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The Pardee Perspective: April 2nd, 2019

AFRICA

Algeria – Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned on Tuesday, April 2nd after weeks of protests to his rule. He was elected as president in 1999, and suffered a paralyzing stroke in February 2013. When he announced his plan to run for president again in February 2019, protests broke out throughout the country, with Algerian citizens claiming he was no longer fit to run the country. Before his resignation, he was the longest serving leader in North Africa, and was able to outlast the Arab Spring in 2012.

MIDDLE EAST

Turkey – Turkey, a NATO member, has ordered Russia’s S-400 Triumf air-defense system, while also purchasing F-35 stealth fighter jets from US company, Lockheed Martin Corp. This has worried many US officials who are concerned that technology from the S-400s may allow Russia to collect data on NATO aircrafts and operations. In response to Turkey’s originally announcement to purchase the S-400 Triumf, the US government offered to sell Turkey, the US version of the S-400, the Patriot Missile System, which they rejected. After months of warnings and ultimatums, the US has officially blocked Turkey from receiving equipment relating to the F-35 stealth fighter jets until it cancels is order of the S-400 Triumf.

ASIA

Hongkong

Thousands of protesters marched in Hong Kong to express opposition to a proposed overhaul of extradition laws. Opponents called the proposed changes the “send to China rules(送中)”, a homonym for a Chinese phrase for funerary rites (送终). The reason for changes to the extradition was a young woman from Hong Kong found dead in Taiwan last year. The suspect is her boyfriend, who is also from Hong Kong, was arrested in Hong Kong, but under local law he could face charges for her killing only in Taiwan. Hong Kong has few extradition policy with other countries or areas as Taiwan, so the authorities proposed changing the rules to make it easier to send suspects to such jurisdictions, including mainland China. Mainland China and Hong Kong do not have the same political ideology, which is why opponents worry about the victims from Hong Kong accused in mainland may face unequal treatment.

EUROPE

UK: The UK parliament has voted on a legislation to formally allow the government to request another extension on the Brexit negotiations. The new bill will allow Prime Minister Theresa May some more time to reach a deal with the European Union, to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Britain is now due to exit the bloc on April 12, hoping to come out with a deal acceptable by both sides. Meanwhile, some senior members of parliament, on both sides of the aisle are also pushing for second referendum to seek another opportunity to stay in the EU.

AMERICAS

Venezuela: Venezuela’s parliament, the Constituent Assembly, has voted unanimously to strip opposition leader Juan Guaido of all immunity, heightening fears of prosecution among his supporters. This comes following a Venezuelan Supreme Court Justice’s call for prosecution, after claiming Guaido violated a travel ban. The judge, Maikel Moreno, is a Maduro ally, as well as the Constituent Assembly. Earlier, the state comptroller, Elvis Amoroso, also a supporter of Maduro, prohibited Guaido from competing and holding a public position for 15 years for travelling to Europe and South America, a move purported to be a call for support of his presidency. As expected, Guaido criticised both actions by the Maduro government, calling the Assembly’s action an ‘inquisition.’
Meanwhile, the United States has taken steps to send humanitarian aid worth $400 million to Venezuela, in case the Maduro government falls. The bill, introduced by Senate Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member, Bob Menendez, also asks the State Department to collaborate with European allies to take similar action and tighten sanctions on the country. He said, ‘That is something that would be incredibly powerful, knowing that the sanctions that would levied are not just by the United States against the Maduro regime, but internationally.’ He hopes that changes the ‘dynamics.’

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