July 2019

As global economy slows, geopolitical tensions rise

In this edition of the Trends Journal we highlight several of the hot spots around the globe where the public is rising up against long established rulers while other nations are being targeted by foreign governments in the never-ending battle of regime change based on any pretext that media can sell and the public will buy.

As the global economy slows, the natives, especially those in already impoverished nations, have taken to the streets demanding the departure of their rulers and calls for new government systems.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

In the 1990s, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire under military officer Mobutu Sese Seko between 1971 and 1997, was at the center of “Africa’s War,” a multi-nation conflict that claimed the lives of 6 million people.

Mobutu established a military-backed kleptocracy and amassed a large personal fortune through corruption, which led to the collapse of the economy.

Algeria

This oil-rich nation in the Maghreb region of North Africa is wracked by ongoing political and economic turmoil. One third of the population exists in poverty. It is estimated an additional 10 percent will fall into poverty if the economic situation does not improve.

In February, massive protests, labeled “The Smile Revolution” under the banner of “bread, freedom and social justice” erupted days after Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had been in power since 1999 and following a series of strokes had not made a public appearance since 2014.

Sudan

Sudan consists of two countries, Sudan in the north and South Sudan. President Barack Obama granted U.S. recognition of South Sudan as an independent state after it formally seceded from the north in 2011.

Barely reported in the western media, since 2003, conflict in the Darfur in the north has included large-scale genocide, forcing millions from their homes and resulting in the death of around 200,000 people.

Yemen

The political uprising against Ali Abdullah Saleh, who served as the first President of Yemen since its unification in 1990, erupted during the 2011 Arab Spring.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia initiated warfare in Yemen after pro-Saudi and pro-American president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the sole candidate who they appointed to replace Saleh, was ousted by a Houthi faction in response to economic and political crises ripping the nation.

Lebanon

This Mediterranean nation created by French Mandate in 1920 under the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI has long been a key hotspot for regional tension and conflict, due in large part to a French attempt to carve up the region along ethnic and religious lines.

Full-scale sectarian violence resulted in civil war in 1975. This conflict pitted Christian groups against Druze, Muslim, and Palestinian militias, the latter refugees from Palestine following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Syria

The devastating Syrian Civil War has had a large impact on global politics and social issues. It is largely responsible for an influx of refugees in Europe,

The war against Syria followed the United States, France, UK, the Arab League and NATO partners overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan government in 2011.

The CIA then sent the jihadi groups that they had armed in Libya following Gaddafi’s death, to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government of Syria.

Iran

Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the US and later the EU imposed a series of sanctions on Iran, most targeting its energy sector. In addition, more than $12 billion in Iranian assets were frozen.

By 2012, international sanctions resulted in Iran’s rial reaching a record low against the US dollar and losing 80 percent of its value. Sanctions on crude oil and a loss of revenue from this resource resulted in the country’s budget deficit reaching between $30 and $50 billion that year.

North Korea

The Kim dynasty has ruled North Korea since 1948. This hereditary cult of personality survived the Korean War which left much of the North decimated.

The US dropped 635,000 tons of bombs and 32,557 tons of napalm on the Korean peninsula, more than during the entire Pacific campaign against the Japanese during World War II. Gen. Curtis LeMay admitted the US had killed nearly 30 percent of the population. Three million civilians were killed.

Venezuela

This South American nation on the Caribbean is currently mired in an economic collapse, due in part to economic failures compounded by economic sanctions.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, but due to sanctions imposed on its energy sector and a drop in crude oil prices it is now a failed state unable to serve its people.