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  • Friday, August 02, 2019 9:40 AM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)


    On April 2, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned from his position after 20 years in power, ousted by widespread protests that began when he announced, almost two months prior, that he would be seeking a fifth term. Uniquely in the Arab world after the Arab Spring, Algerian protestors “‘removed a president without exiling him,’ as in Tunisia, ‘(w)ithout imprisoning him,’ as in Egypt, ‘(a)nd without killing him,’ as in Libya.” A bloodless revolution. Now four months after Bouteflika’s resignation, however, protestors continue to take to the streets of Algiers in significant numbers twice a week.

    To the protestors, Bouteflika was simply one cog in the government machine often referred to simply as “power,” which also includes a cadre of government officials, wealthy businessmen, and the military’s upper echelons. When Bouteflika announced he would not seek another term amidst the earlier protests, the protestors soundly rebuffed this concession by the government. The last straw, though, was Bouteflika’s April 1 announcement that he would resign by April 28, which wasn’t soon enough, and the army chief of staff, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, forced Bouteflika to resign the next day.

    Central in the ousting, Gaid Salah quickly became a very important figure in the transition period, serving as a de facto leader instead of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah. Under his de facto rule, he “has presided over a purge of the elderly leader’s associates and senior officials, sending a dozen or more to prison on corruption charges. However, he has refused to facilitate a civilian-led political transition. Presidential elections, due on July 4, were postponed for lack of candidates.” Also, since June, his forces have arrested protestors and blocked news websites. The General has continued to push for a presidential poll to be held as soon as possible, but protestors continue to reject this unless initiated by a civilian-led interim administration without the involvement of the military, interim President Bensalah, or Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, all of whom are considered ‘old guard’ power players. Both previous attempts by the military to schedule elections have been denied, with protestors fearing the polls potentially being rigged.

    In order to develop a plan “to mediate between the public authorities and the civil society and parties,” Bensalah announced on July 25 the creation of a 6/7-member committee. This body, known as the Algerian Mediation and Dialogue Committee, revealed its plan on July 30 to invite 23 more national figures to the body to help expand its scope, but protestors reject the body’s mandate as unrepresentative of those in the streets. The same day, General Gaid Salah rejected the preconditions demanded by protestors to allow a presidential poll to proceed and continues to press for elections to be held soon.

    Fortunately for civilians, the protestors currently appear to have the upper hand over the de facto military rule. The protests have been far too successful and popular in their ousting of President Bouteflika for Gaid Salah to use violence to quell the protests. Polls conducted by Brookings early last month of civilian protestors, civilian non-protestors, and military personnel (soldiers, junior officers, and senior officers) have shown broad support for the protests, their goals, their ousting of Bouteflika, as well as the need for radical change of the nation’s political system. With that in mind, even if military leadership gave orders for violence to be used against protestors, it is unclear whether, if not unlikely that, rank-and-file soldiers would do so. With the vigor and stamina of the protests still strong after five months, and strong support across the country, a civilian-led government looks poised to rule in Algeria once again sooner rather than later.

    - By Michael Pappas, WACNH Events and Education Coordinator

  • Wednesday, July 31, 2019 10:02 AM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)



    Protests over corruption and misappropriation of government funds have erupted in the small island nation of Haiti, with many protesters calling for the resignation of the nation’s president, Jovenel Moïse.

    Haiti, a nation in the Caribbean that shares an island with the Dominican Republic, is yet another country where the government is seeing an onslaught of democratic protests.  Thousands marched through Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, in protest of allegations that the current president, and members of his administration, have embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from an oil program with Venezuela.  The funds were meant to finance social programs, infrastructure, and to combat the nation’s outbreak of cholera.

    In 2010, Haiti faced a devastating earthquake where over 200,000 were killed and the nation’s infrastructure was ruined.  Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and facing an outbreak of cholera, as well as infamous for government corruption, Haiti faced a difficult challenge to rehabilitate itself.  However, in 2005 an oil agreement with ally Venezuela provided the country with the opportunity to create funds to combat their myriad of crises.

