All posts filed under: Politics

Politics

Why Islamic State Targeting Tehran?

Attacks by the self-proclaimed Islamic State on Iran’s parliament and the shrine to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, symbols of the republic and Iranian revolution, left seventeen dead on June 8, 2017. They mark the group’s first assault on Iran and come at a time when its purported caliphate, which spans the border of Iraq and Syria, is under increasing military pressure by U.S.- and Iran-backed forces, among others. In the face of this pressure, the Islamic State hopes to demonstrate its resilience and wide reach, says Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. The group’s attacks are also meant to burnish its credentials as “a defender of Sunnis everywhere” and “vanguard of the struggle against the Shia,” Hoffman says, since even as Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers rail against Iran for how it wields influence in the Middle East, only the Islamic State has struck it directly. What was your initial reaction to the attacks? Unprecedented. ISIS sees itself in literally an apocalyptic battle with the Shia, and to be able to strike in …

Why is China always downplays India’s Contribution?

Between September 14–27, the United States and India conducted a joint military training exercise in Uttarakhand, an area less than 100 km from the Chinese border (Global Times, September 12). This combined exercise, known as Yudh Abhyas, or “training for war,” started as an army training cooperation event in 2004 and has since evolved to include the air force as well (U.S. Army Pacific, March 12, 2012). Until 2008, the main focus had been sharing logistics and tactics. Between 2009 and 2012, the exercise focused on the UN-style peacekeeping missions (U.S. Army Pacific, March 12, 2012). Since then, the main theme has shifted to counter-insurgency and more recently, counter-terrorism (U.S. Army, September 12, 2015; The Diplomat, September 16). Each year, the United States and India takes turn in hosting the exercise. China tends to be strident in its criticism of U.S. military operations and presence in the Asia-Pacific, to include U.S. increased cooperation with allies and partners as a result of the rebalancing (State Council Information Office, May 2015). The Chinese government and media repeatedly …

Crisis in Venezuela

Venezuela is in the midst of an unprecedented economic and political crisis marked by severe food and medicine shortages, soaring crime rates, and an increasingly authoritarian executive. Critics of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, say Venezuela’s economic woes are the fruit of years of economic mismanagement; Maduro’s supporters blame falling oil prices and the country’s “corrupt” business elites. In 2016, opposition lawmakers took a majority in the legislature—the National Assembly—for the first time in nearly two decades. However, the Maduro government has taken steps since to consolidate the president’s power, including usurping some of the legislature’s authorities. Maduro’s actions have been met with massive protests and international condemnation. Chavez’s ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ Chavez, a former military officer who launched an ill-fated coup in 1992, was elected president of Venezuela in 1998 on a populist platform. As a candidate, he railed against the country’s elites for widespread corruption, and pledged to use Venezuela’s vast oil wealth to reduce poverty and inequality. During his presidency, which lasted until his death in 2013, Chavez expropriated millions …

India-China border standoff

It was the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan that sounded the alarm — Chinese soldiers had arrived with bulldozers and excavators, and were building a high-mountain road near India’s border in an area the two nuclear-armed giants have disputed over for decades. India responded to the call by sending troops last month to evict the Chinese army construction party from the Doklam Plateau. Within a few days, Indian media were running leaked video footage of soldiers from both sides shoving one another atop a grassy flatland. Two weeks ago the Chinese sent an unusual number of military patrols into the mountains of Ladakh, a remote high-altitude desert at the northern tip of India. Two Chinese patrols came on foot, two more arrived in military vehicles and a Chinese helicopter flew overhead. With all the activity, the Indian authorities failed to notice until the next morning that about 30 Chinese soldiers had pitched three tents in an area both countries claim. The tense standoff has only escalated, raising concerns in both capitals of an all-out military …

Al Jazeera, Qatar’s source of soft power?

A Saudi-led bloc has demanded Qatar shutter Al Jazeera, the global news broadcaster it sponsors, as one of its conditions for restoring diplomatic relations and lifting an embargo after breaking ties in early June 2017. Qatar rejects the demand along with the bloc’s other conditions. The broadcasting giant, which has given Qatar outsize influence in the Middle East and beyond, helps the small Gulf emirate buck the foreign policies of its larger partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and beat an independent path. Thus, Qatar has refused to shut down what it sees as an extraordinary source of soft power. Financing from Qatar’s royal family has freed Al Jazeera from the usual market pressures facing cable news. As an alternative to the censored state media typical of the region, Al Jazeera’s reporting on popular grievances and protest movements has angered powerful regimes. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain accuse Al Jazeera of inciting terrorism. The network, in turn, accuses them of attempting “to silence the freedom of expression in the region.” …

Brazilian Government Corruption Probe Fallout

Corruption probes that began in 2014 have reached the highest levels of the Brazilian government and corporate elite, implicating President Michel Temer, former presidents, and dozens of cabinet officials and senators. Operacao Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) and overlapping investigations have led to prison sentences for top executives and politicians, mass layoffs, and billions of dollars paid in fines. The scandals have complicated efforts to revive the economy amid its largest downturn in more than a century. The country’s biggest corporations have faced numerous setbacks, and the fallout from the scandals is expected to reverberate through Brazil’s 2018 general election. Millions of Brazilians have demonstrated in favor of the investigations, and many hope that shedding light on the scandals will end the widespread corruption that has plagued their country. Launched Lava Jato in 2014 Federal prosecutors led by Judge Sergio Moro launched Lava Jato in March 2014, after the Finance Ministry’s intelligence unit discovered unusual bank transactions involving the state-owned oil company Petrobras. They suspected that Petrobras was accepting bribes from firms, including the construction giant …

Artificially inflating the threat from Russia does nobody any good

Artificially inflating the threat from Russia does nobody any good Sumantra Maitra, University of Nottingham Much has been written lately about Russia “hacking” the US presidential elections, and how Vladimir Putin’s government is in a new Cold War with the West. Molly Mckew, who advised Mikhail Saakashvili when he was president of Georgia, writes that the West is already fighting a war in defence of the values on which its liberal order is based. Like many others, she never attempts to define what exactly “The West” is, or what its contradictory state interests add up to. In the Financial Times, meanwhile, Lilia Shevtsova is even more pessimistic. She claims the current situation is without historical precedent, and that current Western strategy “requires ideological clarity, but the ambiguity of the post-Cold War world made the strategy irrelevant”. Countless pieces like these are churned out in the Anglophone media every day. They share a remarkable deficit of proportion and objectivity; they present what’s happening today as historically unprecedented, an incorrect diagnosis that simply stirs up hysteria and …

What’s killing political satire?

Political journalists, especially during elections, should provide balanced news coverage of parties and scrutinise each parties’ political agendas to help properly inform the public. Sadly this is an ideal that is all-too-rarely realised. There is also the issue of due impartiality – a broadcast rule to ensure news is reported fairly and in an appropriately balanced manner.

The decline in local media

The decline in local media has been happening for decades. Commercialism, consolidation, the internet and poor management are all frequently blamed. And yet, though many have tried, no workable solution to reverse these fortunes has succeeded to date. This is not just about informing local people on bin collections, or school fayres: local newspapers have the power to step in and hold councils accountable for their actions. The Grenfell Tower fire is one prime example of how local reporters could have acted on the behalf of their readers. The local press did not pick up on safety concerns aired by residents of the tower block on numerous occasions – notably on a blog written by members of the residents’ committee. A former reporter for local paper the Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle (then Kensington and Chelsea News) told Press Gazette any good local newspaper journalist “would have been all over that story because of that blog”, and that the story would have been picked up a lot sooner in the pre-internet era. But, in a picture …