World News at a Glance
Posted May 15, 2018 10:14 p.m. EDT
Excess, Hubris and the Fall of Najib Razak, Malaysia’s ‘Man of Steal’
A few months ago, the political machine led by Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia, appeared so indestructible that a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal seemed unlikely to derail it. For nearly a decade, Najib, 64, had unfettered control of his nation’s courts and coffers. But his authority evaporated in the early hours after Malaysia’s national elections on May 9 delivered a commanding majority to the opposition, led by the political titan who had once lifted Najib to power: 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad. Now, Najib is suddenly vulnerable to criminal charges at home.
Violence Ebbs but Tensions Do Not in Gaza
Protest turned to mourning across Gaza on Tuesday as the territory came to a reckoning with the violence at the border fence with Israel on Monday, when Israeli soldiers killed 60 protesters and wounded many hundreds more. Doctors struggled to treat the wounded in hospitals overflowing with young men suffering from gunshots. Funeral processions surged through the otherwise deserted streets. Tensions lingered that the crisis could escalate into military clashes between Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, and the Israeli military. For now, though, Hamas appears keen to capitalize on a wave of international condemnation of Israel’s tactics.
Abrupt Demand by North Korea Threatens Talks
North Korea threw President Donald Trump’s planned summit with its leader, Kim Jong Un, into doubt Tuesday, threatening to call off the landmark encounter to protest a joint military exercise of the United States and South Korea. The warning, delivered early Wednesday in North Korea via its official government news agency, caught Trump administration officials off guard and set off an internal debate over whether Kim was merely posturing in advance of the meeting in Singapore next month or was erecting a serious hurdle, injecting sudden tension and uncertainty into what had been months of warming relations.
Soros Foundations Leaving Hungary Under Government Pressure
Under intense political pressure and the threat of legal sanctions, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations said Tuesday that it had become impossible to work in Hungary, whose prime minister has blamed Soros for the country’s problems, and that the foundations would move their operations to Berlin. The foundations, which promote democracy, free expression and civil rights, have come under growing political and legal pressure from Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has stifled dissent and declared last week that “the era of liberal democracy is over.”
Iraqi Election Front-Runner Muqtada al-Sadr Courts Partners to Govern
The front-runner in Iraqi elections, the populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, wasted little time trying to prove to potential allies that he is serious about shaking up the government and cleaning up corruption as he worked to cobble together a governing coalition. His spokesman, Saleh al-Obeidi, said in an interview in Baghdad on Tuesday that al-Sadr’s movement is seeking allies who agree to its three-plank manifesto — ending the practice of awarding ministries on sectarian quotas, fighting corruption and allowing independent technocrats to manage key government agencies.
Alexei Navalny, Kremlin Critic, Gets 30 Days in Jail for Protest
Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail for organizing a rally not sanctioned by the government two days before President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth term. Navalny organized protests across Russia on May 5 under the slogan: “He is not a czar to us.” Many of the demonstrations were not approved by local governments and thousands of people took part. Hundreds were arrested, including Navalny, in Moscow. The protests posed little threat to Putin. But the Kremlin has been increasingly unwilling to tolerate even minor displays of political discontent.
For Meghan Markle’s American Family, a Relentless U.K. Glare
The British tabloids have for some months been treating the family of Meghan Markle, the American actress who is to marry Prince Harry on Saturday, like the stars of some sort of reality show: The Real Dysfunctional Families of America. On Monday, a relentless campaign of unflattering attention on Markle’s father, Thomas, a 73-year-old former Hollywood lighting director living in Mexico, turned into something sad and ugly, leading to reports he was too embarrassed to attend his daughter’s wedding. Markle’s family — including divorced parents, estranged siblings and self-promoting loose cannons — easily lends itself to shallow stereotypes about class and race in the United States.