Watchlist: Prime Minister Hariri Returns to Lebanon After Resigning Abroad

Week of November 20th

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, 22 April 2015 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


In Response to Calls to Step Down, Mugabe Shows Defiance

93 year-old President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe was placed under house arrest by his own military on Tuesday. While some described the action as a military takeover, Major General Sibusiso Moyo said "We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes ... As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy." Business Insider among others have speculated that the military is acting to keep power away from Mugabe’s wife, Grace, who is 42 years younger than her husband and has been building a government profile the past few years. While the military has since recognized Mugabe as the leader of the country, ruling party Zanu-PF has offered an ultimatum to Mugabe - step down by noon on Monday or face impeachment. WILL FEUER


Buddhist-Muslim Street Clashes in Sri Lanka

A recent outbreak of violence in Sri Lanka’s Galle province between Buddhists and Muslims has resulted in the deployment of riot police and army troops. Nineteen people were arrested following the eruption of clashes after a major traffic accident, resulting in the imposition of a 6pm-6am curfew for the second night in a row now. Around ten vehicles were destroyed, most of which were owned by Muslims, along with the demolition of sixty-two homes and businesses. The outbreak of street violence between Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Muslims after a hostile exchange between a Muslim woman and a Buddhist male motorist. The Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka warned people against stirring up sectarian hatred on social media, but numerous individuals were still arrested for spreading false rumors and messages online that contributed to the escalation of violence. Three years ago, similar clashes forced thousands of Muslims to abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. Stay tuned to discover whether history will repeat itself in the near future for Sri Lanka. SANURI GUNAWARDENA


The Search for Argentina’s Missing Submarine Continues

On Wednesday, Nov 15th, an Argentine Submarine – the ARA San Juan –vanished 240 miles from the country’s coast with 44 crewmembers aboard. The Argentine Navy reports they first lost signal with the vessel near the Valdez Peninsula while the craft was completing a routine voyage back from Ushuaia in Patagonia to Mar del Plata south of Buenos Aires. On Saturday, Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad remarked the receipt of seven satellite calls seeming to originate from the submarine, signaling hope that the crew is still alive. Aguad was cautiously optimistic, noting that the submarine must be close enough to the surface of the water to fully extend its antenna and make contact. Several countries have since offered to help locate the ARA San Juan, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and neighboring Chile. Authorities are working with a US company specializing in satellite tracking to pinpoint the craft’s location, while a US Navy aircraft, a NASA airplane, and a British Royal Navy ice patrol ship joined the search. Unfortunately, 8m waves and 40-knot winds are hampering the search’s visibility. Authorities say the vessel has enough oxygen, food, and water to last two weeks. MEGHAN ROWLEY


11th Time’s the Charm

This past Friday marked Russia’s 11th veto regarding Syria, and Security Council members are quickly growing disheartened. Over the past few weeks Russia has been staunch in its opposition to anything related to the UN mandated “OPCW-JIM” or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Joint Investigative Mechanism. Russia claims that JIM is biased and has made “baseless accusations” against the Assad regime. Such “accusations” include JIM findings that the Syrian government has been complicit in at least two attacks using chlorine gas in 2014 and 2015, and at least one use of sarin in an aerial attack this past April. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention and condemned by the international community, but the denial of any form of association between Assad and the use of chemical weapons by Russia is limiting the progress of the Security Council. In fact, two vetoes in under 24 hours on extending the mandate establishing JIM, has made very clear that Russia is not at all interested in pursuing justice for the hundreds of Syrian civilians who have suffered and died from these attacks. As long as Russia continues to prioritize upholding their relationship with Assad over upholding human rights, no progress can be made to preserve JIM’s mandate. B.A. BACIGAL

Middle East

Prime Minister Hariri Returns to Lebanon on Independence Day

After a political conundrum struck Beirut on November 4 following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia, Mr. Hariri is set to return to Beirut on Tuesday. His resignation ended almost a year of stability and shared rule between Lebanon’s rival parties, blaming Hezbollah and Iranian interference, and citing assassination plots against him. Lebanese intelligence officials declared that the alleged assassination plot was an unsubstantiated claim, only adding to the suspicion surrounding the Prime Minister’s pre-recorded resignation speech. Hariri did not return home to present his resignation and stayed in Saudi Arabia for two weeks, fueling rumors that he was under house arrest. Stories emerged that he was immediately treated as a prisoner when he arrived in Saudi Arabia, followed by an unsettling interview with Paula Yacoubian on November 12. On Saturday, Mr. Hariri arrived in Paris, following a visit by President Emmanuel Macron to Saudi Arabia late last week. Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, says will not accept Hariri’s resignation until it is delivered in person. On the 11th of November 1943, French forces raided the houses of several Lebanese officials, three days after the Lebanese Parliament had unilaterally abolished the French mandate. Emile Edde was appointed as President, the parliament was dissolved, and Lebanon’s leaders were arrested and imprisoned in the Rashaya citadel. France eventually yielded to Lebanese and international pressure, and the release of the prisoners on the 22nd of November has since been celebrated as the Lebanese Independence Day. This November 22nd, exactly 74 years later, Hariri returns home, and indeed, France is involved, but with a slightly different role. JALAL H. TALEB

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