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DGI Brief - Oct 13, 2016

Good Thursday to all. Today's top 5 global issues #news are about #USA #Yemen #Venezuela #Nigeria #Afghanistan and #electricvehicle

- USA: After 2 US warships sailing in the Red Sea near YEMEN were fired upon (but missed) from Houthi rebel controlled areas, the US retaliated by striking their radar stations with 3 cruise missiles. Why it matters: this attack represents the first direct US military involvement in the war in Yemen, thus far fought by Saudi Arabian-led coalition. USA has provided intelligence, air campaign planning & refueling help – highly criticized for resembling the Russian support to Syria. The Saudi-led airstrikes have so far failed to rid the country of Houthi rebels yet reportedly target more civilians, the latest such incident killing 140 people at a funeral. The US must reevaluate its support for the coalition & the role it plays in the alleged war crimes, a daunting task given the importance of US-Saudi relations – oil, Iran, Syria… But something must give as Yemen is at the brink of famine with at least half a million children under 5 suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

- VENEZUELA’s Supreme Court issued a decision on Tuesday that removed budgetary authority from Congress & transferred it to President Nicolas Maduro. The Congress was the only Venezuelan institution controlled by the opposition, therefore this move further consolidates Maduro’s power. Why it matters: He who controls the nation’s budget, controls all. This decision is a blow to the opposition who are preparing to gather 4 million signatures (or 20% of voters) for a recall referendum to force Maduro out of office – a move he calls a coup. Meanwhile the country is in an economic collapse with rising crime & severe food, medicine & power shortages. This new power will allow the President to curtail the opposition even more aggressively (& effectively). A sad day for the remaining sliver of democracy in Venezuela.

- NIGERIA’s presidency confirmed that 21 Chibok girls have been released, the outcome of negotiations mediated by the Int’l Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) & the Swiss government. They denied this was a swap. The girls, most of whom reportedly have babies, will be taken to Abuja for medical & psychological care. Why it matters: Alhamdulillah for the safe return of these precious children, may all the efforts go into helping them heal & that includes being embraced –not shamed – by their communities. Whether this was a prisoner swap or not matters little, in my view, because Boko Haram is already committing the worst atrocities imaginable, killing, maiming & kidnapping whether they are being negotiated with or not. Such swap would not ‘encourage’ them more. The civilian populations are against the terrorist group, but they also have very little trust in the government. This was a good step in showing its people that the government is here for them.

- AFGHANISTAN’ security forces are facing a crisis. Tuesday saw one of the largest massacres against them as >100 police & border military personnel were ambushed & killed by the Taliban in the chronically insecure area of Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province. Why it matters: the morale of Afghan security forces is low as they continue to sustain enormous casualties – from March to August 2016, over 4,500 Afghan soldiers & police were killed, >8,000 wounded. The police say its average casualty figure is 2-4x that of the average recruitment. The problem? Political infighting, very poor administration & support. The Afghan forces are well trained, brave, but who exactly has got their back? It seems the government is more concerned about keeping their own power, undermining each other while the rest of the country suffers. Have the enormous sacrifices of the Afghan people, the US & NATO troops & the humanitarians been in vain? We cannot let it be so.

- 2 million electric cars will be on the road around the WORLD by the end of 2016, passing an important landmark that suggests the electric car revolution is finally underway. China leads the way with its made models reaching nos. 3 & 4 on the top 5 bestsellers list - #1 Nissan Leaf, #2 Tesla Model S, #3 BYD Tang SUV, #4 BYD Qin, #5 Chevrolet Volt. Europe is the 2nd biggest market followed by the US. Why it matters: The electric car revolution was slow to start, primarily due to high prices & short driving ranges. But with tech progress, electric vehicle (EV) sales have passed 1% of the whole auto market in China & Europe, which many believe is a turning point. Countries like Norway & the Netherlands are EV market leaders with 1 in 3 new cars sold being an EV – both countries intend to phase out all fossil-fuel cars by 2025. It is predicted that EVs will make up 8% of the car market by 2025, pushing traditional carmakers to – if not embrace EVs – greatly improve traditional combustion engine technologies to further reduce CO2 emissions. Congrats world!

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