The World this Week

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The World this Week
The New Zealand Massacre, The JeM discussion in the UN, The Brexit rejection, US-Taliban peace talks and Climate protests

  GP Team

Two mosques were attacked in New Zealand killing 49 people. China yet again blocked UNSC’s bid to list Azhar as a global terrorist. For a second time in a row, Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by a large majority. After five rounds of negotiations the US-Taliban peace talks in Qatar has ended without a deal thereby putting a question of the manner of US withdrawal and the resolution to the conflict. Finally, one million students across the globe took to the streets demanding their governments to declare a climate emergency.

Aparupa Bhattacherjee, Sourina Bej, Sukanya Bali, Harini Madhusudan, Afrin Gazi and Abigail Fernandez

Massacre in New Zealand

What happened?  The mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15 in Christchurch had left 49 people dead and more than 40 others wounded.

What is the background? There has been a series of lone-wolf hate crime attacks across the world. For example, during the last few years in the US alone there were attacks at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, and the Overland Park Jewish Center in Kansas. In Canada,  an attack on Muslims was carried out in the Islamic Center of Quebec City. In UK, a van was driven into a group of Muslims near the Finsbury Park Mosque. One could see a dangerous trend in targetting the places of worships by hatemongers.

What does it mean? The New Zealand attack was carried out by a lone perpetrator who has cultivated a long-drawn hatred against the minority community and used social media to only get radicalised but also as a medium to share the attack with a 74-page long document intending his actions. Second, the attack highlights the rising anti-immigrant violence. 

New Zealand seems to have responded with a unitary voice in condemning the violence. Will the rest of the world also follow suit?

China blocks UN bid to list JeM chief as Global Terrorist

What happened? The deadlock continues on designating Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Muhammad, as a “global terrorist” in the UN. China on February 13 put a technical hold on the proposal moved by France, UK, and the US in UNSC to identify Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist. The position taken by China has delayed India’s push to list JeM after the Pulwama terror attack.

It is the fourth time in a row that China has held on to its stand on banning Azhar at the 1267 UNSC committee. China has maintained that it should follow the rules and procedure of the concerned bodies and should be acceptable to all sides. This position contradicts the stand adopted by New Delhi who is open for talks only after verifiable action is been taken by Pakistan against the group.  India had expressed disappointment over China’s stance but has been reluctant to publicly push China in the issue. New Delhi has stated that it is following a strategy to be “patient” with China. Three permanent members of UNSC are also in discussions with China for a ‘compromise’ on the matter. Further, China seems to have suggested ‘certain changes’ in the language of terrorists’ designation.

What is the background?  In the recent Pulwama attack, Jaish-e-Muhammad had claimed responsibility led to the killing of 44 Indian security personnel on 14 February. It was the deadliest attack in Kashmir’s 30-year-long insurgency. In response, India had conducted air strikes at Jaish-e-Muhammed training camps in Balakot. The attack raised tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. JeM a Pakistani based organisation has been enlisted into sanction regime since 2001 for its participation in supporting activities of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Taliban. The terrorist outfit has also been involved in carrying out several other attacks on Indian soil, including the attack on Pathankot airbase in 2016 and an army camp in Uri in 2016. Following the Pulwama attack, attempts are being made again to designate Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-e-Muhammed, as ‘global terrorist’ which would subject him to an asset-freeze and global ban.

What does it mean? With China yet again blocking the bid it would be interesting to see how India manoeuvres the situation without hampering its relation with China. It is also significant to see how China played the India-Pakistan conflict in upping its global image. While China domestically downplayed the issue in terms of media coverage it diplomatically positioned itself in being the mediator between the two. 


Brexit Deal: May faces another rejection

What happened? Britain is expected to leave the European Union by the 29 March 2019. Prime Minister Theresa May's second round of voting for the EU withdrawal deal has been rejected by a large majority and ended without any outcomes. Hence a question remains to be seen as to whether the MPs vote. If they do then a possible no-deal could be secured and if that fails Brexit could be delayed.

