World Tour: Syria rejects “safe zone” agreement and Guatemala gets a new president

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Mindy Belz.

MINDY BELZ, REPORTER: Clashes at Jerusalem holy sites—We begin today in the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Israeli police, Palestinians worshippers clash]

Isreali police clashed with Palestinian worshipers Sunday at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. It’s a place sacred to both Muslims and Jews.

Members of both religions had gathered there to observe separate holidays.

AUDIO: [Muslims praying]

Israeli police can bar Jewish visitors from entering the Temple Mount on Muslim holidays if they fear their presence will spark violence. The clash broke out because rumors circulated police would allow Jewish worshipers to enter the compound.

Palestinian protestors crowded the only gate for Jews. They chanted “Allahu Akbar” and threw stones and chairs at police. In return, Israeli police fired rubber bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades into the crowd.

It was only after the clash broke out that Isreali police let Jewish visitors into the compound.

Palestinian authorities said 14 people were wounded. Israeli police said four officers suffered injuries. The Temple Mount has long been a major point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Syria rejects “safe zone” agreement—Meanwhile, in Syria, the Assad regime has rejected an agreement between the United States and Turkey.

It would have established a “safe zone” in the northeastern part of the country where Kurds, Yazidis and Christians live.

It also would have temporarily stopped a threatened Turkish invasion of the area currently controlled by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. The Assad regime wants to bring northern Syria back under its control and views the safe-zone as a hindrance.

AUDIO: [Syrian bombardment]

On Sunday, Syrian government forces captured an important rebel-held village in the northwestern province of Idlib. That puts Assad’s troops close to a major town in the country’s last rebel stronghold.

Guatemala gets a new president—Next we go to Central America.

AUDIO: [Giammattei celebrates victory]

Newly elected Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei celebrated his victory Monday. He won with 58 percent of the vote. But less than half of eligible voters cast ballots.

Giammattei vowed to revisit the immigration deal his predecessor signed with President Trump amid threats of economic sanctions. The deal requires Guatemala to act as a buffer zone for asylum-seekers headed to the United States.

GIAMMATTEI: [Spanish comments]

Giammattei said he did not want a confrontation with Washington. But he insisted any diplomatic relationship must be built on mutual respect and reciprocity.

Surprise election result shocks Argentina—Next we go to South America.

AUDIO: [Fernández campaign rally]

A presidential primary election in Argentina sent shockwaves through the country.

Incumbent President Mauricio Macri suffered a crushing defeat to Center-left candidate Alberto Fernández. His running mate is former president Cristina Fernández. She is known for nationalizing part of a local oil company, taking over the country’s private pension system, and adopting export restrictions and currency controls during her time in office.

About one-third of Argentine companies that trade in U.S. markets lost half their value Monday. And Argentina’s stock market index dropped by 35 percent.

Macri could still win the re-election in October. But his party’s performance in the primary suggests that will be an uphill battle.

Ebola drugs saving lives—And finally, we end today with good news from Africa.

Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say two treatments given to people with Ebola are saving lives. That finding prompted an early end to trials of the drugs. Healthcare workers will begin using them across the country.

The outbreak is ongoing and more than 1,800 people have died in Congo since the outbreak began a year ago.

Only about 10 percent of patients who got the new drugs died. Without treatment Ebola is fatal for three-fourths of people who get the virus.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Mindy Belz.

(AP Photo/ Santiago Billy) Alejandro Giammattei, presidential candidate of the Vamos party, stands before supporters after partial election results were announced in Guatemala City, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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