The World This Week: October 22nd, 2018

Latin America and The Caribbean

The migrant caravan traveling north from Honduras has reportedly swelled to nearly 4,000 people. The crowds reportedly clashed with border guards at the Mexico-Honduras border amid U.S. calls for action by both governments. Mexico has requested U.N. assistance to process asylum requests and will allegedly deport any individuals who fail to abide by the process or provide identity documents.

Venezuela switches to the Euro. Amid the U.S. sanctioning campaign against the Maduro Regime, the government has pledged to no longer use the USD for Oil transactions. Venezuela’s finance minister hopes this will allow the government to circumvent U.S. efforts.

Protesters and diplomats interrupted a U.N. meeting on Cuba’s political prisoners. The U.S. and the Organization of American States sponsored a meeting Tuesday to discuss Cuba’s human rights violations and unlawful detention practices. Cuban and Bolivian diplomats suddenly began shouting over U.S. and OAS representatives. Several others in the rafters also participated in the protest.

The Haitian president and his security detail were fired upon by unidentified gunmen Wednesday. The incident occurred at a ceremony where tens of thousands of citizens showed up to protest embezzlement of public funds. President Moise was unharmed although two of the National Palace General Security Unit were wounded.

 

Middle East and North Africa

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia claimed Jamal Khashoggi died during a fistfight that took place in the consulate. While this is the first time Saudi Arabia has admitted having a role in the journalist’s disappearance, there are still conflicting reports about the details of what happened. Many world leaders are calling for further explanation about Jamal Khashoggi’s death; German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that no arms will be sold to Saudi Arabia while there is still uncertainty over the case.

Jordan will not renew a land deal with Israel that is set to expire after 25-years. The deal, which is used mainly by Israeli farmers, allows the country to use two separate tracts of Jordanian territory. While Israel has said it has hopes to still enter into negotiation over the issue, King Abdullah of Jordan has stated that ending the deal is a matter of protecting national interests.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa

Students at Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have begun protesting and boycotting lectures over what they describe as unwarranted brutality by campus security and university management. Students have been mounting roadblocks and vandalizing property in response to 11 students being arrested by police after attending a standard weekend party, which were recently banned by the university. Protests turned violent when police injured two students.

The results from the recent election in Cameroon show the 85-year-old incumbent Paul Biya will continue his 36-year Presidency for seven more years. The controversial election was marked with protests from the English-speaking regions of the country. Biya’s main opposition, Maurice Kamto, has announced he will not attend the proclamation of results by the Constitutional Council.

Kenya and Uganda have finally opted for the creation of a joint commission that will determine ownership of the disputed Lake Victoria island. For more than a decade, the two East African nations have been arguing over its ownership.  The stalemate has been a concern for fishermen for many years. Experts from both countries have tried to settle the dispute with a document of former British settlers dating back to 1926, but nothing has yet been solved. Kenyan fishermen and local politicians are calling on the government to ask the International Court of Justice to settle the dispute.

 

Europe and Central Asia

Poland’s ruling eurseptic Law and Justice party (PiS) is on track to win the top spot in the regional election. It has been accused of shifting towards an authoritarian rule, believing that the EU’s powers should be limited. It has already had a fallout with the bloc over Poland’s court system, which the EU says breaches its laws by undermining judicial independence and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands took part in the Brexit march on Saturday to demand a people’s vote on the final terms of the split with the EU on March 29th. Young voters led the People’s Vote march to London’s Parliament Square which attracted approximately 700,000 protestors. Organizers say another vote is needed due to the facts which have now come out about the costs and complexity of Britain’s exit from the EU.

Russian Vnesheconombank and the Tashkent City Administration have signed a cooperation agreement after a state visit of President Vladimir Putin to the city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The agreement is intended to develop long-term, effective cooperation in financing road traffic management programs, modernizing urban transport, and road facilities in Tashkent. It will use Russian machines, equipment, and digital technologies of up to $100 million. Both Russian and Uzbekistani authorities believe that the signing of the agreement is part of a large-scale plan for the development of comprehensive and mutually-beneficial cooperation between the Russian Federation and Uzbeckistan.

 

East Asia and the Pacific

The US is considering sailing ships through the Strait of Taiwan in an effort to demonstrate the American military’s right to travel freely through international waters. The sail-through would come just after defense secretary Jim Mattis met with regional defense chiefs in Singapore and stated that, “The US will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, and we encourage all nations to confidently exercise their right to do the same.” The move comes amid rising tensions between Beijing and Washington and not long after American and Chinese warships nearly collided in the South Chinese Sea. In July two US navy ships sailed through the Strait which came after a Chinese aircraft carrier battle group traversed the waters in January. While an American pass through the Strait would be seen as a demonstration of support for the island within Taiwan America has not wavered from its One-China policy, which Vice President Mike Pence reaffirmed in a speech earlier this month.

Last week a senior Chinese official offered the government’s fullest defense yet of its detention of Uighur Muslims in the country’s far Western province of Xinjiang. In an interview published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, the chairman of China’s Xinjiang region explained that the camps are vocational schools and are vital to cracking down on religious extremism. US and UN officials estimate hundreds of thousands of mostly ethnic Uighurs have been detained in the camps since 2016. Uighurs subjected to the camps have described being held against their will, forced to sing patriotic songs and participate in other political indoctrination activities, and denounce Islam. Accounts have shown conditions in the camps vary widely with some resembling vocational schools while others more resemble prisons. Chinese law does not allow for indefinite detention without trial and so Xinjiang’s camps can only be legal if they are voluntary. China’s resort to mass detentions comes after a years-long government campaign to suffocate an occasionally violent Uighur separatist movement that Beijing says has links to extremist religious groups abroad.

 

South Asia

Violence escalated in Afghanistan this week as voters went to the polls on Saturday to determine the outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections. Election observers expect the results to be deeply flawed, marred by increased violence, technical glitches, and fraud. The Taliban declared the election to be illegitimate and vowed to step up its violent insurgency in response. Indeed, ten candidates standing for Parliamentary seats were killed in Taliban attacks as they campaigned for political office. Just last week, the Taliban successfully assassinated Kandahar’s strongman, Abdul Raziq, and injured a NATO general, dealing a devastating blow to government forces in the run-up to elections. Though Raziq successfully restored some measure of security to Kandahar, he was long suspected of committing systemic human rights violations.

Following this attack, the vote in Kandahar was once again delayed, this time for a week. Despite the increased violence and nationwide technical glitches resulting from the introduction of biometric voting systems, the vote was viewed by some analysts as a step in the right direction. 4 million Afghanis, nearly half of the electorate, voted on Saturday with at least a million more expected to turn out on Sunday, after polling places extended their vote by a day in response to long wait times and other logistical challenges. Of the 2,500 candidates standing for election, an unprecedented four hundred women were among them, representing marked progress for this deeply conservative society.

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