The regime of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in Syria again, this time attacking the town of Douma in the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta. Dozens of people were reported to have been killed. Donald Trump described the attack as “barbaric” and vowed that America would respond with force. But Russia said it found no evidence that chemical weapons had been deployed, dismissing the incident as “fake news”. It warned it would shoot down any missiles aimed at Syrian forces. See article.
Israel was on high alert after Iran threatened retribution for an Israeli air strike on a Syrian air base in which seven Iranian military advisers were killed. Throughout the Syrian conflict Israel has struck at targets thought to be aiding Hizbullah, the Lebanese-based militia backed by Iran. See article.
The ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited the White House, where he was commended by Mr Trump for working to tackle terrorism financing. That was a stark contrast to last year, when the American president sided with Saudi Arabia and its neighbours after they cut ties with Qatar for allegedly supporting terrorism. Mr Trump noted the large American base in Qatar, and that it buys “a lot of military airplanes, missiles”.
A military plane crashed near Algiers, the Algerian capital, killing all 257 people on board. Around two dozen members of the Polisario Front, a rebel group in Western Sahara that is backed by Algeria, were on the aircraft. It was the world’s worst air disaster in four years.
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, ended months of speculation by confirming that he will run for a second term next year. The 75-year-old has been plagued by bad health in office.
Donald Trump cancelled his first official trip to Latin America because of the Syrian crisis. His absence from the Summit of the Americas in Peru may be a relief for regional leaders. A recent poll showed that only 16% of Latin Americans approved of Mr Trump. Nicolás Maduro, the socialist president of Venezuela, has been banned from the summit.
Mexico’s electoral authorities ordered that a fifth name be added to the ballot for July’s presidential election. Jaime Rodríguez will be allowed to run as an independent candidate, despite an earlier ruling that more than half of the signatures he collected were invalid.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former president of Brazil, turned himself in to police after a three-day showdown and began serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. The Worker’s Party denounced his conviction as “baseless” and said that for now he will remain its candidate for October’s presidential election. See article.
Colombian police arrested a former senior leader of the FARC on drug-trafficking charges. President Juan Manuel Santos said that the man, known as Jesús Santrich, conspired to smuggle cocaine into the United States after signing Colombia’s 2016 peace accord, and thus cannot be shielded by its amnesty. The FARC, which is now a political party, condemned the arrest.
Viktor Orban won his third successive term as prime minister of Hungary, his Fidesz party taking two-thirds of the seats in parliament. Critics denounced Mr Orban’s campaign, which focused on decrying migration, and predicted a new crackdown on civil society. See article.
In Azerbaijan, the incumbent president, Ilham Aliyev, was elected to a fourth term. The election commission said he got 86% of the vote on a 75% turnout; opposition parties boycotted the election, accusing him of suppressing dissent. See article.
How to make markets happy
China’s president, Xi Jinping, attempted to reduce trade tensions with America by reaffirming his country’s commitment to open its markets to foreigners. In a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia he offered tariff reductions on car imports. The governor of China’s central bank, Yi Gang, said caps on foreign ownership of financial firms would be raised or removed within months.
A court in South Korea jailed Park Geun-hye, a former president, for 24 years for corruption. Ms Park was impeached last year after mass demonstrations calling for her removal.
The Liberal-National coalition led by Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, trailed its main rival, Labor, for a 30th consecutive biweekly poll. A similar 30-poll slump was one of the reasons Mr Turnbull cited for leading a parliamentary coup against his predecessor, Tony Abbott.
India’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling from a lower court that had annulled the marriage of a Hindu woman who had converted to Islam and wed a Muslim man. The decision was a victory for individual rights in the face of a concerted campaign by Hindu nationalists against conversions, which they consider a Muslim ploy to eliminate India’s Hindu majority.
America said it had killed Qari Hekmatullah, the leader of Islamic State in Afghanistan, in an air strike. Mr Hekmatullah had been expelled from the Taliban for excessive savagery.
The Cohen bother
The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Among the items reportedly seized were papers relating to a payment made to a porn star to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Mr Trump. Mr Trump described the FBI’s legal swoop as a “disgrace”. The raid is not connected directly to Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian contacts with Trump officials, but the White House said the president now thinks he has the power to fire Mr Mueller. See article.
The most senior Republican in the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, decided not to run for re-election in November. Since becoming Speaker in 2015, Mr Ryan has had to contend with the rise of Mr Trump and a congressional party frustrated by the lack of progress in its agenda. See article.
Tammy Duckworth became the first senator to give birth while in office (a girl, Maile). And Cindy Hyde-Smith took up her Senate seat this week, the first woman to represent Mississippi in either chamber of Congress. There are currently 23 female senators (out of 100), the largest proportion to date, accounting for almost half the 52 women who have served as senators in total.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”