Reports emerge that Russia hacked Trump secrets, Cypriot peace talks and Japan’s PM visits the Philippines.
RUSSIA ACCUSED OF HACKING TRUMP’S SECRETS
As inauguration day fast approaches reports have emerged that Russian hackers have obtained compromising information about President-elect Donald Trump.
The report, published by CNN, is unsubstantiated and has been dismissed by Mr Trump as “fake news”. Despite this, given Trump’s controversial past, this development seems plausible – which in itself will harm the reputation of America’s next leader.
Beyond this headline, however, is the real story: hybrid cyber conflict has arrived and is shaping global events today. For years, experts had warned that humankind was on the verge of cyber warfare, where droves of cyber warriors hack into critical infrastructure and wreak havoc on the masses. However, more targeted cyber attacks can be just as powerful, if not more so.
Whether the Russian government does have compromising information about Mr Trump is, to some extent, irrelevant; the fact that millions of people around the world awoke to this news on Wednesday morning is not.
CYPRIOT AND WORLD LEADERS SEEK PEACE IN GENEVA
Negotiations on reunifying Cyprus continue in Geneva on Thursday, as disagreements over the island’s governance continue to frustrate attempts at settlement.
Following a Turkish invasion in 1974, Cyprus was divided into a Greek state in the south and a (smaller) Turkish state in the north. With little progress made during earlier meetings, it is unlikely that Thursday’s discussions will result in a deal.
Recent talks have made little progress; how the island should be governed if unified has emerged as a key sticking point. While the Turkish side insists that leadership should alternate between the two factions, Greek Cypriots oppose this proposal as undemocratic, saying it could infringe upon the voting rights of the majority Greek population.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras and Turkey’s President Erdogan have both indicated that they will not join the conference on Thursday, which may complicate negotiations. Considering Cyprus’ strategic importance as a global shipping hub, its proximity to Syria, and wealth of natural gas reserves, compromises will not be forthcoming.
While Thursday’s talks may lay the groundwork for future negotiations, they will almost certainly not succeed in resolving the deadlock entirely.
JAPAN’S PM VISITS THE PHILIPPINES
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe will arrive in the Philippines on Thursday for a two-day visit to Manila and President Duterte’s hometown, Davao City. Abe will be the first head of state to make an official visit to the Philippines under Duterte’s administration.
Davao, where Duterte ruled for 20 years, has seen significant Japanese migration since the early 20th century and has benefitted from several Japanese aid projects. Though Japan is currently the Philippines’ largest source of official development aid, Abe will be wary of Duterte’s attempts to woo Russia and China in the face of US criticism over human rights violations. Rather, Abe’s visit to Davao may well be aimed at deepening his personal relationship with Duterte.
Mr Abe’s visit returns Duterte’s October trip to Japan, which yielded $1.8 billion in commercial investment. Earlier in August, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced plans to offer $2.4 billion in loans to build new rail infrastructure in the Philippines, a loan package that Abe is likely to confirm during his visit.