    Time magazine reports that in 2005, Venezuela’s former president Hugo Chavez set up the PetroCaribe deal with Haiti and 17 other Caribbean nations.  In the agreement, the nations were allowed to purchase oil from Venezuela’s countless reserves, and were able to defer payments for up to 25 years, charged at extremely low interest rates.  These Caribbeans nations would then sell the oil to other parties and use the money saved in the transaction to finance social programs, rebuild infrastructure, and combat public health issues.  However, the article in Time magazine states that the deal began to suffer in 2014, following Venezuela’s economic collapse. In 2018 Venezuela stopped fulfilling its PetroCaribe commitments to Haiti, which has created an oil crisis for the small nation.

    In November of 2017, a five person team in Haiti’s senate began investigating allegations of misappropriation of funds, when profits being brought in through PetroCaribe were not made visible in infrastructure or public health improvements.  The investigation team reported evidence of widespread corruption and misappropriation of the funds under three consecutive governments, with huge amounts of money missing. According to a New York Times article on the matter, the senate team found that at least $2 billion (the equivalent of almost a quarter of Haiti’s economy in 2017) went missing, and the nation still owes Venezuela billions for the oil.  Their findings stated that the amount of money in government coffers was misrepresented, exchange rates were adjusted, and more than half the contracts given to companies to rebuild infrastructure did not go through the usual government processes.  There was also little oversight because the money was not coming from standard international aid packages.

    Protests sparked in summer 2018 when inflation rates spiked out of control and the government announced plans to raise fuel prices.  Protesters have dubbed themselves PetroChallengers with hashtags #KotKobPetwoKaribea (Where is the PetroCaribe money?) and #PwosePetroCaribea (Prosecute those involved in PetroCaribe).  Protesters are also demanding the resignation of those implicated, including current president Jovenel Moïse. Before the president came to office he was the head of the company Agritrans, a company that was paid $700,000 to repair roads, which some found strange considering their job is to grow bananas.  Moïise has denied any wrongdoing and refused calls to step down, stating on Twitter “I’m looking you in the eye today to say: your president, whom you voted for, is not guilty of corruption.” He added that those who are guilty should be “brought to justice in a fair, equitable trial without political prosecution.”

    By Monericka Semeran, WACNH Intern

  • Monday, July 29, 2019 1:52 PM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)


    The United States and Turkey have been NATO allies since 1952 and share some important interests, but they are also faced with various challenges in recent years. Turkey’s core security and economic relationships, as well as institutional links, remain with Western nations, as reflected by some key U.S. military assets based in Turkey and Turkey’s strong trade ties with the European Union. However, various factors complicate U.S.-Turkey relations. For example, Turkey relies to some degree on nations such as Russia and Iran for domestic energy needs and coordination on regional security, and therefore balances diplomatically between various actors. Bilateral relations between the Trump Administration and the Erdogan government have faced several recent challenges. The acquisition of S-400 air defense systems from Russia has endangered the relations between the US and Turkey, particularly from a NATO standpoint.

    Turkey has taken delivery of a controversial Russian missile defense system, despite opposition from the US. The shipment of the S-400 missile defense system arrived on an airbase in the capital Ankara this past Friday, as confirmed by the Turkish defense ministry in an announcement on Twitter.

    Turkey had plans to buy 100 F-35 planes from the US, but after Turkey announced in 2017 that it also planned to install the S-400 Russian missile defense system, the US nixed the deal for the advanced fighter jets. This was due to US officials concerns that by having this Russian missile system, and Russian technicians to help the Turks operate it, the Russians could learn how to possibly shoot down the F-35, as well as learn about other vulnerabilities. As such, the U.S. has indicated to Turkey repeatedly that there's no way Turkey can be allowed to have the F-35 jet if they buy the Russian S-400. As the Russian system arrives on Turkish soil, NATO stated that it's concerned about Russian missiles being deployed by a long time NATO ally. For some observers, the S-400 issue raises the possibility that Russia could take advantage of U.S.-Turkey friction to undermine the NATO alliance. In April 2019, Vice President Mike Pence asked publicly whether Turkey wants “to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history” or “risk the security of that partnership.” In 2013, Turkey reached a preliminary agreement to purchase a Chinese air and missile defense system, but later in 2015 withdrew from the deal, perhaps due to concerns voiced within NATO as well as China’s reported reluctance to share technology. Much of the reports stated that the US government has told Turkey that purchasing the S-400 would have “unavoidable negative consequences for U.S.- Turkey bilateral relations, as well as Turkey's role in NATO.” Some potential examples include, sanctions against Turkey, risk to other potential U.S. arms transfers to Turkey, reduction in NATO interoperability, and introduction of “new vulnerabilities from Turkey's increased dependence on Russia for sophisticated military equipment.”

