Watchlist: Emergency in Ethiopia

Week of November 14th

View of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia.


Over 11,000 Arrested in Ethiopia

It was announced on November 13th that over 11,000 individuals had been arrested in Ethiopia since the government, which has been in power for 25 years, imposed a six-month state of emergency in October. The state of emergency was called due to protests surrounding development plans for Addis Ababa, the capital. It is believed the plans will force farmers in surrounding areas off of their land. The state of emergency includes blocked access to social media sites and mobile Internet in the capital, curfews, and a ban on diplomats traveling farther than 40 kilometers outside of the capital without permission. In addition to the arrests, over 500 deaths have been linked to the protests that began last year. Further developments are sure to unfold as the protests and state of emergency both continue. EMMA STOUT


Trump’s TPP

In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise presidential victory, President Obama has suspended efforts to have the Trans-Pacific Partnership sent to and approved by Congress. Throughout his campaign, Trump advocated against many of the US’s current and future trade deals, including the TPP, labeling it a disaster for the American economy and blaming free trade agreements for US job losses. Trump’s election essentially ensured that the US would not join the TPP. China’s foreign ministry spokesman made a statement rebuffing Trump’s critiques on the current status of trade between the United States and China saying trade had, “benefited the people on both sides, including the American people, and has increased employment, rather than the opposite.” CHRIS PANG


Petrobras Scandal Continues on in Brazil

This past week the Brazilian Congress began drafting legislation to grant themselves immunity from the probe investigating the Petrobas Scandal. The scandal involved awarding massive construction contracts to the state-run oil company in exchange for kickbacks and bribes given to dozens of Brazilian politicians. The fallout has revealed that corruption is widespread in Brazilian politics. At least one-third of the current Congress is under investigation along with the former president, Lula, the recently impeached president, Dilma Rousseff, and the current standing president, Michel Temer. The Brazilian Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot, has responded by saying that neither the people nor the Supreme Court will give its support to the legislation. He believes the Brazilian people support the investigations, and the Supreme Court will not look to derail the probe. Janot has said that evidence continues to flow in and international cooperation has allowed his office to prosecute several politicians. It remains to be seen if any of the legislation aiming to give embattled politicians immunity will be passed. ANDREW MITCHEL

New and Improved Colombian Peace Agreement Signed

After the Colombian public rejected a peace deal between the government and the Farc rebel group, the two groups have reached a new agreement. The original agreement, which ended the 52-year civil war in the country, was rejected by only 55,000 votes this past October. Many critics from the “No” campaign claimed the agreement favored the leftist rebels too heavily and complaints arose that the sentences for Farc criminals were too lenient and compensation should not be granted to Farc members for financial assistance. Regardless, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiations and the agreement was heralded internationally. Lead negotiators of the updated agreement are confident that many of the criticisms held by those who voted “no” are largely clarified and resolved, with revisions that harden the sentences for criminals and require Farc rebels to submit a list of assets for victim compensation. It is not yet clear if the Colombian public will approve of the new agreement, but regardless it will likely not be subject to another referendum, but rather a vote by the Colombian Congress. Look out this week for more details on the agreement. AVA TAVARAZICH


Hollande in Hot Water

Several conservative French MPs have called for the impeachment of President Francois Hollande, following the publication of a controversial book. ‘A President Should Not Say That’ alleges that the Holland shared classified information with journalists and used demeaning language about homeless citizens in private. Whether or not opposition MPs are able to impeach Hollande, his approval rating ahead of the 2017 election has nosedived - 86% of surveyed French voters said they do not want him to run for a second term. The Republican Party hopes to gain support in the April 2017 elections as a result of this “political suicide.” Leading up to their November 20th and 27th primary elections, it’s likely that the two Republican frontrunners, former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Alain Juppé, will use this controversy to their advantage and perhaps push for impeachment. ELISABETH BRENNEN

The Middle East

As the Syrian Government’s Eastern Aleppo Assault Intensifies, the United Nations Warns of Starvation Forthcoming

On October 28, the Syrian opposition launched a campaign to retake two neighborhoods in government-held Western Aleppo, gaining momentum in a battle for Aleppo against the Syrian government. The rebel-led campaign to capture the Al Assad and Minyan districts of Western Aleppo gained traction; however, the counterattack has since been reversed. On Saturday, Syrian government forces regained control over the pivotal districts of Western Aleppo, ending an attempt by insurgents to break the government siege. The Syrian government is preparing for a major offense against rebel-held areas of the city, continuing to bombard the opposition’s diminishing control over eastern Aleppo. On Sunday, the Syrian government sent text messages to residents and rebels in eastern Aleppo, urging them to leave the area within twenty-four hours. According to Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javid, “an all-out assault in the next 24 hours” is near, projected to commence Monday morning. The situation is increasingly graver for civilians, as the last food rations are to run out by the end of next week, according to Jan Egeland, the special adviser to the UN envoy in Syria. More than 250,000 people are in dire need of receiving aid, but this has been difficult to deliver due to resistance by rebel groups in the city. This week, look for the Syrian government to continue its assault on opposition forces, while dire humanitarian concerns loom. JALAL TALEB

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