The Global Report: April 12, 2012

By Michael J. Lockhart

We check out the hottest international news this week including protests in China, and Turkey proposing to invoke NATO's article five.

Welcome to the Global Report: our weekly column of the most important issues happening across the planet. From politics to war, monarchies to dictatorships, and everything in-between, we’ve got it covered. It’s world news, style.

The long standing dispute between Canada and Greenland over Hans Island in the arctic is reportedly nearing a close. The controversy has seen public declarations of sovereignty from both the Canadian and Danish (Greenland) governments over the past decade and is proposed to be resolved by creating a new border, effectively cutting the island in half. If this does occur, Canada would share a land border with the European Union for the first time. An interesting prospect, but unlikely to see visitors attempt a land crossing. Unless you’re hardcore, stick with the flying!

The Sixth Summit of the Americas in Columbia will be this weekend with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in attendance. We’ll have more information for you in next week’s report.

In a meeting with the ruling People’s Party in Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that he does not believe Spain will require an EU bailout and will continue its path of financial reform. While this news will be cautiously welcomed by the Troika of European financial bodies, it’s important to note that many a country has optimistically spoken too soon and ended up being worse off in the end. Greece, we’re speaking to you right now!

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested yesterday that if fighting in Syria increases and bridges into Turkey’s borders, he may invoke NATO’s Article 5. The article, which allows NATO states under attack to request a military response from other NATO members including the US and UK would be a first for Turkey and could be considered a catalyst for Western involvement on the Syria issue. We would imagine any such request would receive harsh words from Russia and China, considering the recently approved UN peace plan has just begun work.

A US unmanned drone (UAV) is reported to have killed 14 suspected al-Qaeda militants last night in Yemen’s southern Abyan province. This news comes after Sunday’s report that air strikes in the country had killed 24 others suspected to be involved in the terrorist network.

Former governmental supporters of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were banned by the Egyptian Parliament yesterday from running in the upcoming presidential elections. This is definitely a step in the right direction for the country, but the road to democracy still will be rocky for all parties involved. The actual handover of the government from the current ruling military coalition will be the largest step to come, but to who still remains a mystery.

The on-going fighting and occupation of territory between neighboring Sudan and South Sudan has been met with harsh criticism from the 54-member African Union (AU). The press statement, released yesterday by the body, calls for “both parties to exercise utmost restraint and to respect the territorial integrity of the other state” Furthermore, the union is requesting South Sudan withdraw its forces from Heglig, a strategic oil town in central Sudan near the border. Despite this action on the AU’s part, we can imagine the UN will eventually have to step in as an intermediary to help the two countries sort out their border and oil revenue sharing disputes.

Approximately 100,000 citizens began demonstrating in China’s megacity of Chongqing yesterday, with the cause being disputed between  press and authorities. While the government is maintaining that the protests are in response to the city’s district being merged with another, several news sources are reporting that the protests are a result of the axing of top Communist Party leader Bo Xilai earlier this week. Xilai has been in charge of Chongqing since 2007. Coverage of the protests, which has seen 1,000 police being dispatched to control the crowds has apparently been blocked on Chinese social media sites to quash growing anti-governmental sentiment. While censorship, particularly with new media, is nothing new for the country (read: Tiananmen Square), growing protests in recent years have shown that citizens are becoming bolder in voicing disapproval with the government, particularly on political and social justice issues.

As of today, North Korea’s planned missile launch has not occurred. Assuming it does continue its launch window between today and April 16, we’ll have more details of the event in next week’s report.

An earthquake registering 8.6 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia yesterday, with several strong aftershocks being felt as far as Thailand, Malaysia, and India. While the Tsunami warning system implemented after the 2004 Christmas disaster was used successfully, no dangerous waves have been reported as of today.


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