the brief: issue thirty-two


A step towards security: Burkina Faso security forces save abducted women
by Neo Allert

image credit: Alkari (Wikimedia Commons)

Burkina Faso is one of several countries in the Sahel region that is suffering from sustained terrorist insurgency and is plagued by armed uprisings linked with Islamist terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda and ISIL. Burkina Faso suffered yet another attack on its population on 12 and 13 January when two villages in the Arbinda district were raided by armed men, resulting in the abduction of 66 women and children.

On 20 January, the national broadcaster Radiodiffusion Television du Burkina (RTP) reported that security forces had managed to rescue the abducted women and children from their abductors. The news about this successful rescue was later confirmed by several government and security officials. The rescue operation seems to mark a step forward in finally tackling the problem of armed insurgency that has led to widespread civilian suffering.


Kazakh government’s attempts to move on from bloody 2022 protests met with criticism
by Harvey Young

image credit: TDKR Chicago 101 (Wikimedia Commons) 

One year after protests that killed 19 police officers and approximately 238 protestors the Kazakh government is attempting to heal the lingering wounds of many crying out for justice. Massive anti-government protests in Almaty and the resulting bloody crackdown rocked the country in January 2022. Since then there have been 200 reports of torture at the hands of the police, prompting a proportionate number of criminal investigations. However, 80 percent of these have since been closed, with human rights activists arguing that the corrupt justice system makes it very hard to prosecute police officers.

Recently, the Kazakh government has attempted to assuage cries for justice, launching an amnesty in November 2022 which covers most protest-related charges. Furthermore, on 18 January two policemen were imprisoned for committing acts of torture during the protests. Activists, however, say that much more needs to be done to achieve justice for the torture victims.

North America

Another US Debt Ceiling Reached, Another Republican Opposition
by Owen Buchan

image credit: Mike Stoll (Unsplash)

The US has operated a debt ceiling system since 1917 meaning that an artificial cap is imposed on how much debt and borrowing the US Government is allowed to incur. The US debt ceiling has historically often been raised by Congress but it has also been used as political leverage by the Republican Party. 

The current situation seems to echo previous Republican tactics. It was announced on 20 January that the US had reached its debt ceiling; a recommendation that Congress raise the ceiling followed immediately. A hard-right subgroup within the Republican caucus, the House Freedom Caucus, has indicated its opposition to a “clean” debt ceiling increase. What this means is that the Caucus will want significant policy alterations in order to approve any debt ceiling increase. Given the state of Congressional Democrats, its likely concessions will be made to avoid a government shutdown like under Obama.


Arden out in surprise resignation
by Aidan O’Connor

image credit:

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation on 19 January after over five  years in office. Ardern claimed in her resignation statement that she had decided to resign due to ‘not having enough in the tank’ to take her government forward. Critics have argued, however, that Ardern has in fact left office before being forced out, citing her government’s recent unpopularity. 

Ardern gained international attention for her handling of the Covid pandemic in New Zealand, which led to a low death rate compared to other parts of the world. However, her popularity dropped as promises to fix major issues such as the housing crisis and rising crime rates were left unfulfilled. Education Minister Chris Hipkins is set to replace Ardern as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister; he faces a challenging task to prove himself before the nation gives their verdict in October’s general election.

South America

Peruvian protestors call for constitutional reform
by Eleanor Austin

image credit:

Peru has seen 2023 in with a month of political turmoil. The protests began after former president Pedro Castillo attempted to avoid impeachment by dissolving the legislature, and vice president Dina Boluarte being sworn in without election. 

From airports to copper mines, cities to rural areas, demonstrations have been seen across the nation which have killed around 45 people and injured 58. Police have responded to the protests with tear gas and blockades, often exacerbating the violence. 

Due to the ever-increasing death toll, the protests grew in magnitude this week. The violence culminated with the historic mansion on Plaza San Martín being set alight. The destruction of the building, which was almost 100 years old, has seen the government demand crackdowns on the protestors. As tensions continue to escalate, any decisions made by Boluarte in the coming days will undoubtedly shape the future of the nation.

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