News in Brief

United Kingdom

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently announced their intentions to step down from their royal duties and settle in North America. This rupture in the royal family is one of the most dramatic events since King Edward VIII’s decision to abdicate the throne in 1936 (The New York Times). On Jan. 18, the couple came to an agreement with the following details: they will stop using their royal titles, repay $3.1 million that was used on renovations of their residence and give up state funding. While the two are permitted to earn money in the private sector, they must “uphold the values of Her Majesty” as part of the deal.

Guinea

Anti-government protests have plagued Guinea since October of 2019 due to concerns that President Alpha Conde may institute a new constitutional reform to allow himself to remain in office for another five years. At least 21 people have been killed since the beginning of the protests (Al Jazeera). Conde has served as the president of Guinea for two terms. On Jan. 14, BBC reported that both a student from Conakry and another from Labe were shot dead by security forces during demonstrations.

Afghanistan

On Jan. 11, an American military vehicle struck a road mine in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, leading to the loss of two service members. The men, Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, and Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon, 21 (The New York Times), were part of Resolute Support, a NATO mission. A Taliban spokesperson, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, claimed responsibility for the attack. On Jan. 15, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to visit the families of the two soldiers. The two military deaths are the first losses this year in Afghanistan (ABC News).

Oman

Haitham bin Tariq Al Said was appointed as the new sultan of Oman in light of the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said on Jan. 10. The leaders of Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, and Jordan traveled to the capital city of Muscat to pay their respects (The National). Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles of the United Kingdom also paid condolences to the longest-serving Arab leader (Reuters). Prior to Said Al Said’s death, Tariq Al Said served as the Minister of Heritage and Culture as well as the Secretary General for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

France

On Jan. 13, leaders of the G5 Sahel nations and the French President held a summit in Pau, France to discuss the need for joint action against terrorist groups in the Sahara-Sahel strip. The meeting resulted in the Coalition of the Sahel, a framework based on the following four pillars: the fight against terrorism, strengthening the military capabilities of the states in the region, support for the return of the state and administrations on the territory, and development assistance (France Diplomatie).