By: Zain Khan and Aneri Shah
NORTH AMERICA & SOUTH AMERICA
Hurricane Fiona Strikes Puerto Rico; the United States Reacts
Hurricane Fiona wipes out power, access to clean water and damages the island’s economy, just as Puerto Rico is in the midst of recovering from Hurricane Maria earlier this month. The Jones Act, which requires any ships carrying goods to the island to be American-built, owned and operated, stalls aid from a British petroleum ship to carry much-needed diesel to the island. While the United States granted a waiver for the ship to help the island after mounting pressure, this response greatly differs from the challenges Florida will face when recovering from powerful Hurricane Ian given its status as a state.
Migrants Shipped to Martha’s Vineyard; How this Reflects on DeSantis
In a political statement against President Biden’s administration, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts in mid-September to comment on the influx of migrants. Migrants were not correctly informed about where they were going; this sparked backlash as Democrats criticized this new level of politicization of immigration through the use of individuals. This is just one of many jabs between Democratic and Republican governors, some of which are speculated to throw their own hats into the ring, especially DeSantis. The governor’s actions now may be useful to watch when determining platforms taken by the future leaders of the Republican party.
Post-Roe America and November’s Midterms
The overturning of Roe v. Wade in June drastically changed the American landscape, leaving many Republicans unsure what to do despite campaigning for the decision for decades. This is leaving many voters, particularly women, fired up to vote for their right to an abortion; in Kansas, for example, newly registered voters were more female than male after a referendum on the issue. As Democrats go on the offensive, critiquing their Republican counterparts’ harsh stances, Republicans fear that they may lose some competitive Congressional elections, like the senate seat in Ohio or the state legislatures, like that of Michigan.
The Decision to Elect Bolsonaro is Also a Question of Democracy
Starting Oct. 2, the first round of voting for the Brazilian presidency begins; the choice is between former presidents Bolsonaro and Lula. However, as Bolsonaro questions electoral legitimacy before the elections even have begun, doubting electoral processes and mud-slinging names such as “thief” at his opponent, voters are also weighing the future of Brazilian democracy. The country has a relatively young democracy and a plethora of natural resources; Brazil’s voters must decide to what extent they want to preserve these. The situation also echoes that of the United States, whose partisan struggles and polarizing language are similar to Brazil. As the election winds up, many may wonder how it will play out in relation to the United States, and if a coup is on the table for Brazilians as well.
THE MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA
Protests Spark in Iran Following the Death of Mahsa Amini
Women in Iran come together to protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her death while in the custody of the country’s morality police. The authorities, also known as the guidance patrol, are dedicated to monitoring the religious dress code and enforcing rules under Iranian law that require women to wear hijabs, or the headscarf, over a certain age. Following Amini’s death in one of Tehran’s “re-education centers”, women in Iran responded by taking to the streets and burning their hijabs as a sign of solidarity against Ayatollah Khameini’s regime.
Historically women’s rights in Iran have been suppressed with grave consequences for those exercising free will. However, through headlines originating in the West, Islamophobic narratives are blurring the lines between Islam and the actions of the Iranian government. A pattern is emerging around the world where women’s rights are being chosen for them, whether it be in the case of abortion or hijabs.
Read more here.
Africa & the Caribbean
Former Colonies in Africa and the Caribbean Demand Reparations Following the Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Former colonies, after the passing of the Queen, recall her hand in the United Kingdom’s colonial past and are demanding reparations and acknowledgment. They allege that many violent uprisings, genocides and civil wars in Africa were condoned or motivated by the late Queen, such as the Apartheid in South Africa, the Biafra War in Nigeria and the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya. The Caribbean nations join this sentiment as conversations to remove the Queen’s successor, Charles III as head of state arise. At least six Caribbean countries — including Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica and Belize — have suggested the same.
Read more here.
Nigeria Loses Benefits of Oil, A Surprising Foil to Other Oil-rich Countries
Nigeria is amongst the most well-endowed countries when it comes to oil. However, very few of these profits are benefiting their economy. This shouldn’t be the case; other oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and Angola have profited enormously through the surge in oil prices. To account for this difference in fate, one can first look at the subsidies promised by President Buhari, who promised to subsidize a spike in oil prices. This drained the budget of social programs and encouraged Nigerians not to conserve as they may if they had to pay the steep price for oil. This also comes at a time when Nigerian production is at low output and is still battling rampant corruption and illegal oil siphoning.
Historic Shift in Saudi Power Dynamics
The crown prince of Saudi Arabia has been named prime minister, a post traditionally held by the king.
On Sept. 27, by royal decree, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, was named prime minister. MBS, a controversial figure in government, is known for his extreme policies toward journalists and freedom of expression in the country.
