Archive for February, 2022

US and Iran negotiate nuclear deal

US and Iran have begun negotiations to restore Irans nuclear deal.  Iran’s negotiator, Ali Bagheri-Kani, was said to have held stances that would make negotiations difficult with Western counterparts, but if no concessions are made negotiations will likely end.  The key topics of debate include the scope of American sanctions, guarantees that the US will not exit the deal again, restoring a nuclear pact, and a push from the US to engage in a prisoner swap.

As the Russia /Ukraine conflict has increased oil prices, an Iranian nuclear program could result in millions of barrels of oil going back into the global market, easing the inflation.  Because of this, it is likely the war will give Iran more bargaining power in the negotiations.

Jenny

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-iran-split-over-key-nuclear-issues-as-deal-deadline-nears-11646072181

Cold War: Part 2

Early in the week, Russia’s Duma declared that they are moving forward with the intention to recognize the LPR and the DPR as being independent of Ukraine. The implication is that Russia will use its forces to ensure sovereignty for those regions, which will most likely put Russian puppets in place to govern. Russia is claiming that ethnic Russians are being ethnically cleansed and that Ukrainian forces are attempting to push into Russian territory. However, Ukraine is not doing anything like that. The issue that this raises for the United States is that should Ukraine fall, this would signify another democracy falling. Which is following a global trend over the last 16 years of democratic backsliding. Additionally, should Russia overthrow Ukraine’s government, then Russia will have expanded its sphere of power farther into Europe. This is bad not just for the US, but for all of Europe and could embolden nations like China, to retake Taiwan and other authoritarian nations to do what they want without regard for international norms or respect for other nation’s sovereignty.

source https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/21/vladimir-putin-america-cold-war-00010454

Jacob

China’s foreign minister says U.N. human rights chief can visit Xinjiang

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet is allowed visit Xinjiang, China. Xinjiang is home to the Uyghurs, a ethnic Muslim minority in northwest China. The Uyghurs have been experiencing enslavement, torture, and genocide by the Chinese government. China denies all accusations against them.

 

China has been known to engage in this ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs for a while now, but not much has been done around the world to stop it. China holds a extremely large portion of manufacturing power, so I assume countries are afraid to acknowledge the problem in Xinjiang out of fear of losing trade with China. We will see if Michelle Bachelet has unrestricted access to Xinjiang in the coming weeks. I anticipate that she and her team will not be able to fully investigate as they wish.

Nathan

https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinas-foreign-minister-says-un-human-rights-chief-can-visit-xinjiang-2022-02-19/

Australia demands answers from China over alleged laser incident at sea

A Chinese warship sailing in the Arafura Sea between Eastern Indonesia and Australia shined a laser at an Australian P-8as cockpit which was patrolling the area. Shining a laser at an aircraft’s cockpit is very dangerous and can cause a variety of issues for the pilot, which if the pilot doesn’t have time to recover can cause the aircraft to crash. This comes at a time of increased tensions between Australia and China. China recently imposed an unofficial sanction on Australian coal (which has caused somewhat of an energy crisis in China). And Australia has entered into a pact to acquire nuclear submarines from the US and the UK. What is worrying about this provocation is that China did it so close to the Australian Coast and in the Arafura Sea which is not close to the Chinese claimed Nine Dash line where such a provocation would be no big surprise.

-Kevin

Australia demands answers from China over alleged laser incident at sea – CNN

mRNA Covid Vaccines to be Produced in Africa in Coordination with World Health Organization

At a recent event hosted by the World Health, European Council, France, and South Africa, it was announced that Covid-19 mRNA vaccine technology will be shared with select African countries. The countries that receive the technology, being Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa, will now have the ability to manufacture and distribute vaccines, no longer relying on a handful of corporations for their vaccines. Last year the global mRNA technology transfer hub was established in South Africa to help middle to low income countries manufacture vaccines, while also making sure that they are meeting the international standards. This hub will continue to assist other countries in producing mRNA covid vaccines in addition to assisting with more region-specific health needs. The hope is that by facilitating the production of mRNA vaccines in Africa vaccination research teams will be able to better tackle covid, as well as more region-prevalent diseases like malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis.

It is so exciting to see the expansion and sharing of information, especially as it pertains to keeping people healthy across the globe. Initiatives such as this will make vaccines more available, while also providing lower-income countries with a way to be more less dependent on other countries for vaccines. The idea that these facilities and organizations will be able to work together to address health concerns that are prevalent in their own countries is incredible! Although the pandemic has had such a horrible impact on the world, it is a relief to know that further advancements in science, especially with regards to tackling more diseases, could be a positive side effect of it all. Whether people are in favor of the vaccine or not, it is difficult to take a stand against eliminating other deadly diseases. Hopefully more projects like this begin to pop up across the world to help address covid and other health concerns.

Darcy Spicer

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/02/1112212

Israeli Prime Minister travels to Bahrain to discuss diplomatic ties

Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister meets with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Bahraini ruler to discuss economic cooperation and security.  The lifting of nuclear sanctions on Iran has cause the United Arab Emirates ,Israel, and Bahrain to feel the need to begin normalizing ties and respected security between Israel and Arab states.  Israel and the UAE have already begun discussing ways to protect the Gulf state, which would essentially be placing Israeli military weaponry right outside of Iran.

Looking forward, there may be some backlash of this cooperation with Israel, has many citizens of Bahrain are Shiites and have sympathies towards Iran.

