May 13, Surabaya, Indonesia: A family of six carried out suicide bombings of three churches in the second largest Indonesian city, killing seven civilians and injuring 40. The family divided itself into three groups to coordinate the attacks at the same time: two of the family’s teenage boys, the father with another son and the mother with their two small children. The attack is believed to be in connection to the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an Islamic State–inspired group.
May 13, Iran: After Trump’s decision last week to exit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reimpose sanctions on Iran, Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif left on tour in an effort to save the deal with the remaining signatory countries. On May 17, the EU moved to activate a statute that grants European companies and courts autonomy from United States sanctions against Iran.
May 13–18, Afghanistan: A car bomb explosion outside a government building in Jalalabad killed at least eight and injured 42 on May 14, after which four Islamic State group attackers stormed a finance office. On May 15, the Taliban attacked the city of Farah in an effort to gain control of the territory. On May 18, three explosions killed eight people and wounded 45 at a cricket stadium; however, the Taliban denied involvement to this attack.
May 14, Gaza: Sixty Palestinians were killed and around 2,700 injured during the culmination of The Great March of Return, a series of protests which began six weeks prior in preparation for the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem and Palestine’s Nakba Day. Since the start of the protests on March 30, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and 12,000 injured. The Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, strained on resources due to the blockade, struggles to treat the influx of patients. At least 18 people died waiting for treatment.
May 14–19, Jerusalem: On Monday the U.S. embassy officially opened in Jerusalem after President Trump declared the city Israel’s capital in December. Middle East Eye reported Palestinian demonstrators protesting outside the new embassy were beaten and arrested by Israeli security forces as onlookers shouted “Burn them, shoot them, kill them.” On May 18, around 100,000 Palestinians celebrated the first day of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque; however, many Muslims banned from entering the grounds of the Noble Sanctuary instead decided to pray at the nearest entry point.
May 14, Malaysia: After last week’s elections resulted in what’s been described as a shocking win for Malaysia’s opposition party, 92-year-old Mahathir bin Mohamad is the new prime minister. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak now faces charges of corruption, having allegedly used his position for gratification as a part of a larger scandal resulting in the loss of $4.5 billion. Najib and his wife are now under travel restrictions.
May 14, South Africa: Following the opening ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and Israeli forces killing Gazans, the South African government ordered their ambassador Sisa Ngombane to return from Israel immediately. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has called for an independent inquiry into the deaths at the Gaza border.
May 14–18, Turkey: The government in Ankara recalled their ambassadors from both Washington, D.C. and Tel Aviv after the events along the Gaza border, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a genocide. The next day, Israeli ambassador to Turkey Eitan Naeh was also asked to leave the country, and on May 18, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was held in Istanbul, where Erdogan urged Muslim leaders to unite in holding Israel accountable for Gaza killings.
May 16, North Korea: North Korea threatened to cancel the June 12 summit with President Donald Trump, stating the U.S. must cease insisting “the complete verifiable irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.” National Security Adviser John Bolton was referred to by the North Korean regime as “human scum,” owing to his comments requiring North Korea to submit to disarmament similar to Libya in 2004.
May 16, Belgium, Luxembourg: Israeli Ambassador to Belgium Simona Frankel was summoned to the foreign ministry after she stated in an interview that all killed at the Gaza border, including eight minors, were terrorists. Frankel is also the ambassador to Luxembourg, where she was summoned for reprimand due to the events.
May 16 Global: The holiest month in Islam began May 16 for those in North America and Europe and May 17 for those in Muslim-majority countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the time when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by fasting during the day, among other practices. Ramadan will end with the Eid al-Fitr between June 14–16.
May 17, Democratic Republic of Congo: Since May 8 when the Ebola virus was publicly declared to have re-emerged, 23 have died, this time in the DRC. The virus was mostly contained to remote, rural areas; however, the World Health Organization confirmed the virus had spread to the city of Mbandaka, which has an estimated population between 700,000 and 1.2 million.
May 17, Washington, D.C.: Gina Haspel was confirmed by the Senate as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, despite receiving criticism for her interrogation tactics while serving as the CIA chief of station to a secret prison in Thailand following the 9/11 attacks.
May 18, Texas, U.S.: Eight students and two teachers are dead and 10 others injured after a 17-year old student of Santa Fe High School opened fire in an art class around 8 a.m. The attacker, who is now in custody and charged with capital murder, has been identified as Dimitrios Pagourtzis. Based on evidence acquired from his journals, Pagourtzis originally planned to commit suicide following the attack.
May 18, Chile: The Catholic Church finds itself in another sex scandal as all 31 bishops to Chile resigned in an official document after being summoned to Rome by Pope Francis. Francis accused the bishops of destroying evidence into the allegations and pressuring investigators into minimizing the issue, declaring the “entire Chilean church hierarchy was collectively responsible.”
May 18, Havana, Cuba: A Boeing 737 crashed shortly after takeoff on a domestic flight to the eastern part of the country, killing more than 100 passengers. Out of all passengers and crew members, only three survived, though they’re reported to be in serious condition. This 737 aircraft was built in 1979.
May 19, Haifa: Amid protests against the killing of Gazans, 21 Israeli Arabs were arrested, including Jafar Farah, the CEO of an Arab citizens’ advocacy group. Farah has accused the Israeli police of breaking his leg while in custody. Humanitarian group Combatants for Peace posted on Facebook around 500 Israeli and Palestinian protesters were present for the demonstrations.
May 20, Iraq: Iraq held its first elections since declaring its victory against the Islamic State group. The political bloc led by religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr has won 54 parliamentary seats with the Fatah bloc coming second at 47 seats and the Nasr Coalition third at 42.
May 20, Greece: Yiannis Boutaris, mayor of the coastal city of Thessaloniki, was attacked by a far-right mob during a commemoration for the Pontic Genocide—an event during the first world war in which Greeks were killed by the Ottomans. Golden Dawn, a neo-fascist party in Greece’s parliament, celebrated the attacks against the mayor in a statement. Boutaris has been admitted to the hospital with injuries to his head, back and legs.
May 20, Windsor Castle, UK: Prince Harry and American actor Meghan Markle married at the historical Windsor Castle in West Berkshire. According to Harper’s Bazaar, the wedding cost $45 million, and around 100,000 people gathered in Windsor for the historic event.
When I first came to PSU, I was a Chinese major, having studied three years prior in high school alongside French and Japanese. After the first year, I took a hiatus. I don't believe in going to college straight out of high school, but it's what was expected. I returned a few years later to study Japanese at PCC and Arabic at PSU. I am now a junior majoring in International Studies: Middle East and Arabic. In the future, I would like to work as a journalist or humanitarian aid worker in the region, helping people who lack economic and political backing and media exposure.