     - By Furkan Cakin, WACNH Intern

  • Friday, July 26, 2019 2:05 PM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)

     

                   Iran and the West have long had an increasingly intertwined, and oftentimes combative, relationship. For most of World War I, the United Kingdom occupied most of the nation known at the time as Persia, fully withdrawing in 1921. That same year, however, the British supported a military coup over the ruling Qajar dynasty, which ended in the appointment of Reza Khan as Prime Minister. Four years later he was named the monarch of the country. Throughout the Shah’s rule of Iran, the UK continued to control the country’s oil through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. In the leadup to World War II, Reza Shah preferred doing business and receiving technical expertise from what would soon be Axis nations, rather than the Allies. This preference led to an allied invasion of Iran in 1941 and the forced abdication of the throne from Reza Shah to his son, Mohammad Reza Shah.

    In 1951, Mohammad Mossadeq was appointed as the 35th Prime Minister and later that year took the controversial move to nationalize the oil industry, ending the British monopoly. Two years later, with the assistance of British Intelligence, the CIA carried out its first covert mission to depose a foreign nation’s government, creating a coup and successfully removed Mossadeq. With Mossadeq out of power, the Shah became a more authoritarian ruler, fully secularizing the nation and wielding secret police forces for extrajudicial arrests and tortures. After the oil crisis in 1973 saw oil prices spike, Iran experienced double-digit inflation, and followed that up with a recession.

    Demonstrations against the Shah became serious early in 1978, due in large part to the abuses and alleged assassinations carried out by the secret police, as well as the rapid secularization policies alienating the religious core of the country. After a year, the Shah fled to the United States, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from his exile, and Iran was declared an Islamic Republic in April 1979. Due to their longstanding support for the Shah, as well as the active role they played in the coup against Mossadeq, the United States has been viewed as an enemy of Iran. This view was largely fueled during the Islamic revolution and was put on full display when the US Embassy in Tehran was stormed in November 1979, with 52 people in the embassy being taken hostage, a hostage crisis that lasted 14 months.

    Since then, the tension between the US and Iran has remained.  In his 2002 State of the Union address, then-President George W. Bush included Iran in his ‘axis of evil’ alongside Iraq and North Korea, particularly for their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Later investigations confirmed that the pursuit of nuclear weapons ended that year, but the country continued to pursue civilian nuclear energy. The mere presence of enriched nuclear material in Iran led to several bouts of economic sanctions targeting the nuclear program, which were lifted with the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known colloquially as the Iran nuclear deal, in July 2015.

    After the campaign leading up to his 2016 election, where he ran on the idea that the deal was a bad one for the United States that did little to prevent Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, President Trump announced that the country would be violating the JCPOA. This would be following a 180-day transition period beginning May 8, 2018, after which “the highest level of economic sanctions” would be imposed on Iran. This announcement was justified on the grounds that, as Trump stated, “we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying, rotten structure of the current agreement,” and that Iran was in fact building a nuclear program; a claim without compelling evidence. At the time, Iran, the deal’s European signatories, and Russia expressed regret at the decision, but Iran stated that the deal could survive without US participation. On November 5, 2018, the United States “fully re-imposed the sanctions on Iran that had been lifted or waived under the JCPOA.” According to the US Treasury Department, “(t)hese are the toughest U.S. sanctions ever imposed on Iran, and will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as the energy, shipping and shipbuilding, and financial sectors.  The United States is engaged in a campaign of maximum financial pressure on the Iranian regime and intends to enforce aggressively these sanctions that have come back into effect.”

