Watchlist: Political Fracturing in the UK Throughout Brexit Negotiations

Week of October 9th

Photo of Theresa May, opening a church fete in 2007


Massive Explosions Rock Ghanaian Capital

A series of explosions rocked the fuel district in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, Saturday evening. The explosions allegedly occurred when a natural gas tanker ignited while delivering fuel to a gas station. The flames then reportedly spread to another nearby gas station, causing a second explosion. Seven people were killed in the blasts, and more than 100 were injured. This explosion marks the second of its kind in the last two and a half years; in 2015, a gas station explosion killed nearly 150 people in Accra. The Ghanaian government will undoubtedly face increasing pressure in the coming days to enact measures to combat what is now clearly a trend of commonplace fire safety issues. VINEET CHANDRA


Silence Persists on the Terror of Rohingya Muslims

For more than a month now, in Myanmar’s western region of Rakhine, more than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since militants attacked police posts resulting in a severe military crackdown. The Burmese authorities have been facing intense pressure to end this violence and finally address the inhumanities occurring in Rakhine. Yet, the country’s largest city is a place where people abstain from even using the term Rohingya, as some even refer to them as illegal Bengali immigrants from Bangladesh. Instead of discussing the horrid conditions of the Rohingya now living in camps in Bangladesh, newspaper articles focus on the army finding mass graves of Hindus supposedly killed by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) militants. Senior UN officials have gone as far as describing the violence against Rohingya Muslims as ethnic cleansing, but the government Myanmar has since denied those charges. Rohingya’s have often been called the most persecuted minority in the world, as they face difficulty claiming citizenship in Myanmar or in any other country. An estimated 300,000 people were forced to leave their homes, as silence on this humanitarian crisis continues. SANURI GUNAWARDENA


Mexican Photojournalist Found Dead, Investigation Forthcoming

Photojournalist Edgar Daniel Esqueda Castro was found dead on October 6th in the central Mexican city of San Luis Potosí from various gunshot wounds. His wife has told media that he was abducted on October 5th by men who claimed to be local police, who stormed the couple’s home armed with weapons, smashed windows and took Esqueda away at gunpoint. Esqueda, who worked for both Metropolí San Luis and Vox Populi, allegedly was targeted before while photographing a shootout. He was threatened by detectives and forced to delete his photos of the shootout. It was also reported that Esqueda was asked for credentials and identification and that his house might be targeted because he was suspected of funneling information to the drug cartels in the area. The general prosecutor for the state made a public statement saying that an investigation was underway, and stated there was no warrant for Esqueda’s arrest. He also denied those who abducted and killed Esqueda were local state police. This is yet another instance of journalists disappearing or being killed in Mexico, and it remains to be seen if another will be done to improve press freedom and keep journalists safe. ANDREW MITCHEL


British Political Fracturing in Face of Brexit Negotiations

Infighting between British partisans leading into the fifth round of Brexit negotiations leaves the UK position weakened in advance of the European Union Summit on October 19. Theresa May’s now infamous speech to Conservatives in Manchester alienated supporters even farther, calling up questions about the Prime Minister’s ability to navigate Brexit talks and defend the British position. Under renewed pressure from UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and fellow conservatives, PM May called for “leadership and unity, not just from us but from our friends, the 27 nations of the EU.” Despite these optimistic assertions, ministers are drafting contingency plans in case EU officials do not agree on an exit deal. Gathering in Brussels in less than two weeks, EU officials will decide whether the UK has made sufficient progress to start discussions about future EU-UK relationships after the official Brexit. Numerous EU officials have expressed their doubts about Britain’s readiness to move forward, with Jean-Claude Juncker predicting little progress “unless miracles would happen.” ANNA HAYNES

Middle East

Kurdish Referendum Brushed Under The Rug By Global Leaders

The Secretary of the League of Arab States, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, has expressed his opposition to, and rejection of the recent Kurdish referendum calling for independence. In his opening speech at a NATO conference in Italy a few days ago, he rejected the referendum arguing that such an action only encourages division, especially as the Arab world contains an array of various ethnic minorities. He instead called for a more “inclusive political process [that] can bring people together and defend nation States.” The Arab League is not alone in this rejection of Kurdish autonomy. Iraq considers the referendum, which occurred in Iraqi Kurdistan, as illegal. Turkey and Iran, both of which have sizable Kurdish populations also refuted it. Even the United States, one of the Kurds’ closest allies in the fight against ISIS, distanced themselves from the referendum with Tillerson describing it as “illegal” and counter to a democratic Iraq. This will likely escalate tensions not only between the Iraqi central government and Kurdistan, but also with Kurdistan and the United States, particularly as Iraq tries to rebuild after rooting out the last few remaining ISIS holdouts. AYAH KUTMAH

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