the brief: issue thirteen


War criminals, generals and politicians: Who will become Libya’s new president?

by Neo Allert

image credit: Magharebia (Wikimedia Commons and Flickr)

Libya has been in turmoil ever since a NATO-backed campaign ousted then head of state Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Caught in a multi-sided, complex and convoluted civil war the country is in a devastating state. Amidst all this chaos and carnage the presidential election planned for 2019 had been postponed to 24 December 2021.

This election is highly controversial as the election rules, the legal basis of the election and who is eligible to run is still highly disputed. Candidates include the Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar, who is accused of war crimes. Haftar has been one of the main belligerents leading a campaign against the internationally recognised government in Tripoli. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s bid for the presidency has been declared ineligible as he is currently wanted for crimes against humanity. It is completely open as to what will happen next.


India set to clamp down on cryptocurrencies

by Harvey Young

image credit: voytek pavlik | Rmcarr99 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Indian government announced plans on 23 November to impose strict new measures on cryptocurrency trades. Whilst these plans would prevent the exchange of almost all private cryptocurrencies, it would also allow exceptions which ‘promote the underlying technology’ and its potential uses. Measures by the Indian government against cryptocurrencies had been anticipated for some time, but many were surprised as the proposed bill goes much further than the more lenient regulation previously anticipated.

Such a move isn’t unprecedented as the Chinese government recently banned all cryptocurrency transactions. However, this law also facilitates the creation of an ‘official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India’ which adds India to a growing number of nations that have launched their own digital currencies, begging the question as to whether official cryptocurrencies will become the norm.

Abkhazia gets second recognition

by Joe Mawer

image credit: Georgiano | Renato de Carvalho Ferreira (Wikimedia Commons)

Since it proclaimed independence 2008, Abkhazia only has a few embassies scattered across the world and this week it has opened one more, in Nicaragua. Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia after a war in 2008 and is only recognised by a handful of states that are widely regarded as being totalitarian pariahs for example (Venezuela and Syria). There is also an embassy in Russia, who in the war marched 9000 troops into Abkhazia to expel the Georgian troops and has had a military presence there ever since. 

Having an embassy is really important to unrecognised states such as Abkhazia, as it means that they have more diplomatic and economic links to the rest of the world. The progress has been slow and at the current rate of opening embassies, Abkhazia will have an embassy in every country in the UN by the year 2522.


Tragedy on the crossing

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Mstyslav Chernov (/Unframe) (Wikimedia Commons)

As more migrants attempt the perilous crossing from Calais to the British border, another 27 migrants reached the other side without their life. This month marks a record number of crossings despite the advent of autumn. As over 25,000 migrants have made their way to the border, diplomatic tensions have tightened between France and the U.K.

French President, Emmanuel Macron has cautioned his counterpart not to use the crisis for political purposes. Cross-country cooperation is needed to iron out the current political controversies. Five people have been arrested on suspicion of people smuggling so far as experts attempt to uncover the identities of the deceased. Despite this deadly day, it remains unclear what will be done to scale down the cries on the crossing. 

Ukraine warns of painful consequences if Russia invades

by Toby Gill

image credit: Gleb Garanich (Reuters)

Military drills were held in Ukraine this week following a build-up of Russian troops on the border. Recent estimates put the number of Russian soldiers that have been deployed as high as 92,000. 

This is not the first time there has been such a large build up; Russia carried out a similar mobilisation in spring of this year. However, experts say the threat is far more substantial this time. 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on 25 November urged NATO to send warships to the Black Sea as a deterrent, and U.S officials have voiced concerns about the possibility of a Russian attack. The head of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence told the Military Times that he believed a Russian attack could occur by the end of January. Moscow denies that it’s planning any invasion and refuses to provide details about troop movements on the border. 

A new path for Germany

by Aidan O’Connor

image credit: Markus Schreiber (Reuters)

The leader of the German Social Democrats, Olaf Schulz, is set to become the next Chancellor of Germany, bringing an end to Angela Merkel’s 16-year tenure. The Social Democrats have established a traffic light coalition (based on party colours) with the centre-left Greens, and the liberal Free Democrats. The coalition is set to prioritise environmental policies such as expanding electric car ownership while also pushing to legalise the sale of cannabis.

The agreement comes two months after the federal election which saw significant gains for the Social Democrats as well as their new coalition partners. Angela Merkel’s successor Armin Laschet, who leads the Christian Democratic Union, lost 48 seats giving the party its worst result since its founding in 1945. Schulz’s plans for major changes as well as balancing the Covid pandemic will prove tasking for the new German Government.


Three men found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery  

by Owen Buchan

image credit: Daniel_B_photos (Pixabay)

Three men have faced charges due to their involvement in the death of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020. The three men, Travis and Gregory McMichael and their neighbour William Bryan, have been found guilty of murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal intent to commit a felony.

Despite the defence’s argument that the three men acted in self-defence when attempting a citizen’s arrest of Arbery, they were found guilty and are expected to face a minimum of life in prison. The attempt of a citizen’s arrest stems from an alleged misidentification.  The three men believed that Arbery, who was out jogging prior to his eventual murder, resembled a local burglary suspect. Many have believed this crime was ultimately racially motivated. A separate Federal court case in February will see the trio on trial for a racially motivated hate crime. 


Speaking in the House of Chaos 

by Ellis Holden

image credit: JJ Harrison (Wikimedia Commons)

On 23 November Andrew Wallace took his turn to be Australian Speaker of the House of Representatives after the resignation of former Speaker Tony Smith. The much respected Smith is stepping down not because of any controversy, unlike his predecessor Bronwyn Bishop who had to resign due to an expenses scandal. 

Mr Wallace worked as a carpenter and barrister before becoming a Member of the House and certainly looks to lay down the law as he laid down a furnished rug or two. Although the accusations of bribery by the prime minister to the Labor Party created a ruckus towards the start, Speaker Wallace adequately handled the scrum of confrontation and moved business onward. His tenure, however, may be short if the Liberal party loses the upcoming 2022 election.


Regional elections give an insight into Venezuelan politics

by Connor Crout

image credit: Baprow (Wikimedia Commons) from Eneas De Troya (Flickr)

Venezuela recently held regional elections, where the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela party won 20 of 23 state governorships. This is the first time in four years that opposition parties contested elections, having boycotted previous elections due to concerns over voting legitimacy.

The election legitimacy is being challenged internationally, with U.S Secretary of State Anthony Blinken claiming that ‘fearful of the voice and vote of Venezuelans, the regime grossly skewed the process to determine the result of this election long before any ballots had been cast’ and a spokesperson from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office saying that ‘the conditions necessary for free, fair elections fell well below the standards required’.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro remains in power due to his party’s electoral victories, but will international suspicions lead to political investigations? These elections have definitely caught attention.

The dawn of a new age in Honduras

by Harry Padoan

image credit: Peg Hunter (Flickr)

A historic moment is within touching distance for Xiomara Castro – becoming the first female president of Honduras. Castro, who is standing for the Liberty and Refoundation Party has promised a relaxation of abortion laws, shift away from authoritarianism and crackdown on corruption. The likely return of the left has triggered jubilant celebration across the nation, twelve years after Castro’s husband was ousted in a coup. 

Castro, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist has vowed to transform Honduras’ government from a ‘a narco-dictatorship’ into one of ‘peace and justice’. Under this new regime, the disastrously high unemployment rates and state corruption will be a focus. Critics, especially in the West, are wary of Castro’s desire to establish ties with China, although it is unlikely that the riots of 2017 will be repeated as a new age dawns in the Central American country.

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