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The Week That Was…

When is a coup not a coup? 

Apparently in Zimbabwe it’s not a coup when Major General Sibusio Moyo, in full military fatigues, accompanied by soldiers, takes over the TV station and reading a statement saying ‘I wish to make abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,”.

No! It was in fact, depending on who you listened to, ‘a bloodless transition’, a ‘pacification of a degenerating political situation’, and my favourite, ‘a re-alignment’. My favourite because – that’s probably about right.

After 37 years in charge, 93 year old President Robert Mugabe was put under house arrest by the army. This followed his sacking of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa signaling that he was trying to maneuver his wife Grace, to take over both the ruling Zanu-PF party and the presidency. But the army is, to an extent, the armed wing of Zanu-PF, so this is an internal party dispute.  That doesn’t mean there may not be a degree of change, and possibly even a unity government and limited reforms.

Zimbabwe certainly needs them. Things are more stable than a decade ago, when inflation reached 231 million per cent but the former bread basket of southern Africa is a basket case.

After a few days Mr Mugabe appeared in public – attending a graduation ceremony. Conspicuous by her absence was his wife. The weekend saw a demonstration organized by military veterans calling on Mugabe to retire, or be retired.

So far, this isn’t a classic coup – ordinary life goes on mostly as normal. Academic definitions of a coup vary, but broadly ‘There must be the use, or threat, of force by people inside the government with the aim of seizing control over the national political authority.”

This week saw a devastating earthquake along the Iran/Iraq border which killed more than 500 people. The tremors were felt as far away as Turkey and the UAE and there were dozens of aftershocks. The majority of the

Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

victims were Iranians in Kermanshah province. In some areas, few buildings were left standing. The region is on a fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates.  The tragedy also revealed the fault line in Iranian politics. Hardline media outlets accused the government of the relatively moderate President Rouhani of reacting too slowly to the aftermath – while highlighting the actions of Rouhani’s rivals in the Revolutionary Guard.

Torrential rain caused flash floods in Greece killing at least 15 people and causing widespread destruction west of Athens. Many of those who died were caught inside their homes. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared a period of national mourning.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri was invited to travel from Saudi Arabia to France to see President Macron and duly showed up on Saturday morning. On Nov 4th Mr Harari had resigned his position whilst in Saudi Arabia. He said then he feared assassination and criticized Iran’s influence in his country. Now, the French are hoping to soothe the crisis, but speculation remains that if, as announced Mr Hariri returns to Lebanon this coming week – he will confirm his resignation.

Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria. It’s the 10th time Moscow has used its veto power in support of Syria. The resolution sought to extend the Joint Investigative Mechanism for another year. It’s the only official mission investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Russia has criticized the inquiry for blaming the Syrian government for a nerve agent attack in April. Syria denies any use of chemical weapons.

Speaking of Russia – the British Prime Minister broke cover and openly spoke about Russian involvement in planting fake stories, and sowing discord in the West. Mrs. May’s case was that the Russians are trying to undermine Western countries by planting negative, and sometimes false stories in order to persuade the electorate that the West was corrupt and failing. She also said Moscow was hacking institutions included the Danish Ministry of Defence and the German Bundestag among many others.

Her remarks are in contrast to those of President Trump who this week said that his friend President Putin had told him Moscow was not meddling and that he believed him…

Finally – just what the world needs – a robot which can do back flips!  Atlas the robot is from Boston Dynamics and caused a stir this week when filmed doing a variety of stunts proving how far the industry has advanced. Of course we may not need a back-flipping robot, but we might need one which can traverse difficult terrain, for a variety of reasons, for example, exploration, or rescue, in areas vehicles cannot reach. As Atlas can’t quite tell us yet –there are times when its four wheels Bad – two legs Good.


2 Comments on "The Week That Was…"

  1. Update from the BBC 13:40 CET 19th November

    Robert Mugabe has been sacked from his post as President and ex-vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been installed in his place. Grace Mugabe has been thrown out of Zanu-PF.

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