Do Brazilian Protests Signal A Latin American Spring?
A small protest in Tunisia set off a wave of uprising across the Middle East, but will the same occur in Latin America as a result of the protests in Brazil? Olivia Crellin agrees there are similarities between the problems in Brazil and other Latin American nations, but does not believe a trend will be forthcoming.
“A decade of natural resource-driven growth has reduced poverty and created a consumption-happy middle class from Tierra del Fuego to the Caribbean. It has also left much of the public frustrated with the persistence of corruption, moribund political parties, underfunded schools, and the unfulfilled promise of ending poverty,” she writes, adding that protests often occur quite frequently anyway.
For example, Peru experiences periodic road blockades and mine strikes throughout the year. One important difference between Peru and Brazil is that Peru’s government “has given the public fewer false expectations than that of Brazil.”
China’s Self-Interests Driving Talks With Taliban
Mostly under the radar of the international media, China has been increasing discussions with both the government of Hamad Karzai – and the Taliban – a move seen as aimed at protecting its economic and security interests, says Andrew Small in Foreign Policy.
Its primary security worry concerns China’s Uighur Muslim minority, a Turkic-speaking people living primarily in energy-rich Xinjiang, fled crackdowns by China and set up training camps in Afghanistan.
“Today, China’s priority remains ensuring that any territory under Taliban control won’t function as a base for Uighur militant groups. The small remaining band of Uighur fighters — perhaps as few as 40 men — are primarily located in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, in remote territory under the influence of a commander with ties to both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. China has been seeking assurances that the sheltering of Uighurs will not take place on a larger scale in Afghanistan itself. It also wants its multi-billion dollar investments in Afghanistan protected from Taliban attacks.”
Elections, Sanctions Unlikely To Stem Iran’s Nuclear Program
Sanctions are having some economic impact, but Iran has found alternate routes to funnel money from foreign banks. Many hailed the election of “moderate” Hassan Rohani as an opening to further talks on limiting the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program, but the reality is his position holds little tangible power. In the end, it would appear neither sanctions, nor elections are likely to deter Iran from its pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities.
“Yet the inconvenient truth is that while the talks seem destined to continue, Iran is close to what is known as ‘critical capability’—the point at which it could make a dash to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one or more bombs before the IAEA or Western intelligence agencies would even know it had done so. Despite the severe economic pain that the tightening of sanctions has inflicted on Iran’s people and their evident desire for change, Iran’s strategic calculus has not shifted,” contends an editorial in The Economist.