AEGEE International Politics Journal

compiled by Neville Bezzina {Malta}

The first two weeks of the new year were characterised by several major shake-ups on a state level which are sure to affect global and regional relations in the coming months.

While the Wikileaks “Cablegate” controversy has spilled over from December 2010, the focus has shifted away from the reverberations the leaks will have on international diplomacy and on to the individual situation of Julian Assange and his possible extradition to the U.S. [source: BBC]

Instead, the focus in these past two weeks has been on some major changes in national regimes, institutions and policies. Two major long-term regional power-holders in the Arab and Middle Eastern worlds, Tunisia and Lebanon, faced shifts in their administrative institutions, which will result in a shift the balance of power in their specific regions.

In Lebanon, the parties mired in the controversy surrounding the UN- backed trial against the Shi’ite group accused of assassinating Rafik al-Hariri, the Lebanese Prime Minister’s father, failed to negotiate a deal, leading to major Hezbollah exponents and allies to resign and topple the government. [source: Reuters, Council on Foreign Relations]

Human rights issues were back on the agenda this week with the Tunisian and Iranian administrations both being condemned by several speakers on rights violations. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton issued a statement claiming the 6 year prison sentence given to the prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi [source: Consilium Press Officer]. China, on the other hand, has been criticised harshly by global NGO’s Human Rights Watch and Amnesty, over its treatment of Tibetan activists peacefully campaigning for independence [source: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty]

Meanwhile, Tunisia has occupied a major spot in international politics news when major unrest towards the de facto dictator President Ben Ali’s administration started to spill out into the streets. The protests turned violent, resulting in the deployment of military force and several deaths. It has been widely reported that Tunisian authorities had excessively monitored and censored online freedom of speech, with activists and bloggers finding their accounts hacked and being detained and imprisoned. Over the past week, the President of Tunisia has been forced to flee the country and is allegedly being harboured by Saudi Arabia. Tunisia is now under military control, while the Prime Minister has assumed temporary power pending election procedures [EU Statement, BBC News, European Voice Pirate Party blog]

Elsewhere in the African continent, the vital vote taken by the Sudanese population in the Independence referendum that could split the country into two independent states, ending two decades of civil war, reached a crucial and important milestone when thousands of voters turned up at the polls. [souce: European Parliament President statement, BBC News]

Officials are striking increasingly dissonant notes on the question of whether the EU should continue to s
upport the Kyoto Protocol as a framework for UN agreements after 2012 if countries such as Japan, Russia and Canada maintain their opposition. The European Union remains one of the strongest blocs that may commit to 30% decrease in CO2 by 2010 at the next round of UN Climate Change talks [source: Euractiv]

Within the EU, Hungary, within days of taking the rotating Presidency, faced harsh criticism from all sides directed at its controversial media law, with EU Commission President Barroso declaring media freedom as a sacred tenet of European democracy (1) and Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes declaring on the 11 January that the European Commission would not make any compromise and would make sure EU law is implemented fully. (2) [source: euractiv (1) euractiv(2) ]

Global Zero, the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, is supported by the giants of international strategy: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Strobe Talbot, even President Obama has aligned himself with the cause. But according to Josef Joffe and James Davis, Global Zero will fail. [source: Foreign Affairs Magazine]

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