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The Pardee Perspective: February 28th, 2019

Middle East

Iran – Iran’s foreign minister and a key negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal, Mohammad Javaf Zarif, unsuccessfully attempted to resign on Monday. In a post on his official instagram account, Zarif wrote, “I warmly apologize for my inability to continue serving [the nation] and for all the shortcomings and negligences during the period of service.” On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected Zarif’s resignation, claiming that accepting the resignation would be against the best interests of the country. The resignation is thought to be in response to Zarif’s exclusion from a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a resurgence of conservative hardliners that are putting pressure on the elected officials. After President Rouhani rejected his resignation, Zarif was back at work within a few hours.

Israel/Palestine – Jared Kushner, son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, has announced a peace plan for the Middle East that will address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kushner claims the deal is “really about establishing borders and resolving final-status issues.” The details of Kushner’s plan have not been officially announced, but leaked materials suggest that little progress has been made to address Arab concerns. A confidential source for Reuters who claims to have seen the plan stated that it did not appear to address Arab concerns from previous negotiations, including the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied territory.

Africa

Nigeria –  Nigeria’s incumbent leader, President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been re-elected in Wednesday’s presidential election. Buhari, 76, won with 56 percent of the total vote cast, while his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar, of the People’s Democratic Party, managed 41 percent of the vote. The PDP claimed that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) colluded with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The APC dismissed the allegations, which led to several members of the PDP being arrested in response. Incidents of violence marred the lead-up to the election, however the final results were accepted peacefully throughout Nigeria.

Sudan – President Omar Hassan al-Bashir declared a year-long state of emergency in Sudan. This was done in response to the nationwide protests against his government. President al-Bashir is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes related to atrocities committed during the Darfur conflict. With the declaration of a state of emergency, al-Bashir disbanded the federal government and put military leaders in charge of state governments.

Asia

Vietnam – US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Hanoi, Vietnam this week. This is the second US-DPRK summit in the past year. Vietnam has practical and symbolic reasons for hosting the summit. The country is accessible by train from North Korea and maintains diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. The US delegation has attempted to show Vietnam as an example of what North Korea can become if it abandons its nuclear weapons in exchange for development aid. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said his country will “spare no effort” to host a successful summit between North Korea and the United States, because it would be less costly than a war in the end.

Europe

United Kingdom – UK Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed to allow Parliament to extend the departure date from the European Union should her Brexit deal fails to pass. However, May is confident Britain will leave the bloc as scheduled. While some members of her government are worried of a “no deal” Brexit, a scheduled March 12th vote will determine whether the country will leave the bloc without a deal or postpone Brexit by up to three months. However, delaying Brexit hinges on approval from all 27 EU member states.

Americas
Venezuela – The US has deployed flights into international airspace off Venezuela’s coast to gather intelligence about President Nicolas Maduro.The classified intelligence mission is to intercept and collect communications and seek information on weaponry. The US is not considering any military action as of now, according to defense officials. However, it is meant to signal that the US might respond if US citizens or assets are attacked. Violence erupted in Venezuela following attempts to send aid to citizens, but Maduro claims there is no humanitarian crisis. So far, about 300 personnel from the Venezuelan armed forces have defected to Colombia.

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