Week in Review
11 May, 2018
THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR DEAL IS FINISHED. On May 8th, President Donald Trump declared that the United States was pulling out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which relieved sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict limitations on their capabilities to develop nuclear weapons. While the President had continuously called it a “horrible, one-sided deal”, the vast majority of experts agreed it provided the best opportunity to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
A GOOD SIGN FOR DEMOCRACY? After 61 years of rule, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) no longer holds power. 92 year old Mahathir Mohamad has led the Pakatan Harapan alliance to a majority in the national parliament. Despite numerous attempts by the UMNO to secure a victory, they were to no avail. While Mahathir Mohamad has an authoritarian history of his own, this presents a new chapter in Malaysia’s governance; one that may lead to a stronger democracy.
A TSAR OF HIS OWN. President Vladimir Putin was re-inaugurated on May 7th, for which he said would be his last term in power. He even swore to respect Russia’s constitution. He used his inauguration speech to gloat about how he has modernized Russia and promised to focus on technological modernization for his people in his last term. It remains to be seen if the President will respect the constitution or focus on the welfare of his people as his last term centred around aggressive foreign policy and frequent violations of human rights.
MISSILES ON MAN-MADE ISLANDS. China has added cruise missiles to three of their man-made islands in the South China Sea. The South China Sea is host to over half of the world’s oil trade among other goods and has numerous islands throughout its waters. The competition of the islands in this region is becoming increasingly an one-nation race as China’s latest provocation puts them in firm control. This raises the cost of an American intervention and an incoherent foreign policy of President Trump does not help.
LARGEST STRIKE IN DECADES. Following an attack on the Golan Heights in Northeast Israel reportedly by Iran, Israel struck approximately 70 targets of Iranian military infrastructure inside Syria on Thursday. Iran claims that Israel aims for the instability of its neighbours to guarantee its own safety. Yet, Israel maintains the position that Iran had crossed a ‘red-line’ first. It seems like no coincident that President Trump’s abandoned the Iranian Nuclear Deal two days earlier. It is likely Israel is feeling highly empowered with a much more friendly ally in the United States under President Trump.
CHIEF JUSTICE REMOVED, DUTERTE EMPOWERED. The Chief Justice in the Philippines was removed via an eight-six vote by her colleagues. A fierce critic of President Duterte and his disdain for human rights. Chief Justice, Ms. Sereno, was an irritant to President Duterte’s war on drugs and his autocratic rule. Thousands protested the move, which was heavily influenced by President Duterte. This is another step towards complete authoritarian rule in the Philippines; once the highest court is weakened there is not much stopping its most powerful position from ruling unchecked.
A USB TO PROSPERITY FOR NORTH KOREA. Last month, when the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-in, the Prime Minister gave Mr. Kim a USB full of information detailing economic proposals to improve and integrate the two Korea’s economies. Now this is contingent on North Korea denuclearizing and ceasing its missile testing. While ambition, this type of economic benefit have been proposed before, but abused by the North Korean regime. Only time will tell.
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN FULL FORCE. Kenya has been suffering from extreme weather, particularly heavy rains that have caused a dam to burst. The ensuing floods have displaced 300 000 people and ruined 1000s of acres of farmland. Close to 20 000 farm animals have been killed as well as at least 158 people. Extreme weather is not uncommon in Kenya, or even Africa. Seen as the continent to be most affected by climate change in the future, Africa will see these type of events occur evermore frequently. In Kenya alone, they had historic flooding only a few years ago and last year they suffered through a drought.