Archive for August, 2020

Mexico Opens Doors to International Players

This past August 24th marks the ten year anniversary of the 72 migrants massacre in San Fernando, Mexico. The massacre was carried out by the Zetas cartel as a demonstration of power during a time of turf rivalry. To recognize and pay respect to this tragedy Mexico’s current President, Andrés Manuel López, has proposed a new bill which will open the doors of Mexico’s judicial practices significantly. His bill aims to make international investigations possible, especially concerning cases on forced disappearances. President Lopez goes as far as to say that the UN can “intervene with no limitations” and invites them to step in “in every case that represents a violation of human rights” once the bill is passed.
Although Mexico is not part of Central America, I found this topic while searching for news articles relating to Central America and thought this one brought an interesting perspective to security. Essentially, whats happening is that in efforts to uphold Mexico’s security, President Lopez has chosen to lower some of its judicial borders granting access to international players. Personally, I’m having a hard time deciphering whether this will do more harm than good. I understand President Lopez’s want to keep incidents like the massacre from reoccurring, however, I don’t think granting limitless intervention to outside players is necessarily the solution. I think his statement on August 24th was too vague, which can be dangerous. By welcoming the UN to intervene “in every case that represents a violation of human rights” he’s opening the door to perception and giving the UN a seat at the table for future issues; if there aren’t any limits placed on international players intervening in Mexico’s internal affairs, it can soon become a question of sovereignty.

-Natalie V.
https://apnews.com/a74d1dd17fc38edcdd87324b8a4cce41

Trump Administration and Ukraine

Ukraine seems to be in a delicate balancing act between attempts to reform and conflict with Russia that teeters on unreliable support from the US. The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, recently announced Ukraine’s reform agenda to improve citizen’s quality of life. With this announcement, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun met with President Zelensky to discuss the issues at hand, as well as reaffirm US support for sovereignty and humanitarian assistance in Ukraine. However, some argue that Trump accusing Ukraine of interfering with elections and withholding of military assistance proves otherwise. This years GOP platform is also not coming out with a clear policy statement on Ukraine, which is a stark contrast from the 2016 party platform.

Some Ukrainian American’s feel abandoned by the lack of initiative and the sucking up the Trump Administration has done towards Russia. The US’s unwavering support in Ukraine is not only crucial to the success of Ukraine but also for the success of the Trump 2020 campaign.

-Meeks

https://thehill.com/policy/international/514164-ukraine-language-in-gop-platform-underscores-trump-tensions

https://www.unian.info/politics/president-zelensky-outlines-reforms-ukraine-needs-11130533.html

https://ru.usembassy.gov/deputy-secretary-of-state-bieguns-meetings-in-ukraine/

Iran Allows IAEA to Inspect Formerly Blocked Nuclear Sites

Iran is allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to gain access to two blocked nuclear sites. Last week, the US pressured the U.N. General Assembly to reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal on the basis that Iran was non-compliant. However, since the US withdrew from the treaty, Iran contests the legality of US complaints. 

By allowing the requested inspections, Iran weakens the US argument to reimpose sanctions. Effectively, Iran is cooperating with the IAEA to encourage the U.N. to keep the sanctions lifted despite increased US pressure.

The Trump administration should support the IAEA’s decision to pursue inspections but remain supportive of renegotiating the treaty.   

Although the piece asserts the talks were not politically motivated, I believe the US request for sanctions pressured Iran to open the sites. The sites were under suspicion two months prior to the US voicing its opinions on sanctions, but five days later, Iran hosted talks with the IAEA and agreed to open the sites. 

Pakistan’s Shifting Diplomatic Relations

Historically, Pakistan has tried to maintain a neutral stance in their diplomacy with other Muslim states. However, recently their ties with Saudi Arabia have been strained. Pakistan is frustrated with Saudi Arabia’s lack of support of the Pakistani standing on the Kashmir region. Saudi Arabia has also increased its support for India, Pakistan’s long-standing rival. While Saudi Arabia pledged to give Pakistan $20 billion this year to support its economy, it also plans to give $100 billion to India in the next two years. Pakistan is greatly against the aid to India but given that Saudi Arabian trade with India brings in around $26 billion more a year than trade with Pakistan, it is unlikely that the kingdom will change their policies. In response to this, Pakistan has initiated talks with China about potential deals in the Belt and Road Initiative. There is also a possibility that Pakistan will try to create an organization to rival the Saudi led OIC, but it is not clear how likely this could occur.

Any move towards an alliance with China by Pakistan and any destabilization in the Middle East both pose as potential threats to the United States. The U.S. has good ties with Saudi Arabia, so I believe it would be in the best interest of the United States to discourage a split between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to maintain its influence with both states and prevent any increased Chinese influence. I think this could be accomplished by organizing a meeting between officials from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to thoroughly discuss their policies and prevent a fallout.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/pakistan-balancing-act-failing-200828164701825.html

Rebel Groups in East Congo Responsible for Several Civilian Deaths

According to Reuters, this past Friday ten Islamic militants were found dead along with five civilians in an ambush gone wrong. The Ugandan armed group also is known as The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), has been operating out of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for several decades. The figures from the United Nations state that ADF is responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019.

An army spokesman, Anthony Mwalushyai, said the most recent attack was Sunday, August 30th close to the town of Mbau, which ended with six Congolese soldiers wounded. The Congolese army had secured the area, only to add eight more casualties. The DRC is in a serious security struggle with constant militia ambushes. Members of these rebel groups are not only attacking the military, they are also taking hostages and killing civilians; including both women and children.

