Week in review

25 January 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guiado in contrast to President Maduro.

Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guiado in contrast to President Maduro.


VENEZUELAN PRESIDENTIAL CRISIS. Venezuela’s ongoing humanitarian and political crisis has reached a critical juncture. A myriad of world powers, chief among them the United States, have recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate, interim president. As a result, Venezuelan President Maduro has broken off diplomatic ties with the United States and ordered its representatives out of the country. Maduro has asserted that this challenge amounts to a coup orchestrated by the “ Gringo Empire” and urged his followers, particularly the military, to resist it at all costs. This will likely result in future arrests of opposition leaders and further sanctions and international pressure which will ultimately exasperate an already desperate situation for the people of Venezuela. 

UNITED STATES IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON GROUPS IN SYRIA. The United States has imposed sanctions on two Iran-backed militia groups fighting in Syria. The groups in question are the Fatemiyoun Division and the Zaynabiyoun Brigade. Both groups are mainly composed of refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan residing in Iran and recruited by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Under these sanctions, the groups will be placed on the U.S. Treasury’s financial blacklist, which will cut off their access to international finance networks. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defended the sanctions by saying "The brutal Iranian regime exploits refugee communities in Iran, deprives them of access to basic services such as education, and uses them as human shields for the Syrian conflict,”. The sanctions on the two groups come as part of a new package of sanctions targeted at Iran. An Iranian airline called Qeshm Fars Air and an Armenian-based company called Flight Travel LLC were also sanctioned due to their connection to the already-sanctioned Iranian airline Mahan Air. 

MEXICO NOT ACCEPTING RETURN OF AT-RISK MIGRANTS SEEKING ASYLUM IN THE UNITED STATES. The U.S. was planning on sending non-Mexican migrants across the southern border to wait in Mexico as their requests for asylum are processed. However, after two meetings, the spokesman for the Mexican foreign ministry has said that Mexico would not accept migrants that were facing persecution and serious danger from back home. Mexico raised concerns about their ability to accommodate the large number of asylum seekers, largely due to a lack of resources. Additionally, the state of border towns are often even more unsafe then the cities asylum seekers are fleeing. The United States currently have over 800 000 pending cases in immigration courts. This would mean that if Mexico were to accept the asylum seekers back, they would be responsible for housing them for months, or maybe even years. 

D.R.C.’S TSHISEKEDI SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT IN HISTORIC CEREMONY. Thursday marked a historic day for the Democratic Republic of the Congo as they swore in President Félix Tshisekedi in the first ‘democratic’ transfer of power since the country gained independence from Belgium nearly 60 years ago. Tshisekedi’s win however has been wrought with controversy as a result of widespread allegations of election rigging and a backroom deal with outgoing president Joseph Kabila to secure the office. Some believe that Martin Fayulu, Tshisekedi’s presidential challenger, won a landslide victory, but was denied the presidency due to the election being fixed. Despite these allegations many Congolese are hopeful that this peaceful transfer of power is indicative of positive changes to come following former president Kabila.