Backed by air strikes, Turkish troops attacked the Syrian region of Afrin, which is controlled by a Kurdish militia allied with America. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, said Turkey will extend its offensive to the town of Manbij, which could bring it into direct conflict with American troops in the area. See article.
Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s president, said he would run for re-election. He won’t face much competition. Under pressure from the government, the last two major challengers called off their campaigns.
Olusegun Obasanjo, a former president of Nigeria, called on the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, not to run for a second term next year. It is the strongest signal yet that Mr Buhari may fail to garner enough support to win his party’s nomination.
A former warlord in the Central African Republic was jailed after a conviction for his involvement in multiple murders. It is the first such conviction since a coup in 2012.
Shut and open
America’s government was briefly shut down after Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on a spending bill. They eventually reached a compromise that promises a vote on the fate of the “DREAMers”, migrants who came to America illegally as children. Many Democrats opposed the compromise, which funds the government only until February 8th, fearing they had given up a bargaining chip. See article.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court found that the boundaries of the state’s congressional districts had been configured to favour Republicans and ordered that they be redrawn soon for this year’s mid-term elections. It is the second time this year that a state has been found explicitly to have gerrymandered its congressional map along partisan lines (the other state being North Carolina). See article.
Patrick Meehan, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, was removed from the House Ethics Committee, which has been investigating claims of sexual harassment, following an allegation that he had used public money to settle claims of misconduct brought by a former aide.
She’s not quite there yet
Delegates from Germany’s Social Democratic Party narrowly endorsed an outline coalition agreement with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. A month of detailed negotiations will now start, but a formal agreement will still have to be endorsed by a postal ballot of all party members. That remains a big obstacle.
The Speaker of Catalonia’s parliament proposed that Carles Puigdemont be reappointed as leader of the region’s government, threatening a fresh crisis with Spain, as he is in exile and faces arrest for sedition if he returns.
In Paris the River Seine burst its banks following exceptionally heavy rains. There are fears that water levels in the French capital could exceed those of 2016, when the city endured serious flooding.
Sinn Fein’s new president will be Mary Lou McDonald, who will replace Gerry Adams when he steps down at a party meeting in February. Ms McDonald is an MP in Ireland’s parliament (the nationalist party’s leader in Northern Ireland is Michelle O’Neill).
Down, but not out?
A federal appeals court in Brazil upheld the conviction by a lower court of the former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on charges of corruption and money-laundering. Lula is the early front-runner in Brazil’s presidential election, to be held in October, but the appeals court’s decision may bar him from running. He says he is innocent and that the charges are politically motivated. See article.
Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, said he will ask the legislative assembly to repeal the new criminal code after weeks of protests by doctors and other groups against it. The law punishes medical workers guilty of malpractice with jail sentences of up to nine years.
Venezuela’s constituent assembly, a body created to bypass the opposition-controlled legislature, announced that presidential elections will be held by the end of April. Although the government is responsible for hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods, the president, Nicolás Maduro, is expected to win re-election. The government has banned the most popular opposition leaders from running for office.
No place like home
Bangladesh delayed the start of the planned repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, on the ground that it had not compiled a list of those ready to return. It is not clear how many of the 650,000 Rohingyas who fled an army-backed pogrom want to go home, or whether they would be safe if they did so. See article.
In two separate incidents, Islamic militants stormed an expensive hotel in Kabul and the offices of Save the Children, a charity, in the city of Jalalabad, killing 27 people in total. Save the Children suspended its operations in Afghanistan in response.
America imposed sanctions on various Chinese and North Korean companies and individuals it said were helping North Korea’s nuclear programme. America and Japan also named several ships that they said were helping the North evade restrictions on its oil imports. See article.
A Swedish citizen, Gui Minhai, was seized in China by plainclothes police in the presence of Swedish diplomats who were escorting him on a train. Mr Gui was among five Hong Kong-based booksellers who were snatched by Chinese agents in 2015. He was released last October, with restrictions on his movement, and was reportedly on his way to Beijing for a medical examination at the Swedish embassy.
China said 17.2m Chinese babies were born in 2017, about 630,000 fewer than the year before. The drop occurred despite the ending in 2016 of the country’s long-standing and highly coercive one-child-per-couple policy and its replacement by a limit of two children for most families.
Researchers in China created two cloned monkeys using the nuclear-transfer technique employed to make Dolly the sheep. Previous monkey clones have been created by embryo splitting, an easier trick. Until now, nuclear transfer has not worked in primates. Its success this time is leading to speculation that humans will be next.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”