the brief: issue twelve


Terror in Uganda – the growing Islamist threat in east and central Africa
by Neo Allert

image credit: tobias (Openclipart)

On 16 November Uganda was ravaged by two successive blasts that left the nation in a state of shock. The attacks were carried out by two suicide bombers; a third bomber was luckily stopped by the Ugandan police. The terrorists set off their explosives near the Ugandan parliament and the central police department in the capital Kampala.

At least 30 people were injured, five of them are still in critical condition and many people have fled the city since. Eyewitness’ reports account for the horror of the attacks describing body parts scattered among burning cars and general turmoil. ISIS has claimed responsibility for these acts of violence. In light of these attacks fears are growing as Islamist terror seems to develop a new dangerous dynamic in the region.

Former President de Klerk leaves a final message to South Africans
by Dylan Nykamp

image credit: World Economic Forum (Wikimedia Commons)

A few hours after his death a video of the last white South African president was released in which he apologised for the “the pain, suffering, indignity and damage that apartheid inflicted”.

De Klerk is often described as the president who dismantled apartheid. In 1990 de Klerk released Nelson Mandela from prison and legalised South Africa’s current ruling party: the African National Congress. He later jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for his role in ending apartheid and bringing universal suffrage to the country.

Whilst De Klerk remains a controversial figure in South Africa and will not receive a state funeral, a five-day period of mourning was observed from 17 to 21 November, with current president Ramaphosa announcing the national flag is to be flown at half-mast.


Tensions flare in border clash

by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Aziz Karimov (Reuters)

Hostilities broke out at the Azeri-Armenian border on 16 November resulting in several deaths with dozens more wounded and missing. The conflict emerged following a statement from Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan the day before when he accused Azeri forces of an incursion into his country’s territory. Both sides have blamed each other for starting the violence. The Russian Defence Ministry has claimed a ceasefire has been established.

The recent conflict marks the worst fighting between the two nations since the Nagorno-Karabakh war last year, which claimed the lives of 6,500 people. The war resulted in significant territorial gains for Azerbaijan. Russia, who mediated an end to the six-week war, has over 2,000 peacekeepers based in the region. With peace between the two nations being so unstable, the recent outbreak of violence might spark another major conflict in the Caucasus.

Potential Delhi High Court nomination could be a milestone for LGBTQ+ rights
by Owen Buchan

image credit: Tingey Injury Law Firm (Unsplash)

The Indian Supreme Court could make LGBTQ+ history soon. The Indian Supreme Court, which has recently added three women to it, is set to make history yet again with the possibility of appointing an openly homosexual judge. The Supreme Court’s collegium, the body that evaluates potential judges in the nation’s lower courts, is considering the application of Saurabh Kirpal for the Delhi High Court.

Kirpal is openly gay and was one of the lawyers who previously petitioned for the successful decriminalisation of homosexuality in India in 2018. Kirpal is an experienced lawyer and comes from a legal background, with his father having served as India’s chief justice. While there is much hope and optimism for even just the consideration of Kirpal, it is still unknown if his appointment will be recommended as India is still grappling with anti-LGBTQ+ social attitudes.


The country cracking down on the unvaccinated
by Rachael Ward

image credit: Herzi Pinki

Austria’s crackdown on the country’s unvaccinated has sparked a constitutional conundrum. Austrians who refuse the jab will be forced to face the fine as Covid cases soar to their highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic. Protesters have made their position clear, challenging the constitutionality of the decision.

The two million Austrians without the vaccine are only permitted to leave their home for essential reasons, as the government are making political pleas for more citizens to get the jab. While enforcement is thought to be tricky, spot-checks are to be carried out to crack down on those without vaccine certification. Only 65 percent of the population are fully vaccinated, in what Austria’s chancellors has called a shameful show of vaccine take-up. Austrian authorities hold out hope that this bold medical move will be worth the political penalties.

Opposition parties speak out against Bosnian Serb leader Dodik

by Frank Roberts

image credit: pixelRaw (Pixabay)

Opposition parties within Republika Srpska, the predominantly Serbian territory in Bosnia, have spoken out against Milorad Dodik who is part of a tripartite presidency in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dodik announced in the summer his intention to withdraw Serb troops from the country’s national army and depart the country’s tax administration.

