Watchlist: Carles Puigdemont Detained Following European Arrest Warrant

Week of March 26th

Protestors gather in Barcelona following Carles Puigdemont's arrest (Source: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)


Democratic Republic of Congo Refuses to Attend Aid Conference

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a country struggling to provide a basic quality of life for its citizens. The ethnic conflict in the Ituri province has displaced thousands of people from their homes, and malnutrition and disease are widespread. More than 13 million Congolese are in need of aid, and the situation is worsening. The United Nations has labeled this crisis a Level 3 - the highest level of emergency that can be declared. The organization is set to hold a conference for the DR Congo in Geneva on April 13th, 2018. The purpose of this conference is to raise $1.7bn for the humanitarian crisis. However, acting Prime Minister Jose Makila has said the UN’s response was deterring investors and presenting a "bad image of DR Congo throughout the world.” He later announced that the DR Congo would not take part in this conference. The citizens of the DR Congo are furious at their government for their lack of support, and at President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, and has overstayed his term which was supposed to end in December 2016. Kabila has yet to visit a refugee camp, something that he has promised to do. As of now the government of the DR Congo is refusing to attend the conference, in an apparent denial of just how bad the situation is. GRACE BRISTOL


Trade Tensions Rise Between the US and China

Concerns continue to grow over the impending trade war between the United States and China. With news of American tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese goods, economic relations between the two countries have hit another visible bump. Asian markets reacted particularly harshly to the impending clash: the Japanese Nikkei 225 index fell 4.5% and the Shanghai Composite fell by 3.6%. While investors around the world are clearly rattled, the trade war should still be considered to be in its opening stages. China’s rather muted response to American tariffs should be indicative of this: a mere $3 billion tariff on American fruit, nuts, pork, and steel pipes. If China had truly wished to draw blood, it would have imposed harsher tariffs on soybeans, sorghum, and aircraft—key US exports to China. Yet, by leaving some room for negotiation, China has the potential to de-escalate or escalate accordingly. Perhaps these tariffs are nothing more than posturing and pressure from both sides. However, it will be crucial to keep an eye on US actions. If pressure is ratcheted up further, the trade war may truly become a bloody brawl instead of a simple slinging of words. WARREN YU


Reconciliation in the Falklands as Dead Argentines are Identified

After years of careful cooperation and advances in DNA technology, 88 Argentine soldiers who died in the Falkland War have been identified, their names finally placed on their final resting place in a small graveyard on the windswept arcipelago. The collaboration between British and Argentine officials, as well as input from the families of these unidentified soldiers, has signaled a keen desire for further reconciliation between the two nations who fought over these islands in the South Atlantic in 1982. This cooperation and desire for easing tensions between the two is exemplified in a ceremony at the Argentine embassy in London where families and dignitaries were presented with ‘peace roses,’ metal roses made from shrapnel and scrap metal from the conflict. The small aforementioned ceremony on the islands this past week saw the names of the soldiers placed on each grave. Those involved in this project worked to ensure that the bodies were treated with dignity and now the graves contain the names of these soldiers, most of whom came from remote parts of Argentina. The Marci presidency has backed away quite a bit from the rhetoric of previous regimes about the Malvinas (the Argentine name for the Falklands) being Argentine. This likely signals a changing tide in the overall relationship between these two nations. ANDREW MITCHELL


Ex-Catalan Leader Detained by German Police

Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has been detained by German police acting on a European arrest warrant for his return to Spain. The ex-leader is wanted for sedition and rebellion after his separatist region of Catalonia unilaterally declared independence in October following what Madrid calls an illegal independence referendum. While Puigdemont has been living in Brussels in self-imposed exile since then, the formal warrant for his arrest was only drawn up in December and just reissued Friday. It comes along with those of 25 other Catalan leaders, sparking massive protests in Barcelona. Puigdemont was in Helsinki, Finland at the time it was announced, but evaded authorities by slipping out of the country early. The activist was attempting to return to Belgium Sunday when he was caught crossing the Danish border into northern Germany. His warrant is one of many legal setbacks to the independence movement, which has lost momentum in recent months due to the arrests of many top activists. It has the potential to permanently extradite Puigdemont and kill the movement, which has been hoping for but has yet to receive international backing from his exile. MEGHAN ROWLEY

Middle East

Egypt Prepares for Presidential Elections

Egyptians will head to the polls on March 26-28, as the country grapples with a terrorist insurgency by Sinai Province, an ISIS affiliate, and increasing crackdowns on political dissent. The country has been under a state of emergency since April 2017, when two Coptic Christian churches were attacked in suicide bombings on Palm Sunday, killing 126 people. Most recently, on Saturday, two policemen were killed in Alexandria in an assassination attempt on a prominent general. Meanwhile, political dissent in the country has been increasingly risky, with the Egyptian government jailing the highest number of journalists since record-keeping began in the 1990s. The latest crackdown has targeted foreign journalists in particular, including a prominent British journalist, who was detained and expelled from the country with no stated cause on Friday. In this atmosphere of dual threats to public safety, on the one hand, and free press, on the other, presidential elections will be held later this month. The election pits incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi against Moussa Mostafa Moussa, a relatively unknown politician and the leader of a minor political party. Although Sisi is almost certain to win a second term, watch the elections carefully as Sisi looks likely to continue his consolidation of political power. MARK DOVICH

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