What is the background? On 12 March 2019, Theresa May for the second time, proposed the Brexit deal and it was rejected by a margin of 149 votes, less than the 230 from the first time in January, It is significant to note that this defeat came despite May’s efforts of meeting the EU leaders at Strasbourg and agree to the changes in the terms with the Irish backstop. The terms agreed on was more off an insurance policy to try and avoid a hard Irish border by keeping Britain in a customs union with the European Union. This was however objected by many Brexiters due to the possibility that they may get stuck in this ‘backstop’ forever.  It is this backstop agreement that failed to turn the votes in her favour. In total, the deal was rejected by 391 votes to 242, with 75 of her own party members, the Conservatives rejecting it. Another barrier was May’s alliance partner, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) saying, that they were not convinced by last-minute assurances won from Brussels.

What does it mean? After the second time rejection by the Parliament, there are two options left for May. One is to extend article 50 and the other is to call for a second referendum. What is certain is that Theresa May might not be abandoning the plan so soon. The third round of voting is expected to be happening in the following week.


US-Taliban: Peace talks break with No Deal

What happened? The Trump administration has now conducted five rounds of negotiations with the Taliban, including an exhausting 16-day round that ended on 12 March 2019, in Qatar. The negotiations in Qatar were led by Taliban’s political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and a US team led by Special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. The US and Taliban negotiators have broken off the peace talks with no agreement. The talks also included the intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire only after the agreement is in the draft on the US withdrawal is finalised. Both sides are claiming progress, but it has prompted an undiplomatic outburst by the Afghan administration and blaming the US administration for ostracizing and alienating a very trusted ally in the peace talks.

What is the background? The US and Taliban had agreed in principle at the January talks on a framework for a deal under which the Taliban would prevent Afghanistan from becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals and that the US would pull out troops. Both sides had also engaged in long sessions over the details of an American timeline for withdrawing its troops. Maybe enough to end American military involvement in Afghanistan, but without a more complete peace deal, it will not end what is now the deadliest conflict in the world.

What does it mean? Even if the United States and the Taliban finalize their agreements, they face an uphill task moving the peace process to the next stage, in which the Taliban would negotiate the political future of the country with the Afghan government. The Taliban have so far refused to meet with the Afghan government, which in turn has been suspicious of the talks. If the Afghan government is not even at the peace talks, it shows how the US government thinks it’s irrelevant. The lack of a clear breakthrough in talks when fighting is intensifying raises concerns of another bloody year ahead. That would be a dangerous yielding of the US influence that could doom the Afghan government and the millions of Afghans, especially women. The attitude of the Taliban towards the Afghan administration indicates that it is not prepared to accept a democratic political system or respect basic human rights.


Student Protests on Climate Change

What happened? About one million students across the globe skipped classes on 15 March and took to the streets in protest demanding their governments to declare a ‘climate emergency.’ The protesters angered by the way their leaders have looked into this issue are demanding that the targets laid down in the Paris Climate Agreement, be taken more seriously. Protests were staged in over 100 countries including, New York, Stockholm, France, London, India, Australia, Uganda, Australia and many more.

They went out with the view that they are fighting for their own future, demanding action to be taken immediately to reduce emission levels. The student protest did face some criticism from some politicians who said that these students should be at school rather than on the streets, however, they were backed by a number of scientists who believed that protest of the brave students all across the globe was right.

What is the background? The protest was inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who protested ever week outside Sweden's parliament since August 2018. She did this to raise awareness of Climate Change, her mission was to pressurise her government to pass laws that would reduce the emissions levels. Alexandria Villasenor, another teenager has spent every Friday since December outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City, protesting on climate change.

All these students underline the Paris deal. Nearly 200 countries have to cut greenhouse gas emissions and scientists point out that this deal must be taken up seriously if it is to have any chance of curbing the dangers of climate change. However, big players like the United States have pulled out of this agreement and others failed to comply or face difficulty in trying to implement them.

What does it mean? This worldwide protest only implies that the generation that would possibly face the consequences of climate change is rising up to safeguard their future. Their demand for action rather than hollow political promises could possibly wake up politicians that are slacking when it comes to addressing this issue. It also shows that the generations that have caused this issue have not taken measure to curb this problem.

This protest could have an impact on the way in which our current leaders are addressing the issue because if students are going to be skipping classes because of their ill efficient working, it could have grave other implications. This protest is a symbol of dedication and pressure on politicians will continue to grow, causing this conversation on climate change to get louder

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