Watchlist: Buhari is Back

Week of March 13th

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Buhari Returns to Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country on Friday after having been gone for several weeks.The nature of his absence was a mystery to many as the President and those close to him kept quiet about the circumstances surrounding his leave. The president had not given a time frame for when he expected to return and rumors swirled around his health. His stay in London was meant to be a vacation but was extended for a medical leave. Nigerians have not been updated on the status of his health but even as Buhari has returned to Nigeria it was announced Vice President Buhari would continue to act as president as the president continued medical tests. Many are left wondering if Buhari is up to the tasks of governing the country and handling its complex issues. Stay tuned to see how President Buhari’s health affects the nation. Emma Stout


San Jose Pinula Girl Shelter Fire

The death toll for the fire at a government shelter in Guatemala has risen as girls have died to to burns. The fire broke out last Wednesday and officials are reporting that the fire began when shelter residents set mattresses afire as a protest. Lingering questions remain for many parents and relatives as to why the children would have set the fire and if the doors of the shelter had remained locked as the fire burned, trapping the girls. Reports say that the girls set fire to the mattresses after having attempted an escape the previous night due to their fears of mistreatment, bad food and rape. Still, family members question the reports that it was the girls who set the mattresses on fire, believing their children would have known it was suicide and that their daughters would not try to take their own lives. Still even those who believe the girls did set the fire say the real crime was the fact that the doors remained locked. While the event is still under investigation, the exact causes may never be known. EMMA STOUT


India Court Convicts 31 Over Riot at Maruti Suzuki Plant

Back in 2012, violent protests ensued at car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki’s main plant outside India’s capital in Delhi. A court in India has now convicted thirty-one workers and another 117 factory workers were acquitted. These protests involved a senior manager being beaten to death as well as the injuries of two Japanese nationals. This extreme violence was linked to disagreements over wages and contracts. Thus, the carmaker temporarily ceased production at the factory. Due to the high tension surrounding these verdicts, extra police were stationed outside the factory in Manesar. Seven workers were found guilty of homicide, and they will be sentenced later this week. Managers and workers blamed each other for starting this issue and causing months of strained labor relations. Stay tuned to discover the aftermath of this five-year-old factory riot, as the fate of many people involved will be decided in the coming days. SANURI GUNAWARDENA


Turkish Referendum Stokes Tensions in Europe

Turkey’s upcoming constitutional referendum has become a point of contention in European politics, further straining relations between European governments and Turkish emigre communities living in Europe. The controversial vote, scheduled for April 2017, asks for voters’ approval to rewrite the constitution, giving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broad and unprecedented powers. Because more than one million Turks living in Europe are eligible to vote in the referendum, several high-ranking members of the Turkish government have tried to host political rallies in European cities, campaigning for a “yes” victory. Yet, European authorities, notably in Germany and the Netherlands, have canceled planned rallies and turned away Turkish officials, claiming that they do not want Turkish politics to interfere in their own countries’ politics. In response, President Erdogan has accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of “Nazi-style practices” and labeled the Dutch nation “a Nazi remnant”, threatening to further stoke interethnic tensions within European societies. Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia and rightwing nationalism across Europe, watch for rising tensions between European authorities and Turks living in Europe as the referendum approaches. MARK DOVICH

Middle East

Saudi’s Crown Prince to Visit The White House

On early Monday morning, the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to engage in talks with President Donald Trump in the United States. Prince Mohammed is at the forefront of the Saudi economic reform plan, which seeks to expand the Gulf giant’s financial strength beyond energy markets. Limited information is available on the agenda of the meeting; however, Prince Mohammed also serves as the defense minister for the Saudis, a country whose role is crucial in the conflict in Yemen. Interestingly, Mr. Salman is the first Arab leader President Trump spoke with on the phone in January after the inauguration, signifying the strong ties between the two nations. With OPEC’s recent plans to slash oil production, the turbulent oil market will look to this meeting for any implications for the year ahead. Furthermore, there is speculation that the meeting between Mr. Salman and President Trump will entail future military relations between the countries moving forward, particularly on a Middle East strategy. Lastly, the bilateral meeting will almost certainly discuss potential investment opportunities by American companies in the Kingdom. This will be Mr. Trump’s first meeting with an Arab leader in the White House, with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas expected to be visiting in the coming weeks. JALAL H. TALEB

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