PSR: June 16, 2017

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A Dark and Constant Rage: 25 Years of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States

To illustrate the threat of right-wing terrorism in the United States, the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has compiled a list of 150 right-wing terrorist acts, attempted acts, plots and conspiracies from the past 25 years (1993-2017). These include terrorist incidents from a variety of…

This week at IPSI

We have recently released the daily program for the Sarajevo Symposium. You should probably take a look (it’s great)… Applications due NOW!

This week in Sub-Saharan Africa

NIGER: One hundred migrants rescued

Niger - One hundred

On Wednesday, authorities reported rescuing about 100 West-African migrant workers, children included, in the Sahara Desert. Traffickers abandoned the migrants on their way to Libya. Smugglers often abandon migrants after confiscating valuables.  Comment: Niger is a major way station for African migrants trying to get to Europe. Often, migrants are not supplied with food or water by smugglers, which results in the deaths of many. (Aniamey, Reuters, VOANews, Washington Post)

UGANDA: Acholi MPs to boycott parliament over Apaa land violence

On Tuesday, Acholi Members of Parliament threatened to boycott parliamentary sittings if the government does not settle the escalating land disputes in Apaa Parish within a week. Last week, local residents of the Apaa community were killed and 21 wounded with machetes by the Madi from Adjumani. Comment:  British-assigned boundaries, set in 1911, blurred after Apaa land was declared a nature reserve for tourism. (Monitor, NewVision, AllAfrica 1, 2)

ZAMBIA: Forty-eight members of parliament suspended

Zambia - 48

On Monday, the Speaker of the House suspended 48 out of the 58 United Party for National Development (UNPD) Members of Parliament (MPs). The suspension was in response to the MPs boycott of President Lungus’ State of the Nation address on Constitutional Values and Principles on March 12. The Speaker suggested that the MPs should resign if they do not recognize Mr. Lungu as President. The opposition spokesman for UNPD, Charles Kakoma, justified the act as a form of expressing disagreement within their constitutional right. Comment: The political tension began when the opposition presidential candidate, Mr. Hichilema, was arrested accused of endangering the President’s safety. His lawyers believe the charges were politically motivated. Representatives are investigating the legality of the MP suspensions. (TimesPaper, VOANews, DailyMail, BBC)

Researched/Written by Angelica Aimé Silfa

This week in the Americas & Caribbean

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Colombia - Teachers

On Saturday, the Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios (ESMAD), Colombia’s riot police, met thousands of protestors with water cannons and tear gas during a peaceful demonstration in Bogotá. The day before, the educator’s union FECODE denounced the killings of three teachers throughout the country the previous week, as well as the disappearance of Luz Elizabeth Hernández Mora, an educator who disappeared after a mass march in the capital on June 6. Comment: On May 11, roughly 350,000 teachers affiliated with FECODE went on strike, halting classes for over eight million students across the country. The teachers’ demands to the Ministry of Education include a salary increase of five percent and extended health benefits, as well as more funding for food programs, transportation, infrastructure and internet access. So far, the union has refused President Santos’ government proposals, claiming that they are insufficient to their needs.  (The City Paper, Bogotá, El Heraldo, Telesur 1, 2, Fecode, Justice for Colombia)

MEXICO/USA: Security collaboration in the Northern Triangle

On June 15-16, officials from the U.S. and Mexico, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, met in Miami to discuss collaboration on security issues related to crime and migration in what is known as the Northern Triangle, namely Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Billionaire Carlos Slim, CEO of the Carlos Slim Foundation, and USAID officials also attended to discuss a potential partnership on “prosperity” and “security” in the region. Comment: This meeting comes less than one month after the U.S. 2018 budget proposal announcing substantial cuts in aid to the area, as well as stricter immigration policies established by the Trump administration.  In a climate of diplomatic tensions between Mexico and Washington, these discussions mark the Trump administration’s first attempt to rebuild the central American region, which documented 15,000 deaths in 2016 alone, and where violence, corruption and poverty have forced tens of thousands to seek refuge further north.  Analysts predict a more militaristic U.S. foreign policy than former U.S. President Barack Obama’s, as demonstrated during speeches earlier this week demanding further sanctions towards Cuba. (El Universal, El Nuevo Herald, Diario las Americas, Reuters, The Guardian, Latin American Working Group)

