The World in a Glimpse – October 2022 Edition

Image Credit: Lauren Schulsohn

NORTH AMERICA & SOUTH AMERICA 

Brazil

Brazil’s Swing Far Left with Lula’s Win

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or “Lula,” wins Brazil’s runoff election against Jair Bolsonaro. This will bring Brazil from a far right administration to Lula’s left-leaning plans. These plans, however, are rather vague, but have outlined social programs that may be challenging to implement with a divided government and economic strife. However, his win is celebrated by environmentalists which feared the continued degradation of the Amazon rainforest under another term of Bolsonaro. Despite already being president and serving time in prison, Lula will bring a new era for Brazil, and will be ushered in at a time of contested democracy. 

United States

Biden, the Democrats and the Midterm Elections

Before the rising inflation and recession fears, the political climate seemed to be good for Democrats. President Biden took monumental steps in the last month leading up to the election, like pardoning marijuana convictions, dropping gas prices and stoking the flames left by the overturning of Roe v. Wade for impassioned Democrats. 

There is a trend that the sitting president’s party loses the midterms, and as Americans look to their wallets, Biden may not be immune to this trend. In crucial elections for the Senate and House, Republicans seem to be gaining ground in the past month. The tug-of-war between the parties will continue until Nov. 8, when voters will head to the polls; this is especially of interest, as the Senate is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, and many look to see if Democrats can manage to keep the upper house. 

The Legal Troubles of Donald Trump and the Response of Governor DeSantis; Juxtaposing Prominent Leaders in the Republican Party

October brought shocking testimony from the Jan. 6 panel, with many former members of President Trump’s own administration brought to testify. This comes along with President Trump’s entanglement with the FBI and the Department of Justice, as they found classified documents at his Mar-a-lago home. While this has not swayed public opinion much, as many remain in their set camps, it does prompt the question of prosecution, as some evidence could be used to argue criminality. 

On the other hand, Hurricane Ian swept across Florida with force, destroying wide swaths of the state. As Florida rebuilds, Governor Ron DeSantis, known for his inflammatory remarks and bills (“Don’t Say Gay”), quiets down as he manages the state and reaches to the Biden Administration for help. Both events of this month shape the Republican Party, concurrently with many Republican candidates’ bids in the midterms.

THE MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA 

Israel

Turkish-Israeli Relations normalize following decades of tensions between the two

As of Oct. 27, Israel has restored diplomatic relations with its Turkish counterparts, following the meeting of Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

This decision is of great importance to both nations in an attempt to restore the fractured relations between the two countries which has persisted due to Israel’s approach to Palestine and its policies towards the Gaza strip. 

In 2018, Turkey downgraded relations with Israel and expelled the Israeli ambassador from Ankara after Israeli forces killed sixty Palestinians on the Gaza border during a protest against the Donald Trump administration’s transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In response, the Israelis banished the Turkish ambassador. Now, as ties warm, Turkey appoints a new ambassador to Israel while Israel does the same by sending a new ambassador to Ankara. 

Lebanon 

Lebanon and Israel sign U.S. brokered oil deal, unprecedented compromise between the neighbors

Lebanon’s hope of producing oil came to partial fruition when the country, in 2020, discovered oil reserve traces in the Levant Basin. However due to its disputed maritime borders with its neighbor, Israel, the situation is not ideal for either country. 

Right now the deal was an attempt to solve the following crisis: Israel claims the boundary runs further north than Lebanon accepts, while Lebanon claims it runs further south than Israel accepts, leaving a triangle of disputed waters.

Lebanon does not recognize the state of Israel. However, Israel, following the signing of the U.S brokered maritime deal on Oct. 27, claims that Lebanon has recognized its statehood. This is escalating tensions as one attempts to out-maneuver the other.  

Amid the world prices for oil skyrocketing, contrasting views emerge. On one side we have Israel with Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office saying the deal was a “political achievement” for the country because “it is not every day that an enemy state recognises the State of Israel, in a written agreement, in front of the entire international community”. While on the other side Lebanese Prime Minister Michel Aoun insists, ““Demarcating the southern maritime border is technical work that has no political implications,”.

