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GLOBAL PULSE: Manchester police leads turn attention to Libya, Trump got played by Saudi Arabia and a moustache hashtag mess in Mexico

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After the Manchester bomb attack, security analysts are beginning to talk about how Libya’s collapse after the fall of Gaddafi has allowed radicalisation to become entrenched.  The perpetrator, Salman Abedi, had recently returned from a three-week stay in Libya, where his parents now live. It may point to a new wave of terrorist operatives who are very difficult to detect, because of lack of deep and sustained surveillance on key jihadist arenas such as Syria and Libya.  Extremist groups have taken advantage of governance failures and the mismanagement of the post-Gaddafi transition. Western governments had also lost interest after the leader was toppled in 2011. But pursuing leads in Libya isn’t easy. An array of rival militias control different regions, there are three competing governments.



When a politician body-slams a journalist, the traditional reaction is condemnation. But in this time of intense partisanship and squabbles over the meaning of truth, the response is not so clear.  After Greg Gianforte, the U.S. Republican House candidate in Montana, was charged with assaulting a reporter for The Guardian, public reaction ranged from rank disgust on the Left to mild chastening, and amused mockery, from many on the Right.  The Guardian reporter was called “a pajama boy journalist” by the Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, who said the reporter acted “insolent and disrespectful and whiny and moan-y”. The conservative host Laura Ingraham wrote on Twitter: “Did anyone get his lunch money stolen today?” Heated anti-media language is a fixture of Donald Trump’s era, with journalists derided by the president as “the enemy of the American people”. Some people are bound to pay heed to this dog whistle.



Did Donald Trump forget the role Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi version of Islam plays in spreading religious extremism? The Islamic State draws its beliefs from it. “Saudi money is now transforming European Islam” wrote columnist Fareed Zakaria. Leaked German intelligence reports show that charities closely connected with government offices of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait are funding mosques, schools and imams to disseminate a fundamentalist, intolerant version of Islam throughout Germany. The Saudis showered Trump’s inexperienced negotiators with attention, arms deals and donations to a World Bank fund that Ivanka Trump is championing. The U.S. has now signed up for Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. It will do nothing to address the threat of jihadist terrorism. I thought that Trump’s foreign policy was going to put America first, not Saudi Arabia” wrote Zakaria.



In politics today, finding the right hashtag for your social media campaign can be as important as selecting a candidate or crafting a manifesto. In Mexico, a gubernatorial candidate Javier Zapata bought billboards emblazoned with his moustachioed face. All that the caption said was “#campaignhashtag”.  But the inadvertent slip – of using an advertisement with dummy text  — achieved viral success because of the mockery it drew. But Zapata made it worse by insisting that there had been no error. Even Netflix piled on, promoting its political thriller House of Cards with the hashtag: #HashtagHouseOfCards. Finally Zapata ended up embracing the new hashtag instead of his original slogan. This one is “#PorMisBigotes” – which roughly translates as “because of my moustache”.



Kenyans of Indian and Pakistani descent, many of whose forefathers helped build the nation and fight colonialism, are demanding official recognition for the first time. Kenya’s national census used to classify them as “Other”. They now want to be the nation’s 44th ethnic group. But that is not likely to bring new benefits. Asians in Kenya already enjoy citizenship and economic success. They own property and businesses – a cause for resentment among other poorer citizens.  But many feel excluded from the country’s political and social fabric. They lack adequate representation in politics. There are only four Asian Kenyan lawmakers in the national Parliament, and Kenya has never had an Asian government minister. Rasna Warah, an author, said being Kenyan Asian meant having three identities: born in Africa, of Indian descent and with a British colonial legacy.



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