    Following the US’s violation of the JCPOA by re-imposing economic sanctions on Iran, the Islamic Republic begun to slowly indicate that it would be straying further from the deal, as well. On May 12, Gulf tensions began to grow as four commercial oil tankers were attacked off the coast of the UAE, “one was flying a UAE flag, two were tankers owned by Saudi Arabia, and the fourth was a Norwegian tanker.” While the culprit remained unknown, it was determined to be a state actor. A month later, on June 13 two more ships were attacked, one a Norwegian oil tanker and the second a Japanese chemical tanker.  This occurred at the time Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on a state visit to the Islamic Republic. The US suspected both targeted attacks were carried out by Iran using limpet mines and announced four days later that an additional 1,000 troops would be sent to the Middle East. A day later, it was announced “(d)uring a news conference at the Arak heavy water reactor facility, that Iran had increased low enriched uranium production fourfold and would exceed the limit of 300 kilograms by June 27,” violating the JCPOA, in response to the US’s sanctions.

    A day after the announcement, Iran shot down an American drone aircraft, with the Revolutionary Guard claiming that it had shot down an "intruding American spy drone" after it entered the country's airspace. A US official disputed this claim, saying that while the drone had been shot down by Iran, it had occurred while the drone was in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. Responding to the drone downing, the US imposed more sanctions and carried out a cyberattack against the computer systems controlling the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s rocket and missile launchers. In April, the Trump administration had designated the Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization (Iran responded with giving the US military the same designation).

    The exchanges between the West and Iran have only continued in the past month. The UK seized an Iranian oil tanker for violating sanctions on Syria, Iran seized an Emirati tanker, a British tanker and a Liberian vessel last week, and the US punished a Chinese company for importing Iranian oil on Monday. Iran announced it had captured 17 American spies and sentenced some to death (disputed by the US), rejected plans for a European-led maritime security force in the Gulf unveiled by the UK foreign secretary on Tuesday, and tested a medium-range ballistic missile on Wednesday.

    It is difficult to see a clear path forward where the tension building up over the past year, especially during the last two months, will be defused soon. The violation of the nuclear deal by the Trump administration was the first domino to fall and lead the Gulf to its current predicament, and it is unclear what the future holds for it. On one hand, Iran said on Wednesday that a formal offer for a ship swap would be forthcoming to swap the British tanker they seized with the Iranian tanker that the UK seized, a sign of potential willingness for compromise. While on the other hand, shipping in the Strait of Hormuz remains tense, Iran tested a ballistic missile this week, and debate continues as to how averse the US and Iran are to actual conflict. The average person must just hope that conflict remains the last option that either nation wishes to follow, but both countries need to demonstrate a maturity to stray from the current ‘tit-for-tat’ strategy that inches both closer to an increasingly inevitable, and very regrettable, end.

    - By Michael Pappas, WACNH Events and Education Coordinator

  • Wednesday, July 24, 2019 8:58 AM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)


    Hong Kong’s relationship with China is an increasingly peculiar one because the region exists under the “One Country, Two systems” agreement.  In the mid 1800s, China lost a series of Opium wars to Great Britain, and as such they had to capitulate several of their territories and a large sum of money.  The agreement was that Hong Kong would exist as a British colony for 99 years, an agreement that ended in 1997.  When the agreement came to an end, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese President Jiang Zemin agreed that the best course of action was to slowly integrate Hong Kong back into China.  They proposed the “One -Country, Two-Systems” model.  Where Hong Kong would technically be a part of China but exists with its own culture and its own government.  This model will come to an end in 2047 and in the meantime China is meant to respect Hong Kong’s status as an autonomous region.  China, however, is growing increasingly impatient.

    These are not the first protests Hong Kong has initiated as a response to China’s perceived encroachment on their autonomy.  In 2014 the Umbrella Protests occurred in response to China’s meddling in Hong Kong’s elections.  The Umbrella Protests were relatively peaceful until police began spewing tear gas at the crowd, forcing them to use umbrellas to try and block the attack.  China has also recently built the largest maritime bridge (34 miles) between itself and Hong Kong to bring the two regions closer together.  Their have also been recent efforts to bring Hong Kongers into more traditional Chinese culture.  Mainland China speaks Mandarin while Hong Kongers speak Cantonese; the Cinese government has dubbed Cantonese as illegitimate and a bastardized version of Chinese, and has established schools in Hong Kong in a re-education effort.  Hong Kong rejects these re-education attempts and is willing to fight for the preservation of their culture, at least until the agreement ends in 2047.  These are the first protests where nearly a third of the country have taken to the streets to defend their autonomy and it all started with a murder.

