Every Friday, we bring to you the top five international stories of the week, with a particular emphasis on religious liberty, justice issues, and geopolitical issues that impact liberty and justice.
1. The United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union. The move plunges the UK into the unknown, as Britain will be the first country ever to leave the 23-year-old EU. British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned today, saying the the UK needs “fresh leadership.” World stock markets are in turmoil, as financial analysts grapple with the short- and long-term implications of “Brexit.” One of the key arguments made by Leave advocates was that the UK needs to to “take back its country” from the EU’s control, primarily over matters of immigration. As a result, what role, if any, the UK will play in Europe’s migrant crisis moving forward remains to be seen.
Last week, British Parliamentarian, Jo Cox, was shot and stabbed to death on Thursday in an English village near the city of Leeds. Cox had recently been very outspoken regarding her pro-immigration position for refugees and her support of Britain’s continued membership in the EU. No motives have yet to be confirmed, but police suspect that the assailant shouted “Britain first!” during and after the attack. Though Great Britain is known for strict regulations limiting gun ownership, this tragedy is a reminder that no degree of gun control can remove the human impulse toward violence in a society. For more on Brexit, see Joe Carter’s helpful explainer.
2. UN: There are now a 65 million refugees in the world, more than at any point in recorded history. This number is an increase of 5.8 million from last year, surpassing for the first time the number of displaced people after World War II. owing to continued conflict in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and elsewhere. To put this figure in perspective, one out of every 113 people in the world is a refugee. In other refugee-related news, the Iraqi military’s assault on Fallujah has caused 85,000 people to flee their homes, overwhelming Iraqi refugee camps. Lise Grande, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq: “People have run and walked for days. They left Falluja with nothing. They have nothing and they need everything.”
3. Deepening food shortages in Venezuela spark riots, looting at grocery stores. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, yet much of the country’s population is without food. CBC: “What started as persistent food shortages under President Hugo Chavez has turned into a food crisis under the Nicolas Maduro government, elected in 2013. A tour of Maracaibo last month showed the crisis is especially dire.” The NY Times has an unbelievable photo essay of the situation.
4. Political turmoil grows in Egypt over the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. The conflict centers on two small islands, Tiran and Sanafir, which Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi ceded to Saudi Arabia on a presidential trip that coincided with an oil deal and an aid package from the Kingdom. The island transfer has been unpopular in Egypt, sparking protests and in turn, a government backlash against those protests. The Sisi Administration has appealed the decision, and the future of the islands remains unclear.
5. 51 US State Department officials sign document dissenting from Obama Administration’s Syria policy. Eight of the officers met with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss their concerns in a meeting that was described as “surprisingly cordial.” The dissent cable, which has not yet been made public, urges military intervention in Syria. The document does not represent the prevailing view within the State Department but does demonstrate fractures among the American foreign policy establishment on how the US should respond to the Syrian Civil War.
Matt Mihelic contributed to this post. Have suggestions for a top five article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected].