DGI Brief - Aug 24, 2016
- NORTH KOREA successfully launched a ballistic missile from its submarine today that flew the longest distance for such a weapon achieved by North Korea, about 500km/300 miles. This means all of South Korea & parts of Japan are within striking distance, a threat that prompted an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. What can persuade North Korea to de-escalate?
- VENEZUELA’s opposition works hard to recall President Maduro in a democratic, legal way. For this they are organizing & petitioning – phase 1 included getting signatures from 1% of voters & for phase 2 (awaiting the go ahead) they will need 4 million signatures, or 20% of the country’s voters, within 3 days. Meanwhile though, President Maduro ordered that all managers in government agencies who signed the phase 1 petition be fired within 48 hours. Undemocratic. The Organization of American States (OAS) sent an open letter to imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez accusing the government of bullying its people & disrespecting basic political rights. The situation in Venezuela is complex & precarious, but the actions of the leadership suggest staying in power is more important than the wellbeing of the people.
- SYRIA: Turkey has made a good strategic military move– freed the border town of Jarablus of ISIS, effectively cutting off one of the few last supply routes into ISIS-held territory. We should rejoice. But the cross-border incursion, which included a ground offensive by Turkish military & Syrian rebels, infuriated Syria & Russia as well as the Syrian Kurdish forces – for “blatant violation” of Syrian sovereignty & stopping the territorial advancement of the Kurds – the most effective fighters against ISIS - respectively. Even the US, a loyal ally, called on the Kurdish forces to move back lest they want to loose America’s support. Yes, the war in Syria is not at all about ISIS.
- IRAQ: The planned military offensive to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS is predicted to displace up to 1.2 million Iraqis, fears the UN. This would be in addition to the 3.38 million people displaced since January 2014 & another 1 million still displaced from the 2003-2011 war. Although the UN, aid agencies & the Iraqi government are frantically planning, building camps & pre-positioning aid, the scale of the displacement will be overwhelming. Especially since only 38% of the aid appeal is funded. UNHCR representative in Iraq warns: “Worse is yet to come.” Can the region take it?
- KENYA’s President delivered on his campaign pledge to address the worsening economic situation & signed into law a bill that caps banks’ interest rates for lending & deposits. The cap is not to exceed 4% above the Central Bank rate, which is currently at 10.5% - a crucial move given that interest rates have been reaching 21%. The move is seen as mostly positive & hopes to draw back investors.
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