USA: Republican lawmakers targeted in Alexandria, VA, shooting

USA - Republican

On Wednesday morning, a gunman opened fire on a group of Republican lawmakers and staff as they practiced for the annual charity ballgame between the Republican and Democratic team in Alexandria, Virginia. Five were injured, including Congressman Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, who is in critical condition. The perpetrator, identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson from Belleville, Saint Louis, died following a gunfight with Capitol Hill police. The charity ballgame still took place as planned on June 15. Comment: According to Reuters, the attack is the most high-profile act of domestic political violence since Trump took office. Although the FBI refuses to comment on whether the gunman had political motives, they have disclosed that Hodgkinson was a member of anti-Republican groups on social media and had volunteered for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016. Amidst finger-pointing and recriminations, President Trump and congressional leaders of both parties have called for unity in the face of a growing political divide and an increasing number of hate crimes in the country. (La Nación, El Nuevo Herald 1, 2, 3, Venezuela Solidarity, BBC News, International Peace Institute, Amnesty International)

REGIONAL: Second phase of Tradewinds 2017 begins in Trinidad and Tobago

On Monday, the second phase of the yearly multi-national maritime security and disaster response exercise in the Caribbean, known as Exercise Tradewinds, began in Trinidad and Tobago, near the Venezuelan coast. Phase II brings together security forces and regional civilian agencies from the U.S., UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Mexico, and the Caribbean states to discuss matters of regional security and humanitarian aid efficiency in regards to organized crime and natural disasters. It will conclude on June 17, and Phase III will occur in Miami until June 20. Comment: The locations of Trinidad and Tobago were chosen this year due to their high degree of transnational organized criminal activity; however, some analysts speculate that operating so close to Venezuela’s coast enables U.S. demonstrations of power in the region, particularly since the U.S. warned against an increase in sanctions toward the Venezuelan government. At the next General Assembly of the OAS on June 19, members will be asked to vote on whether or not they should intervene in Venezuela. The 14 Caribbean states are divided between those close to the Chavista regime, and allies of the U.S. and the UK, and Trinidad and Tobago have expressed their opposition to the OAS’ behavior toward the Maduro administration. Tradewinds might therefore present an unofficial means for the U.S. to influence discussions amongst Caribbean members regarding the OAS’ intervention in the Venezuelan crisis.  (Diario las Américas 1, 2HispanTV, TeleSur, U.S. Southern Command, Caribbean News, RT-Español)

Researched/Written by Nastasia Stipo


This week in East Asia & Pacific

CHINA/TAIWAN: Panama severs diplomatic ties with Taiwan, establishes them with China

China & Taiwan - Panama

On Tuesday, Panama severed relations with Taiwan while establishing official diplomatic ties with China. Panama Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Male and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, met in Beijing to formalize the partnership and discuss opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “indignation and regret” at the breaking of ties, and is withdrawing all cooperation between Panama and Taiwan. Comment: The Panama Canal is an increasingly important shipping route in China’s trade with South and Central America, and China has invested heavily in the canal’s infrastructure. China refuses to have diplomatic ties with any country that maintains relations with Taiwan’s Republic of China government according to its One China” policy. Taiwan currently has diplomatic ties with 19 countries, but Panama, alongside Sao Tome & Principe, is the second country to end relations with Taiwan in favor of China as of November 2016.  (New York Times, Xinhua, China Daily, NPR)

JAPAN: Defense Ministry hosts arms show to strengthen military ties with southeast Asia

On Monday, Japan hosted its only arms show, the three-day Maritime Air Systems and Technologies Asia (MAST), near Tokyo. The arms show displayed military products and technology from at least 16 Japanese firms and overseas exhibitors. Japan’s defense ministry has invited military representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam for a separate military technology seminar after the event. Comment: MAST is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s diplomatic attempts to promote industrial military ties with Southeast Asia. It is an attempt to indirectly curb China’s growing military influence in the South China Sea, which already offers low-cost military supply and technology to the Southeast Asian region.  (Reuters, South China Morning Post, Asahi Shimbun)

NORTH KOREA: State media declares impending ICBM launch

North Korea - ICBM

On Saturday, North Korea’s official state newspaper, Rodung Sinmun, declared that the regime will soon test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The announcement follows a series of successful short-range, anti-cruise ship weapons this past Thursday. This coincides with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ statement this week that North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs are the “most urgent and dangerous” threat to U.S. national security. Comment: Last Thursday’s short range, anti-missile cruise ship test marks North Korea’s fifth missile test fire since South Korean President Jae-In ascended to the presidency on May 10, 2017. On Thursday, President Jae-In, an advocate for unification talks with its Northern counterpart, iterated that South Korea will only enter into dialogue with the North if it ceases its missile and nuclear tests. (Aljazeera, Korea Herald, NKNews, Reuters)

