International Headlines: Politics


Greece Crisis: PM Alexis Tsipras Quits and Calls Early PollsAugust 20, 2015 BBC Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was only elected in January, said he had a moral duty to go to the polls now that a third bailout had been secured with European creditors. Tsipras will lead his leftist Syriza party into the polls, but he has faced a rebellion by some party members angry at the bailout's austerity measures. He had to agree to painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms, in exchange for the bailout and to keep Greece in the euro zone. In a televised state address Tsipras said, "I want to be honest with you. We did not achieve the agreement we expected before the January elections." He would seek the Greek people's approval to continue his government's program. Greece will be run by a caretaker government until the election. Reacting to the news, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's chief-of-staff, Martin Selmayr, tweeted that "swift elections in Greece can be a way to broaden support" for the bailout deal.

Nepal Constitution Protest August 24, 2015 International Business Times Seven police officers were reportedly killed in western Nepal during clashes over a newly proposed national constitution. The demonstrations have turned violent in recent days, as Nepalese police have arrested dozens of protesters. Protesters have mostly come from Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), which has called for a nationwide strike to protest the proposed borders of new provinces. The proposed constitution, which would see the country carved into seven states, has angered those who say the new borders would fail to ensure political representation for marginalized communities. "The proposed demarcation breaks up home districts of indigenous groups in different provinces. That is not acceptable,” said Himal Dandu Sherpa, vice chairman of NEFIN. At least three demonstrators were killed by police earlier this month. Work on a new national constitution began in 2008, after a decade-long Maoist insurgency that resulted in the deaths of some 16,000 people and brought down the country's Hindu monarchy. Opponents of the draft constitution have pushed for provinces to be carved around historic communities, but other lawmakers have argued such a move would disturb national unity.

U.S. Navy on Alert: China, Russia to Launch Largest-Ever Joint Navy Exercise August 18, 2015 The Washington Times China and Russia engaged in “Joint Sea 2015 II,” the largest-ever joint exercises, in the Pacific August 20 to August 28. The exercises included more than 20 ships and anti-submarine operations, as well as a beach landing. The first “Joint Sea 2015” operation played out in the Mediterranean Sea in April. The U.S. Naval Institute’s online news and analysis portal report noted that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said late last year that the U.S. was a factor motivating increased China-Russia military training. The drills “are not targeted at any third party and are not relevant to regional status-quo,” the source said in a Xinhua report. “The drills are part of annual exchange program between Chinese and Russian militaries.”

Venezuela and Greece Sign Energy Agreement August 3, 2015 Venezuela Analysis Venezuela and Greece signed an agreement on August 1 strengthening cooperation in the energy sector. According to Venezuelan Minister of Petroleum and Mines, Asdrubal Gonzalez, the deal is aimed at promoting coordination in hydrocarbon exploration, production, export, and commercialization, though specific details have yet to be released. The accord comes after a week of bilateral meetings between Greek Secretary General for Foreign Relations Yorgos Tsipras and top level Bolivarian officials. In a prior meeting held at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, Tsipras praised Venezuela as a model for Greece and called for deepening ties between the two countries. "Venezuela is a symbol of resistance against imperialism," he stated. Venezuela and other Latin American countries have raised their voices in solidarity with Greece following what has been described as "financial blackmail" directed towards the Southern European country in reaction to last month's austerity referendum that garnered a 62%  "No" vote.

The US Abets and Aids War Crimes in the Philippines July 22, 2015 Truthdig From July 16-18, 300 people participated in the International People’s Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People in Washington D.C. An international panel of seven jurors heard two days of testimony from 32 witnesses who had been tortured, detained, and forcibly evicted from their land.

For the period from July 2010 to June 2015, the tribunal documented 262 cases of extrajudicial killings, 27 cases of forced disappearances, 125 cases of torture, 1,016 cases of illegal arrest, and 60,155 incidents of forced evacuation by the Filipino government. The U.S. aided and abetted the Filipino government by providing more than $507 million in military aid from 2001 to 2010.

On September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared the Philippines a second front in the war on terror. The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government used this as an opportunity to escalate its war against those opposing government policies. In 2011, the program continued under Benigno Aquino III. As part of its pivot to Asia-Pacific, President Obama’s negotiations with the Aquino government gave US military forces tremendous powers in the Philippines. The United States also plans to restore its two former military bases at Subic Bay and Clark, which it left in 1992.

The jury in the tribunal found Aquino and the US government, represented by Obama, guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.