Week in Review

13 July 2018

 Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) in Lelo, outside Malakal, northern South Sudan, on October 16, 2016.

 Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) in Lelo, outside Malakal, northern South Sudan, on October 16, 2016.


DISORDER IS DESTROYING SOUTH SUDAN. Disorder has always been more destructive than even the most horrifying, yet structured regimes. South Sudan has not been an exception. After the opposition group rejected a peace deal looking to end its civil war, the United Nations outlined the cruelty of war.  Just this spring at least 232 civilians were killed, 120 women and girls gang-raped, and 132 women and girls abducted. Militias have even employed a scorched-earth policy to prevent civilians from returning to the opposing side. While international organizations have supported prosecuting the violators, that can only be done once the war is over.

NEW JUSTICE WILL SECURE RIGHT-WING COURT. With President Trump’s pick to fill the upcoming vacancy at the Supreme Court, he will solidify a 5-4 conservative majority. As has been common for several decades, the U.S. Supreme Court Justices often vote along ideological lines. Trump’s pick, Brett Kavanaugh has supported both religious liberties and gun rights. This will likely conclude in the overturning of federal abortion laws. Yet, Mr. Kavanaugh has also demonstrated that he may not fully support allowing a current president to be criminally investigated, including being questioned by a special prosecutor. This may be Trump’s most influential act yet.

TRUMP FAILS TO LEAVE HIS ALLIES UNIMPRESSED. At the NATO meeting this week, President Trump lectured NATO members about reaching the 2% of GDP contribution that each is required. Even worse, he singled out Germany for setting a bad precedent, only contributing about 1% and accused it of being at the mercy of Russia for purchasing natural gas from it. This stands in stark irony to the President himself, being surrounded by an ongoing federal investigation for Russian collusion. Fortunately, he did back a final statement identifying Russia for its recent and numerous illegal actions as a major threat to the NATO community.

WIDOW OF CHINESE PEACE-PRIZE WINNER GOING TO GERMANY. Liu Xia, the widow of the famous activist who died a year ago in prison for demanding democracy in China, was freed from house arrest. She is now in Germany where she has some friends. Her husband had won the Nobel peace-prize for his democratic efforts. At the surface this may seem like China is turning its human rights record around, but this is only a gesture to gain Germany’s favour. Germany and other western countries had be vying for Liu’s freedom and with recent U.S. tariffs, it may have been an adept time for China to allow it. Others in China have not been so lucky, China has been increasingly authoritarian in recent years, denying any demands for democracy and aggressively censoring online content, while watching its people through CCTV. Freeing one person means little to China’s grand strategy.

PEACE WITH FARC HAS PAID OFF. In 2016 the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a rebel group in Colombia, signed a peace accord with the government. This ended decades of war between the rebels and the government. While many were skeptical of the accord, there is already meaningful results. Areas that were once centres of conflict can now be traveled to without fear of kidnapping or danger. This, in turn, will transform these regions into prosperous, lively communities. The government will need to develop these areas to see such results though, the rebels historic hold on parts of Colombia meant that they were left largely untouched by government projects.

WHAT’S LEFT IN RAQQA? While ISIS has been, for the most part, defeated in Syria, the cities and communities that were the battlegrounds during the fighting have been destroyed. The residents are happy that ISIS has been defeated and many that were forced out have come back. Yet, there is little aid for reconstruction. Even more dangerous is the precarious nature of the residents’ lives. The city is currently being held by Kurdish rebels, backed by the U.S.. It seems to be a matter of time until the Syrian government will began another battle with the rebels to win back control. Syria should not be forgotten as its people have a long wait until peace and stability.