(Image: REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily)
Iraq’s new president taps Adel Abdul Mahdi to form government
The battle inside and outside the Iraqi parliament was fierce and bitter, but by the evening of Oct. 2, Barham Salih had managed to pull off one of the biggest electoral feats in recent Iraqi history by putting his faith in Iraqi parliamentarians to elect a new president. That night, the overwhelming majority of parliament members, 219 out of 329 total, voted to install Salih, a Kurd who believes in the territorial integrity of Iraq and who has vowed to work for all Iraqis.
Since 2003, the Iraqi presidency has been reserved for a Kurd, the parliament speakership for a Sunni and the premiership for a Shiite. Although Salih’s election has generally been welcomed among Iraqis, including the Kurds, his victory marked an escalation in tense relations between Iraq’s two dominant Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), already at odds over the governing of Iraqi Kurdistan and related socioeconomic issues. (Read more)
Cars, Cows and a Crisis Averted: Highlights of New Nafta Deal
The U.S. and Canada reached a deal late Sunday to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, with each side bending on core issues.
The two countries will now join Mexico in updating the 1994 accord, which will be renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Here are highlights of what they agreed to:
Nafta talks were conducted under threat of a steep escalation of tension: imposition of U.S. auto tariffs. The deal struck Sunday offers a measure of protection for both Canada and Mexico, ensuring each country won’t be affected by any auto tariffs unless exports top 2.6 million units annually. (Read more)
What’s Next for the Presidency in Vietnam?
The death of Vietnam’s president last month has not only put the focus on his legacy, but also raised wider questions about the role of the presidency and what it means for politics more generally in the one-party, communist Southeast Asian state.
Last month, Vietnam was gripped by the death of communist hardliner Tran Dai Quang after a long battle with cancer. Quang is justifiably being mourned for a long political career marked by a range of positions across issues, including his recent stand against corruption and the support he lent to anti-Chinese protesters angered over plans to extend 99-year leases to Beijing in special economic zones.
A former minister for public security, Quang only served part of his term as president, entering the job at the same time as Nguyen Phu Trong began his second term as Party Secretary General. His legacy will partly be remembered in terms of the wider political developments in Vietnam over the past few years. (Read more)
Ethiopia: East Africa’s Emerging Giant
Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most-populous country, has suffered military rule, civil war, and catastrophic famine over the past half century. Yet in recent years it has emerged as a beacon of stability in the Horn of Africa, enjoying rapid economic growth and increasing strategic importance in the region. However, starting in 2015, a surge in political turmoil rooted in an increasingly repressive ruling party and disenfranchisement of various ethnic groups threatened the country’s progress.
Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has responded with promises of dramatic political and economic reforms and has shepherded a historic peace deal with neighboring Eritrea. The new leader’s aggressive approach to change has been met with exuberance among many Ethiopians, but experts warn that Abiy’s challenge to a decades-old political order faces major obstacles, and it is yet unclear whether he can follow through on his agenda. (Read more)
On September 30th, 1938, the Munich Agreement was reached. It has since become synonymous with appeasement to tyranny. Of course, “appeasement” itself has become a dirty word in international relations, especially in the United States. Although the U.S. had nothing to do with the agreement between Britain, France, Italy, and Nazi Germany, “Munich” has nonetheless entered the American political lexicon. In the decades since, Munich has been used to justify the idea that tyranny must be met with force.
Around 1:30 a.m. on September 30th, 1938, Neville Chamberlain, Edouard Daladier, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler signed an agreement allowing Germany to annex the northwestern portion of Czechoslovakia. This region, called the Sudetenland, had a high proportion of German speakers. These Sudeten Germans had been made part of the new nation of Czechoslovakia at the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918. The Sudeten Crisis began in February 1938, when Hitler called for self-determination for Germans in Austria (which the Nazis annexed in March, 1938) and Czechoslovakia. There were no Czech representatives at Munich, but the country’s government reluctantly capitulated to the agreement. (Read more)