05/20/2024, 10.17
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Iran: President Raisi and Foreign Minister killed in helicopter crash

Today's news: UN 'deeply alarmed' by renewed violence in Rakhine State in Myanmar; Officials from Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan met after mob violence in Bishkek; Two Chinese warships docked in Cambodia for joint military exercises; Over 130 people died over the weekend in Afghanistan from flooding in the north and centre. 

President Ebrahim Raisi - of the ultra-conservative wing and long considered a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei - died yesterday in a helicopter crash. The aircraft, on which there were other people including Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian who also died, crashed in mountainous terrain near the border with Azerbaijan. Rescuers found charred parts of the vehicle. Among the causes are bad weather and the lack of replacement vehicles linked to Western sanctions. Expressions of condolences and offers of help from several countries including Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, as well as from the European Union, which activated its rapid response mapping service to help with search operations.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says he is "deeply alarmed" by the resumption of violence in the western state of Rakhine, in Myanmar, with a strong risk of further "atrocities" in clashes between the Arakan army and the military. Experts are trying to “prove information indicating serious violations.” Hundreds of people killed or injured, more than 300 thousand displaced.

Officials from Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan met after mob violence in Bishkek against foreign students left at least 29 people injured, including several foreigners, triggering diplomatic tensions Islamabad and Delhi. Among the causes was a previous dispute of uncertain nature between migrants. The visit of the Pakistani delegation was cancelled.

Two Chinese warships docked yesterday in Cambodia - a long-time ally of Beijing from which it has received billions of dollars in investments - as part of the largest joint military exercises with the South-East Asian country. The land and maritime operations will last at least 15 days and will involve 760 Chinese soldiers, around 1,300 Cambodians and 11 Cambodian ships.

Afghan authorities yesterday announced the deaths of at least 84 people due to heavy rains and floods in Faryab province, in the north. The previous day another 50 had died in the central province of Ghor. According to the UN, the country is among the most vulnerable to climate change. Last week flash floods caused 315 deaths and more than 1,600 injuries.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has postponed a long-planned four-day trip to Japan due to King Salman's health condition. The visit was supposed to start today and was the strongman's first to Riyadh since 2019. The official Saudi media at this time reports that the monarch is suffering from lung inflammation and is undergoing medical treatment.

As many observers have pointed out, the main purpose of Vladimir Putin's visit to China was not realized, namely Xi Jinping's consent to the rapid construction of the new "Siberia Force-2" gas pipeline. It would allow the Russians to send sufficient quantities of fuel to China to compensate for the loss of the European market, while the Chinese are "in no hurry".

Armenian Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, leader of the "Tavowš in the name of the Fatherland" movement, met with the leaders of the opposition party "Armenian National Congress" Levon Zurabyan and Aram Manukyan. The objective was to agree on protest actions against Nikol Pašinyan's government, and obtain his resignation due to border negotiations with Azerbaijan.

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