Weekly Round Up 4th-10th February

Princess Ubol Ratana

The Populist Princess

Who?
Princess Ubolratana Mahidol

What?
Registered candidacy for Prime Minister

Where?
Bangkok, Thailand

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?
A shock for Thai politics, Princess Ubol Ratana Mahidol announced her candidacy for Prime Minister. This breaks the long standing taboo in Thailand that the royalty get involved in the politics of the country. Ubol Ratana has lived anything but the sheltered royal lifestyle. She has renounced her royal titles and obligations, married and divorced a commoner and been involved in the Thai film and television industry. She draws upon these facts to justify her right as a Thai citizen to run for Prime Minister. Furthermore, the princess has aligned herself with the populist Thai Raksa Chart Party.

Shortly after announcing her candidacy, Ubol Ratana’s younger brother and King, Maha Vajiralongkorn, declared that her involvement in Thai politics is not only inappropriate but unconstitutional. It is not unreasonable to assume that the King’s protest will foreshorten Ubol Ratana’s political bid and that her candidacy will be disqualified by the Thai Election Commission.

It will be important to watch the coming election in Thailand as the country has suffered from over a decade of coup attempts, political violence and postponed elections. With the addition Princess Ubol Ratana into the mix, the unpredictable nature of Thai politics has become even more unstable.

Full Articles:
Al-Jazeera
Al-Jazeera
Associated Press
Associated Press
Reuters
Reuters

Kurdish YPG Fighters

The last days of the Caliphate

Who?
Syrian and Kurdish fighters

What?
Final assault on last remnants of Da’esh (ISIS/ISIL)

Where?
Baghouz, Deir ez-Zur Governorate, Southeastern Syria

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?
The last pocket of diehard Da’esh fighters and their families are holed up in the village of Baghouz, just across the Euphrates river from the town of Al-Bukamal. This enclave of jihadists marks the last part of Da’esh controlled territory in all of Syria. Their eventual defeat at the hands of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) and Kurdish forces (YPG) in the region will mark a turning point in the conflict. Both the SDF and YPG have enjoyed US backing and support in their efforts to eradicate Da’esh from Syria.

It remains to be seen whether this victory on the field of battle will be translated into political gains for either of the groups. The situation in Syria remains a myriad of interested and involved parties, including the Turkey, Russia, Israel, Iran backed militias, the United States and Britain and France.

Full Articles:
AFP
AFP
Al-Jazeera
Associated Press
Live Situation Map of the Conflict in Syria

Luigi Di Maio in Milan in 2017

An Ambassador recalled

Who?
French Government

What?
Recalls Ambassador to Rome

Where?
Rome, Italy and Paris, France

Why is it important, relevant, worth consideration or keeping an eye on?
For the first time since the end of the second world war France has recalled its diplomatic envoy to Rome. The moves comes as an response to Italy’s deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio meeting with leaders of the french “Yellow Vest” movement. Relations between France and Italy have worsened since mid 2018 when the coalition of the “5-Star Movement” and Lega formed a majority government. The coalition make for strange bedfellows but find common ground in populism and euro-skepticism.

While French president Macron has occasionally responded to the numerous verbal attacks and pot-shots by the Italian government, the decision to recall the ambassador comes as sign that France has had enough. Macron continues to struggle to quell the riots and protests of the yellow vests as the movement enters its 13th week. The relationship between the two countries promises to remain tense. It is as of yet uncertain whether the situation will continue to escalate.

Full Articles:
Al-Jazeera
Associated Press
France24
Reuters

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