The Week That Was #2

Foreign Policy Brief #165 | By: Ibrahim Sultan | January 18, 2023

Header photo taken from: Ina Fassbener / AFP




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A new series to catch you up on the top stories that occurred around the world last week.

Supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro clash with the police during a demonstration outside the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on Sunday.

Photo taken from: Evaristo Sa / Getty Images

Invasion of the Brazilian Congress

On January 8, 2022 thousands of far right insurrectionists stormed the Brazilian congress and supreme court in an event reminiscent of the January 6, 2021 capitol attack in the United States.

In addition to the similar time of year, the reason behind the insurrection in Brazil is eerily similar to the attack on the US capital in that supporters of the outgoing president claim the election was stolen. Rioters attempted to remove left-wing President Lula Da Silva from office. The insurrectionist made it into the inner sanctum of what should have been one of Brazil’s most secure locations, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Many have sinced questioned how such a politically sensitive building could have been left so exposed.

Like in the US, the warning signs were apparent for some time, with election deniers mobilizing on social media ahead of the attack and former President Bolsonaro claiming foul play. Celso Amorim, Brazil’s former defense minister, said he was struggling to fathom how security forces and intelligence agencies had failed to detect or stop the threat.

The mob ultimately failed to reach the offices of President Lula. Brazil’s former Minister of Justice and Public Security under Bolsonaro, Anderson Torres, was in charge of security in Brasilia during the invasion, and has been arrested on suspicion of “omission” and “connivance”. Former President Bolsonaro himself has been on vacation in Florida and has yet to return to Brazil or comment on the recent attack by his supporters.

Serbia and Kosovo tension

Last week NATO denied Serbia’s request for NATO troops to be deployed in the Balkans for the first time since the end of the Bosnian war in 1999. Serbia requested to deploy troops in Kosovo in response to clashes between Kosovo authorities and Serbs in Kosovo’s northern region.

Last month the Serbian army was put on high alert as tensions continued to increase between Serbs and Albanians. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state, nor do the ethnic Serbs who live there. Tensions have become particularly high over the past few months, with ethnic Serbs withdrawing all co-operation with Kosovo authorities and blocking crossing points between Serbia and Kosovo.

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have ebbed and flowed since Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo, which has an overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian majority, broke away from Serbia after a war in 1998-99.

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Tensions in Kosovo ran high after the shooting of two Serbs earlier in the month.

Photo taken from: Armend Nimani / AFP via Getty Images

(click or tap to enlargen)

After the most recent tensions that arose due to alleged reports of ethnic Serbs coming under attack NATO peacekeepers have faced calls from Belgrade to protect Serbs, as well as demands from Pristina to dismantle the barricades between the two countries. NATO has rejected these calls from either side thus far.

Climate Standoff at Lützerath, Germany

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The German village of Lützerath has been occupied by environmental activists to stop the expansion of a coal mine. Now police are trying to clear them out, but they resist.

Photo taken from: Life Gate

Germany suffering from an energy crisis as a result of the war in Ukraine has had to make consessions opposing its climate goals for 2030. The small town of Lützerath was mostly abandoned after 1000 police were involved in an eviction operation. The town has become a battle ground between activists and the government and a symbol in the fight against climate change. For the past two years activists have attempted to protect the village from being bulldozed to make way for the opencast lignite mine.

German police in riot gear have begun removing protestors from the village and property belonging to  RWE, the company which owns the village’s land and houses.The company has the backing of the provincial government. RWE has  said it’s necessary to mine the large lignite reserves under the town, to help address Germany and Europe’s  sky-rocketing energy prices amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. Still several hundred climate activists moved into the town of Luetzerath weeks ago to resist further mining and it is expected that thousands more will join the protests.

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