Researched/Written by Laura Bisbee

This week in Europe & Central Asia

FRANCE: Human rights watchdog asserts human rights abuse against migrants is ongoing

France - Human

On Wednesday, a French independent rights watchdog group called on the government to cease the inhumane treatment of migrants in Calais, including but not limited to sexual abuse and exploitation, lack of shelter, excessive force, as well as denial of access to food and water. Authorities have been documented using tear gas against migrants, confiscating blankets in January – leading to the treatment of eight migrants for hypothermia in the span of two weeks – and preventing the distribution of food by humanitarian organizations in March. Comment: Thousands of migrants, including unaccompanied children, from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia have poured into the port city of Calais en route to the UK, ending up in makeshift shantytowns. Despite the destruction of more than 30 such camps, including the largest in Calais, hundreds of migrants with nowhere else to go have returned to the ruins. (France24, Reuters, Thomsen Reuters Foundation, Human Rights Watch 1, 2)

RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Thousands fill streets in anti-Kremlin protests, opposition leader arrested, and hundreds detained

Russia - Thousands

On Monday, thousands of peaceful anti-Kremlin/anti-corruption protestors all across Russia took to the streets on behalf of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested and charged for the administrative offense of inciting the protests. Though authorities had approved opposition rallies in multiple cities, Navalny and his campaign encouraged supporters to move to unauthorized public areas and city centers, where police in riot gear apprehended them. More than 700 individuals were detained at random in Moscow, 300 in St. Petersburg, and about 100 in other cities throughout the country. Comment: Navalny, who is attempting to challenge Putin in the presidential elections, has previously served jail time for organizing protests, and is currently being barred from running due to a criminal conviction that many believe was politically motivated. The increasing number of demonstrations and Navalny-supporters may signify mounting anti-government sentiment and the beginning of a new political youth movement. (Tass, Reuters, BBC, NYT)

UNITED KINGDOM: Theresa May’s Conservative party seeks coalition with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party

After failing to secure a majority in the British snap election last week by eight seats, the Conservative Party is relying on garnering support from all ten MPs from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to prop up a minority government. On Monday, (DUP) leader Arlene Foster said that the DUP was not seeking a formal coalition or a seat in the cabinet, but rather a “confidence and supply” agreement, supporting the Conservatives on an issue-by-issue basis, with a focus on socioeconomic issues. Since meeting with the Prime Minister on Tuesday, Foster said that the negotiations were ‘constructive,’ and that an official announcement is forthcoming. Comment: Two individuals integral to the 1990’s peace processes in Northern Ireland fear that any Conservative/DUP coalition could exacerbate sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland, undermine the Good Friday Agreement, and cast the May government as no longer impartial. DUP Party sources have insisted that sectarian issues such as the Orange parades and the legacy of the Troubles will not be a part of the negotiation process to support the Tories. May met with members of all of Northern Ireland’s main political parties on Thursday, though a formal announcement from the Conservatives and DUP will likely be delayed up to one week by a fatal apartment building fire in London. (The Belfast Telegraph, The Irish News, BBC, The Guardian 1, 2)

Researched/Written by Natalie A. Landau

This week in the Middle East & North Africa

LIBYA: Muammar Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam released after years of detention

On Friday, Saif al-Islam was released by Zintan-based Abu Bakr al-Saddiq Brigade in western Libya. He had been detained since November 2011, when he was captured trying to flee to Niger. The release came under an amnesty law passed by the House of Representatives (HoR), based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The Brigade released a statement on its Facebook page stating that it had released Saif al-Islam upon a request from HoR. Comment: Saif al-Islam is still sought by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. On Wednesday, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court appealed for immediate arrest of Saif al-Islam. (An-Nahar, Sky News, The Telegraph, Reuters, France24, BBC)

Qatar: Washington and Doha sign $12bn F-15 fighter jets deal

Qatar - Washington

On Wednesday, Qatar sealed a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the U.S. for USD 12 billion in the midst of the current gulf diplomatic crisis. According to Qatar News Agency (QNA) and the Pentagon, the deal was completed in Washington DC, where the Qatari Minister of Defense Khalid Al Attiya and his U.S. Counterpart James Mattis signed a letter of agreement. Comment: This deal comes after a week of mixed statements from the U.S. administration regarding the Qatar crisis. (Aljazeera, The New Arab, An-Nahar, Raialyoum, Reuters, CNN)

