September 2022 global news roundup: Hostilities in former Soviet states; Right-wing political victories, referendums, and political developments; The UK’s sombre September; Protests and human rights abuses

Flag of Ukraine (Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash)

This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last month (September 2022).

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In successful counter-offensives, with its largest battle victory and territorial gains since fending off advances on the country’s capital in February and March, Ukrainian armed forces retook thousands of square kilometres of territory. In response, Russia announced a partial military mobilisation – its first since the Second World War in 1941 – with up to 300,000 soldiers potentially added to the military. In addition, four Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine conducted referendums, though the results have been largely dismissed as illegitimate.

Fighting between two former Soviet countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan, erupted along their shared border, in the worst escalation of hostilities of the decades-long conflict since the 2020 war. About 100 combatants were killed in fighting over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. In the region too, heavy fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan along their border led to the deaths of dozens.

Overall, with multiple conflicts and threats to food insecurity around the world, the United Nations also warned of widespread famine, with 350 million people around the world at risk of starvation.

Right-wing political victories, referendums, and political developments

Italians elected its most far-right government since the end of the Second World War, likely led by the country’s first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, whose party’s right-wing coalition won about 45 per of the vote. The Swedish right-wing bloc, led by the Sweden Democrats, won a slim majority, and the sitting prime minister said she would resign. In both countries, immigration appeared to be the most salient issue for voters.

In Colombia, voters rejected the country’s new constitution in a mandatory referendum. And in Cuba, in a landmark referendum, voters voted to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption.

Politically too, in Kenya, the supreme court unanimously dismissed several petitions calling for results of the August presidential election to be annulled, thereby upholding the victory of current deputy president William Ruto. In Malaysia, Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak – currently imprisoned for 12 years for his role in the multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal – was sentenced to 10 years in prison and heavily fined after she was convicted of corruption. And in the Solomon Islands, the prime minister pushed a constitutional amendment which would delay next year’s national elections until 2024.

The UK’s sombre September

After winning leadership of the Conservative Party by a vote of 57 to 43 per cent over the former chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, diplomat Liz Truss became the United Kingdom’s (UK) next prime minister. Days later, Queen Elizabeth II died at the age of 96. Her son Charles will rule officially as King Charles III. And in end-September, following market turmoil – including the British pound plunging to a record low against the US dollar – the Bank of England pledged to calm markets by buying long-term government bonds.

In the United States, in a bid to cool inflation, the Federal Reserve approved its third consecutive 0.75 percentage point interest-rate increase.

Protests and human rights abuses

Over strong Beijing objection, the United Nations released a long-awaited report accusing China of human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region. In Iran, initial protests centred on the country’s strict Islamic dress code, focused on the hijab, has broadened into demonstrations against the regime’s abusive treatment of its own people. Dozens of protests have been killed. Thousands in Indonesia protested against the government’s price hike on subsidised fuel, and similarly thousands in Prague protested over an energy crisis, against rising energy bills and cost of living.

September was an especially eventful month, marked unfortunately by a series of man-made and natural disasters across different countries:

  • There were explosions and bombs in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, and Colombia. Stabbings or shootings were reported in Canada, Russia, Thailand, and the US.
  • Disaster struck pilgrims, migrants, and the persecuted in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Syria, and the US. Israel struck a Syrian airport and raided the West Bank.
  • China, Papua New Guinea, and Taiwan were struck by earthquakes. India experienced lightning strikes and heavy rains and Italy too had intense rainstorms. Heavy rains too triggered landslides in Uganda, and Nepal was also the victim of landslides. Similarly, there was a typhoon in Japan, mounting deaths from rising floods in Pakistan, and Puerto Rico was left without power after a hurricane.

There were other unfortunate deadly incidents: China (bus crash, restaurant fire), India (wall collapse), Iraq (continued violent clashes, car crash), Jordan (building collapse), Kenya (cattle raiders), New Zealand (boat collision), Pakistan (two chopper crashes), South Africa (mine dam wall collapse), Spain (deadly bull-running festivals) and Vietnam (karaoke bar fire).

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