Hard Numbers: Malaysia backs Hamas, Democrats win key races, fighting in Ethiopia's Amhara region, South Africa’s highway terror, Europe invests in space
77 billion: Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim jeopardized his country’s $77 billion trade relationship with the United States this week by coming out hard in support of Hamas, with which Malaysia has long maintained ties. Anwar, who compared the group to Nelson Mandela, could run afoul of the Hamas International Financing Prevention Act and invite US sanctions on his country — but the rise of the Islamist PAS party and the fragility of his multi-ethnic coalition are pushing him to appeal to such sentiment despite his reputation as a liberal reformer.
3: Democrats won three major off-cycle elections in the US last night, taking the Kentucky governorship, keeping the Virginia state senate, and winning a ballot measure in Ohio to protect abortion rights. The wins come despite weak poll numbers for President Joe Biden, and seem to reinforce the view that GOP overreach on abortion helps turn Democrats out on voting day. For more on the long term consequences, read Eurasia Group expert Kylie Milliken's take.
3,000: Fighting between federal troops and local militias in Ethiopia’s Amhara region has displaced 3,000 people in recent months, according to the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission. From 2020-2022, Amharan troops helped the government to put down a rebellion by militants in the Tigray region, but since then they have refused orders to integrate with national security forces. As a result, government forces have begun cracking down on people suspected of supporting the Amharan militias.
280,000: South Africans suffered 280,000 carjackings between April 2022 and March 2023 (the latest period for which statistics are available) amid an epidemic of violent crime on the roadways that recently ensnared the country’s transport minister. More shocking: The figure for 2021/22 was even higher, with carjackings totaling 330,000.340 million: France, Germany, and Italy agreed to jointly put up €340 million ($365 million) annually for European space exploration company Arianespace to launch its Ariane 6 rocket at least four times per year and another lighter launcher at least three times. The investment is intended to make Europe’s space sector more competitive with American firms like SpaceX.