Watchlist: Tensions Rise Ahead of Upcoming Korea Summit

Week of February 11th, 2019

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump at the Singapore Summit in July 2018

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Boko Haram Continues Attacks Amidst Nigeria’s Campaign Process

Nigeria is in the midst of an election process, with the general election happening on February 16th. The current President Muhammadu Buhari won past elections running on a campaign of military experience and hardline opposition to corruption. President Buhari has also made large claims of victory over Boko Haram, an Islamic State in West Africa. However, with the general election in 5 days, about 30,000 residents have had to flee their homes in northeast Nigeria from Boko Haram’s attacks (CNN). While there have been victories over Boko Haram during the past administrations, the insurgency creates room for oppositional candidates to criticize the effectiveness of current strategy and policy. With little time before the election, it might come as as blow to the Buhari administration; as their ability to combat Boko Haram weakens, so does their image. RACHEL MILNER


Tensions Between Japan and South Korea Ahead of Trump's North Korea Summit

In advance of President Donald Trump’s second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un on February 27-28, tensions between Japan and South Korea –– who in the past have formed a “triangular alliance” with the United States in the region –– have risen to their highest point in decades. An undercurrent of tension has always existed in the two countries’ relationship stemming from South Korean grievances over Japanese misdeeds during their colonial administration of the country, but relations have deteriorated rapidly in recent months in the absence of U.S. mediation. In late October, a South Korean court ruled a Japanese steel corporation must compensate Korean workers for forced labor during colonial times –– a decision lambasted by Shinzo Abe’s conservative, nationalist government, which has been reluctant in the past to confront the country’s troubled past. The rift widened significantly in late December as Tokyo accused a South Korean warship of aiming and locking its radar onto a Japanese patrol plane above. A long-running territorial dispute over small islands in the Sea of Japan has become inflamed again amid the constant rancor. With Japan and South Korea’s input and consent essential to any potential nuclear agreement with North Korea, the impact of these tensions on the broader politics of the region remains to be seen. AIDAN WOUTAS


Protests in Haiti Continue Against President Jovenel Moise

Protests in Haiti continue to escalate following corruption claims facing Haitian President Jovenel Moise. Thousands have begun demonstrating and calling for Moise to step down since last week Thursday. Protestors are angry amid high inflation and alleged embezzlement of funds by the government. The protests have been gaining increased momentum, and have recently arisen around Moise’s residence; his home was stoned and the road to it blocked by protesters. The demonstrations have also recently turned fatal and the number of injured has continued to rise as protesters clash with police around the residence in both the cities of Port-au-Prince and Miribalais. Planned events related to the carnival celebration in Haiti were also cancelled in some cities due to the protests. The United Nations is calling for the violence to end and supporting transparent elections in the coming October. Others in the international community urge that Haitian government officials should enter talks in light of the loss of life and damage from the protests. KAYLEIGH CRABB


Irish Goodbye: How‘ Backstop’ Clauses are Stalling Theresa May’s Brexit Plans

Back in January a crushing loss was followed by a narrow victory as Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal, a 585-page withdrawal agreement, spectacularly lost by 230 votes in Parliament, the worst sitting-government loss in Parliamentary history. This loss was then followed by a ‘vote of no confidence’ which is neither the first nor likely the last attempt at removing May from power. But, the Conservatives all agreed to give her another go, and May narrowly survived the vote.

Now, February 13th is quickly approaching, the day when May has promised to return to the House of Commons with a new deal. During this time of revision, there is one key area to keep an eye out for: the ‘backstop’. The ‘backstop’ is the pseudo-safety net put in place to have a legal guarantee of no hard land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, what is soon to be the only land border between the U.K. and the E.U.. In theory, as such, this land border should have a series of checkpoints and border-patrols, but due to a rather checkered history along those lines, May has sought a new customs deal with the E.U. to be established, distancing herself from any memories of the Troubles. MPs dislike this deal because they fear it will tie the U.K. to the E.U. once again, and the E.U. negotiators have asserted that the backstop is only temporary, and that no Brexit deal will be considered without it. So, with just a few days until the new proposal is due, and a little over a month until the March 29th deadline, we wait with bated breath to bet on who’s backing the backstop being in Brexit. B.A. BACIGAL

Middle East

Death Toll Reaches Over 50 as Sudan Spring Continues

While most academics and pundits of the Middle East have long-since declared the Arab Spring of 2011 to have ended, protests have rocked the Sudanese nation recently as people demand an end to the regime of Omar Al-Bashir. These protests began in December 2018 as a response to a 70% rate of inflation and tripling prices of food and other sustenance needs. Similar to other Arab Spring protest movements, the Sudanese protests have been peaceful marches demanding the removal of an autocratic ruler, in this case president Omar Al-Bashir. Not only has the military dictatorship of Al-Bashir lasted 29 long years, but it has actively participated in the genocide of Darfur (as classified by the International Criminal Court). Denying all allegations of torture or war crimes, the Sudanese government has currently murdered over 50 peaceful protestors. Recently however, with the death of a schoolteacher Ahmad Al Khairi after his imprisonment by the Sudanese police, autopsies have revealed that Al Khairi was indeed tortured and killed. Considering the bloody legacy of Al-Bashir however, it is highly unlikely that the deaths of Al Khairi and the 50 other protestors will be the end to the bloodshed in Sudan. BASIL ALSUBEE

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