Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Sitrep - 20 April, 2016

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is this week one step closer to impeachment following a successful vote of 367 to 137 by the lower house of parliament on April 17. The process for impeachment now moves to the Senate where a simple majority to accept the impeachment case would force Ms Rousseff to step down for 180 while it is evaluated.

The President’s problems may be compounded if the criminal case of manipulating government budgets in 2014 and her participation in the corruption scandal at state-owned energy company Petrobras prove true. The investigation – named “Operation Carwash” – was so blatant and implicated such prominent figures it shocked Brazil, a country familiar with high-level corruption.

Should Ms Rousseff’s complicity in the scandal be proven, then it may also nullify the entire previous election procedure if some of the funds will be associated with the scandal. This could mean Vice President Michel Temer would not replace Ms Rousseff and the decade-long rule of the Worker’s Party would end, forcing early elections and a tense political atmosphere.

In the Baltics, a Russian Su-24 fighter plane flew within 9 metres of a US guided missile destroyer operating on exercise in the Baltic Sea. The event – known as “buzzing” – is not uncommon around the world. Military aircraft can legally intercept foreign vessels or jets within a nation’s airspace or exclusive economic zone.

The US reacted strongly to the Russian move, with Secretary of State John Kerry calling it “dangerous” and said it simulated an attack. This is probably rhetoric because in a combat situation, modern aircraft launch missiles from dozens of kilometres away from a target and modern destroyer radar would likely register a threatening aircraft at 100 kilometres.

However, the Russians cleverly used the American reaction for propaganda purposes on the internet. Russian state media claimed the aircraft used an unknown electronic warfare device to paralyse the destroyer, but this too is not credible since such a system would be highly secret and the US vessel didn’t appear to be affected electronically. Both sides have nevertheless taken their pound of political flesh from the incident.

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