The US President, Donald Trump, has announced that the US will pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran much to the dismay of all those involved and many other countries around the world. The deal was viewed by Trump as ‘the worst deal ever’, possibly an overstatement since Iran surrendered 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile and limited to installing at a maximum 5,060 centrifuges, making the production of a nuclear weapon impossible. Still, time limits were placed on these and other elements of the deal, meaning that in 15 years, Iran could have begun its nuclear programme again. While the JCPOA can, and should, be viewed as a successful deal, it is another example of not dealing with the root cause of the problem, which is the part Iran plays in propping up terrorist organisations and brutal regimes worldwide.
Content warning: mentions drone attacks, conflict, and terrorism.
While the US President, Donald Trump, has made it clear that the US presence in Syria was to carry out the extermination of Daesh, Russia’s intentions have always been to support their ally, Bashar al-Assad. Last September the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, made a surprise visit to Syria to announce that Russia had succeeded in its mission. While both might be correct, it is Putin who is in a more difficult position and the risk that Russia will be dragged further in has become ever more likely.
Syria was an opportunity for Putin’s Russia to flex its muscles on the international stage again after creating trouble in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Having already interfered in the election in the US and potentially in other elections in Europe, Russia remains largely unchallenged. Sanctions brought about by the US Congress do little to curb the ambitious plans of a nation seeking to relive past glories. Russia continues to forge relations with former satellite states and the lack of US involvement in NATO does nothing to deter the risk of another cold war breaking out in Eastern Europe. Yet, as with so many Western states, Russia has found itself stuck in the political and religious quagmire that is the Middle East.
by Jonathan Lee
Last week President Trump, with a push of his tiny thumb, attacked Palestinian leadership via Twitter and threatened to cut all US funding to Palestinian recipients. His angry tweets were in response to unrest across the occupied territories following his December recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “that the Jewish people established in ancient times”. Despite the fact this came from Donald Trump, he does pose an interesting point. How accurate is this claim? How far back do the State of Israel’s ties to the land really go?
Israel’s population is 74.7% Jewish, 20.8% Arab and 4.5% “other”. According to the latest population statistics, “those of European and American ancestry make up about 2.2 million (36%) of the Jewish population, while Africans fill out another 14.5% and Asians are 11.2%.”
That being said, there are also currently around 50,000 African Migrants in Israel, most of whom are from Eritrea or Sudan. Under the UN Refugee Convention (signed by Israel in 1954) no migrant can be forcibly returned to their country of origin. Israel currently abides by this convention, but systematically refuses to grant asylum to refugees, irrespective of their status and the potential danger and persecution they have fled.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, recently spewed out the reason for the impasse: Asylum seekers threaten Israel’s identity. The Israeli cabinet has now approved the morally repugnant Holot migrant detention centre, in Israel’s Negev desert, for closure. As a result, two options were laid on the table: step up deportations or jail those who refuse to leave Israel.
Perhaps the most significant reaction to the Trump administration’s unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was that of Saeb Erekat, a veteran peace negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
‘[T]he two-state solution is over’, Erekat told the Israeli daily Haaretz. ‘Now is the time to transform the struggle for one-state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.’
It’s a vision with intuitive aesthetic and ethical appeal, proposing to stitch the frayed patchwork of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem into a unitary state in which Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouin would live under the same secular jurisdiction.
The latest disaster in US foreign policy since Donald Trump’s notoriously tiny hands grabbed hold of the levers of US power is the uni-lateral decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Trump’s decision and his failure to gain significant backing for the move at the United Nations, have dominated recent international coverage of Israeli politics and current affairs. Conveniently for the Israeli government, it has overshadowed the corruption investigations currently engulfing the Israeli Prime Minister and resident waxwork, Benjamin Netanyahu.
by Lewis Martin
If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.