India Tests Ballistic Missile, Posing New Threat to China
India tested a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons, paving the way for membership to a small list of countries with access to intercontinental missiles and putting most of China in its reach. The missile was launched Thursday morning from Abdul Kalam Island. It traveled around 19 minutes and 3,000 miles. In a statement, the Indian Defense Ministry said all objectives of the mission had been “successfully met.” The firing comes months after the official end of a standoff between China and India over a remote sliver of land in the Himalayas, a squabble that was one of the worst border disputes between the countries in 30 years.