The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

Under agreement, Syrian rebels leave suburb of Damascus:  Faced with destruction of two towns, both of which are suburbs of Damascus, rebel forces and their families have agreed to leave Qudsiya and Al-Hama under a deal with Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Damascus has offered the bargain to several rebel-held areas as part of a strategy to clear areas nearest the Syrian capital of rebels and re-locate opposition forces in northern Syria.

The move, referred to as a “workable model to bring security and peace,” follows a similar occurrence in Daraya, Syria, in which rebels surrendered in late August and the town was re-occupied by Syrian troops.

Philippines’ Duterte seeks non-aligned path:   Fearing the continuation of joint naval patrols with the U.S. Navy could cause a rift with China, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a halt to the missions and expressed an interest in seeking a non-aligned path for the Philippines.

“It’s about time we change the rules here.  I insist that we realign, that there will be no more exercises next year. Do not prepare, I told Defense Secretary Lorenzana. Do not make preparations for next year’s [war games]. I don’t want it anymore.  I will chart an independent foreign policy,” Duterte told the audience at a Philippine Coast Guard event.

Weary over American criticism related to Duterte’s campaign to eradicate drug cartels and users from the archipelago,  Duterte has responded with harsh words directed at President Obama and announced plans to strengthen bi-lateral ties with China and Russia.

Opposition newspaper in Hungary shut down:  Claiming losses, Hungary’s most widely-read opposition newspaper, Nepszabadsag, has ceased publication.

The newspaper is a known critic of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and its closure has fueled speculation the newspaper suspended publication as part of a government crackdown on independent media.

Owned by Australian firm Mediaworks, Nepszabadsag was purchased in 2014 and has witnessed a 74 percent drop in subscribers over the last decade, racking up over €16.4 million in losses.

Thai king dies:  After reigning for over 70 years, the last few suffering from poor health, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand died on Oct. 13.

A palace statement Thursday read:  “His majesty has passed away at Siriraj Hospital peacefully.”

Hailed by the population for his sympathies with Thailand’s poor, Adulyadej was often criticized for forging a relationship with a military junta which has ruled Thailand since 1957.

Greece outlook bright; EU withholds some relief:  European Union finance ministers responsible for managing  the €86 billion Greek bailout package negotiated in 2015 expressed optimism with the results of Athens’ proposed reforms, but stopped short of doling out the full amount of aid, preferring to hand out only €1.1 billion on Monday.

Under the deal brokered last year, €33 billion has been granted to Greece.

Finance ministers met in Luxembourg and agreed the final €1.7 billion in aid would be handed over contingent on arrears payments Athens is required to collect under the reforms the Greek government put into place in 2015.


[Reuters] [BBC] [The Telegraph] [RT News]