Xpat Weekly Update: The 5 Most Important Global Stories This Week

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1. Protesters Storm Baghdad’s Green Zone, Raise Questions About Viability of Iraqi Government

Supporters of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr broke into Baghdad’s Green Zone and stormed Iraq’s parliament, protesting Prime Minister Abadi’s failure to reform the Iraqi government, reign in corruption, and provide basic services such as water and electricity.

The action followed Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the capital, where he sought to unite Iraq’s dysfunctional leadership in the fight against Islamic State. With Abadi now essentially only titularly in charge, and Sadr suggesting he may go further, the viability of the Iraqi Government is in question.

The Guardian

2. Is it Time to Take Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Views Seriously?

Following this week’s Indiana Republican primary, opponents Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the race, leaving Donald Trump the last man standing and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Trump has been outwardly combative in some of his foreign policy statements, especially vis-a-vis trade, defense cooperation and immigration, and somewhat vague about others, such as his anticipated relationship with Russia’s Putin and his plans for how to defeat ISIS. Is it now time to begin parsing out the serious Trump from the campaign trail Trump?


3. Bountiful Afghan Opium Harvest Yields Profits for the Taliban

You cannot fight a war without money; weapons need to be purchased, fighters paid, and officials in occupied areas taken care of. One of the factors that has dogged American efforts in Afghanistan over the past 15 years has been the failure to cut off the Taliban’s main source of hard currency, opium exports.

“It is spring that determines how a year turns out,” says the Afghan proverb, and with a bountiful poppy crop coming in, it looks again like the Taliban will have a very good year. In Helmand Province, Afghanistan’s largest, farmers are reporting high yields. In addition to favorable weather, Taliban control of the area has all but stopped the Afghan government’s annual eradication campaign.

New York Times

4. The European Union Proposes Visa-Free Travel for Turks

As part of the increasingly complex web of strategies designed to control refugee flows northward, the European Commission gave conditional backing for Turks to travel visa-free travel inside the Schengen area. The change could take effect as early as July if approved by the European Parliament and member states.

According to the BBC, the visa-free policy is being offered as a type of reward in return for Turkey taking back Syrian and Iraqi migrants who reach Greece. The visa proposal is not without its critics, who claim it rewards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan despite his neglect of human rights.


5. CIA Marks Fifth Anniversary of bin Laden’s Death with Live Tweet Session

The CIA marked the fifth anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden with a series of (fake) live tweets of the raid by SEAL Team Six on the Al-Qaeda founder’s compound in Pakistan. Using the hashtag #UBLRaid, the CIA blasted out updates of the May 2011 strike as if it was unfolding in real time.

Criticism was swift, with many suggesting the tweets were inappropriate, disrespectful of Muslims, and even shallow, given how little has actually changed in the War on Terror despite bin Laden’s death.


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