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Pardee Perspective: May 14th, 2019

March in solidarity with the Sudanese revolution

March in solidarity with the Sudanese revolution by Hossam el-Hamalawy

ASIA

South Korea: South Korea announced Friday it will send humanitarian assistance worth eight million dollars to its neighbors up North, following severe food crisis and drought that has hit the country after a bad harvest season. The aid, is meant for malnourished children and pregnant women. The aid stems from previous plans in 2017 that was meant to be donated through the World Food Program and the UN Children’s Fund, but was halted after North Korea’s ballistic missile launch over Japan. Seoul has indicated that, ‘it will provide humanitarian assistance for North Korean People regardless of the political situation.’ The World Food Program estimates that, about 40 percent, or 10 million North Koreans are faced with ‘severe food shortages.’ President Moon Jae-in says he hopes this gesture will lead Pyongyang to talks with the US.

China: China has formally charged two Canadian men with espionage. The men, detained since December, were arrested on grounds that they are ‘gathering state secrets and intelligence for abroad.’ Canada’s foreign ministry criticised the arrest stating that, ‘Canada strongly condemns their arbitrary arrest as we condemned their arbitrary detention.’ All of these follow the arrest of a Huawei executive in December at Vancouver at the request of the United States, but is out on bail. These arrests have fueled economic and diplomatic tensions between both countries

EUROPE

With the remnants of Iraq still fresh in their memories, a considerable number of US allies in Europe have expressed opposition to the US going to war with Iran. Some said they believe President Trump’s words of no war but “baffled” at his insistence that he only wants to get Iran to negotiate a new deal, following the US backing out of the Iran nuclear deal. ‘Why would they trust us now after Trump pulled the plug on the last thing they negotiated with Washington,’ said Kori Schake, a former Pentagon official. Britain and Germany’s foreign ministers Jeremy Hunt and Heiko Maas are worried about the possibility of conflict through escalation. Individuals like Poland’s former president, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Britain’s former prime minister, Tony Blair are said to have suffered reputation crisis for going to Iraq, therefore, Europe has been careful in choosing their battles. ‘Every European politician who supported George W. Bush was taken out and effectively executed,” said Mr. Shapiro, former US State Department official. “Even in the U.K., no way there can be a repeat of that. If the U.S. policy is force, there will be no European support.

AMERICAS

Cuba: Due to the crippling economic sanctions on Cuba and its closest ally Venezuela, Cuba has announced plans to ration food and some basic household products. Store shelves have run empty while citizens fight over the least available. The Cuban government lays the blame at the foot of the United States due to the sanctions place on them together with Nicaragua and Venezuela, following Maduro’s refusal to relinquish power. The sanctions include the enforcement of Title three of the Libertad Act, which allows US citizens to sue businesses that operate within the confines of Cuban-government seized property during the revolution. Canadian and European allies who have businesses in Cuba have spoken against the move. In a related development, Norway is leading diplomatic efforts to bring peace to venezuela. The opposition led by Juan Guaido and Maduro have both sent representatives to begin talks.

AFRICA

Sudan: Peace talks between the ruling military faction and the protest movement stalled after security officials fired at protesters and wound at least nine. Both sides had agreed on a three-year transition to a democratic system of governance, but the incident, together with a disagreement on the composition of the interim body to hold power until elections are held have put negotiations on hold. The generals who took power after al-Bashir’s ousting believe they need to be in charge till things return to normal, and have since gained support from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran: Rising tensions between the United States and Iran has caused many to think war is inevitable at this point. But President Trump told acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan that he is not ready to go to war with Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly asked some European officials to help de-escalate the situation which almost rose to open conflict levels after the US intelligence said they spotted Iran has situated missiles on small boats in the Persian Gulf. Pompeo has spelled out 12 steps Iran must take to appease the US, including cutting support for Syria and Yemen militant groups and putting an end to ballistic missile tests. However, these demands have received a push back from some officials at the Pentagon, citing potential domestic unrest in Iran.

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