Global Review – 4th September

Pope replaces Knights Of Malta governing body

Pope Francis has revoked the titles of the Order of Malta’s four High Offices, established a provisional government, and convened an extraordinary general chapter for January 2023. The decree is the latest step in the reform of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, ordered by the pope in 2017. Among the new mandates, the pope also approved the order’s new constitutional charter and regulations. The changes go into immediate effect. The pope said that during the reform of the Order of Malta, “many steps have been taken, but just as many impediments and difficulties encountered along the way.”

The Order was founded in Jerusalem nearly 1,000 years ago to provide medical aid for pilgrims in the Holy Land. It now has a multi-million dollar budget, 13,500 members, 95,000 volunteers and 52,000 medical staff running refugee camps, drug treatment centres, disaster relief programmes and clinics around the world. It has no real territory apart from a palace and offices in Rome and a fort in Malta, but is recognised as a sovereign entity with its own passports and licence plates. It has diplomatic relations with 110 states and permanent observer status at the United Nations, allowing it to act as a neutral party in relief efforts in war zones.

Trump brands Biden an “enemy of the state”

Donald Trump has branded Joe Biden an “enemy of the state” as he hit back at the US president’s assertion that the Republican and his supporterswere undermining American democracy. Making his first public appearance since the August 8 raid of his Florida home, he said Biden’s speech was “full of hatred and anger: it was the most divisive made by a US president, who denigrated 70 million voters”. He slammed both the FBI and the Department of Justice saying last month’s raid was “a travesty of justice” and warned it would produce “a backlash the likes of which nobody has ever seen”. At a rally in Pennsylvania for his candidates in the American elections in Midterm, Trump vowed “to put an end to the political careers of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden”, adding “I will not remain silent”.

‘At least 100 dead in Ethiopia attack

At least 100 people are feared dead in as ethnic Amhara militiamen attacked a locality in the Oromia region of western Ethiopia, according to survivors. The regional authorities accuse the rebels of the so-called “Oromo Liberation Army” of the massacre and underline that the bloody toll of the attack “remains to be confirmed”. According to witnesses, “the attackers killed about 100 residents, burned many houses and shops and ransacked food stores”.

Senegalese Bathily new head of Libya’s UN mission

Senegalese Abdoulaye Bathily has been appointed by UN Secretary General António Guterres as his “special representative for Libya and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya” (Unsmil), succeeding Ján Kubiš. The Slovakian resigned last November and the Tripoli government formulated “reservations” about Bathily’s appointment.

Russia bids farewell to Gorbachev

Muscovites lined up near the Kremlin on Saturday to pay their respects to Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who was widely admired in the West for his reforms and who lived long enough to see Russia’s leadership roll back much of that change. Gorbachev, who died on Tuesday aged 91, was set to be buried without state honours or President Vladimir Putin in attendance. He was however granted a public send-off, with authorities allowing Russians to view his coffin in the imposing Hall of Columns. Pallbearers hoisted Gorbachev’s wooden coffin, covered in a tricolour Russian flag, and placed it in the centre of the hall, where a soft recording of melancholic music from the film “Schindler’s List” played in the background. It was little surprise that Putin, a long-time KGB intelligence officer who has called the Soviet Union’s collapse a “geopolitical catastrophe”, denied Gorbachev full state honours and said his schedule did not allow him to attend the funeral. Gorbachev was buried alongside his wife Raisa, who died 23 years ago.

EU ready if Russia turns off gas supplies’ – Gentiloni

EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said Saturday that the European Union was “well prepared” in the event of a total halt in Russian gas deliveries, thanks to storage capacity and energy-saving measures. “We are well prepared to resist Russia’s extreme use of the gas weapon,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an economic forum organised by The European House. “We are not afraid of Putin’s decisions. We are asking the Russians to respect contracts, but if they don’t, we are ready to react,” he said. Russian gas giant Gazprom said Friday that the Nord Stream pipeline linking Russia to northern Germany, which was due to resume service Saturday after a three-day interruption for maintenance operations, would be “completely” stopped until a turbine is repaired.

‘Turkey can mediate over Zaporizhzhia plant standoff’ – Erdogan

Turkey can mediate in the standoff over Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Moscow’s troops, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. “President Erdogan stated that Turkey can play a facilitator role in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as they did in the grain deal,” the Turkish presidency said, referring to the grain export agreement signed in July by Kiev and Moscow with the United Nations and Turkey as guarantors. Erdogan last month warned of the danger of a nuclear disaster when he visited Lviv for talks with Ukrainian President Zelensky. “We are worried. We do not want another Chernobyl,” the Turkish leader had said.

Ukraine’s nuclear plant partly goes offline amid fighting

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said Saturday the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine was disconnected to its last external power line but was still able to run electricity through a reserve line amid sustained shelling in the area. International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the agency’s experts, who arrived at Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, were told by senior Ukrainian staff that the fourth and last operational line was down. The three others were lost earlier during the conflict. But the IAEA experts learned that the reserve line linking the facility to a nearby thermal power plant was delivering the electricity the plant generates to the external grid, the statement said. The same reserve line could also provide backup power to the plant if needed, it added. “We already have a better understanding of the functionality of the reserve power line in connecting the facility to the grid,” Grossi said. “This is crucial information in assessing the overall situation there.”

Prague protest against Czech government, EU, NATO

An estimated 70,000 people protested in Prague against the Czech government on Saturday, calling on the ruling coalition to do more to control soaring energy prices and voicing opposition to the European Union and NATO. Organisers of the demonstration from a number of far-right and fringe political groups including the Communist Party, said the central European nation should be neutral militarily and ensure direct contracts with gas suppliers, including Russia. Police estimates put the number of protesters at around 70,000 by mid-afternoon. The protest was held a day after the government survived a no-confidence vote amid claims of inaction against inflation and energy prices.

Nasa aborts Moon rocket second launch attempt

The launch of Nasa’s new Artemis I Moon rocket is facing a potential lengthy delay after a second postponement. Controllers tried and failed again on Saturday to get the Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle to lift off. They were thwarted by a fuel leak. Engineers now want to inspect the rocket, and any repairs may need to happen in the workshop rather than on the launch pad. The whole process is certain to lead to a setback of several weeks, with a third launch attempt not expected before mid-October at the earliest.

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