1. IRAN QUDS FORCE COMMANDER SOLEIMANI KILLED U.S-IRAN TENSION.
• Iran’s most powerful Commander General Quasem Soleimani has been killed by a US airstrike in Iran at Baghdad Airport alongside local Iranian backed militias early on Friday in strike order by US President Donald Trump.
• The strike comes day after Pro-Iranian Militia protestors attacked the US Embassy in Baghdad. The death of Soleimani marks a turning point in the Middle East and represents a drastic change for American policy towards Iran.
• Embassy in Iraq attacked by protestors, the angry crowd set a part of building on fire, breached the reception area in the compound forcing US troops to fire tear gas on the protesters. The demonstrators were furious over the deaths of members of an Iranian backed militia.
• US President said Iran will be held accountable if lives were lost saying this is not a warning it is a threat. Further, he ordered about 750 American soldiers to be immediately deployed in the region bolstering the 5000 troops already stationed in Iraq.
•The strike at Baghdad also killed Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, Deputy commander of the Iran backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces or PMF.
• According to Trump, Soleimani was planning to attack American diplomats and he had approved the attacks on the U.S embassy in Baghdad adding that the strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plan.
• General Soleimani was a major figure in the Iranian regime. His force reported directly to the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and he was hailed as heroic National figure.
2. NORTH KOREA THREAT
• Signs of nuclear tension in Korean Peninsula. Leader Kim Jong Un has signaled that North Korea will lift its moratorium on nuclear and Intercontinental ballistic missile tests. This he said at a four day meeting and at the end media quotes him as saying that the test ban which he agreed to in-talks with the US President was no longer needed.
2 • Kim also reportedly said that his country planned to a new strategic weapon in near future but the scope of any testing would depend on the USA attitude.
• Trump responded by saying that he had a good relationship with Kim and believed that North Korean leader would keep his words to refrain from nuclear and long range missile tests.
• It is noteworthy that North Korea has previously fired missiles capable of reaching the entire U.S mainland and has carried out six nuclear tests that raised tensions within the Korean Peninsula and lead to tit for tat and rigged war of words between US and Pyongyang.
• However, tempers were eased with a historic meeting between Trump and Kim in June 2018 followed by nuclear diplomacy between the two sides over the past two years. But there has been little tangible progress. The North Korea conducted several smaller weapon tests last year in what could be seen as attempt to pressure the US into making concessions.
However the self declared Moratorium on nuclear tests and test of international ballistic missile that could reach US mainland has been one of the foundations of negotiations with Washington.
• Kim admitted that sanctions have hit the economy and were unlikely to be lifted soon.
3. FRESH PROTESTS IN 2020 HONG KONG
• Hong Kong began 2020 with more protests crowds marched through Downtown district on New Year’s day to call for greater political freedom.
• The city’s Victoria Park, the traditional Staging round for large protest begin to fill up from early afternoon. Marches chanted “Liberate Hong Kong” and flags reading “Revolution now” and banners calling for independence.
• Police soon began exchanging petrol bombs and tear-gas with protestors. The Hong Kong police arrested 400 protestors.
•During the protest, the branches of HSBC bank were also vandalized. According to protestors, the bank is helping authorities against activists trying to raise money to support their campaign, the bank denies its involvement.
• The Hong Kong protest now in 7th month originated in the opposition to plans to allow for fugitives to be extradited to Mainland China.
The protest escalated into increasingly violent struggle against the local administration with protesters demanding a fully elected legislature and popularly elected leader for the city.
• Nearly 6500 people have been arrested since the start of the unrest.
4. AUSTRALIA BUSHFIRE
• Australia is currently facing an unprecedented National crisis as the bushfire tear through communities across the Nation. Since September at least 21 people have been killed and thousands of homes have destroyed. The scale of the threat is immense and fires continue to burn with authorities calling for people to evacuate their homes as the country brace for another weekend of catastrophic danger.
• Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under attack for his response to the fires, also faced criticism for climate change policies.
• Military ships, aircrafts and Navy ships being deployed in Australia to help communities ravaged by wildfires, also drinking water, food and fuel to towns where supplies are depleted.
•New South Wales has been the worst affected state the premier of Australian state declared a week long state emergency.
• 916 homes have been destroyed this season. While another 363 damaged. More than hundred fires are still burning in the state.
• Another state that has been badly affected is Victoria. Thousands of people in coastal town of Mallacoota fled to the shore as winds pushed fires towards their home.
• The sky has been dark by smoke and turned Blood Red by Flames.
•About 12.35 million acres of land have burned across Australia over the past few months with at least 18 people dead and more than 1000 homes destroyed.
• The Nation’s capital air quality was deteriorated. AQI was more than 21 times hazardous rating to be reportedly the worst in the world.