SYRIA: UN envoy says Syria peace talks may resume this July

On Wednesday, Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, told reporters at a conference in Norway that a new round of Syria peace talks could resume between the Syrian government and the opposition groups this July after the holy month of Ramadan. The peace talks aim to end the six-year-long war in Syria. Comment: de Mistura hopes that some progress will be achieved by Russia and the U.S. during the G20 summit on July 7-8 that may pave the way for peace prospects in the Syria peace talks. (Sham Press, Al HayatThe Peninsula, Al-Arabiya, Press TV)

YEMEN: More than 100,000 cholera cases in war-torn country

Yemen - More

The latest cholera outbreak in Yemen has killed around 1,000 people over the last two weeks, according to the World Health Organization. Cholera has now spread to more than 20 provinces in the war-torn Arab country. The Capital Sana’a has been in a state of emergency since May to combat the disease, which Save the Children reports is currently infecting one child every 35 seconds The UNICEF reported that the healthcare system has been seriously impacted by the war, people cannot access basic medicines, and healthcare workers have not been paid for months. Comment: The war in Yemen broke out in 2015 when Houthi rebels and supporters of the former president revolted against president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. A Saudi-led and U.S.-supported military coalition enforced a blockade on the Houthi controlled areas, while Iran supported the Houthis in this proxy war. (WHO, Aljazeera, CNN, France24, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian)

Researched/Written by Atika Alkhallouf

This week in South Asia

BANGLADESH: Landslides and floods kill at least 140 people in Bangladesh and India

Bangladesh - Landslides

On Tuesday, landslides caused by monsoons have killed at least 140 people in south eastern Bangladesh and northeastern India. It is one of Bangladesh’s deadliest natural disasters in a decade. Landslides hit three hilly districts, destroying about 5,000 homes and killing 98 people in Rangamati, 32 in Chittagong, and six in Bandarban. The death toll still has potential to rise as rescue efforts continue. Comment: Al Jazeera reports that these areas are prone to mud slides; however, government has exacerbated the problem with deforestation, mismanagement and land grabs. These landslides come just two weeks after Cyclone Mora damaged hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugee shelters. These refugees fled from Myanmar hardship. (The Daily Star, NPR, Time, Reuters)

BHUTAN/MALDIVES: WHO reports both nations have eliminated measles

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported both Bhutan and Maldives have eliminated measles, three years ahead of WHO’s 2020 deadline of measles eradication in the Southeast region. Both have become the first of 11 countries in the region to eliminate the infectious disease. Maldives has not reported a case of measles since 2009 and Bhutan since 2012. WHO estimates that a vaccination carried out by member countries averted 620,000 deaths in 2016. WHO’s Southeast Asia measles-elimination plan included achieving and maintaining a 95 percent vaccination coverage among children with two doses of the measles and rubella vaccine. Bhutan alone was able to achieve 98 percent vaccination coverage among children. Nearly 107 million children received an additional dose of the vaccine between 2013 and 2016. Comment: Future plans remain in motion to immunize all children and adults up to 40 years of age. Approximately 4.7 million children remain unvaccinated in the Southeast Asia region.  (BBS, Maldives Independent, Economic Times, VOA)

PAKISTAN: First ever death penalty issued for blasphemous Facebook content

Pakistan - First

On Sunday in Bahawalpur, Taimoor Raza, 30, was sentenced to death for posting blasphemous content on Facebook, the first time Pakistan issued the death penalty due to blasphemous social media content. He was convicted for allegedly making derogatory remarks in regards Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his wife (RA), and companions (RA). Public prosecutor Shafiq Qureshi claimed Raza was arrested when a counter-terrorism officer discovered Raza playing blasphemous matieral at a bus-stop and upon confiscating Raza’s phone, discovered additional condemning content. Although it is rare for a counter-terrorism court to judge a blasphemy case, Raza’s charges included counterterrorism offenses linked to hate speech. Comment: Raza belongs to the Shia community and the court accused him of directing hate speech toward the Sunni Deobani Sect. This precedent-setting conviction on blasphemy follows shortly after the death of Mashal Khan, 23-year-old student in Mardan, who was killed by a mob on his university’s premises, for false accusations of publishing blasphemous content. Police are currently investigation 20 students and faculty, and have been considering adding safeguards to blasphemy laws. (Gulf Times, Channel News Asia, Al Jazeera, NYTimes)

Researched/Written by Rabia Uddin