Feb. 26–March 2 Hanoi, Vietnam: U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un arrived in the capital of Vietnam on Feb. 26 ahead of the 2019 North Korea–U.S. Hanoi Summit, which began on Feb. 27. According to Al Jazeera, the summit ended on Feb. 28 with no agreement reached due to an inability to find a mutual compromise on sanctions relief. Kim allegedly remarked he would discontinue testing rockets and other nuclear weapons, and Trump stated papers were ready to be signed but he preferred to continue negotiations. In order to ease tensions in the aftermath of the failed summit, defense secretaries of South Korea and the U.S. announced on March 2 the decision to end the large-scale joint military exercises known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, which North Korea sees largely as a provocation of military offense.
Feb. 28 Belarus: While laying the foundation for the construction of a new apartment complex, workers made the chance discovery of the remains of over 700 people at a former Jewish ghetto in the city of Brest near the Polish-Belarusian border. According to Deutsche Welle, the ghetto was created in 1941 under Nazi Germany to house over 18,000 people. Unearthing the mass grave was taken over by military personnel, with unit leader Dmitry Kaminsky reporting some skulls had bullet holes, and that the remains would be transferred to local authorities for reburial. It’s unclear whether construction will continue at the site once all the remains have been found, and local historian Irina Lavroskaya is pushing for the creation of a memorial.
Feb. 28 Geneva: The UN Human Rights Council published its report “The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Gaza Protests,” which concluded that Israel lacked justification for its use of force during the protests along the Gaza-Israel border. The commission had “reasonable grounds to believe that during the Great March of Return, Israeli soldiers committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law” and that “some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.” The investigation also concluded unarmed protesters numbering over 6,000 were shot by military snipers and that 183 were killed by live ammunition, 35 of which were children. According to Haaretz, the UN has recommended Israel impose individual sanctions on those identified as responsible by the commission. However, several Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have denounced the report, claiming bias and “an obsessive hatred for Israel.”
Feb. 28–March 1 D.C.; Saudi Arabia: The U.S. Department of State issued a statement “offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the identification or location in any country of al-Qaida key leader Hamza bin Laden” on Feb. 28 through their Rewards for Justice Program. Hamza bin Laden, son of former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, has been wanted since early 2017 when the State Department designated him a “global terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224.” However, it’s unclear why the reward is being issued now. According to Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia announced the following day on March 1 of the decision to strip Hamza bin Laden of his citizenship with the kingdom. It’s unknown if he holds other citizenship.
March 2 Milan, Italy: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets denouncing the policies of the national government including the current Prime Minister Matteo Salvini of the right-wing party, the Northern League. According to Deutsche Welle, protesters marched through the streets behind a banner with the slogan “Prima le Persone,” meaning “people first,” an apparent rebuttal to Matteo’s anti-immigrant slogan “Prima gli Italiani, meaning “Italians First.” According to Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, the protest was a “powerful political testimonial that Italy is not just the country that is currently being described.” BBC reported some 200,000 people came out to protest, according to organizers.
Ongoing–Algeria: Demonstrations continue for the second week throughout Algeria in response to expectations the current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika—who first came into office in April 1999—would run for a fifth term in the April elections. Hundreds of protesters turned out on Feb. 24 for the third consecutive day of demonstrations, after which police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, Al Jazeera reported. University students in Algiers joined the Feb. 26 protests rejecting Bouteflika’s candidacy, chanting “Peaceful, peaceful, not a fifth term,” and tens of thousands of demonstrators marched throughout the capital on March 1. Despite the mass demonstrations rejecting his candidacy, Bouteflika officially announced his bid for re-election on March 3.
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.