World News at a Glance
Posted May 3, 2018 10:39 p.m. EDT
Army Special Forces Secretly Help Saudis Combat Threat From Yemen Rebels
For years, the U.S. military has sought to distance itself from a brutal civil war in Yemen, where Saudi-led forces are battling rebels who pose no direct threat to the United States. But late last year, a team of about a dozen Green Berets arrived on Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, in a continuing escalation of America’s secret wars. With virtually no public discussion or debate, the Army commandos are helping locate and destroy caches of ballistic missiles and launch sites that Houthi rebels in Yemen are using to attack Riyadh and other Saudi cities.
Trump Orders Pentagon to Consider Reducing U.S. Forces in South Korea
President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for drawing down U.S. troops in South Korea, just weeks before he holds a landmark meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, according to several people briefed on the deliberations. Reduced troop levels are not intended to be a bargaining chip in Trump’s talks with Kim about his weapons program, these officials said. But they acknowledged that a peace treaty between the two Koreas could diminish the need for the 23,500 soldiers stationed on the peninsula.
China Moves to Steady Ties With North Korea Before Trump-Kim Meeting
As North Korea holds summit meetings with its archenemies — first South Korea, and soon the United States — China is hustling not to lose influence. Its foreign minister, Wang Yi, returned Thursday to Beijing after two days in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, where he met with the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, shoring up China’s position as the North’s best friend. China holds substantial economic leverage, but in the heightened strategic competition between it and the United States, it worries that Kim is using that rivalry to reduce dependence on China, his country’s longtime benefactor.
Tunisia’s Belt-Tightening Policies Put Democracy at Risk
Tunisia, often hailed as the sole success story of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, is in danger of being crippled by budget-cutting economic policies that critics say are imperiling the country’s democratic experiment. Scholars and economists have warned for years that Tunisia’s economic problems could thwart its political progress. But now a raft of critics are blaming financial measures promoted by international lenders and advisers for making them worse and setting off an economic and political crisis. Protests against higher taxes and rising prices broke out across the country in January after new economic policies advocated by the IMF and Tunisia’s Western sponsors took effect.
More Iranians With British Links Held in Iran
Iran’s intelligence operatives have arrested two, and possibly three, Iranians with British connections in the past two months, human rights activists and others said Thursday. At least two of the three Iranians in question are also British citizens, and the arrests may be part of an attempt by Iranian authorities to gain leverage in an old dispute with Britain over more than $400 million in undelivered weaponry. Iran’s motivations in such arrests are not always clear, but analysts generally tie them to policy disputes with the countries involved. Iran is holding about 30 dual citizens.
In Rare Lebanon Vote, Change Is Sought but Not Expected
Voters across Lebanon will vote in parliamentary elections Sunday for the first time in nine years, and many of them are fed up. The country’s crises are many: 1 million Syrian refugees are straining public services; a shaky economy is increasingly teetering; garbage is piling up; fear is spreading of a new war between Hezbollah and Israel; and the political class has failed to find solutions. But despite the country’s pride in being a rare Arab democracy, few expect the long-awaited elections to do much to solve its pressing problems.
Large Dose of Nerve Agent Used in Salisbury, Says Weapons Watchdog
About 50 to 100 grams of liquid nerve agent was used in the March 4 attack on the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, according to the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. That quantity — a range from slightly less than a quarter-cup to a half-cup of liquid — is significantly larger than the amount that would be created in a laboratory for research purposes, meaning that it was almost certainly created for use as a weapon, the director-general, Ahmet Uzumcu, said in an interview.