    More than a year ago, a Hong Kong couple traveled to Taiwan for a vacation.  Whilst staying at a hotel in Taipei, the man murdered his then pregnant girlfriend before making his way back to Hong Kong where he confessed to the crime  Hong Kong, however does not have an extradition treaty with Taiwan and it appeared as though the man would go free.  To avoid this, the Hong Kong legislature drafted a bill that would allow for extradition with Taiwan, but the bill would also allow mainland China to exercise their extradition rights on any Hong Kong citizen whom Beijing believes to have committed a crime.

    The prospect of their citizens having to face justice in mainland China worried many Hong Kong citizens; Hong Kong is a democratic region with a quasi-bill of rights laid out in the One-Country, Two-Systems agreement, while China is an authoritarian government.  Hong Kong has freedom of speech, press, assembly, and the right to a fair trial.  China, however, has none of these and has been condemned by human rights organizations for their inhumane treatment of prisoners.  Not only that, but Hong Kong protesters also view this as a way for China to wrongfully imprisoned people who speak out against them.  This worry is not unfounded seeing as how bookkeepers who operated a bookstore that sold reading material banned in mainland China, and books that were critical of the Chinese government, mysteriously disappeared.  One of the men reappeared a year later on Chinese state television apologizing for selling the books, and claiming that he is deserving of any punishment the Chinese government should decide for him.

    In response to these impingements 2 million out of 7 million Hong Kong citizens have taken to the streets in protest.  These protests are largely different from previous ones not only because they are comprised of such a large percentage of Hong Kong’s population, but because citizens from the business sector also joined in, as well as an increasing number of young people.  So far, the protests seem to have worked with Hong Kong’s current leader Carrie Lamhas putting the extradition bill on hold.  Despite this, many pro-democracy leaders are not placated because they don’t believe the act goes far enough and they reject Lamhas’ negative response to the protesters by referring to them as “rioters” and refusing to allow them any legitimacy.  The pro-democracy leaders would like to see the bill officially withdrawn from the legislature.  They believe that the bill would pass easily in the legislature because of the majority pro-China influences in the law-making body if it is to remain.  The citizens of Hong Kong dedicate themselves to keep protesting until the bill is officially withdrawn and they no longer have to worry about China’s growing influence in their government.

    By Monericka Semeran, WACNH Intern

  • Tuesday, July 02, 2019 9:08 AM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)


    As Director-General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston, I frequently have the opportunity to exchange views with friends in the various state and local governments, academia, and the community at large on a variety of issues. Over the past few weeks, I have been asked about recent developments in Hong Kong and how they may affect Taiwan. As such, I would like to touch base with you to convey Taiwans position regarding this important topic.

    Hong Kong has captured international attention recently as more than 2 million citizens took to the streets to oppose an extradition law proposed by Beijing that would require citizens of the former British colony be tried in courts in Mainland China under its framework of one country, two systems. Beijing has proposed the same failed system for Taiwan.

    The 23 million people of Taiwan differ from Hong Kong, however, since they enjoy a robust democracy that ensures individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. The so-called one country, two systems model would require that Taiwan relinquish its democratic way of life in exchange for Beijings authoritarian rule, something Taiwan clearly rejects.

    Taiwan stands with the United States and countries around the world in support of a free and democratic Hong Kong. As the people of Hong Kong have peacefully demonstrated, there is nothing more important than to determine ones own future. In this regard, Taiwan is pleased to serve as a beacon of hope and a model for the people of Hong Kong and the region. Taiwan stands as a reminder of what can be achieved when freedom prevails.  

    I very much appreciate the opportunity to convey Taiwans position on this issue. I welcome your thoughts and meeting in person at your convenience should you have any questions or would like to discuss the topic further. Please feel free to contact me at: 617-259-1367, or by     e-mail at: boston@mofa.gov.tw

    As the Fourth of July is just around the corner, I wish you a very happy celebration!