Jenny

https://www.wsj.com/articles/israeli-prime-minister-to-visit-bahrain-for-first-time-amid-regional-security-push-11644843878

US Intelligence Community Assessing Information on Cyberattacks on Ukraine

After a string of cyber-attacks that struck the websites for the Ukranian Army, Defense ministry, and major banks, Ukranian and US agencies have begun investigations on the origins of these cyber-attacks. The US Secretary of Defense stated that any attack on Ukraine will be proceeded by false-flag and cyber-attacks amongst others. It is widely believed that Russia does have a decent cyber-warfare capability, and this is an area the US seems to lack in so Russia’s capability should be seen as a threat. This isn’t helped because at the time of writing the post, Putin had move troops into the two breakaway regions in Ukraine. Russian cyber-warfare capability is something to be worried about.

-Bryce

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/russia-ukraine-crisis/us-intelligence-community-assessing-information-on-cyberattack-on-ukraine-defence-secy-articleshow.html

Top ISWAP Leaders Killed

ISWAP commander Mallam Buba Danfulani, as well as five other commanders (Musa Amir Jaish, Mahd Maluma, Abu-Ubaida, Abu-Hamza and Abu-Nura umarun Leni), were killed by Nigerian military airstrikes Sunday near Lake Chad. The airstrikes also destroyed highly active ISWAP camps at Tumbun Kaiyowa and Tumbun Allura. Danfulani was reportedly in charge of recruiting Fulani (a local ethnic group) and herdsmen in the area, as well as coordinating the deployment of spies, collection of taxes and levies, and acting as an intermediary between the ISWAP leadership and new members.

This is sure to leave a vacuum in ISWAP leadership in the area, and could be particularly damaging because of Danfulani’s coordination of economic activities which are essential to the operation of the organization. If it was a more hierarchical group this might not pose as much of a problem, but ISWAP is more like a loose collection of cells. This means that there is less likely to be procedures for fill these new vacancies, making it a more significant victory for the Nigerian military.

-Thora Gibbs

https://theparadise.ng/nigerian-army-kills-top-boko-haram-commander-others/

Military airstrikes eliminate 5 notorious ISWAP commanders at Tumbuns, Sambisa Forest

 

Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam Powers Up for the First Time

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Africa’s largest hydroelectric power generator, started producing power for the first time recently. Ethiopia stands as the second most-populated country on the African continent, but also the second-highest number of people lacking electricity (standing at 60% of the country, or about 46 million of the 115 million Ethiopians). The dam will be able to provide power for those tens-of-millions living away from the power grid, expected to produce 5,000 megawatts of electricity and doubling Ethiopia’s electric output. The dam will also serve as an economic boost to the war-ravaged country suffering from the ongoing 15 month Tigray Rebellion and COVID-related strains on the economy. Sudanese and Egyptian officials have condemned the powering-up of the dam, saying it flies in the face of 2015 agreements between the nations to work together on anything related to the Nile. Negotiations related to the dam(concerning filling quota and how much would be released downstream for a potential drought) were severed in April 2021. The filling of the dam comes with the feeling (promoted by the Ethiopian government to its people over the last year) that the successful construction and powering of the GERD shows that Ethiopia is capable of resisting external pressures and is able to progress in spite of “hostile”, neighboring actors.

The Biden administration should cautiously applaud the dam finally starting to power up, after ground was first broken back in 2011. Not only will it serve to improve quality of life for many Ethiopians, but could also help regulate flooding in Sudan as the dam is regulated very close to the Ethiopian-Sudanese border. At the same time though, the President and State Department should emphasize the resumption of a dialogue between the Nile River countries. Egypt gets 97% of its irrigation and drinking water from the river. If the GERD were to fill up too much, it could spark a great water shortage crisis within Egypt, alongside harming the filling capacity of Sudan’s own hydroelectric dams. I believe the Arab League, in support of its Egyptian and Sudanese members, could attempt to exert diplomatic and economic pressure on Ethiopia to re-enter negotiations, as the League already sent a request to the UN Security Council to mediate the dispute in June 2021.

Ethiopia's Nile damEthiopia, Egypt, Sudan make slow progress in Nile dam row | Africa | DW | 16.01.2020

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2029011/middle-east

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/20/ethiopia-electricity-production-gerd-blue-nile-mega-dam

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/16/ethiopia-rejects-arab-league-resolution-on-renaissance-dam

 

-Ryan Llufrio

Australia to list Hamas and American Far-Right Groups as Terrorists

On Feb. 17, the Australian Government stated its intention to officially classify the Palestinian organization Hamas as a terrorist organization, as well as labeling American Far-Right groups such as the National Socialist Order (Formerly known as the Atomwaffen Division) a terrorist group. These groups along with 26 others have been put on a terrorist list in Australia, with support or membership for these organizations outlawed in the country. The National Socialist order is the third Far Right/Neo-Nazi group to be banned and put on the list in Australia, with the American white supremacist group “The Base” and the British Sonnenkreig Division being the other two, added to the list in December and August, respectively.

Australia seems to be taking direct action against Neo-Nazi and Radical Islamic groups to prevent them growing in their own country, and I personally believe it is a good thing that their government are taking active steps to increase their security and the wellbeing of their people. One of the worst right wing terrorist attacks happened in their neighboring nation of New Zealand, and domestic terrorism in Western nations has been on the rise with tragic results. It is likely that other countries may follow suit if they have not already begun restricting the rights and actions of white supremacist and Islamic extremist groups. Australia is setting an effective precedent for other nations, that will hopefully be inspired by Australia to crack down on their violent domestic terrorist groups.

 

Australia to list Hamas and US far-right group as terrorists – ABC News (go.com)

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