Iraq

Iraq’s Parliament approved new government headed by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani

On Oct. 27, the Iraqi cabinet ministers solved the nearly a year long crisis. There was no stable government in the country despite having held an election in October of 2021. 

Iraqi lawmakers have approved a new government, ending more than a year of deadlock, but the country still faces many challenges. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’Al-Sudani vowed to reform the economy, fight corruption, improve deteriorating public services and combat poverty and unemployment.

Sudani also served as the human rights minister for the country and has pro-Iran ties. Muqtada al-Sadr, Sudani’s rival and candidate who incited the storming of the parliament almost a year ago rejected Sudani’s candidacy and has refused to join the current government. 

Egypt 

Egyptian Pound sees a record low devaluation against U.S. dollar.

The news of Egypt’s economic crisis and bad currency exchange rates comes following the announcement by the International Monetary Fund on Oct. 27. The IMF was in talks with Cairo since March in order to improve the country’s economic condition, high external debt soaring up to about $145 billion and fading foriegn investment into the country. 

After the $3 billion IMF deal, the country is set to see a hike in interest rates while at the same time is planning on increasing its minimum wage. This deal allows Egypt access to the $3 billion loan on the condition it implements a series of economic reforms to alleviate economic burdens it faces. 

As of Oct. 27, the EGP is 22.8 for every U.S. dollar as opposed to the previous rate of 19 EGP. This is the first time in its history where the Egyptian government has seen such lows. However the currency’s worth has been gradually dropping since the country entered a period of economic crises in 2008.

Iran 

“Women, Life and Freedom” — Updates on the Protests in Iran

Former President Barack Obama admits his regret of not support Iran more in the 2009 protests when, in mid-October, urged the need to spotlight those that are fighting for their freedom. Just days later, Evin Prison, full of influential writers, activists, and politicans against the Islamic Republic, was seen in flames. The prisoners were not immune to the fervor that has taken the streets; when they, too, began to riot, they were beaten and the prison was torched. While the Iranian government reports few casualties and holds that many of the prisoners were transferred into other secure prisons, Amnesty International says that the actual toll may be much higher. While protests display an unprecedented amount of duration and defiance, the regime continues to respond with its characteristic violence. 

Kenya 

Pakistani Journalist, Arshad Sharif killed in Kenya, body flown to Pakistan 

On Oct. 24, Sharif was shot and killed by Kenyan police. A few days later, his body was flown into his home town in Pakistan. Sharif was a prominent journalist in Pakistan, who was critical of the country’s extensive military, and fled Pakistan nearly two months ago.

The 49-year-old journalist fled the country following the allegations and charges against him including sedition charges over an interview with Shahbaz Gill — a close aide of former Prime Minister Imran Khan — during which Gill made comments deemed offensive to the military.

Kenyan authorities alleged a case of “mistaken identity”. The police authorities were responding to a car theft call when they mistook Sharif for the suspect that ended in a fatal shooting. 

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan demanded an immediate inquiry into Sharif’s death.

Nigeria

Nigeria Heads to a Presidential Election; a New Take may be What it Needs

Nigeria, a country spoiled by oil, struggles with policies that would benefit all, across its wide ethnic, religious and geographical divides. Its economic struggle is largely intertwined with its environmental one. This not only pertains to oil, but also its farmland and infrastructure, which experienced unprecedented flooding this month, displacing over 1 million people. While politicians partially attribute this to climate change, many also point to poor governance when preparing communities. With this, many voters find it is time for a change. 

Nigeria’s presidential election is in 2023. As campaigning began at the end of September, one candidate seems to stand out from the rest: Peter Obi. He contrasts to the ostentatious nature of his opponents, seen standing in line at the airport and also claims to have fiscal responsibility from his time as a state governor. He is also relatively younger than his opponents — he is in his early sixties while the rest of the candidates are in their late seventies. Nevertheless, Obi’s style seems to rejuvenate voters, and as the election draws closer, he may win Nigeria’s presidency through his challenge of the status quo. 