    Sincerely,

     

    Douglas Y.T. Hsu

    Director-General

    Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston


  • Wednesday, April 24, 2019 9:50 AM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)

    MANCHESTER – His mission is to help entrepreneurs succeed in an unpredictable global market by providing the resources and innovations they need to thrive.  And with initiatives like Cooperatives for a Better World and CCA for Social Good, Howard Brodsky is a shining example of how business leaders can do good, while doing well.  In honor of his good works globally, the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire has announced Brodsky as the winner of the 2019 Global Leadership Award.

    On May 19th, at the Annual Global Forum, the Council will present Brodsky, Co-Founder, Chairman, and Co-Chief Executive Officer of CCA Global Partners, with this prestigious award.  Each year, the World Affairs Council presents this award to a local business, organization or individual who has shown leadership in promoting international knowledge and understanding in the community and expanding New Hampshire’s global connections.  By conferring this award to Mr. Brodsky, the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire recognizes his efforts to engage the world and help to build a stronger global community in Manchester.

    “I am especially pleased that Howard Brodsky will be this year's recipient of the WACNH Global Leadership Award” said WACNH President, Steve Solomon.  “Although his work at CCA Global has an international impact, he was born in Manchester, started his career in a local family business here, and has a strong commitment to local institutions. He exemplifies New Hampshire's connection to the world through his various international philanthropic programs.” With initiatives like Cooperatives for a Better World and CCA for Social Good, Howard has shown other business leaders what it means to do good, while doing well.

    Since 2014, Howard has been working to bring the idea of Cooperatives for a Better World to life.  This international program is helping small businesses around the globe to work together to create economies of scale. These cooperatives are then able to better market their goods, secure lower costs for their inputs, and reach across oceans to sell their products. Howard recently shared a story about a Shea butter cooperative that was set up in West Africa through Cooperatives for a Better World. With the assistance of this program, the women of Alaffia are now able to sell their products around the world and have increased their profits by 400%.

    “I am truly humbled to receive the 2019 Global Leadership Award from the World Affairs Council. CCA Global takes a worldview on social justice and a more equal society and works to help bring scale and opportunity to family businesses and organizations across the world” said Brodsky, the company’s co-founder, chairman and CEO. “This enables them to better serve their markets by helping them level the playing field. Receiving this prestigious award helps validate that we are doing the right thing and making a positive impact at the global level. On behalf of the entire CCA Global team, I want to thank the World Affairs Council for this recognition.”

    Brodsky will be joined on stage by last year’s Global Leadership recipient, Paul LeBlanc, who will present this year’s award at the 2019 Global Forum.  This annual fundraising event for the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire will feature David Sanger, NY Times National Security Correspondent, who will be discussing the dangers and realities of cyber warfare.  Doors open at 5:00 pm for a reception and the event begins at 6:00 pm at Southern New Hampshire University’s Dining Center Banquet Hall.


  • Monday, March 18, 2019 4:58 PM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)

    Open to high school students across the country, the challenge is to submit an 800-word Memorandum OR a 5-minute Video to “Advise the Secretary of State: Measures to Strengthen the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Partnership.” A panel of educators and experts in student exchange programs will judge the entries. The top 10 contestants will win an all-expenses-paid Doha Study Tour on June 21-27, 2019. Contest winners will also be eligible for scholarships to attend the WACA 2019 National Conference in Washington, DC on November 6-8, 2019. 

     

    The 10 high school student winners will be joined by the 4-member champion team of the Carlos and Malú Alvarez 2018-2019 Academic WorldQuest National Competition, the team's teacher, and two WACA chaperones.  

     

    Please submit your original essays and videos to Liz Brailsford at lbrailsford@worldaffairscouncils.org

     

    The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 29.


