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The Pardee Perspective: April 23rd, 2019

AFRICA

Egypt – Egyptian voters backed changes to the constitution that would allow President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to remain in power until 2030. El-Sisi came to power through a publically supported military coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected President and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi in 2013. There have been claims that el-Sisi’s party has been paying voters and members of el-Sis’s campaign for the vote called Do the Right Thing have been staffing polling locations adding pressure to vote for the referendum. The constitutional changes allow el-Sisis to extend his current term and seek reelection in 2024, amplify executive control over the judiciary (through judicial appointments), and further solidify the military’s position in politics. Opposition members have said, “We do not recognize this outcome, resulting from a sham referendum, and consider it completely null and void, both formally and substantively.”

Democratic Republic of Congo— ISIS has finally gained traction in the DRC a year after Congolese troops found a book from the Islamic State’s Research and Studies Office in the Congolese Jungle. The Allied Democratic Forces (A.D.F.), an already established militant group in the DRC, attacked a local military barrack in the Beni area of the DRC. Recently, this group has received both funding and ideological support from the Islamic State, who is trying to move further south into Africa after their military defeat is Syria and Iraq.

MIDDLE EAST

Saudi Arabia— On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia executed thirty-seven citizens who had been charged with “terrorism-related” crimes. The majority of those executed where Shiite Muslims, a minority in the Sunni Kingdom, and human rights groups around the world are claiming that these are human rights infractions, as many of those executed claimed they were tortured in order to get a confession, and later tried to revoke their confession. Human Rights Watch called these “sectarian killings” that crowned-king MBS has used in his power struggle against Iran.

ASIA

Sri Lanka – There were bombings on Sunday in Sri Lanka that killed more than 350 people. Some Sri Lankan officials speculated that the attacks had been retaliation for the mosque massacres in New Zealand last month. But there was no corroborating evidence to support this. The suicide bombers who struck churches and hotels were all well-educated, middle-class Sri Lankans. Some had oversea educated experience, including one who was an undergraduate at a British university and went to graduate school in Australia. The number of death rose to at least 359. Unicef, the United Nations children agency, said at least 45 of those killed were children.

Seoul – Taking a armored train for a daylong journey from Pyongyang to Russian port city of Vladivostok on Wednesday, Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, arrived Russia to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin as a part of the North Korean leader’s efforts to fend off American pressure to give up his nuclear weapons arsenal. “I hope this visit will be successful and fruitful,” Mr. Kim said. “I hope that during talks with esteemed President Putin I will have a detailed discussion of the settlement process on the Korean Peninsula and the development of our relations.” If Mr. Kim concludes that his diplomacy with Mr. Trump is in vain, he may play off Mr. Putin’s desire to increase his own influence in Asia. Japanese news outlets reported this week that during his meeting with Mr. Kim, Mr. Putin may call for the reopening of so-called six-party talks on the North’s nuclear disarmament.

EUROPE

Germany: A World War II bomb discovered in Germany and underwent a controlled detonation still caused considerable damage in the city of Regensburg. About five thousands residents were evacuated from the city before the detonation but their property – including windows and roofs of buildings were destroyed in the process. Andreas Heil, a munitions expert mentioned that, the bomb, had a “tamper proof” detonator and could have gone off anytime. Though the war ended several years ago, Germany still uncovers several thousands of unexploded aerial bombardments periodically.

AMERICAS

US: A US opposition to portions of a new UN Security Council resolution let to the passage of a watered-down version of the document. The US objected to any language in reference to reproductive and sexual health, citing, it suggested support for abortion, a highly contested issue with US domestic politics. China and Russia also threatened to veto the earlier version but abstained as it passed 13-0. The original phrase reads ‘Recognizing the importance of providing timely assistance to survivors of sexual violence, urges United Nations entities and donors to provide non-discriminatory and comprehensive health services, in line with Resolution 2106.’ France’s UN Ambassador, Francois Delattre was displeased about change, calling the move ‘intolerable’ and ‘incomprehensible’. Nobel Prize Winners Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege both supported the resolution.

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