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 Week of November 21

Election workers sort ballots in the 2011 Haitian elections.

Africa

 

United Nations Considers South Sudan Arms Embargo

 

On Thursday, the United States announced that it was willing to impose an arms embargo against South Sudan as well as travel restrictions against those believed to have facilitated the increased violence. Although the United Nations Security has debated imposing an arms embargo several times since the South Sudanese Civil War broke out in 2013, no agreement has yet been reached to put one into place. Many have touted the embargo as a solution to stem the increasing flow of violence in the conflict. However, the ubiquity of weapons has led others to question the effectiveness of the embargo. Both sides already have enough weapons to prolong the conflict. Although no permanent members have been unequivocal in their support or opposition to the embargo, China and Russia have generally argued against the embargo while the rest of the Security Council is seemingly in favor of the resolution. It remains to be seen how the United States’ newly indicated determination to find a solution before the end of President Obama’s tenure will impact the Security Council’s negotiations on the imposition of the embargo. MOUSTAFA EL-KASHLAN

Americas

 

Peruvian Protests ahead of the APEC Meetings

 

Various groups of Peruvians took to the streets in the capital of Lima to protest before the upcoming meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Council, or APEC, this weekend in the city. Many had anti-TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) banners and some were directed at United States President Barack Obama. Peru is a signatory on the TPP, which seeks to decrease tariffs on trade throughout the Pacific Rim. Notable nations that have not signed this treaty include China, and President-elect Trump’s stance on the TPP is unclear. Others protesting included hundreds of fishermen who were not being allowed to fish off the coast of Lima during the meeting due to security concerns. This was mandated by the Navy, claiming it was necessary to avoid any threats to the city center. These fishermen were joined by farmers protesting a recent mining project in Apurimac that has caused extensive damage to their arable land. The city authorities declared a non-working holiday in the city, creating a 4-day weekend in the city to decrease traffic and prepare for the arrival of dignitaries from the Pacific Rim. Stay tuned for reports on the results of the meeting. ANDREW MITCHEL

 

Haiti Finally Votes

 

After over one year in the making, Haiti held its much delayed presidential elections on Sunday, November 20. The previous election, which took place in October of 2015, was disregarded completely as many politicians claimed widespread voter fraud. Hurricane Matthew, which ravaged the Haiti last month, further delayed the elections. Haitians chose between 27 different political candidates for a winner who needs to win more than 50% of the vote. The election arrives at a crucial point of rebuilding for Haiti, as natural disasters, government corruption, and an elevated cost of living have brought difficult times to the island. To ease worries of potentially repeated voter fraud, the Organization of American States heavily monitored the completely paper ballot vote submission across Haiti. Though some isolated incidences of violence occurred, for the most part officials are confident that many voters turned out to vote, despite difficult conditions left by Hurricane Matthew (in the southwest) and floods in the north of Haiti. It will take approximately a week for the votes to be counted, look out for the election results soon. AVA TAVRAZICH

Asia

 

Kanpur Train Crash

 

Almost fourteen train cars from the Indore-Patna Express derailed this past Sunday near the city of Kanpur. Rescuers are still attempting to recover the injured and dead from the site of damage. The death toll continues to rise from 127 and is expected to increase even further as more debris is cleared and more bodies are uncovered. The cause of the train crash is still unknown, however, it is thought to be due to a fracture in a track that the train crossed around three in the morning. The majority of the victims were located in the two carriages nearest the engine, where the cars were overturned and severely damaged. The railway rescuers are attempting to use extreme measures to find the lost passengers, but it is proving to be very difficult to cut the metal carriages. An investigation as to the perpetrators behind the train crash is under way and the maximum punishment will be given. Consequently, compensation will be provided for the unfortunate passengers who were injured and the family of the innocent passengers who died from this tragedy. Stay posted for updates. SANURI GUNAWARDENA

Europe

 

Italy’s Constitutional Referendum

 

Reformist Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has called a Constitutional Referendum scheduled for Dec 4, set to expedite the notoriously slow and gridlocked Italian legislative process. The proposal seeks to strip the direct election of senators in the upper house of Italy’s bicameral Parliament in exchange for indirect, regional elections, as well as reduce the number of representatives from approximately 300 to 100 and strip the senate of any final say over non-Constitutional issues. Additionally, the proposition assures the Prime Minister a five-year term with a guaranteed parliamentary majority. Renzi affirms the reforms will expedite change and create a more active government better prepared to tackle Italy’s main problems: economic stagnation, youth unemployment, widespread corruption, and the migrant crisis. Critics suspect the referendum will increase the powers of the Prime Minister, as well as limit the influence of Italian voters. However, it is not the referendum itself, but the man who proposed it, that Italians are likely to vote on. After stating he will resign should the proposal fail, many have taken the referendum as a de-facto vote of confidence. Given that Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are grappling with low approval ratings at home, should the vote fail, it may mean the end of EU optimism in what are traditionally seen as its “Big Three” supportive members. MEGS ROWLEY

Middle East

 

Iraqi-led Forces Continue to Gain Momentum in the Battle for Islamic State-Controlled Mosul

 

In another episode of the battle for Mosul, the Iraqi-led coalition against the Islamic State, called Euphrates Rage, continues to gain momentum. The Iraqi military initiated the military campaign to retake Mosul one month ago, the Islamic State’s last major urban center in the country. With triumphant efforts in the eastern part of the city, the Iraqi-led coalition has shifted focus toward the center of Iraq’s second largest city. On Sunday, Iraqi forces, aligned with Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers, pushed into the city, slowed down only by IS sniper fire coupled with suicide bombings from IS militants. Nonetheless, Iraqi forces captured the al-Zohour neighborhood of Mosul, only 8 kilometers from the city center. As the Iraqi forces, assisted by a US-coalition, continue to lay siege on the city, an increasingly worrisome refugee situation is ensuing. According to the UNHCR, more than 60,000 residents have fled their home since the massive military operation was launched in mid-October. Intriguingly, many refugees from IS-controlled Mosul have fled to war-torn Syria. This week, look for increased Iraqi offensive against the Islamic State in Mosul, coupled with an increased in Iraqi refugee influx across the Syrian-Iraqi border. JALAL TALEB

 

As the Syrian Assault on Rebel-held Eastern Aleppo Continues, Rebel Retaliation Intensifies   

 

The Syrian bombardment of Aleppo continued this week, as Damascus intensified its targeting of Islamists and rebel forces in the Eastern part of the city. The relentless bombing by the Syrian government in the last few days gained momentum, quashing resistance in the rebel-held part of Syria’s biggest pre-war city. On Sunday, with air assistance from Russian forces and a ground assault by Hezbollah, Syrian-allied forces made advancements in Hanano, a strategic district in the rebel-held part of the city. At the same time, rebel bombardment of government-held Western Aleppo killed at least eight children, aged from six to 12, among the ten deaths reported in the Saria Hasoun School, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian-state media. This week, the talks between the envoy of the United Nations to Syria, Staffan De Mistura and Syrian Foreign Ministry officials are projected to intensify. On Sunday, the United Nations proposed a deal that the Syrian government should recognize a local administration in Eastern Aleppo. The Syrian government has outright denied this diplomatic strategy, citing hardline Islamist influence in Eastern Aleppo, particularly by Jabhat Fatah al Sham. Aleppo has become the focal point in the Syrian conflict, as the army and its allies alternate intense bombardment and ground attacks with offers to rebels to quit the city during periods of reduced bombing – this cycle is only predicted to continue this week, even in the midst of renewed peace talks with the United Nations. JALAL TALEB

 

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