  • Monday, March 11, 2019 9:26 AM | Tim Horgan (Administrator)

    By: Michael Pappas

    Henry Nicholls \\ Reuters file

    On June 23rd, 2016, 51.9% of voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, and Tory Prime Minister Theresa May officially triggered Article 50 on March 28th, 2017, eight months later. Article 50 is the legal mechanism by which a European Union member may leave and, once triggered, a transition deal must be agreed upon within two years. That deadline is now less than three weeks away on March 29th. If the UK requests it, then an extension of this deadline can be granted by a unanimous vote of the European Council. However, if a deal is not agreed to by the deadline and an extension is not sought or granted, then a “No-Deal” Brexit will occur whereby the UK is immediately out of the EU on March 30th without a transition period, guided by WTO trade rules and subject to EU import regulations for non-members.

    Late last year a transition deal was agreed to between the EU and the British government, but when put to a vote in the House of Commons in January, the deal was defeated by the largest margin of any vote in the modern history of British Parliament (202-432). One of the biggest sticking points opponents have with May’s deal is the ‘Irish backstop’, whereby the UK will remain in a customs union with the EU indefinitely to prevent a physical border from being constructed between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Opponents are either completely against the backstop or believe that there needs to be a deadline for it so that the country is not indefinitely linked to the EU even after leaving. The problem necessitating the backstop stems from the 1998 Good Friday Agreements that ended the three-decade-long Troubles in Northern Ireland, part of which phased out all border checkpoints between the two governments on the island. Were a physical border to return, some believe violence would return to the region, and some a united Ireland.

    Despite previous statements, May’s speech in the House of Commons February 26 indicated a shift in the government’s policy by expanding the number of possible paths beyond simply the previously negotiated deal and “No-Deal.” May laid out and promised a scheduled order of votes, whereby her previous deal would be voted on again on March 12. In the seemingly likely case that it fails, then a vote will be held on March 13 on whether the Parliament would allow a “No-Deal” on March 29. If this vote fails as well, then a vote will be held on March 14 on whether to “seek a short, limited extension to Article 50.” This shift came on the heels of reports that government ministers would rebel against May to prevent the possibility of a “No-Deal” Brexit, led by Business Secretary Greg Clark, Justice Secretary David Gauke, and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, as well as the pressure of resignations by a dozen MPs between the governing Conservative Party and opposition Labour Party last month. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, after Labour’s alternative Brexit plan was also rejected by the House on February 27 and, despite appearing reluctant do so in the past, said the party fully backs a second referendum. One amendment put forward with the support of Labour leadership would, if passed, see Labour abstain from the second ‘meaningful vote’ on May’s Brexit deal if a second referendum is held on those terms.

    Opponents argue that the possible repercussions of a “No-Deal” Brexit are numerous. Most largely surround the dearth of regulations that British exporters to the EU will need to comply with quite literally overnight. This includes British food producers, whose products, the EU has said, may take up to six months to approve for importation. This likely leaves a large sector, such as that of sheep, with four and a half million lambs with no market, necessitating either a large-scale culling or payments to farmers by the government to prevent such a drastic measure. Another major, yet seemingly innocuous, effect of such a Brexit is the serious lack of EU-compliant pallets for shipping. This owes to the fact that as a member, the UK currently benefits from lower regulatory standards for pallet decontamination, but overnight the nation would be subject to the much stricter rules for Eu non-member states.

    A government report released last Tuesday further summarized some of the largest impacts of a “No-Deal” Brexit, indicating that the UK economy will be 6 to 9% smaller in the next 15 years than it otherwise would have been, food prices are likely to increase, large tariffs for exports to the EU will likely be imposed, and only 6 of 40 planned trade deals have been signed. These are just a few examples that demonstrate the type of fallout that could result from a “No-Deal” should the March 29 deadline come without an extension or alternative plan. It is unclear how soon a solution to the current impasse will be found and how the next month and on will play out, but Goldman Sachs revised their Brexit odds after May’s vote schedule announcement at 55% for an Article 50 extension, 35% for no Brexit, and 10% for a “No-Deal” Brexit. Come March 30, the world will know whether the United Kingdom has crashed out of the EU, kicked the can down the road, or planned a second referendum.


