The World this Week

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   NIAS Course on Global Politics
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
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The World this Week
Between a Terror attack in Nairobi and a Political Disaster in UK

  GP Team

Aparupa Bhattacherjee, Sourina Bej and Kriti and Harini Madhusudan

Research Associates
International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP)
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)


Terror attack in Nairobi: A revival of Al Shabaab?

On January 16 the Somalian extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility of a 19-hour siege of a Nairobi hotel that left at least 21 dead. According to the statement released by the group, this attack was in “response to the witless remarks of U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his declaration of al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the capital of Israel.” This week’s attack comes three years after a deadly attack in Westgate in the heart of the capital city of Kenya.

Three reasons could be attributed to a revived attack in Kenya. Firstly, it was a pointed message to the US that al Shabaab is resilient to its air strikes, thereby indicating that US anti-terrorism drive in Somalia is not breaking the terror group. Secondly, attacking the costliest hotel in Kenya indicates that al Shabaab wanted to hurt the economy in Kenya. This was done to put in focus the increasing involvement of Kenyan air force in conducting airstrikes on al Shabaab on behalf of the African Union-led coalition. Lastly, an attack on Kenya would incur a military response in Somalia. A brutal crack-down have in the past radicalised many Somalis particularly the Somalian minority community in Kenya. This would mean new recruits for al Shabaab. In the larger picture, this particular attack in Kenya indicates not only revivalism of al Shahaab but a steady resilience towards US policy in the MENA. In addition to a steady failure of the governance and increased corruption, the rise of ISIS and al Qaeda is shifting from the Middle East to Africa. Newer groups franchising with the Islamic caliphate and al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have mushroomed in Nigeria, Somalia and Sahel. 


Uyghur Issue: A new legislation in US Senate

A newly drafted legislation was introduced by the American Bipartisan lawmakers to condemn the atrocities on the Uyghur in Xinjiang province of China. The legislation called Uyghur Human Rights Policy Acts of 2019 addresses the different ways the Chinese government is leading a “cultural genocide” against the Muslim ethnic minorities of China and especially the Uyghurs. The legislation has highlighted the disappearance of several of Uyghurs which also impacts several US citizens and legal permanent residents of US. According to the US State Department, approximately 800,000 Uyghur, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities are detained by the Chinese government indefinitely. China has refuted all these allegations and claimed that the voluntary Vocational training is being provided in the region in camps as part of the anti-extremism process as its essential part of counter-terrorism.

Nevertheless, several stories of disappearance, death, and tortures of the minorities are being spoken by the Uyghurs settled outside China. Several have claimed to be pressurized by the government to return to the region. This has also impacted several US students who are clueless about their parents whereabout since 2017 and are provided asylum in the US, as none can afford their education due to lack of tuition fees. Hence this issue could be a bone of contention in the US and China relationship. Additionally, although currently, none of the Muslim majority Asian countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and others have voiced their opinion, this could have a regional repercussion.


Brexit: 5 crucial questions, answered


What is the current situation?

On Wednesday Prime Minister Theresa May, faced the most striking defeat when more than 100 votes were cast against her proposal for Brexit. After the vote of no confidence was passed, it leaves her with a very few days to come up with a “Plan B” something that has not been discovered in the past two years. This plan has to be convincing not only for the pro-Brexiters but also for the pro-Europeans of her party.

It is said that she will return with Plan B on Monday. Nobody is clear as to what should be expected out this, not ever the Prime Minister herself. It is important to come up with a plan before March 29, otherwise, the no-deal Brexit will apply. That, in turn, will have a jarring effect with no rules and regulations in place.


Why the delay?

It took two years to come up with a plan and now they have to come up with another. It is natural that getting out of 45-year relation is certainly not easy. The stakes are higher. They do not want to create consequences be it economic or political that may backfire them in any way. There are still many hurdles that are in the way. To come up with a strategy to cross each of them while avoiding major risk factors is not an easy task. There are rumours that those who initially voted in favour of Brexit are now questioning their impulsive behaviour and are filled with doubts and uncertainty.


What will be the impact on the rest of the world?

The impact of Brexit is threefold. Firstly, for the European Nations, it is a big loss. It is the UK military power that plays the role of the driver in any matter. It was with their support that EU could make so many decisions. Apart from that, EU will have to face loss in trade. Almost half of the import and export was in relation to the UK. Secondly, for the US. Their major concern is losing a major ally in terms of maintaining harmony in the world. Plus, UK is America’s seventh major trading partner. So it will have to face loss without even playing a major role in it. Thirdly, for other nations, the economy will be under threat. The UK is the fifth biggest economy in the world and with their exit from Brexit, it will create a unitability world-wide.


Will there be a revote on the referendum?

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair had shown his inclination towards re-voting on the referendum. But the current Prime Minister has completely shut that door. According to her, re-vote would mean betrayal of democracy and hence there could not be revote.


What is in store for Ireland?

The talk of the town is the “Hard Border”. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is currently open. People can move with ease. Not only them but also trade. But after Brexit, the situation may change. The Republic of Ireland is under EU while Northern Ireland comes under the UK. So after Brexit, EU is considering of “hard border” in order to keep a check on the movement. This would simply include checkpoints, border crossings and other infrastructure. This would have a major effect on trade and other activities. Apart from the economic front, politics is also under a lot of pressure. The peace that is maintained between both of them is at risk. It all depends on how the negotiations take place and what it brings to the future of these countries.


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