World roundup: August 18 2023
Stories from Niger, Ukraine, Haiti, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
August 18, 684 (or thereabouts): The Battle of Marj Rahit
August 18, 1487: The garrison defending the Granadan city of Málaga surrenders, ending a Castilian-Aragonese siege that had lasted over three months. Málaga was the Emirate of Granada’s second-largest city and its largest seaport, so losing it to the Catholic monarchs was a massive defeat—one from which, it turned out, the emirate would never recover. Frustrated by the city’s refusal to surrender—even after urban leaders capitulated on August 13, the garrison held out for almost another week—King Ferdinand II of Aragon either executed or enslaved most of its remaining population.
August 18, 1870: The French Army of the Rhine meets the Prussian First and Second armies under the command of King Wilhelm I at the Battle of Gravelotte in Lorraine. Tactically the battle was inconclusive—the Prussians outmaneuvered the French but the French were able to retreat in good order to Metz, and casualties were pretty even relative to the numerical disparity (the Prussians outnumbered the French by about 70,000 soldiers) between the two armies. But the Prussians were then able to besiege the French army at Metz, eventually emerging victorious in one of the most decisive engagements of the Franco-Prussian War.
Protesters turned out in the southern Syrian city of Suwayda on Thursday to express their anger over the country’s deteriorating economy and particularly over increasing fuel costs. You may recall that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doubled public sector salaries and pensions earlier this week, in part to soften the blow as his government cut subsidies on fuel and fuel oil. Costs for both products rose substantially as a result. The demonstrations don’t appear to have been large but these days anti-government protests in Syria (the parts under government control, at least) are rare.
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