  • Wednesday, February 27, 2019 1:06 PM | Anonymous

    February 27, 2019

    Weekly World News Update

    Second Trump-Kim Summit; China Tariff Delay; China Surveils Its Citizens and U.S. Surveils Russia; India-Pakistan Showdown; Crisis in Venezuela; Congress Challenges Trump Over Purse Issue; Drawdown in Syria; Unmanned Boeing Jets

    Quote of the Week

    To maximize the prospects for success, as in the Iran negotiations, the United States needs China, Russia, Japan and South Korea to join in overseeing implementation of any interim deal…Though the Trump administration reflexively scorns multilateral efforts, North Korea is yet another case where going it alone won’t suffice.

    -- Former Ambassador to the UN in the Obama Administration Susan Rice Tuesday in a New York Times op-ed on the second Trump-Kim Summit in Vietnam.

    Trump-Kim Summit: Diplomatic Bromance 

    Second Trump-Kim Summit Kicks Off With a Handshake in Hanoi” Amy Held -- National Public Radio, February 27, 2019

    Is Trump’s Hard Bargaining Fraying U.S.-South Korean Ties?” Scott Snyder -- Council on Foreign Relations, February 21, 2019

    More Is Possible Now to Address North Korea’s Health and Humanitarian Needs” Stephen Morrison -- Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 22, 2019

    What to Expect at the Second North Korea Summit” Victor Cha and Katrin Katz -- Foreign Affairs, February 22, 2019

    The Second Trump-Kim Summit: What Will Success Look Like?” Ashish Sen -- Atlantic Council, February 25, 2019

    Trump Delays China Tariff 

    Trump Delays Increase in Tariffs on China, Citing Progress in Trade Talks” David Lynch -- Washington Post, February 24, 2019

    Cautious Optimism in Beijing for U.S.-China Trade Deal” Zhenhua Lu -- South China Morning Post, February 26, 2019

    China Again - and Again and Again” William Reinsch -- Center for Strategic and International Studies, February 25, 2019

    America Helped China Surveil Its Civilians 

    China's Powerful Surveillance State Has Created at Least Four Billionaires” Blake Schmidt and Venus Feng -- Bloomberg, February 21, 2019

    China Uses DNA to Track Its People, With the Help of American Expertise” Sui-Lee Wee -- The New York Times, February 21, 2019

    U.S. Surveillance Flies Over Russia

    U.S. Flies Military Surveillance Over Russia for First Time in Over a Year Amid Vladimir Putin Missile Threats” Cristina Maza -- Newsweek, February 21, 2019

    India-Pakistan Standoff

    India Pakistan Conflict LIVE Updates: Pilot Captured as Jet Shot Down Over Kashmir” Tom Davidson -- Mirror, February 27, 2019

    " India and Pakistan Have Lost Control of the Narrative” Mihir Sharma -- Bloomberg, February 27, 2019

    India and Pakistan Say They’ve Launched Airstrikes Against Each Other. Here’s What You Need to Know” Saheli Choudhury -- CNBC, February 27, 2019

    What’s Next for Venezuela?

    There Is Still a Way Out of Venezuela’s Stalemate” Michael Albertus -- Foreign Policy, February 26, 2019

    In Venezuela, Time Is Not on Maduro’s Side” Eli Lake -- Bloomberg, February 26, 2019

    What Now for Guaidó and His International Partners?” Félix Rodríguez -- Americas Quarterly, February 26, 2019

    Pence in Bogota to Discuss Ways to Oust Venezuela’s Maduro” Ben Fox -- Associated Press, February 25, 2019

    U.S. Congress Challenges National Emergency 

    House Rejects Trump Emergency Declaration, Setting Up Potential Veto Showdown” Gregg Re; Chad Pergram; Alex Pappas -- Fox News, February 26, 2019

    Congress Is Unlikely to Stop Trump’s “Emergency,” But Lawsuits Could” Marjorie Cohn -- TruthOut, February 26, 2019

    200 U.S. Troops Stay in Syria

    White House: 200 U.S. Troops to Remain in Syria” Ken Schwartz; Carla Babb; Jeff Seldin -- Voices of America, February 21, 2019

    Boeing Flies Unmanned

    "Boeing Unveils Unmanned Combat Jet Developed in Australia" Jamie Freed and Gerry Doyle -- Reuters, February 26, 2019


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