Watchlist: Martial Law Madness

Week of January 16th

The team from the Ivory Coast take the field in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.


Africa Cup of Nations Kicks Off in Gabon

The 31st biennial AFCON football tournament began on Saturday in its host country Gabon.The tournament will feature 16 African teams playing in 32 matches for a chance at Africa’s most coveted football prize. On February 5th a new winner will be crowned, and the victors can expect to take home a prize equivalent to $4 million USD. Sixty years ago the cup began in Sudan with Egypt as its champion. Egypt stands as AFCON’s most successful competitor with a record seven championships, but this year we look to a few newcomers to make waves. Uganda qualified for the first time in 39 years and have the title of the CAF National Team of the Year, and Guinea Bissau gave a heroic effort in qualifiers to achieve their first-ever finals appearance. These Cinderella stories certainly have the potential to upset, but they face consistent giants in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Egypt, and Algeria. We look to see stellar performances from several Premier League stars such as Emerick Aubameyang, Riyad Mahrez, and Sadio Mane. For the next few weeks Gabon will handle both the excitement and chaos of hosting an international tournament of this magnitude with thousands of fans expected to attend the coming games. Whomever the winner or loser, this year’s AFCON promises an exhilarating and dramatic finish.



Duterte Threatens Martial Law

As a former state prosecutor and current President, Rodrigo Duterte is striving to preserve the sanctity of the Filipino people. Therefore, he is threatening to impose martial law in the Philippines if the drug problem worsens. During his anti-drug work, about six thousand people have been killed in six months. In his attempts to prevent the country from becoming a narco-state, Duterte is willing to utilize the military to enforce his anti-drug laws and indefinitely detain people who disobey such legislation. However, the constitution of the Philippines explains that a president can only declare martial law for sixty days. Following this period, martial law may only continue in order to stop an invasion or a rebellion. Now, Mr. Duterte claims that if he declares martial law, he will eliminate the sixty-day limit. (Even though about a month ago, Duterte explained how martial law had not historically improved people’s lives.) In his quest to rid the country of all illegal drugs, at least one million drug dealers as well as users have turned themselves over to the police. International leaders are condemning Duterte’s extreme policies, so stay tuned to discover if his actions may lead to his prosecution in the International Criminal Court.



Obama Lifts Visa-Free Residency for Cubans

Last Friday, President Obama ended a 20-year policy that allows Cubans to apply for citizenship in the United States without applying for a visa. Commonly known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, the law permits migrants with “at least one dry foot” on U.S. soil to become permanent residents after a year within the country. The Cuban government sees the policy as largely responsible for the country’s brain drain and encouraging migrants to risk their lives travelling to the Florida border. Meanwhile, many Latino communities view the law as unfairly favoring Cuban immigrants as opposed to other migrants. The move is seen as a last minute attempt by Obama to continue his legacy of thawing relations with the Caribbean island before President-elect Trump assumes office next week. Recently, Mr. Trump has taken a much tougher stance towards the policy, saying it rewards a communist country without respect for human rights, and suggested during his campaign that he could reverse the progress altogether. However, it remains unclear how much he prioritizes the issue, as he has previously commended Obama’s effort. The coming months should further clarify the outlook for US –Cuba relations.


New Mexican Ambassador to the United States: Nieto’s Response to Trump?

Enrique Peña Nieto has opted to appoint a new ambassador to the United States in the last days before the inauguration of new US President Donald Trump. The nominee, needing to be verified by the Mexican Senate, is economist Gerónimo Gutiérrez, who has been serving as the head of the North American Development Bank, which provides loans and services along the US-Mexico border from its Texas headquarters. Guitérrez has served in a plethora of governmental positions and is part of the PAN party, the opposition to Nieto’s PRI, and his appointment has a move towards internal unity in the face of Mexico-US relations being as bad as they are. The current minister will become the undersecretary for North American relations. The switch is in light of the current situation in Mexico being volatile in various ways, with uncertainty as the the status of NAFTA, the general decline of the peso due to relations with the United States and the oil crisis.



Cyprus Reunification Talks Set to Resume on Wednesday

As reunification talks between the governments of Greece, Turkey, and the UK are set to resume on January 18, hopes for a successful resolution to the nearly 50-year-long Cyprus conflict are unusually high. The willingness the Greeks and Turks have shown in their latest attempt to resolve the dispute is unprecedented, with António Guterres, the new UN secretary-general, going so far as to say that “enormous progress” is being made on the issue. The dispute stems from 1974, when Greek Cypriots attempted to incorporate the island, which is divided between a Greek Orthodox majority and Turkish Muslim minority, as part of Greece. This, in turn, led the Turkish government to invade the northern part of the island, which has been divided into Greek and Turkish sections ever since. However, last week, talks stalled over a disagreement on the future presence of Turkish troops on the island. That being said, hope remains that an accord can be reached, so watch for further developments as the reunification talks resume this week.


Middle East

International Community Urges Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine

Representatives from approximately 70 countries convened in Paris this Sunday to attend a Middle East peace conference with the goal of advancing efforts to achieve peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Representatives at the conference reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution, and “emphasized the importance for the parties to restate their commitment to this solution, to take urgent steps in order to reverse the current negative trends on the ground, including continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity,” as stated by the conference’s closing statement. Issues discussed include settlement activity, the status of Jerusalem, refugees, and borders, with pre-1967 borders being set up as the ideal frontiers. Neither Palestinian or Israeli representatives were present, though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the conference, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “useless”. The conference comes just days before Donald Trump’s administration takes office, an event that Netanyahu alluded to when he called the conference “among the last twitches of yesterday’s world.” Trump has promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, a move European and Arab allies have warned would be seen as a provocation and could potentially escalate tension in the area.


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