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Friday News Roundup - International

Pro and Anti Brexit protesters clash outside the Houses of Parliament on December 19, 2018 in London, England.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Pro and Anti Brexit protesters clash outside the Houses of Parliament on December 19, 2018 in London, England.

President Donald Trump forecasted sweeping changes to his foreign policy on Thursday night.

Trump said about half the American troops would return home from Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

From The Wall Street Journal

More than 7,000 American troops will begin to return home from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, a U.S. official said. The move will come as the first stage of a phased drawdown and the start of a conclusion to the 17-year war that officials say could take at least many months. There now are more than 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

This was announced a day after Trump said he would pull all American troops out of Syria — more than 2,000 military members.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed this move as “correct” in comments he made this week, suggesting that American troops were unnecessary.

This week, a Senate report revealed new details on the sweeping efforts to interfere with the 2016 American elections on social media platforms. The report, obtained by The Washington Post ahead of its Monday release, said “the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office.”

In Yemen, the cease-fire between Houthi rebels and government forces appeared to hold. And residents in the besieged port city of Hodeidah are hopeful the peace could be maintained as the U.N.-ordered ceasefire continues.

From The Guardian:

Residents said sporadic gunfire punctured the truce but there has been no movement on the east and southern fronts in the battle for the city – a marked improvement after six weeks of intense fighting for Hodeidah’s vital port, Yemen’s main aid lifeline.

“I could only sleep two hours last night because I was so alert and kept watching for any signs of breaches of the ceasefire,” said resident Baseem al Janani.

“The first day has been good. It is quiet. God willing it will hold.”

Aid worker Salem Jaffer Baobaid said his colleagues had been able to deliver blankets and food supplies unhindered and at least one market had opened on Tuesday.

And the Brexit debate grinds on in the U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May scheduled a vote on her withdrawal deal for January 14, but intense opposition remains in Parliament.

The Bank of England said it was concerned about Brexit’s effect on the U.K. economy. According to their meeting minutes, the rate-setters said “The further intensification of Brexit uncertainties, coupled with the slowing global economy, has also weighed on the near-term outlook for U.K. growth,” per The Associated Press.

Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, regardless of whether there’s a withdrawl deal.

And this week, it was annouced that tunnels created by Hezbollah were discovered underneath the Israeli border. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this constituted an “act of war,” and the Israeli government called on the U.N. to intervene.

From The New York Times

Hezbollah is considered the strongest military force in Lebanon, and it gained valuable battlefield experience fighting with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who is also backed by Iran, against rebels. The group has also been acquiring more advanced weaponry.

Mr. Netanyahu struck a less bellicose note than he and some of his ministers had in the past, appearing to seek a middle path between highlighting the urgency and danger of the situation, while appealing to others to take action on the Lebanese side of the border, rather than Israel.

And…if you’ve procrastinated buying a Christmas gift…we hear there might be some penguins for sale.

We’re taking on the leading news from around the world.


Jonathan Tepperman, Editor-in-chief, Foreign Policy; author, “The Fix: How Countries Use Crises To Solve The World’s Worst Problems”;


Paul Danahar, Washington bureau chief of the BBC; author of “The New Middle East: The World After the Arab Spring”; @pdanahar

Gillian Tett, U.S. managing editor, Financial Times; author, “The Silo Effect.”

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