Politicians Withdraw from Saudi Summit as Investigations into Journalist's Disappearance Continue

United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and United Kingdom Trade Secretary Liam Fox both pulled out of an economic conference in Saudi Arabia, along with a number of other politicians and business representatives, including finance ministers from France and the Netherlands. The conference in question — the Future Investment Initiative summit, referred to by some as the “Davos of the Desert” — is scheduled to last from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25, 2018 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. While 150 speakers were originally supposed to attend the event, over 30 delegates had withdrawn as of Oct. 18, and pressure to boycott the summit continues.

The move comes in response to the country’s alleged involvement in the disappearance and potential death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A former advisor to Saudi officials and writer for a number of news organizations in Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi has been living in the United States for the past year, writing a monthly column in The Washington Post. His last article calls for freedom of the press throughout the Arab world. According to BBC News Khashoggi was last seen on Oct. 2 in Istanbul when he visited the Saudi consulate. Turkish authorities say that he was killed inside the building and claim to have audio and video sources confirming his murder, but Saudi officials deny this. No conclusive evidence has been made public. Certain human rights groups are calling for a United Nations investigation into the journalist’s disappearance.

President Trump was quoted by the Associated Press on Oct. 18 as saying that it “certainly looks” as if Khashoggi is dead and said that the consequences for Saudi Arabia will be “very severe” if they were involved, but after meeting with Turkish and Saudi authorities the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that any U.S. response should be delayed for a few more days to give investigations time to conclude.

Attack on Crimean College Leaves Twenty Dead

On Oct. 17, 2018 a mass shooting and bomb attack occurred at Crimean college Kerch Polytechnic. 15 students and five teachers have died and others remain critically wounded. The gunman, 18-year-old Vladislav Roslyakov, committed suicide after the attack. BBC News call this “the deadliest attack to have taken place in Crimea since the Russian annexation.” The explosion was the result of a homemade nail bomb and authorities discovered a second explosive with the shooter’s belongings, which has been disarmed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the attack was a result of globalization, and BBC quotes him as saying that “everything started with the tragic events in schools in the U.S.” Five school attacks occurred in Russia this year, but none have been on this scale. The investigative committee looking has officially classified the event as a mass murder.

Nicaraguan Government Releases Protesters

Nicaraguan authorities have released 38 anti-government protesters who were detained on Oct. 14, 2018. The demonstrators were preparing for a march in Managua, which police say they had not obtained proper permissions for. The detainment sparked international outcry from human rights organizations, as well as the Organization of American States. No official statement has been given by the government concerning the release. The Associated Press announced that hours after the arrests were made, two known activists, Lottie Cunningham and Haydee Castillo, were removed from a plane for questioning; Cunningham was permitted to board her flight but Castillo was taken to El Chipotle prison.

Anti-government protests have been illegal since Sept. 28, when they were outlawed by President Daniel Ortega in response to months of violent demonstrations with hundreds of corresponding deaths. Ortega has been accused of authoritarian control over Nicaragua and infringing on citizens’ rights. BBC News reports that “the president in turn accuses the protesters of planning a coup against his democratically-elected government and of incitement to violence.” A number of human rights violations have been recorded in the country in recent years. Although this group of protesters has been set free, many others remain imprisoned.