This would weaken the country significantly, though it is doubtful full secession can be achieved with Serbia in accession talks with the EU. Opposition leaders have proposed sanctions on Dodik personally which would be viable under the Dayton Accords. Bosnia-Herzegovina is divided into 3 ethnic groups – Serb, Croat and Bosniak. Serbs constitute 30 percent of the population. Dodik claims he will not risk breaking the peace process and would aim merely for full autonomy within the state.


American and European Indo-Pacific Strategies: Partners or Rivals?

by Luke Jones

image credit: U.S. Navy

Identifying the region as a key area of growth in this century, the United States, European Union and United Kingdom have all released Indo-Pacific strategies. Far from limited to these three external, Western powers, the Indo-Pacific is becoming an increasingly congested region containing a multitude of different actors with rivaling interests.

D.C’s brazen decision to cause a $66 billion diplomatic spat with the French and cosign AUKUS, partnering with the UK to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, should perhaps not come as a surprise. This decision which came weeks after NATO’s calamitous withdrawal from Afghanistan has led some EU leaders to question the reliability of the US as a security partner, promoting a position of greater strategic autonomy. Others are calling for a concerted US-European strategy through other, non-AUKUS channels.

 Western Canada hit by flooding

by Adam Spencer

image credit: Nguyen Kiet

British Columbia, Canada’s westernmost province, has been hit by record flooding that has left thousands stranded.

The flooding, caused by record rainfall in the province, has left towns completely cut off and around 18,000 people stranded. It has also cut off major supply chains. The city of Vancouver, which has Canada’s largest port, has been almost entirely cut off from the rest of the state. Two of Canada’s biggest railways have also been forced to shut, affecting already struggling supply chains.

Whilst Environment Canada has called the flooding a ‘one in 100 year event’, the Premier of British Columbia has said that the continuing climate crisis will lead to an increased likelihood of storms like this.


#KillTheBill down under

by Ellis Holden

image credit: Дмитрий-5-Аверин (Wikimedia Commons)

In Victoria this week a battle is raging between protestors and legislators around the issue of the state premier’s powers during a pandemic. There has been growing anti-government intervention sentiment post-pandemic all over Australia, this seems to be bubbling over with the proposed pandemic bill in Melbourne. If this bill is to pass it means the Premier of Victoria would have unchallenged authority to call a pandemic and to have unquestionable powers if another pandemic occurs. 

Both parties seem to have taken sides or alluded to their bias. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, when talking in relation to the government’s role post pandemic said “but now it’s time for governments to step back and for Australians to take their lives back” with labour opposition leader Anthony Albanese comparing Morrison’s views to that of Trump and Charlottesville.

New Zealanders fight for their medical rights

by Connor Crout

image credit: OpenClipart-Vectors (Pixabay)

New Zealand has recently seen protests on the streets and legal challenges in courtrooms by border, MIQ (Managed Isolation and Quarantine) and aviation workers, midwives, teachers and doctors over vaccine mandates. Vaccine mandates are now in place for around 40 percent of New Zealand’s workforce. The legal argument has been that mandating vaccines is breaching the right to deny medical treatment, but courts so far have ruled that such breaches are justifiable.

New Zealand’s rules in regards to Covid have been exceptionally tough, rivalling neighbours Australia. Recently, MIQ denied a quarantined woman’s request to leave quarantine to see her dying sister. Despite being double-vaccinated and having tested negative, Shelley Grierson was denied for being from a high-risk country (the UK).


‘Pantomime’ Nicaraguan election sparks international drama

by Harvey Young

image credit: Ricardo Patiño

The controversial Daniel Ortega is set for a fourth term as president of Nicaragua following an election on 7 November. However, the legitimacy of this election has been questioned as major opposition contenders have been detained or exiled and foreign media companies barred from covering the elections. The former guerrilla leader has ruled Nicaragua since 2007 but his rule has been marred with accusations of human rights abuses.

Much of the international community has denounced these elections as illegitimate, with the White House labelling the election as a ‘pantomime’. However, the Russian foreign minister and Venezuelan President criticised the west’s reaction, claiming the elections were conducted legitimately. This international quarrel surrounding the Nicaraguan elections indicates that a divide between pro- and anti-‘liberal order’ countries is well established in South America. Could this be indicative of a renewed cold war?

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