the brief: issue thirty-one


Unrest breaks out on Mayotte
by Herb Alexander

image credit: TUBS (Wikimedia Commons)

The small Indian Ocean archipelago of Mayotte has been engulfed by civil disorder in recent weeks, with officials looking to France to quell the violence. Mayotte is a French overseas department and therefore an integral part of metropolitan France, represented in the French Parliament and included in the EU. 

On 12 November a 20 year old man was killed by blows of a machete in a district of Mamoudzou, the island’s largest town. This sparked ten days of inter-district gang violence. Further unrest followed with motorists  being targeted at random (at least one has been stabbed), school buses being torched and homes set alight.

 In the words of Mayotte MP Estelle Youssouffa, ‘We are talking about hordes of […] young people […],armed with machetes, looking to kill’. In response, metropolitan France has sent a detachment of elite riot police officers to reestablish order in the territory.


Indonesia earthquake death toll rises to 310, with 237 aftershocks following suit
by Fadhiar Mochamad Yani

image credit: sheflincoln (Unsplash)

The current death toll of the devastating earthquake in Cianjur, West Java as of Friday, 25 November, stands at 310 according to a statement made by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB). The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) has further reported 237 aftershocks with a magnitude up to 4.2 on the Richter scale. The Cimandiri Fault, located not far from the epicentre, is widely believed to be the culprit.

President Joko Widodo has promised a wide array of government-funded rehabilitation schemes for the buildings affected by the earthquake during his visit to Cianjur evacuation posts, ensuring the procurement and distribution of logistics and aid for the victims.

Evacuation by a combined task force consisting of search and rescue (SAR) teams, police, and the military is still underway days after the initial shock on Monday.

Turkey intensifies offensive against Kurdish militants
by Henry Neale

image credit: Takabeg (Wikimedia Commons)

A Turkish military airstrike took place in northern Iraq and Syria on 20 November, targeting Kurdish militants. Previously the Turkish government had accused The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia of executing a terrorist bombing in Istanbul a week prior. This attack had left six dead and over 80 injured. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that Turkey will intensify its assault with an accompanying ground offensive. US interests in the region have strained relations with Turkey, which has called on Washington to cut ties with the YPG, whom Turkey deem an offshoot of the PKK (a Western recognised terrorist organisation). The US has supported the YPG in Syria, in order to combat the threat of the Islamic State.

Kurdish dissonance exists in the context of the wider struggle for self-rule in south-east Turkey, a reality which has seen Turkey escalate targeted operations to shield itself from the supposed terrorist threat.


Immigration remains a primary economic concern for British executives
by Orestis Sechas

image credit: Gnesener1900 (Wikimedia Commons)

Almost one year after Boris Johnson’s much-criticised speech, in which he lost his train of thought ending up talking about Peppa Pig, senior-level executives at this year’s Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference were pleased to see that normality was returning back to British politics. This year’s CBI conference was promising for business leaders and many attendees praised the new government’s commitments to tackle inflation and to restore economic stability after Truss’s disastrous mini-budget. 

However, executives expressed disappointment at both the Prime Minister and the Labour party leader Keir Starmer over their stances on immigration, as neither of them sufficiently addressed the urgent need of short-term labour shortages in their speeches. Both Sunak and Starmer committed to wean the British economy off its ‘immigration dependency’, despite calls for ‘fixed term growth visas’ and significant pressure by CBI delegates and CBI’s chief Tony Danker to ease immigration rules.

North America

Representative Mary Peltola consolidates historic victory for Democrats in Alaska
by Fraser Cadman

image credit: John emil hernandez (Wikimedia Commons)

Mary Peltola has managed to hold her seat in the US midterm elections against prominent Republican Sarah Palin. The former Vice-Presidential candidate had been attempting a political comeback but was defeated in the final count of Alaska’s ‘ranked choice voting’ system. 

Peltola has become the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1972, as well as the first woman, Alaska Native, and Russian Orthodox christian to represent the district. Alaska has a long history of voting for relatively ‘moderate’ candidates. Incumbent Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, a vocal anti-Trump Republican, narrowly won re-election on 8 November despite denunciation by the national Republican party and a strong campaign from Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka.

Peltola declared herself ‘a real congressman for all Alaska’ in her victory speech and promised to further bipartisanship within Congress. Alaska has once again demonstrated its independent streak, whilst narrowing Republican control of the House of Representatives.

South America

Colombia pursues talks to finalise ‘total peace’
by Eleanor Austin

image credit: John emil hernandez (Wikimedia Commons)

This week negotiations took place between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), a Marxist militant group. The first round of these talks held in Caracas will last around 20 days, with external negotiators participating in the process. These negotiations are one of the key steps of Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s promise to lead Colombia to ‘total peace’.

Progress has been made within the first week of talks, as on Friday, 25 November, the government and the ELN invited other Latin American nations and representatives from Europe to join the process. Additionally, both sides have agreed to contact US representatives to gauge their willingness to be involved. 

It is believed that the ELN still has around 4,000 fighters in Colombia, with their growth peaking after the disbandment of FARC. Six years on from the Peace Agreement, it is hoped these talks and Petro’s promises will secure Colombia’s transition to peace.

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