Weekly Round Up 18th-24th February

Syrian Coalition Forces

Photo from
U.S. Army by Pfc. Anthony Zendejas IV

Resistance And Power Vacuum

Who?Syrian Free and Coalition Forces

What?Failed to clear last pocket of Da’esh fighters

Where?Baghouz, Southeastern Syria

Why is it important, relevant or worth consideration?
The final push to remove the remnants of the Da’esh group from Syria has been postponed until all civilians have left the village. It remains unclear why the civilians that still remain in Baghouz have not yet been evacuated.
The destruction of Da’esh in Syria will mark the beginning of a new phase in the Syrian conflict. At this time neither France or the UK have committed to filing the gap that will be left by the American withdrawal. This will lead to a power vacuum that any of the other interested parties including Turkey, Russia and Iran will be keen to fill.

Despite its pledge to withdraw over 2000 troops from Syria by April 30, the White House announced that a force of around 200 American peace keeping troops would stay on in northern Syria for an undefined period of time. The future of Syria and the conflict there remains uncertain as the coming months promise continued turbulence and violence.

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Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba

Constitutional reform for Cuba

Who?The People of Cuba

What?Vote on a new constitution

Where?Cuba, Caribbean

Why is it important, relevant or worth consideration?
The proposed new constitution in Cuba will go a long way to modernise the Cuban government. Among the major reforms proposed by the new constitution are increased strength of local and regional government, Presidential term limits, the addition of the role of Prime Minister, as well as the legitimisation of foreign investors and private businesses within the state run economy.

Although the communist party will remain the only party in the Cuban political system and the economy will continue to follow a state run socialist model, both the right to private ownership as well as the presumption of innocence before the courts will be gained by the Cuban people. The constitutional reform is expected to be accepted and ratified by a a majority of Cubans, recent technological advances have allowed for intense and more open debate than ever before in Cuba.

For a more detailed review of the changes proposed by the new Constitution, please find the “Explainer” by Reuters.

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2017 Protests in Venezuela

Burning Venezuela

Who?Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guaido

What?Reaching for drastic measures

Where?Venezuela, South America

Why is it important, relevant or worth consideration?
This week has borne witness to increased turmoil in Venezuela. The incumbent president Nicolas Maduro has closed the borders to Colombia and cut off diplomatic relations with its western neighbor. Furthermore, troops loyal to Maduro violently prevented a humanitarian aid convoy from entering the country by using teargas and rubber bullets. As a result, one of the trucks in the convoy went up in flames. In different clash in the town of Santa Elena de Uairen, two were killed by government forces as a result of the opposition’s attempts to bring aid into the country.

Opposition leader and informal President Juan Guaido has announced that all options must be kept open in removing Nicolas Maduro from power and securing the freedom of Venezuela. American Vice President Pence will be traveling to Colombia to meet with the Lima Group of regional leaders that recognise Guaido as the President of Venezuela. The Vice President has announced that the United States will increase sanctions and economic pressure on the Venezuelan oil industry if humanitarian aid continues to be turned back at the border.

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