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
- Ugandans on Thursday packed the polls to vote for a new (or not so new) president. Voting was stalled in some areas because ballot boxes and papers arrived late, the opposition leader was briefly arrested and popular social media networks were blocked. President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in office for three decades, is seeking a fifth (!) term to rule the East African country. Uganda be kidding me.
China is reported to have deployed missiles this week on a disputed island in the South China Sea, but Beijing claimed such defenses had been in place for years. Such presence on the island—also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam—could significantly increase tensions. If you have been living under a rock, the conflict revolves around overlapping claims by several countries over territory in the South China Sea. Also involved in the conflict are the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. The frictions have sparked concern that the area is becoming a flashpoint with global consequences.
- This week the EU has been holding its breath over the possibility of Britain leaving the union. David Cameron went to Brussels to negotiate with the EU and hoped to leave Brussels with a better deal for Britain in hand. The final negotiations were supposed to happen over an "English Breakfast" on Friday, however it had been pushed back and the EU leaders are, at time of publication, meeting over dinner to discuss a final deal for Britain. A live reporting of events can be found here. An overall article about Brexit can be found here.
- On Wednesday, the British Royal Air Force detected Russian bombers close to UK air space and sent jets to intercept the bombers. The Russian bombers were unlikely planning an attack; rather, this was an instance of Russia flexing its muscles.
- That same day, Russia filed a lawsuit at the London High Court against Ukraine over the $3 billion Ukraine owes. Kiev responded by saying it was "fully ready" for the court battle.
- Back in Ukraine, President Poroshenko asked Prime Minister Yatsenyuk to step down. Yatsenyuk's government underwent a vote of no confidence, but managed to gather enough support to survive until the next parliamentary session begins in September. Yatsenyuk defended himself arguing that his government did the best it could considering Russia’s annexation of Crimea and attack on Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government is struggling to pass reforms demanded by the IMF in order to receive a bailout fund.
THE MIDDLE EAST
- On Wednesday, a terrorist attack in the Turkish capital Ankara killed 28 and injured 61. On Thursday Turkey's Prime Minister blamed the suicide attack on Syrian Kurds, specifically the Kurdish group YPG (translated into English as Kurdish People's Protection Units). Turkey has been trying to get its Western allies to label YPG as a terrorist organization, however the U.S. considers the group an effective fighting force against ISIS. YPG has denied any involvement in the attack.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to freeze oil production at January's levels as long as other major oil producing countries also participate. On Wednesday, Iran endorsed the plan but did not commit to participate in the freeze, while on Thursday, Iraq followed Iran's lead and suggested it would support any move that would stabilize oil prices. It appears as if the world's oil producers are all looking at each other and saying, "I will if you do." If this idea turns into action, it could potentially raise the price of oil significantly.
- This week the U.S. government picked a fight with the millennials by trying to access data on gadgets, even when those devices use secure encryption to keep it private. A federal court has ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by a gunman who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December. The court is ordering Apple to "bypass or disable" a standard feature that automatically wipes an iPhone clean of all data after 10 incorrect password attempts have been entered. Contesting the order, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote a lengthy message to his customers where he said it would be wrong for the government to "force us to build a backdoor into our products" and he feared such a demand "would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect." Google has also sided with Apple. Maybe the FBI should ask Taylor Swift to help them out.
- U.S. President Barack Obama hosted the U.S.-ASEAN Summit, the first to be held on American soil. Although the White House sought to frame the two-day meeting as part of re-balancing foreign policy efforts toward Asia Pacific, but maritime security and the South China conflict were the main topics. Rather than turning a spotlight on China, the joint statement simply reiterated broad key principles of U.S.-ASEAN cooperation. Boring. But check out this piece by Graham Webster about ASEAN's role in future U.S. foreign policy for our new Policy Innovation Blog.
- Venezuela is raising its oil price by 6,000%. Seems shocking, but the price of a liter will go from a ridiculously low $0.01 to a still ridiculously low $0.60. It is the first time in 20 years the country has risen its oil prices. Venezuela has been hit hard by the falling oil prices as oil consists of 95% of its export revenue.