Ethiopia 

Genocide Warning in Ethiopian Tigray region, High risk alert 

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns that there is a very narrow window to prevent genocide from taking place in the country. Tedros, who previously served as Ethiopia’s health minister and foreign affairs minister, has been extremely critical of the war torn region.  

On Oct. 20, Tedros told reporters in Geneva that food and healthcare were being used as weapons of war in Tigray, which is largely cut off from the outside world. The Ethiopian government has repeatedly denied blocking humanitarian supplies to Tigray or targeting civilians. The conflict has killed thousands, displaced millions and left hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine

The Tigray conflict is rooted in long-running rivalries between regional power blocs over control of Ethiopia as a whole and in deep disagreements over how power should be balanced between federal and regional authorities.

Uganda 

Ugandan Government Faces Public Health Crisis amid Ebola Outbreak

The Ugandan Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng on Wednesday confirmed 15 new cases of COVID-19. Most of the cases were among school children, with 15 cases in Kampala.This news comes just a few days after the government confirmed that there were no active cases of infection in the capital. 

Uganda endured one of the longest lockdowns of COVID-19. The United States revised their travel restriction and as of Oct. 6 will be screening all passengers flying in from Uganda for Ebola.

Health experts say the government’s response to the outbreak has been slow and inept, allowing infections to spread.

ASIA & CENTRAL ASIA 

South Korea

At least 146 people killed in a stampede in Soul 

On Oct. 30, citizens of Seoul celebrated halloween when a stampede killed 146 people in a crowd that was cramped into an alleyway. A further 150 people were injured in the crush in Seoul’s Itaewon district, Choi Sung-beom, head of the Yongsan Fire Station, said in a briefing at the scene.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered emergency assistance to the area, including securing hospital beds in the area, and held a late-night meeting on the response. The Seoul mayor, in Europe for work, would cut his trip short to manage the incident.

Pakistan 

Pakistan from removed terror-funding courtries watch list 

In 2018, Pakistan had been placed in the grey list of countries laundering money and financing terror. However on Oct. 21, after almost 4 years, the country’s name has been removed from the global of terror-funding countries. 

The Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) was set up by the G-7 countries to monitor countries suspected of funding terrorists organizastions and non-state actors inciting violence. 

The announcement was made by Raja Kumar, the president of the Financial Action Task Force, at a news conference in Paris. The FATF welcomed “Pakistan’s significant progress in improving” its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing policies.

China

The Showmanship of the CCP and the Future of Taiwan

The Chinese Communist Party Congress, which takes place every 5 years, usually follows a choreographed pattern. This leaves the positions of power in China, from president to the decision-making body, the Politburo, rather predictable. While this year, Xi Jinping expectedly kept his position of power as president (he did not appoint a successor previously), many of the Politburo did not. Instead, President Xi promoted some loyal, yet unexpected choices to the positions, like a new possible prime minister, Li Qiang, who is best known for his over-stringent covid policies. With this change in routine, it is clear that President Xi holds a tight grip over the CCP, and can make statements of approval and disapproval of policies and people simply on who walks behind him in this congress. 

As Xi Jinping shifts his strategy for China, he also does so for Taiwan. At the congress, President Xi maintained that Taiwan was “core” to the future of China. Many worry that an invasion of Taiwan is imminent, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, keeping the US military on their toes. As President Xi renews his role as president, worries and protests break out over the world as many worry what that could mean for the future of both China and Taiwan. 

Kyrgyzstan 

Human Rights violations worsen in the ‘Island of Democracy’.

Kamil Ruziev, a Kyrgyz human rights activist, who was wrongfully arrested, tried and acquitted earlier in the year was arrested again. The acquittal was canceled and tensions continue to rise. 

Freedom of speech in the country is under threat following the Kyrgyz government’s supension of the Radio Free Europe page and citizen’s access to it. The Kyrgyz government made the decision on October 26 after RFE/RL refused to take down a video of one of its newsprograms that reported on clashes at the border with Tajikistan. 

The government arrests many human rights activists. More than 20 people in Kyrgyzstan were detained on Oct. 23, and placed under arrest for 48 hours, after publicly disagreeing with the impending transfer of an important dam to Uzbekistan as part of a border demarcation deal with the neighboring country. Those detained included activists, human rights defenders, bloggers, and politicians.

