The world is waiting to assess the impact of the next wild turn in the politics of the United States, a power that sought to guarantee global stability for decades but whose internal politics make it increasingly a force for unpredictability and disruption.
In the meantime, here’s the latest on five other consequential world news stories that deserve attention as the US midterms race to their toxic conclusion.
‘They want us all to die,’ warns Kyiv’s mayor
President Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine is growing more brutal. His siege against the neighboring country’s infrastructure, including with the use of deadly Iranian-made drones, is bringing deep suffering to city residents. In Kyiv, power blackouts last up to 12 hours a day, streets are pitch-black, and Mayor Vitali Klitschko has warned that residents could face a winter without power, heat or water. “In general, they want us all to die,” he said.
Putin hopes to break the will of the Ukrainian people, after their resistance humiliated his forces on the battlefield. So far, there’s no sign of that – although a Republican House after the midterms may not be keen on continuing to spend billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine. The most tangible signs of fraying morale are actually on Moscow’s side – this week, some Russian soldiers complained in a letter about being sent into an “incomprehensible battle” in Donetsk region, where Ukraine says its enemy suffered heavy losses.
In Iran, lawmakers demand a “good lesson” for protestors
Iran’s links with Russia are causing increasing concern in the United States. At home, the Islamic Republic is facing an unprecedented popular uprising, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, after being detained by the country’s so-called “morality police.”
More than 220 members of Iran’s parliament have now called for protesters to be taught a “good lesson” by the clerical leadership, to deter others who threaten its authority. Iran has charged at least 1,000 people in Tehran province alone over the nationwide protests, the largest such show of dissent in years, state news agency IRNA reported.
Imran Khan: people are ‘appalled by what is going on in this country’
In Pakistan, ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan says he has inside knowledge about the apparent assassination attempt that led to his shooting last week, and lodged three bullets in his leg. Khan has accused top government members of plotting the attack – which they and Pakistan’s intelligence service strenuously deny.
“I have connections with intelligence agencies, the different agencies that operate. How did I get the information? From within the intelligence agencies. Why? Because most people are appalled by what is going on in this country,” the former cricketing legend told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
The own goals are piling up in Qatar
Political furor is escalating over the World Cup Finals in Qatar that begin this month as players, FIFA officials and pundits struggle to answer questions about the Gulf state’s human rights record and the deaths of foreign workers while building the stadiums for the global football showpiece.
Their discomfort will be exacerbated by a comment by FIFA World Cup ambassador and former footballer Khalid Salman that homosexuality is “damage in the mind,” in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF.
Salman said that being gay was “haram,” or forbidden in Islamic law. “It is damage in the mind,” he continued, adding that there was a need to “talk about gays” before the tournament. The interview, filmed in Doha less than two weeks before the start of the tournament, was immediately stopped by an official from the World Cup organizing committee.
More hot air at the UN Climate Summit?
To be honest, it was a close call whether to put this next story on your radar as worth watching. Global leaders are burning vast amounts of jet fuel to gather in Egypt for this year’s COP27 climate summit. The urgency of the issue is clear – this year has seen ample evidence from floods in Pakistan to vast wildfires in the United States, to vicious heatwaves in Europe that global warming is accelerating. But will another climate summit achieve anything meaningful toward catching up on missed targets to cut carbon emissions?
One big question at the conference is whether there will be a deal over loss and damage – the principle that rich countries responsible for decades of carbon emissions should spend money to assist developing ones, who are bearing the brunt of the climactic consequences.
“It just keeps getting pushed out,” former White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy told CNN. “There’s need for some real accountability and some specific commitments in the short-term.”