Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Sitrep - 23 March, 2016

Turkey and the European Union reached a deal to better organise the enormous flow of refugees into the supranational bloc. Over 400,000 refugees are trapped at the Greece/Macedonia border after the Balkans corridor into the EU was closed late last year. Another 3 million refugees, mainly from Syria and Iraq, are currently in camps inside Turkey. So this deal will benefit both parties.

Under the agreement, any refugee landing illegally in Greece from Turkey will be deported back to Turkey immediately. Once in Turkey, he will be placed at the bottom of the asylum list while a fully-vetted refugee replaces the illegal and is sent to Greece for processing into the EU instead. The deal raises some questions about international human rights legality and the ulterior motives of Turkey.

In Iraq, a US Marine was killed by an Islamic State (IS) rocket at a previously unknown firebase 100 kilometres outside of the northern city of Mosul. It is the second death of a US serviceman since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve (in which NZDF trainers are participating). Despite US President Barack Obama’s insistence on having “no boots on the ground” more Marines are now being prepared to deploy to the embattled country.

Elsewhere, 11 days of protests are currently underway in Baghdad lead by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Protests have become relatively commonplace across Iraq over the past year but these demonstrations reflect tensions between the ruling Shiite power base. Many of the protesters want Prime Minister Haider al Abadi’s Shiite government rearranged at best, and dissolved at worse. Serious unrest among Iraq’s Shia is possible if the demonstrations turn violent.

An impeachment process could be imminent in Brazil as President Dilma Rousseff struggles to hold on to power and avoid the political system stagnating. Ms Rousseff is facing allegations of corruption and bribery for “financial irregularities” during the drafting of three prior national budgets and for a murky deal involving state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

Brazil has dropped from the world’s 7th largest economy to 9th in a year as the corruption and political stalemate reaches a crescendo. Few policy changes or repairs to assist Brazil’s worsening economy have been possible due to the infighting. Ousting Ms Rousseff’s leadership still could include a handful of options aside from impeachment, none of which will bring the country back into the economic sunlight in the short term.

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