Welcome to our new new round up, monthly edition! This month Briony and Nick tackle stories across the globe that we think you may have missed due to the press hysteria of CoVid-19. Free feel to like, share and comment your thoughts down below.
While currently the United States has descended into the madness of the Democractic primaries, argueably one of the most important events in February was the end of the Senate impreachment hearings and the acquittal of President Donald Trump. After nearly two weeks of daily hearings, testimony and argument, the United States Senate voted along nearly perfect party lines to acquit President Trump of any “High Crimes and Misdemeanours” the House of Representatives had leveled against him. Republican Senator Mitt Romney from Utah was the only one to vote against his party, and against acquitting the President stating: “the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust“.
Republican Senator Susan Collins from Maine, was quick to say she felt that Trump will have “learned a lesson” through this whole process and is likely to “be more cautious in the future”. A statement she has since walked back.
If you are interested in listening to a condensed version of the impeachment hearings, presented without commentary, we suggest The Impeachment podcast.
February in Afghanistan was punctuated by the run up to a US-Taliban Peace agreement signed on 29 February in Doha, Qatar by US Peace Envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad and Deputy Taliban Leader, Mullah Baradar. The circumstances of the troop withdrawal agreement between the United States and the Taliban were fragile. Prior to the agreement a week long “reduction of violence” was implemented at midnight on 21 February. In the prelude to this truce Afghanis remembered the 31st anniversary of the end of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan on 15 February 1989. If both sides uphold the current peace agreement over 8,600 troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan in the next 4.5 months while 5 bases will be closed. Additionally there is to be an exchange of prisoners as a run up to further talks scheduled in mid march. The situation remains unstable however as days after the agreement was signed the US launched an air strike in retaliation to Taliban attacks on Afghan National Security Forces in Kunduz and Helmand provinces.
The beginning of February saw officers from both sides of the conflict in Libya attend UN sponsored peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the course of the month however, these talks have fallen apart due to refusals by both sides and frustration over how UN management of the meetings. While the delegation of the eastern Libya National Army (LNA), commanded by Khalifa Haftar, pulled out because the UN only accepted 8 of their 13 members. The internationally recognized and widely supported Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) refused to continue discussions until advances were made on the level of military negotiation. The on-again-off-again negotiation process was thrown into further chaos on 3 March when the UN Special Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, unexpectedly tendered his resignation.
Additionally, Turkey confirmed that approximately 16 Turkish soldiers have been killed in Libya while supporting the GNA. While it is not entirely clear, most sources agree that russian mercenaries have been fighting for the LNA. It remains uncertain to what extent Russia is involved in the Libyan conflict. With recent developments in the Syrian conflict, Libya could be the stage for a second proxy conflict between Russia and Turkey who are now on squarely opposing sides in Syria.
While the world was captivated by the Bushfires in Australia in December 2019 and January 2020, the devastating blazes raged on in February despite the torrential rain in mid January. In some areas the fires were only fully contained as recently as 27 February 2020. The international relief effort for Australia has been staggering and volunteers from around the world have gone to support Australia in their recovery . The Australian Government is even providing extended duration work/holiday visas for tourists willing to go to Australia to work and help with relief efforts.
For those readers looking to support the bushfire recovery efforts, please click here.
February ubiquitously brings a festival of culture and colour throughout the world, whether it’s Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday or Carnaval. Brazil is known for its vibrant blocos and parades during carnaval, especially in Rio de Janeiro. However, this year the carnaval took more of a political statement in Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo. Often seen as the boring carnaval when compared the glitz and glam of Rio, however 2020 saw Sao Paulo explode with life with the carnaval theme of “long live resistance.” As a stand against government censorship and a continuation of fighting for civil rights the theme seemed to be an easy pick this year. The Brazilian government over the last few years has oppressed culture and personal expression, especially with the indigenous people in the Amazon and LGBTQ+ individuals. Brazil is not the only country to partake in political protests that express creativity and joy. For example in Peru many theatre companies are opting to perform political plays commenting on the government.