We're not going to fault you for not staying on top of this week's news. We're only here to help.
By: Tony Hotland and April Elizabeth Curtis
The U.S. voiced its concern over reports that Rwanda recruited and trained Burundi refugees to fight against the Burundi government. The allegations were especially disturbing as the reports claim even children were recruited. The Rwandan government has denied similar allegations in the past, but has yet to comment on the new reports. The governments of Burundi and Rwanda are rival ethnic groups and refugees from Burundi have been fleeing a civil conflict after President Pierre Nkurunziza declared he would stand for a third term.
North Korea’s alleged nuclear test last week and its recent launch of a satellite incurred harsh statements and threats of sanctions from the United States, South Korea and Japan, while China continued to emphasize the importance of exercising patience and caution in foreign policy aimed at North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) faces both external and internal pressure to adopt a more forceful stance against Kim Jong-un in light of these recent developments, which are widely perceived as a threat to regional security. Externally, sanctions have been presented as the preferred course of action over China’s suggestion to reopen a dialogue with North Korea. In diverging from the harsher course of action preferred by the U.S. and its allies in East Asia, China also threatens harming recent improvements to its relationship with South Korea. Internally, Chinese citizens have expressed discontent and derision at what they perceive as an overly indulgent attitude towards aggressive North Korean actions. But for the CCP, taking a hard line with North Korea may threaten other vital interests. North Korea acts as a physical buffer between China and South Korea, a prominent U.S. ally in the region. As such, preserving the status quo on the peninsula is of vital importance to China—even if it means letting North Korea continue down the path of nuclear development. (Analysis provided by Fiona Masland)
This week, NATO ministers approved a new deterrence model, which would put troops on the alliance's borders, however the plans will only be finalized in July at the alliance's summit. This is a big step for the alliance as NATO troops have not been deployed on the border since the Cold War. Russia has already responded saying it views NATO troops on its border as a threat.
On Thursday, NATO said it would deploy ships "without delay" to deter people-smugglers from transporting refugees from Turkey to Greece. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the ships would not be used to stop refugees from entering Europe, but rather to reduce the criminal element of human trafficking. This statement is of special importance as it is the first action the alliance has taken over the migrant crisis.
The IMF has threatened Ukraine, saying that if it doesn't speed up reforms, it could lose its $17.5 billion bailout—a devastating prospect for the extremely cash-strapped country. The IMF argued that if Ukraine does not curb corruption, it is unlikely that an IMF program will be successful.
THE MIDDLE EAST
The battle over Aleppo, Syria's second largest city, increased this week. The Syrian government, who is backed by Russia, launched a major offensive on February 1. The UN reported that 40,000 civilians fled the city. But who is bombing the city is still unanswered. On Thursday, the Russians accused the Americans of bombing the city on Wednesday, however the Americans claim none of their planes had been in the area.
U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on Thursday came out on top of their respective Republican and Democrat primaries in New Hampshire. Gaining 35.5 percent of votes, Trump managed to prove his "yuuuge" popularity after coming in second in the first caucus in Iowa. The billionaire topped the rest of the field among both men and women, voters under age 64, voters without a college degree, and those who have a college degree but no postgraduate study, conservatives and moderates, both first-time voters and those who have voted before, registered Republicans and those who are registered as undeclared. Iowa winner Ted Cruz came in second, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and businesswoman Carly Fiorina said goodbye. On the Democratic side, former underdog Sanders crushed chief favorite and pantsuit aficionado Hillary Clinton by a landslide. The 74-year-old Vermont senator received a strong support across all demographics, including women. The defeat forced her campaign to rethink and reform, especially going into the next battlefield in South Carolina.
The U.S. stock markets tumbled on Thursday due to global sell-off and sliding oil prices. The plunge happened after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen predicted a gloomy global economy and dismissed the chances of another U.S. interest hike anytime soon. The situation was also made worse by the crashing oil prices, which at $27 a barrel, are now near 13-year lows. For further explanation and analysis, Reuters has it covered here.
In his final annual budget proposal, U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday sought a 35 percent increase in cybersecurity spending. Out of the $19 billion request, $3.1 billion is wanted to overhaul the government's computer systems following the humiliating Chinese theft of security records on millions of Americans. The Obama administration has struggled to address the increasing risk posed by criminals and nation states in the digital world. Let's be real. If the White House can't even have a good Wi-Fi connection, then what's the point of the American Dream? Click here to read the White House statement on the Cybersecurity National Action Plan.
The Zika virus continues to spread throughout the Western Hemisphere after two U.S. women, who contracted the virus while traveling out of the country, miscarried after returning home. The mosquito-borne virus often produces no symptoms or mild ones like fever in adults. However, an outbreak in Brazil has been linked to a rare birth defect and brain development issues. The outbreak in South America this year is reported to have reached pandemic levels. If you have not been following, the people at Washington Post were kind enough to create a video about the virus for your convenience.