US President Donald Trump threatened Turkey with economic devastation if it attacks a US-allied Kurdish militia in Syria, drawing a sharp rebuke from Ankara today and reviving fears of another downturn in ties between the NATO allies.
Relations between the United States and Turkey have long been strained by Washington’s support for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is waging a decades-long insurgency in Turkey. Speaking in Riyadh, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he did not think the threat would change plans to withdraw troops from Syria. Asked what Trump meant by economic devastation, he said: “You’ll have to ask the president.” Responding to the threat, Turkish Foreign Minister Nevlut Cavusoglu said: "You cannot get anywhere by threatening Turkey economically."
A Chinese court has sentenced a Canadian man to death over charges of drug smuggling after deeming his original sentence of 15 years in jail too lenient. Robert Schellenberg, 36, was convicted in November of being an accessory to drug smuggling. An appeal backfired when in December the court ordered a retrial after prosecutors claimed new evidence showed Schellenberg played an important role in drug trafficking operations.
The sentence is expected to escalate diplomatic tensions between China and Canada. The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said Ottawa would continue to “engage strongly” with Beijing. On 1 December, Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior Huawei executive and Chinese citizen, for extradition to the US. Critics say Beijing is using Schellenberg’s case to exert pressure on Ottawa.
A new Canadian radio telescope, not yet fully operational, has already detected more than a dozen mysteriously brief blasts from deep space known as fast radio bursts (FRBs). One is only the second known to flash repeatedly, researchers reported at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The early results from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) suggest the scope is well on its way to adding hundreds or even thousands of FRBs to the 60 or so already known—hopefully revealing the source of these powerful milliseconds-long pulses in the process.
FRBs are one of the hottest topics in astronomy. Researchers not only want to figure out what they are, they also want to use them to gather information about the matter that resides in the vast reaches between galaxies.
As Dhaka Courier went to press this week, British MPs were preparing to vote on whether to back Theresa May's deal for leaving the European Union. The so-called "meaningful vote" was set to take place after five days of debate on Brexit came to an end. Mrs May has called for politicians to back her deal or risk "letting the British people down". But with many of her own MPs expected to join opposition parties to vote against the deal, it was widely expected to be defeated.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox opened the last day of debate, with Mrs May due to close it with a speech. He called on MPs to recognise the "value of compromise" and "opt for order [over] chaos". Voting would take place on three or four backbench amendments that could reshape the deal and then the vote on the withdrawal agreement itself.