Protests in Kazakhstan. Controversial protests are scheduled to take place this evening in Kazakhstan. Kazakh officials have repeatedly warned Kazakh citizens from attending what the deputy chief prosecutor called “unauthorized rallies,” and Kazakh police even arrested two opposition leaders on July 4 for encouraging protest attendance. Unable to control the protest activity completely, the ruling Nur Otan party has plans to rally against protesters in Almaty. Kazakhstan’s transition from President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s rule to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has gone smoothly, all things considered, but even so, the frequency of protests has increased as rumors spread that Kazakh elite are divided as to how far post-Nazarbayev reforms should go. The first deputy chairman of Nur Otan even said at a press conference yesterday that the ruling party should purge its ranks and provide more support to the poor and disadvantaged. Keep an eye on what’s simmering here.
Protests in Wuhan. Protests continue in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Wuhan has become a city of some 10 million people thanks to its position on the Yangtze River, a sort of gateway between China’s coastal provinces and the more underdeveloped Chinese interior. The protests are meant to give voice to grievances over the location for a garbage incineration plant. (There are two schools close to where the incinerator was originally planned to be built.) In other words, these protests have no overt political valence or ties to the recent activities in Hong Kong. As long as that is the case, this will simply be another expression of dissatisfaction with the government in Beijing, and a reminder that President Xi Jinping’s declaration of war against pollution is more than just flowery language.
No protests in Egypt. Egypt increased fuel prices for a fifth time since 2014, resulting in price increases between 16 and 30 percent. In September, Egypt will move to an automatic fuel pricing mechanism that will make sure Egyptians pay at rates defined by markets and not by the government, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum. The move is part of the terms of the $12 billion loan Egypt secured from the International Monetary Fund in November 2016. What’s remarkable about Egypt’s energy reforms is that it has been met with very little backlash. That is not to say there isn’t anger – there have been small protests, and Egyptian social media is rife with complaints over the new measures – but considering the scope and depth of Egyptian government reforms, the response has been relatively benign. Egyptian authorities have maintained that the price of bread, which is heavily subsidized by the government, is non-negotiable. That may well account for the people’s nonchalance. Either way, the Egyptian government has shown the ability to conceptualize, implement, and execute a controversial economic reform package. That’s a good thing for a country whose economy is a train wreck waiting to happen.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the Turkish Central Bank’s governor 10 months before his term was up.
- Russian media and communications watchdog Roskomnadzor fined Google for failing to censor “banned content” from Russian search results.
- Sri Lanka’s state minister of defense insisted that U.S. troops would not be allowed to enter the country or establish bases there, adding that Sri Lanka would not enter into such agreements with any country.
- Malaysia has halted all pork exports to help meet domestic demand after banning imports from countries that have confirmed African swine fever outbreaks.
- Russia’s chief of the general staff met with the U.S. ambassador to Russia yesterday.
- An Iranian military commander visited the disputed islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunb near the Strait of Hormuz.
- Hong Kong student groups has refused Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s request for a closed-door dialogue.