Despite ushering in economic modernization through the 2030 Vision — his plan to improve the Saudi economy and make it oil independent – this appointment is alarming as it sets the path to Saudi Arabia transitioning into a totalitarian state. He was named prime minister just days before the Khashoggi lawsuit. This decision has dire implications for human rights in the region, given allegations against MBS for orchestrating the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist.
CENTRAL ASIA & ASIA
Azerbaijan – Armenia
Armenian Sovereignty in Question as Azerbaijan Invades
Azerbaijan invades Armenia again despite an almost two-week ceasefire.
On Sept. 13, Armenia was invaded by Azerbaijan and in a first-time instance entered sovereign Armenian territory beyond the disputed region of Karabakh. The countries reached a ceasefire which saw Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, visit Armenia. As of Sept. 28, both countries have accused each other of violating the ceasefire.
The aggression by Azerbaijan is much like Russia’s aggression. The precedent set by the Russian invasion is threatening to others, for example, Chinese aggression in Taiwan. However, the attention that the invasion has received when compared to Russia-Ukraine is much less and lessens Armenia’s struggle.
Read more here.
Tajikistan – Kyrgyzstan
Access to Water Drives Conflict at Tajik-Kyrgyz Border
The two Central Asian nations of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are in conflict at their borders. Clashes broke out between soldiers of either side on Sept. 14, after one Kyrgyz border guard accused the Tajiks of taking positions at a part of the border that has not been demarcated.
The conflict broke out as a result of water access for both countries as this is not the first time that the countries fight for water.
The clash comes against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war and fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
India’s Supreme Court Declares Abortion Law Include Unmarried Women
As the United States grapples with a post-Roe world, India’s Supreme Court takes a step in the opposite direction, allowing all women, regardless of marital status, to get an abortion up to 24 weeks. Previously, abortion was restricted to certain groups, like rape survivors or minors, but did not include women in consensual, unmarried relationships. While India has strict abortion laws to prevent termination of pregnancy due to gender, this new ruling aims not to deprive women of their rights just being of their unmarried status.
China’s Role in Central Asia, Uyghur genocide continues
On Sept. 15, President Xi of China attended the Shanghai Cooperation Operations Summit (SCO) to discuss funding to support Central Asia’s development and the belt and road initiative.
While Xi visited Central Asia, back at home, in China, many Uyghurs continue to be genocided and oppressed with the government refusing to acknowledge the existence of the killings. The UN has said that China has committed “crimes against humanity,” but has done little to remedy this and hold China accountable.
Abe Shinzo’s Funeral Also Sparks Questions About Citizens’ Role in Mourning
Former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was assassinated this July; a mournful nation turned to the opposition, though, as Japan announced its plans to throw a state funeral, costing the equivalent of $10.7 million. Polls show that around 60% of Japanese citizens oppose this, as reflections of Abe Shinzo’s rule and his ties to organizations such as the Unification Church leaves Japanese citizens wondering if their taxpayer dollars are truly being well spent in the mourning of a figure who leaves a bad taste in their mouth. This comes just days after Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in which many British citizens were left feeling similar as many reflect on her legacy of colonialism and the antiquated monarchy.
Giorgia Meloni’s Elections May Show Europe to Swing Right
Giorgia Meloni will usher in a right-wing government, with a party that declares itself against ‘woke ideology.’ Many worry about the party’s ability to handle Italy’s large financial problems and their ability to work with those in Brussels, the center for the European Union. This also comes at the heels of another far-right politician, Marine Le Pen, losing the election in France. However, it seems that all of Europe may not continue to ward off this new ideology as candidates in the EU continue to garner the support to run and now even win significant elections.
Read more here.
Changes in Power in the United Kingdom and Financial Market Reaction
The United Kingdom experienced a vast change in power this week, with the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the election of the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Changes in power can be times of turmoil for countries, the United Kingdom does not seem to be immune to this phenomenon. Not only is Truss inheriting her predecessor’s issues, such as increased energy costs due to the Russia-Ukraine war, but also announced a new spending and tax cut plan which was the catalyst for the steep decline of the pound. As the pound continues to decline in financial markets, it seems the global confidence in the United Kingdom is being questioned.
Russia – Ukraine
Putin Threatens Nuclear Response and Drafts Soldiers for War
Vladimir Putin has threatened nuclear response as a measure to combat the resistance in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nationwide mobilization has dramatically raised the stakes — not just for the war in Ukraine, but for his legitimacy at home. Putin is wagering that the addition of 300,000 or more reservists will turn the tide for Russia’s attempted neo-imperial conquest of Ukraine. Many Russians are fleeing to Kazakhstan to escape the mandatory draft.
Recently, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev died at the age of 91 amidst Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Gorbachev did not agree with this invasion and consequently, Putin did not attend his funeral or offer a state ceremony for the former Soviet leader. He was buried on Sept. 3 in Moscow.