Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech to Congress conveyed his dark view of a hostile world, but one in which he would “make America great again for all Americans”. The president touted his plan for immigration reform. This would introduce a decade-long path to citizenship for the “Dreamers”, migrants who came to America illegally as young children, which could potentially help up to 1.8m people, in return for lower overall immigration and money to build a border wall. See article.
In a rare public statement the FBI criticised the drive by Republicans in Congress to publish a classified memo. Written by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, the memo purports to show that the agency acted improperly when it carried out a surveillance operation on a former aide to the Trump campaign. The FBI said it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” from the document. See article.
A few days earlier, Andrew McCabe stepped down as deputy-director of the FBI. He had faced relentless criticism from Mr Trump, in part for the political donations that Mr McCabe’s wife received from what the president has described as “Clinton puppets”. See article.
Steve Wynn resigned as finance chairman of the Republican Party following a report that he had coerced female employees at his casino in Las Vegas into sex or to massage him. The allegations, which Mr Wynn called “preposterous”, stretch back decades. Wynn Resorts is one of the world’s largest casino companies. See article.
Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, suspended peace talks with the ELN, a guerrilla group that has been fighting the state for more than 50 years. He blamed the ELN for three bombings in which seven policemen were killed and 47 people injured. The group accepted responsibility for the bloodiest attack but not the others. Rodrigo Londoño, the leader of the FARC, a larger guerrilla group that made peace with the government in 2016, launched his candidacy for Colombia’s presidency.
Honduras’s president, Juan Orlando Hernández, was sworn in for a second term. Protesters who say the presidential election in November was rigged marched towards the stadium in which the ceremony was held. Security forces fired tear-gas at them.
Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, was briefly jailed in Russia to prevent him appearing at a rally at which he was to demand a boycott of the presidential election in March. Meanwhile, America’s Treasury department released a list of politicians and oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin. Those who appear on the list (which seemed almost identical to a similar list reported in Forbes) are not necessarily subject to sanctions. See article.
Defying the polls, the Czech Republic’s Eurosceptic president, Milos Zeman, was re-elected in a tight second round of voting.
The Speaker of Catalonia’s parliament postponed a session that had been expected to reinstate the separatist Carles Puigdemont as president of the region, prolonging a tense stand-off with the Spanish central government in Madrid.
The government of Ireland decided to hold a referendum before the end of May on whether to legalise abortion. Leo Varadkar, the prime minister, said he would campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which gives equal status to the life of a fetus and its mother.
As speculation swirled about her party plotting to depose her as prime minister, Britain’s Theresa May visited China to beat the drum for closer post-Brexit trade relations. Mrs May is under pressure to contain the battle raging in the Conservative Party between “hard” and “soft” Brexiteers. See article.
A princely sum
Saudi Arabia said that a crackdown on corruption had raked in $107bn for the government. Prominent princes and businessmen had been detained at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh until they agreed to hand over a portion of their wealth.
Separatist forces in Yemen captured most of the port city of Aden from the government, splitting an alliance formed to fight Houthi rebels in the north who occupy the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. See article.
White commercial farmers in Zimbabwe are to be allowed to rent their land on 99-year leases, instead of a maximum term of five years, as the government tries to revive investment. The policy marks a reversal from that of Robert Mugabe, who was deposed as president last year and who had forced thousands of white farmers off their land.
Officials at the African Union accused China of bugging its headquarters and hacking into its computer system. The AU’s headquarters, and its computer systems, were a gift from China to the organisation, which is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Some turbulence ahead
A dispute escalated between China and Taiwan over the opening of new civil-aviation routes by China in the Taiwan Strait, without asking Taiwan’s government. Taiwan responded by refusing permission for two Chinese carriers, China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines, to lay on 176 extra round-trip flights across the strait in February during the lunar new-year holiday.
Officials in Hong Kong barred two people from standing in a by-election that is due to be held in March for having expressed support for the territory’s self-determination.
A bomb placed in a fake ambulance killed more than 100 people in Kabul. Islamic militants also attacked an army base in the Afghan capital, killing 11 soldiers. See article.
Malaysia’s highest court ruled that the consent of both parents is needed before a child can convert from one religion to another, closing a legal loophole whereby a Muslim parent could win a custody battle with a non-Muslim spouse by having their children declared Muslim. The ruling is a rare instance of Malaysia’s civil courts standing up to Islamic ones.
A trove of top-secret documents turned up in a consignment of second-hand furniture that had once belonged to the Australian government. Among the secrets revealed were several other instances when officials had been careless with important papers.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”