EUROPE

United Kingdom 

New PM in the UK, Country continues to face Economic crisis 

Rishi Sunak has made history as the first person of color to hold the office of the prime minister of the United Kingdom. This appointment comes following his consolidation of leadership in the Conversative Party formerly headed by Liz Truss. 

Sunak was elected as leader of the Conservative Party on Oct. 24 and is set to form a government in the King’s name. He enters 10 Downing Street at a time when the country is deeply divided and faces immense economic and political turmoil, with the country experiencing three different prime ministries in the short span of three months. Now the prime minister is likely to oversee spending cuts and tax balance, made worse by Truss’s plan for unfunded tax cuts and a costly energy price guarantee.  

Liz Truss’ resignation has left the country in a political turmoil.Now the United Kingdom faces harsh winter, 14 million starving and prices of oil climbing sky high. 

Russia-Ukraine

Bridge Linking Crimea and Russia bombed: a Trend in Targetting Infrastructure

In mid-October, the Kerch Bridge between Crimea and Russia was bombed. A key bridge between the two countries, Russia arrested 8 individuals for the offense and blames Ukraine. While Ukraine applauds the offense, Ukrainian intelligence maintains it wasn’t them. This comes at a time where targeting infrastructure seems to be an essential strategy in the war; Russia is targeting civilian infrastructure to further its invasion. This is something they have done in other regions, such as Chechnya. Now, Russia is attacking utilities like water and energy to cripple the Ukrainian population; this was particularly worrying when Russian soldiers targeted a nuclear plant, causing many to worry about overheating. As Ukrainians brace for future attacks, many look to the Kakhovka dam, which would cause strife for the surrounding civilians. 

Greece

The Greek Olive Branch: Greece Says it Wants to Make Peace with Turkey

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says that it is ready to be friends with the neighboring country of Turkey, despite blaming them for the anti-Greek attitudes in their own country. Despite both countries being a part of NATO, both countries accuse each other of violating agreements in the Aegean Sea. This dispute is especially crucial at a time of looking for different energy sources for Europe, and many of these ideas reside in this region. Turkey also accused Greece for violating international treaties with military presence on Greek islands close to the country. German Chancellor Olaf Schluz condemns this behavior in both countries, emphasizing that they are NATO allies and thus should behave as such. Any disputes, he recommends, should be settled through diplomacy and international law. 

AUSTRALIA 

Australia 

Australia no longer recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 

On Oct. 20, Australia has reversed a previous government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the foreign minister said Tuesday, prompting consternation from Israel. The move to overturn the Morrison government’s 2018 decision angered Zionist groups but was cheered by Australian Palestinians.

Australia now remains committed to a two-party solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid expressed disappointment in Australia’s changed position. Senior Palestinian official Hussein Al-Sheikh said he welcomed Australia’s decision “and its affirmation that the future of sovereignty over Jerusalem depends on the permanent solution based on international legitimacy.”
Most countries — including Australia, the UK, France and Germany — have their embassies in Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem. During his tenure, President Trump ordered the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv in 2017 as he “determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”. The US embassy in Jerusalem opened the following year, and the current Biden administration has not reversed that shift.

Comments

Zain Khan

My name is Mohammed Zain Shafi Khan I go by Zain and my friends here at USC call me MZ! Previously, I interned at freedom firm, A non-profit that works on rescue and restoration operations for minors sold into prostitution. Currently I am a research intern for the LA county 5th district supervisor’s office where I am tasked along with my team to find facilities that can house the mentally ill population of the soon to be demolished Mens Central Jail. I am passionate about human rights especially in countries/regions with no regard for life in conflict driven zones such as Syria, Afghanisthan, South America and the Middle East. I love to closely follow US politics and its relations with other countries. I strongly believe that today’s world is more divided and complex despite the globalisation that is taking over and causing interconnectedness. However, I believe that there is hope and good in some parts of the world which is why we all have an inherent need to do our part. In my free time I love to cook, dance, try new foods, spend time with friends, family and binge watch tv series( my weakness are sitcoms and political thrillers).