Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of January 9, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Jan. 9, 2022.

Global News

A new strain of COVID-19 has been discovered in Cyprus, which combines Omicron variant genetic signatures with a Delta variant genome. How infectious or lethal this new variant is compared to either Delta or Omicron, is unknown but it might be surpassed by Omicron.

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Events in Kazakhstan pose a complication for the US-Russian talks on Ukraine.

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The James Webb telescope has fully opened and will move to its final position in two weeks. The telescope should be ready for operations in the summer. The telescope was so large, it had to be folded origami style before being set into orbit.

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Americas

New legislators took office in Nicaragua after President Daniel Ortega’s party won 75 of the 90 seats in elections. The elections themselves were of questionable fairness as Ortega jailed opponents before the elections that the Organization of American States voted to condemn by a majority of 25 members.

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Voters in Barnibas, Venezuela elected Sergio Garrido, an opposition candidate. This particular win was in the heart of Chavismo influence and after another opposition candidate had been retroactively disqualified despite presidential pardon.

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A look back at the January 6th Insurrection in the United States. On Jan. 6, 2020, supporters of Donald Trump attempted to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win and the ensuing riot caused by the insurrectionists has been the subject of congressional investigation.

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Africa

Villagers in the district of Mutoko, Zimbabwe, are being forced from their land by foreign mining companies such as Jinding. The government has a history of ignoring local complaints due to concerns over angering China.

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ECOWAS will freeze access to all financial assets in banks and aid to Mali as part of new sanctions imposed on the country in response to the Malian military announcing they will stay in power for another four years rather than hold elections to transition the country back to democracy.

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A spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces said a government airstrike killed 56 people at a camp for displaced people on Saturday. While the claims could not be verified, the region has been cut off from international scrutiny and the UN has reported airstrikes killing civilians in the region in December.

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Europe

Bosnian Serbs celebrated an outlawed holiday commemorating the founding of a Serbian state in Bosnia, which started the civil war and genocide against Croats and Bosniks. Attending the ceremony were representatives from Russia, China, and France’s National Rally party and Serbia.

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Turkish Cyprots are taking to the streets to protest Ankara’s influence in the region due to economic and political turmoil on the northern half of Cyprus and the recent revelation of a blacklist by the Turkish government of dissidents.

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Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar warned Athens against “provocative actions” in the Aegean Sea after the Greek government voted to extend their territorial rights to 12 nautical miles around Greek islands in the Aegean, which could block Turkey’s own access to the region. He also spoke of Ankara’s wish to resolve territorial disputes through dialogue.

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Middle East

Iraqi Parliament elected their Speaker Sunday. Mohammed al-Halbousi, a Sunni lawmaker, will be taking over after the temporary speaker Mahmoud al-Mashahadani fell ill.

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Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and her daughter Souhoud Al Sharif were released after three years of imprisonment at Al-Ha-ir maximum security prison in Saudi Arabia. Princess Abdulaziz Al Saud is an advocate for constitutional reforms and humanitarian aid in the kingdom.

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US President Joe Biden nominated Army Lt. Gen. Erik Kurilla to head US Central Command in the Middle East. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be top commander of US forces in the region.

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Asia

Sri Lanka asks for a debt restructuring from China due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

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Almost 6,000 people have been arrested and 164 killed according to the government in Kazakhstan. The country was wracked by protests and subsequent violence after the government and Russian security forces were deployed to put down the protests. The country was also affected by an Internet blackout that limited information and access to services as the government attempted to smash the protests initially sparked by a fuel price increase.

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Climate change is causing the Brahmaputra River to flood and erode tribal lands in Assam state, in India. The Mising, a tribe heavily affected by the loss of lands to flooding, also faces legal challenges to reclaiming land after flood waters recede due to a lack of legal documentation to land claims and deeds. The government has not come up with long-term solutions yet to the flooding and erosion.

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Filed under Asia, Central Asia, Climate Change

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