Week in Review

29 June 2018

Operation Triton in the Southern Mediterranean. The Irish flagship LÉE Eithne rescues people from a crowded boat, 15 June, 2015.

Operation Triton in the Southern Mediterranean. The Irish flagship LÉE Eithne rescues people from a crowded boat, 15 June, 2015.


AS MIGRATION DROPS, POLITICAL INSTABILITY RISES. 2015 and 2016 was when Europe saw a steep increase in the number of migrants coming from the Middle East and North Africa. During this time, the majority of the 1.8 million migrants arrived. Now the arrival rates are as low as the pre-2014 levels. Yet, this influx has created a delayed political shift as new elections have occured in each of the affected states. Additionally, the European Union is at crossroads with how to deal with the migrants that have made Europe their new home. French President Emmanuel Macron hyperbolized that there could be a European civil war and more recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that migration could make or break the European Union. She is right. How these leaders address migration in the coming months will be vital to its institutional survival.

ERDOGAN WINS SWEEPING POWERS. After an election that some believed would end in some form of checks on the powerful president, Turkish President Erdogan now has more power than ever. Erdogan won a majority in the first round and his Justice and Development party in coalition with the Nationalist Movement Party won a majority in parliament making his constitutional reforms guaranteed to be preserved. Turkey’s parliamentary democracy will transform into a presidential system, which allows Erdogan to control the executive and handpick justices. The check on the president was having an opposition party in control, but without that, he will be unrestrained.

GUINEA-BISSAU STANDS AS AN EXAMPLE, BUT WITH IMPERFECTIONS. In a continent where being homosexual is for the most part a crime, sometimes punishable by death, Guinea-Bissau has relative acceptance of the LGBTQ community. For one reason, the Creole language that is spoken there, has no gendered pronouns, only gender neutral ones. An organization called the Big Mama Fountain, consists of an openly identified LGBTQ community, whom use each other as support to face discrimination every day. There is still a large population in Guinea-Bissau who verbally and physically assault the LGBTQ community. With no punishment for rape, it can be very dangerous for people to be open about their gender and sexuality. Despite this, Guinea-Bissau stands in stark contrast with its neighbours, Gambia and Senegal, whom has criminalized same-sex acts and can prosecute a LGBTQ person to life in prison, respectively. Guinea-Bissau and grass roots organizations like Big Mama Fountain could be a movement to help liberate minorities throughout Africa.

FIRST WINNIE-THE-POOH, NOW JOHN OLIVER. After John Oliver’s most recent HBO program, China censored not only content about him, but the HBO website as well. A major part of John Oliver’s political satirist show is a 20-minute segment that focuses on major issues in both America and abroad. After he mocked China’s recent censoring of Winnie-the-Pooh after Chinese nationals were using the character as a symbol of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s increasing authority, and on a more serious note, the systematic censoring of all content deemed to jeopardize both the Communist Party of China and their nationalist agenda, China responded with the censoring of HBO and information about John Oliver as well. China’s actions elucidate their censoring agenda; any trend or entity that they believe could create substantial resentment or questioning of their regime and ideals must be shut down.

MARKETS REACT TO THE OPIOID CRISIS. As the opioid crisis throughout North America continues and begins to affect other regions, global production has spiked. Over the past three years, the production of opium has more than doubled. Political instability in Afghanistan - where nearly all opium is made - has allowed production to flourish. With this increased amount of opium available, it will only exacerbate the complex issue for governments to deal with.

NETHERLANDS JOINS THE CLUB. The Netherlands has passed legislation that will make it illegal to cover one's face in schools, government offices, and hospitals. Critics argue this law discriminates against Muslim women whom often cover their faces out of religious obligation. The proponents will point out that the law also includes coverings such as ski masks and face helmets. Regardless, the Netherlands joins Belgium, France, and Denmark, among other European states to have such a ban. Undoubtedly, this feeds into anti-Islam sentiment, including for the most anti-Islam political figure in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, a leader of a far-right political party.

A POLITICAL GAMBLE. U.S. President Trump and Russian President Putin will meet for a one on one meeting after the NATO summit concludes in mid-July. While this will be the first formal meeting between the two leaders, the have talked on two different occasions on the sidelines of other international meetings. Dependent on the outcome of these meeting and how much of it is made public, it could cost President Trump more than he may gain. Trump’s administration says it is to discuss relations and a range of national security issues. Yet, as the President continues to tweet about Russia’s lack of involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, many will be focused on the possibility of continued Russian entanglement in U.S. decision-making.