These events are not the first of their kind, late last year, the Congolese army launched a warning/offensive against the ADF which has ignited this violent outbreak on civilians. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, these rebel groups have forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. Interestingly enough, the Islamic State has claimed many of the attacks by the ADF as their own, but research has concluded a lack of evidence to correlate these groups.

The DRC is still recovering from a series of conflicts that broke out in the 1990s. After several postponements of the presidential elections, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo—the son of Etienne Tshisekedi, the country’s long-standing opposition leader—won the December 2018 election, succeeding Joseph Kabila who had been at the country’s helm for 18 years. These brutal attacks by rebel groups make the Democratic Republic of Congo a high risk political and economic country. The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to trigger an economic recession which will add to the severe human rights struggles etc. The DR of Congo is a prime example of a country battling internal security struggles.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-violence/ten-militants-and-five-civilians-killed-in-east-congo-violence-army-local-leader-idUSKBN25Q0I0

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13286306

Alexis Rudisel

U.S. Joins NATO Exercise

American B-52 bombers joined aircraft from several other NATO members in “Allied Sky”; in which, they flew over all 30 NATO member nations. The U.S. joining this exercise comes at a time when there have been global and internal doubts over President Trump’s commitment to the United Nations. In July, the Trump Administration announced the intention to remove nearly 12,000 troops from Germany where the U.S. holds a strategic position in Europe. Despite criticisms of U.S. involvement in NATO from the Trump Administration this military exercise provides a showing of U.S. military support for NATO. It is important that the U.S. maintains its relationship with NATO and its member nations to ensure a key security alliance remains intact.

Emily

https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/us-b-52-bombers-with-alliance-escorts-fly-over-all-30-nato-nations-friday-1.642967

How ISIS is using Covid to its advantage

The Islamic state had been taking advantage of distraction that Covid has provided. The group has started migrating from Syria to Iraq and has begun an evolution in the tactics they use from more intimidation to complex attacks. While Iraqi forces have had to deal with the spread and prevention of the pandemic, ISIS has been accumulating strength. The group has also taken advantage of the isolation taking place in Europe by increasing the propaganda production in an attempt to reach more potential recruits. As well as this the Islamic State has advised its fighters to avoid Europe during the pandemic. The overall point is that while the Islamic States power has diminished if left unchecked they will rebuild and cause more harm and Covid is providing them some of that opportunity.

The Trump administration recently reaffirmed its support of the strategic partnership between Iraq and the United States, and that the U.S. led coalition defeated the physical caliphate of the Islamic State. I believe that aside from this statement the Trump administration will not address ISIS at all, and if they do it will merely be for the purpose of the campaign.

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/isis-using-coronavirus-rebuild-its-terrorism-network-iraq-syria-ncna1215941

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/joint-statement-president-donald-j-trump-prime-minister-mustafa-al-kadhimi/

How will COVID impact future global migration?

According to an article from The Economist, many foreigners had planned to start a new way of life in 2020. For example, many blue collar workers had planned to move to another country for better working opportunities and students planned on studying abroad in other countries to learn to new perspectives and cultures. With a global pandemic occurring, all of these plans were put on hold, as flights were suspended and travel was restricted. Even though some borders are starting to open, that does not mean that migrants are being welcomed with open arms. Fear of Coronavirus has made natives hostile towards migrants, such as being racist toward Chinese people or those who look Chinese, since the virus started in China, or any group of people who have said to be infected. Also, there has been a question if native businesses will stop having migrants compete for local jobs, since many natives are unemployed due to Coronavirus. To answer this question, the thought process would be determining if the native people should be the priority or if migrants are important enough to the economic state of a country to have them come back into the country. One downfall to not letting in migrants could be the loss of specialized and professional workers, such as doctors. For those democratic nations who rely on the people to help make decisions, weighing public opinion of the issue will be very important in making the decisions in the future.

https://www.economist.com/international/2020/08/01/when-covid-19-recedes-will-global-migration-start-again

Alexia Inge

Russia Posturing During RIMPAC.

On the 27th a Russian submarine surfaced in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. This occurred while the US Navy and ten other countries were conducting their annual RIMPAC exercise. This exercise is a showcase of U.S. and their allies naval power. Russia asserted that this surfacing was not posturing but rather part of its own naval exercise that is taking place at the same time. The surfacing is not an isolated incident, there has been a notable increase in Russian posturing, especially around the Arctic region.

-Shawn

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/36056/russian-submarine-sets-off-alarm-bells-after-surfacing-near-alaska-amid-rash-of-posturing

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Leaves Many in the Dark

Conflict between Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, and Israel is not uncommon, but this new bought of conflict has left many Palestinian citizens in Gaza without electricity and humanitarian aid. Recently, Hamas groups in Gaza conducted an air strike against Israel due to the continued air, sea, and land blockade carried out by Israel and Egypt. Israel responded by bombing what they believe to be Hamas hot spots in Gaza. Due to the lack of fuel and humanitarian aid coming into Gaza, citizens have reduced electricity, fuel, and aid. Although the US has claimed to support a two-state peace between Israel and the Palestinians, they have not supported Palestinians in the UN. Even if the US does not react to the situation by inserting themselves in peace negotiations, aiding in the lack of humanitarian access and fuel would assert the US’s position as a world power who champions equality and human rights. The Trump administration has moved the embassy into Jerusalem clearly enforces the legitimacy of the Israeli’s. To at least retain the appearance of neutrality, aid given to the citizens of both regions would be beneficial, and increase the security of the people in the region.

Blake Donohue

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-53833280?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c207p54m4rqt/israel-the-palestinians&link_location=live-reporting-story

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