Week of November 5
Angela Merkel, 2008. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Separatist Militias Have Gone Too Far
Seventy-eight students were kidnapped from school in Cameroon last week, which governor Adolphe Lele L’Afrique has described to be an attack by separatist militias. This attack comes only a few weeks after violent attacks on polling places during the presidential election. The moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon stated that he promised to close the schools after speaking with the kidnappers. Separatist groups feel that the Cameroon school system undermines Cameroon’s English-speaking region. Conflict with separatist groups has become increasingly violent and President Paul Biya has much work ahead of him to repair a divided nation. LAUREN CAMP
Xi Promises Free Trade
President Xi Jinping gave a speech today promising to widen access to China’s economy. He mentioned that China would lower tariffs and implement severe punishments for intellectual property infringement. This sounds great, but is too soon to see if Xi will keep to his word. Critics are wary, as Xi did not mention any specific policy changes that actually support his goals of opening China’s economy. Leaders from the European Union, Russia, Pakistan, and may other smaller African and Asian countries are becoming fed up with China's selfishly-driven trade imbalance and foreign policies, and are skeptical to see if Xi will make any real compromise. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China stated, "nothing new was said that has not been heard before". LAUREN CAMP
World Bank: Large Costs to Venezuelan Migration to Colombia
A recent report by the World Bank predicts that the economic cost of migration due to economic and political crises in Venezuela to exceed $1 billion, or between .23% to .41% of Colombian gross domestic product. Almost half of the 2.3 million Venezuelans that have fled the country have ended up in Colombia, with almost 90% of Venezuelans in Colombia entering in the last two years. Many of the migrants have coalesced around the border area, creating a humanitarian challenge to provide services with limited existing infrastructure. Resultantly, this wave of migration has exhausted social programs like healthcare and education.
The UN, World Bank, Lima Group (a coalition of twelve prominent countries in the Americas working for a peaceful end to the crises in Venezuela), and the international community directly accuse Nicolás Maduro and his government as the cause of the migration exodus. Maduro has systematically undermined democratic principles, grossly mismanaged the world’s largest proven oil deposits, and promoted authoritarian violence throughout the country, leading to high levels of crime, malnourishment, and corruption. Consequently, Venezuelans, left with nothing, have fled in search of fulfilling basic biological needs.
The current challenge facing the international communities involves servicing the millions of Venezuelans that Maduro has displaced with humanitarian aid while mitigating the cause of their departure - the Maduro regime. Millions of Venezuelan migrants need aid now. Yet, it is even more urgent to resolve the crisis in Venezuela so that costs of migration do not exceed the capacity to provide basic humanitarian services to the migrants. JALEN ZEMAN
The End of Merkel's Era
It’s the end of an era. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced earlier this week that she will not be seeking re-election as head of her party the Christian Democratic Union, CDU, in 2019, and consequently would be looking to step from her position as chancellor in 2021. As of now, Merkel could hypothetically stay on until 2021 as chancellor, however she will be forced to step down earlier if the government calls for early elections. German media and the public have speculated that Merkel’s announcement comes in the wake of the recent political losses for the CDU; the party lost a significant amount of percentage points in recent regional elections in the state of Hesse, which were some of the worst losses experienced by the party in recent years. Additionally, the CDU’s Bavarian ally, the CSU, lost its parliamentary majority in early October 2018 which marked a significant negative shift for the party. In addition to election losses, there has been a growing dissatisfaction within the public towards the government and its leaders. Regardless of the future of German politics and of the CDU, Merkel’s departure will be felt not just in Germany but throughout Europe. As one of the most prominent leaders within the EU and a dominant voice on the international stage, the world will be watching closely as Germany heads into its next chapter. SELIN LEVI
Trump Sanctions Intensify Anti-American Sentiment in Iran
On Sunday, November 4th, thousands of Iranians took part in demonstrations in Tehran for two reasons: the 39th anniversary of the student takeover of the US embassy, and President Trump's reimposition of sanctions on Iran. Doing away with Obama's nuclear deal with Iran meant souring the one of the rare sweet spots in the history of US-Iran relations since the 1979 revolution. For that reason, the coinciding date with the embassy crisis only meant an even larger and more fired-up crowd. While the fervor of the crowd is undeniable, it will likely take more than just protest to get Iran out of its already mushrooming economic woes. BASIL ALSUBEE