DGI Brief - Oct 10, 2016
- On Saturday, Saudi-led coalition struck a funeral hall in YEMEN’s rebel-held capital of Sana’a killing > 140 mourners & injuring >500. The funeral was for an official from the rebel Houthi group. Subsequently, the Houthis launched 2 missiles that landed inside Saudi Arabia, targeting the Saudi air base on the outskirts of Mecca as well as in the Red Sea near US Navy destroyer, USS Mason. Saudi Arabia issued a letter of apology for the funeral attack, while the US administration begins an “immediate review” of its support for the Kingdom. Why it matters: Saudi Arabia is one of the largest customers for US arms, prompting criticism from lawmakers & human rights groups alike that USA bears responsibility for the massive civilian casualties in Yemen & could be culpable of war crimes. It matters whom you sell your product to.
- SWITZERLAND: FIFA, the world football (soccer) governing body faces legal action by a Bangladeshi migrant
worker, Mr. Alam, for complicity in labor abuses by QATAR in construction of the World Cup 2022 stadiums & related infrastructure. The lawsuit filed by Dutch Trade Union Confederation (FNV) on behalf of Mr. Alam requests Swiss courts to rule on FIFA’s role in Qatar’s migrant workers abuse & to award him damages (he is asking for meager $10,000). Why it matters: if the Swiss court rules that FIFA is complicit in the labor abuses by awarding the World Cup to Qatar despite its poor human rights record, it will set a precedent & likely result in tens of thousands of similar lawsuits. There are currently 1.7 million migrant workers in Qatar working mostly in construction under the kafala system often referred to as slave-like. FIFA says they cannot be responsible for social injustice but the suit claims they are. It matters who does your bidding.
- ETHIOPIA’s government declared a 6-month-long state of emergency after another weeks of violent & deadly protests. The protests began almost a year ago in the Oromia region to stand against corruption, illegal land
confiscation, political & economic marginalization and quickly spread into other regions. Authorities have accused Eritrea & Egypt of sponsoring the unrest, which both countries have denied. Why it matters: The state of emergency will allow Ethiopian military – itself accused of grave human rights violations – to take over security across the country, likely increasing incidence of use of force & suspension of due process. That’s like fighting fire with gasoline. Also concerning is Ethiopia’s accusations against Egypt & neighboring Eritrea that will likely strain relations … let’s not forget Ethiopia & Egypt are already feuding over water rights to the Nile river.
- On the sidelines of the World Energy Congress, RUSSIA and TURKEY signed a deal to build a pipeline to bring natural gas from Russia to Turkey for onward distribution to the EU. The “Turkish Stream” project was suspended for months due to tensions between the two countries that are clearly improving. Why it matters: There are 2 concerns. Will such huge energy deal complicate the international efforts on Syria? It seems to be another powerful negotiating – or coercion – tool. Secondly, EU officials warn that the proposed capacity (63 billion cubic meters per year of which Turkey will consume only 14 billion) exceeds demands of possible customers as Europe moves more & more to renewable energy.
- ESTONIA joins the increasing number of nations around the world who choose a female leader. Kersti Kaljulaid is 46 years young & the first female & only the 4th president of Estonia since its independence in 1991. Why it matters: Choosing female heads of states for such a young democracy is a powerful message about equality, women’s rights & empowerment & the positive direction of the country. Congrats Estonia! Will America follow suit?