the brief: issue one


President of Chad Killed in Skirmish
by Jessica Pender

The country’s army reported that President Déby died in a battle with Fact, a dissident rebel militant group, on Tuesday. Having just won the latest presidential election with 79% of the popular vote, Déby visited the border campaign against the rebels in northern Chad. The region is known for its skirmishes between the military and Islamic extremists, such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

President Déby would have begun his sixth term in office as one of the longest-serving rulers of an African nation.

His son Gen Mahamat Déby Itno and a military council have taken power, with democratic elections to take place in 18 months. However, opposition leaders and Fact condemn Gen Déby’s succession as a coup, and a general strike is scheduled to be held in protest. This dissent and growing divisions within the military provide fragile beginnings for Chad’s new leader.

Eritrean Troops Remain in Tigray According To US
by Frank Roberts

Despite promising in March to remove troops from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the US State Department have alleged that Eritrea has failed to do so. The conflict, which has destroyed the local harvest season and decimated food supplies, has been raging since November with separatist forces in Tigray at war with the Ethiopian government.

Approximately ¾ of refugees in Mek’ele have been unable to secure food aid and international bodies, such as the UN, have expressed increasing concern at the worsening situation. The EU still plans to send election observers in June, but have conceded that the situation could deteriorate further. It is thought that the actions of Eritrean troops have directly contributed to the depletion in food supplies, with reports of killing livestock and burning food.


Ex-South Korean President Sent Back To Prison
by Owen Buchan

Former South Korean President, Lee Myung-Bak, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2018 for taking bribes, embezzlement of corporate funds and various other corruption-related crimes committed during his presidential term from 2008-13. After he was bailed out, he was taken back into custody this February due to an appellate court giving him a new 17-year prison term and cancelling his bail. Lee was then released again. The Supreme Court stepped in and ruled on Thursday 15th April that Lee will serve 17 years in prison. A final ruling from the Supreme Court will hopefully ensure that Lee can start to serve his time uninterrupted.

What Does America Pulling Out of Afghanistan Mean for Central Asia?
by Joe Mawer

Joe Biden pulling his troops out of Afghanistan by 11th September may see America move further away from its responsibilities in the region. This decision may put in jeopardy the large infrastructure projects that Uzbekistan is planning, which will go through Afghanistan to be more connected to Pakistan, India and Iran.

Uzbekistan has been a major player in trying to integrate Afghanistan into the Central Asian space, as was recognised with the recent call between US Secretary of State Blinken and Uzbek Foreign Minister Komilov. All this work could be undone if the Taliban, without the Americans there, see a resurgence; obviously Uzbekistan does not have the resources to intervene in the same way America has done.


Putin Under Pressure and His Critic in Critical Condition

by Rachael Ward

Putin’s principal opponent, Alexei Navalny, was condemned to a two-year prison sentence earlier this year. From poison to prison, Navalny’s unfatal encounter with Novichok prompted his swift imprisonment on his return to Russia in January. Presently situated in a prison hospital, notorious for its cruel inhospitality, the newly withered form of Navalny finally ended his hunger strike after more than twenty tedious days. The strike marked his desperate attempt to starve his way to proper medical attention for back pain and numbing limbs.

Denying such medical attention, the Kremlin accuse their critic of ‘attention-seeking’. His dangerously high potassium levels have alarmed his personal doctor and lawyers. As Navalny’s life wavers in uncertainty, Russia toughens their stance. With international condemnation mounting, Putin warns the West not to cross Russia’s ‘red line’. It appears Navalny has already made this perilous crossing. Howbeit, in sickness or in health, Putin’s problem simply cannot be wished away.

Britain’s Carrier Strike Group Is Global Britain in Maritime Form
by Luke Jones

Next month, Britain’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will head to the Indo-Pacific in a 20,000 nautical mile voyage on its first operational deployment. The government hope that the landmark deployment, spearheaded by the Royal Navy’s new flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will symbolise a nation with a global role and global ambitions. It is Global Britain in maritime form.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will embark with F-35Bs, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters and be escorted by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a tanker, a resupply ship and, most likely, a nuclear submarine. The British-led CSG will also be joined by an American and Dutch warship. However, despite making Britain “the leading European Carrier Task Group force in NATO”, the CSG has chosen to not sail through the Taiwan Strait to avoid provoking China, according to The Telegraph.


Post-Castro Cuba: A New Age?
by Harry Padoan

For the first time since 1959, Cuba will not be under the leadership of the Castros. After Raúl Castro stepped down earlier this year, Miguel Díaz-Canel rose to the position of First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. But will this be a turning point for the island nation? The likely answer is, not really. Díaz-Canel has been serving as President of Cuba since 2019, showing very little sign of challenging the Castro-model of socialism. Maintaining strong relations with the likes of Venezuela, China and Russia will be another important aspect of continuity.

However, sanctions from previous US President, Donald Trump and the Covid-19 outbreak have seen Cuba’s economy shrink by 11% in just one year. This represents Díaz-Canel’s challenge. Birth a new age of “bilateral relations” with the US, and rebuild Cuba’s economy in the post-pandemic age.

Covid in Canada
by Tiffany Choong

Canada is currently registering a higher rate of Covid cases per million than the US. The alarming third wave that has hit Canada puts its busiest and most populous province through yet another stay-at-home order, while ICU and hospitalisation rates skyrocket, pushing many hospitals into over-capacity.

These issues can be blamed on the slow vaccine rollout as well as the new incoming strain from the UK, which is responsible for 80% of new cases. Although the government had secured a large amount of vaccines, the ongoing struggles include only 26.6% of the population having been vaccinated with a first dose.


New Zealand Takes Separate Stance On China
by Josh Chapman

New Zealand has brushed aside advances by its fellow members of the Five Eyes partnership to take a tougher stance on China’s human rights abuses. The intelligence sharing partnership between the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand has recently sought greater collaboration on foreign policy in the name of security.

However, on 19th April, New Zealand’s foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta said that China’s ‘customs, traditions and values, that aren’t always the same [as New Zealand’s] but need to be maintained and respected’. This is in direct opposition with the UK Parliament’s statement that genocide is taking place against the Uyghur Muslims in Xingjiang, reported by the BBC on 22nd April.

This is just the latest event where New Zealand has distanced itself from Five Eyes, it remains unclear how the partnership will develop as their positions on China diverge.


Venezuelan Food Crisis
by Connor Crout

The United Nations has formed a deal with the government of Venezuela to provide food to school children through the World Food Programme. The need for this comes from the rise in child malnutrition in Venezuela as its economy and health services have declined, causing more than 5.3 million Venezuelans to leave the country.

The World Food Programme conducted a study in 2019, finding that 7.9% of Venezuelans were severely food insecure. An additional 24.4% were moderately food insecure, meaning that a total of 32.3% of Venezuelans were in need of food assistance. It also found that the diet of Venezuelans was a major concern with many families not getting enough meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables. Therefore, the World Food Programme aims to provide daily meals to 1.5 million school children by 2023.

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