The World in a Flash
The Round-Up this week checks out the resignation of Michael Flynn, the election of a new Hamas leader, and a battle over semantics in a Canadian anti-racism motion. We also take a look at the continuing violence in South Sudan, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, and bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This has been another rough week for the Trump presidency as he continues to struggle to fill his entire cabinet. He now holds the distinction of having it take the longest time to fill his cabinet since Reagan. First, National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn resigned after information came to light to support allegations that he spoke to Russia’s ambassador to the US during the campaign to assure Russia that Obama’s sanctions would not be honoured when Trump took office. This is frightening not only because the Trump campaign denied it for weeks, but with massive leaks coming out of the White House, what we don’t yet know becomes a daunting proposition given what we now know. Second, Andrew Puzder, Trumps pick for Labor Secretary withdrew from consideration after several republicans voiced they would not The new pick to replace Puzder is R. Alexander Acosta who is dean of Florida International University of Law and a previously a judge on the US Court of Appeals Third Circuit, which is ironic given Trump’s recent clashes with judges. The Trump crazy-train rattles on.
M-103 Semantics Drama
A political battle over Motion M-103 (no relation to the Heavy Tank) kicked off this week as Conservatives challenged the language of Motion 103, proposed by Mississauga Liberal MP Iqra Khalid in December 2016 and now supported by Federal Liberals. 103 calls on the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” as it relates specifically to Islamaphobia. Conservatives challenged it on the grounds that the term Islamaphobia is not defined in the text, and there are fears it could lead to a suppression of free speech and wants the language to be changed to condemn all forms of systemic racism. Liberals though, argue that the language of the Motion is sufficiently broad to encompass discrimination against all marginalized communities. Tin-hatted proponents see this as another indication that Prime Minister Trudeau is trying to criminalize criticism of Islam.
Canada-EU Trade Deal Passes Final Hurdle
The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) has passed its last hurdle in the European Parliament after eight years of negotiations. 98 per cent tariffs between the two economies will be removed, and it is set to greatly increase trade with totalled C$67 billion in 2016. Former Quebec Premier, Jean Charest, who had worked to pass the deal hopes that trade will double in ten years between Canada and Europe. This also helps Canada diversify its trading partners considering possible Trump protectionist policy according to Charest. PM Trudeau has called CETA the blueprint for all future deals when speaking at the EU parliament and stressed the importance for this deal to succeed. The current population of the EU is 508 million and Canada is 36 million. The deal still needs to clear national parliaments before full ratification.
Hamas Has a New Leader
Hamas members in the Gaza Strip have elected a new leader as Ismail Haniya has finished his two-term limit as leader. The members elected Yahya Sinwar. Sinwar was not an unexpected choice for Hamas and it is thought that he will be important in bridging the political and armed aparati of the Hamas party. Sinwar spent 23 years in an Israeli prison where he was a key leader of the Hamas party within the Israeli prison system. He is seen as a good candidate to smooth relations with Egypt and avoid a costly confrontation with Israel given his strong ‘security background.’ Finally, the new leadership will be responsible for navigating tension with its Egypt-backed rival group in the Gaza; the Fatah. Sinwar’s election will likely bring about radical change as his positions are fairly congruent with Hamas’ historical positions on several issues, and it should be interesting to watch how he deals with the Trump administration’s apparent disregard for a two-state solution and Trump’s obvious man-crush on Netanyahu.
South Sudan Exodus Continues
A fresh wave of refugees and asylum-seekers from South Sudan have arrived in Uganda in recent weeks, according to aid agencies and the Ugandan government. The total number of South Sudanese that have fled their own country into their southern neighbour has now reached over 730,000. The new arrivals have reported that an increase in violence around Kajo-Keji, a town in the Central Equatoria country near the Ugandan border. To refresh your memory: the fighting has mainly been between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and forces loyal to Former Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, and has recently topped 1.5 million, according to the UNHCR. The UN has been regularly warning of ethnic cleansing escalating in the area, though government officials in Juba deny these accusations, and has sent peacekeepers to Kajo-Keji last week.
An ISIS-affiliated group has claimed responsibility for a bombing at Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Reports vary on the number of dead, but it is estimated to be over 70. A large crowd had gathered at the shrine for a religious ceremony. This marks continued violence in the country, Al-Jazeera reports close to 100 people have been killed by terrorist acts in the country this week alone. Pakistani PM Sharif has vowed to fight the terrorist groups, but Pakistan has not yet been as effective in dealing with terrorist threats in the past. It is thought that the majority of attacks are carried out by Sunni extremists who despise Shia and Sufi followers. Within the region, there was also another bombing in Afghanistan in which the UAE ambassador died from resulting wounds on Wednesday.