the brief: issue twenty-three


A new wave of terrorism

by Neo Allert

image credit: Lojwe (Wikimedia Commons)

There has been yet another attack in West Africa: with eight soldiers having been killed and 13 wounded in Togo on 11 May, the government has expressed its growing concerns with regards to its territory’s security. An army post in the northern Kpendjal prefecture had been stormed by a group of heavily armed militants. 

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the ambush, The Togolese Government  officially blames “terrorists”, remaining vague in their statement. Security analysts point towards local groups affiliated with al-Qaeda. The involvement of ISIL (ISIS), however, cannot be ruled out. This attack might mark the beginning of a larger insurrection of armed groups, originally based in states of the Sahel region. Killing thousands in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, these groups seem to be preparing for an expansion of their operations.


Sri Lanka: a new PM and a worsening economy

by Eleanor Austin

image credit: OpenClipart-Vectors (Pixabay)

On Thursday, 12 May, The Sri Lankan  president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country’s new prime minister. After weeks of anti-government protests , this appointment has been a disappointment, with many believing he was chosen solely  to protect the Rajapaksa family and their interests.

Although Wickremesinghe has close ties to the incumbent president, he also is a strong supporter of the IMF, which may aid hopes of a bailout. However, until a bailout the Sri Lankan economy will continue to worsen. Soaring inflation is affecting the masses, with food, fuel and medicine all in limited supply. Both Sri Lanka’s significant import dependence and deteriorating economy mean that key products cannot be sourced. 

Many blame the incumbent president’s economic mismanagement for worsening this crisis. This leaves the country questioning: will Wickremesinghe’s sixth time as prime minister actually see any economic improvement?


Nationalist breakthrough in Northern Ireland 

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Paul Faith (Getty Images)

History has been made in Northern Ireland as Sinn Féin has returned to Stormont with the most seats, taking the lead from the DUP. Though the numbers seem simple, the politics are not. To form a functioning executive, the DUP,now the second largest party, must elect a deputy first minister to run the Northern Ireland Assembly alongside Sinn Féin. 

And here’s where things get tricky. The DUP has refused to re-enter the power-sharing executive until their concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol have been addressed . However, both the EU and UK refuse to abandon the Protocol and continue to look for ways to weave around its difficulties. Though the legal relationship between the UK and the EU ended back in 2021, the divisive scene of Northern Ireland politics is just one form of post-Brexit blues that might linger for years to come. 


Pope plans apology visit to Indigenous Canadians

by Harvey Young

image credit J. F. Moran (Wikimedia commons)

The Vatican spokesperson has announced that the pope is planning to visit Canada in late July to offer an apology to the Indigenous people for the Catholic Church’s historical abuses against them; namely those committed by residential schools which Pope Francis has described as ‘deplorable’.

The  announcement has come in the wake of the discovery of 751 graves of indigenous children at a former residential school in Saskatchewan. This has drawn attention to Canada’s dark history of atrocities against its Indigenous peoples. Over 150,000 Indigenous children were forced into Christian, state-funded residential schools where racist abuses were widespread.

Prime Minister Trudeau has welcomed the Pope’s decision and Indigenous leaders are likely to do the same. However, aside from apologies and recognition, what both the Catholic Church and Canada as a whole can do to atone for their troubled histories remains an important question.


Slow vaccine rollout comes back to haunt Scott Morrison

by Connor Crout

image credit: Clker-Free-Vector-Image (Pixabay)

When Covid-19 first became serious, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded by closing the borders to try and reduce the threat presented by Covid. The states also issued their own restrictions including: lockdowns, test and trace protocols, social distancing rules and  mask mandates. These measures turned out to be successful, with Australia only recording just over 7,000 Covid deaths.

 Australia’s vaccine rollout, however,  has been less successful. The delta variant swept through Australia in mid-2021 and Professor Greg Dore, an infectious disease specialist, said that the vaccine rollout was slower than it should’ve been, stating that the government took too long to drop their zero covid approach.

 With the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese bringing up Morrison’s infamous remark at the time that the vaccine rollout “isn’t a race”, Morrison could suffer in the upcoming federal election.


Lula looks to forge alternative path for Brazil

by Harry Padoan

image credit: Ricardo Stuckert / Presidência da República (Wikimedia commons)

Incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro has divided those not only within his nation, but across the globe, with a shaky fight against Covid outbreaks, inaction on environmental issues and accusations of sexism. The far-right candidate is expected to face significant opposition in the upcoming election, with just one of such opponents being former Brazilian leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Lula, of the social democratic Workers’ Party has endured a turbulent past, with a 12-year jail sentence on charges of corruption preventing him from running in 2018, although this decision was overturned last year. Lula has vowed to ‘join democrats of all political positions, classes, races and religious beliefs’ as he enters the fray, but Bolsonaro declared Lula’s potential presidency as ‘the return of a criminal to the crime scene.’ With Bolsonaro’s popularity slowly rising again, will it be more of the same, or an unlikely rejuvenation for social democracy?

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