First impacts of Trump’s immigration ban

President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban more than 218 million people from entering the United States and to negate access to international refugees is having tremendous repercussion worldwide since its implementation last Saturday.

While American and foreign countries’ law enforcement services were trying to understand Trump’s new order, confusion and uncertainty immediately spread through most of US airports. Moreover, demonstrators gathered during the weekend in diverse cities throughout the whole county, such as Washington, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Additonally, President Trump has fired his acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, after she refused to defend his executive order. He has now replaced the nation’s top law enforcement officer with Dana J. Boente, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

This new policy denies access to the United States to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries for the following 90 days and rejects the entrance of all refugees for 120 days. President Trump has affirmed that his government was “totally prepared” for the ban and that it is “working out very nicely”.

Greece’s debt crisis may resurface in the following weeks

Greek debt crisis may reappear with revived force unless the government, headed by its Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, achieves an agreement with EU creditors in the next three weeks.

While the ruling two-party coalition celebrates two years in office, the prime minister faces the dilemma of implementing further austerity mechanisms or calling new elections in the country, since the application of severe cuts on social spending has dramatically decreased government’s support.

Moreover, further uncertainty has spread in Greece as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that national debt load could emerge as “explosive” by the year 2030. The IMF has concluded that additional pension cuts and tax increases will be fundamentally needed to achieve a primary budget surplus.

All in all, the country’s economic future appears to be tragic. It definitely seems that even if reforms are truly implemented and followed, Greek debt load will pose a serious problem for the following decades.

Israel authorizes a new wave of settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territories

Israel has announced a wide building program of 2,500 more Jewish settlement homes in the occupied West Bank. This statement is one of the most extensive plans in years and shows a broad refusal to the last United Nations Security Council resolution, in which settlement building was defined as a violation of international law and thus a critical barrier to peace.

Nowadays up to 400,000 settlers live in the West Bank and more than 200,000 in East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. The decision is most likely to increment tensions and uncertainty among Palestinians and Middle Eastern countries.

Palestinian officials have immediately condemned the new building program. They strongly believe that the decision will impede any effort to establish security and stability, and therefore, possibilities to start a peace process will be impossible to achieve.

The new US government, although it has generally been rapid to condemn settlement announcements, remains now quiet while most of European countries are denouncing Israeli plans.

Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States

Last Friday, Donald J. Trump swore in as the new president of the United States of America with a 16-minute inaugural speech in which he affirmed the country was now entering a new different era. He promised he would break up with the established order and stop national decline.

Trump presented himself as the leader who will return United States’ lost greatness. “We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.”

He stated that the inauguration was much more than the transfer of power from one president to another: “We are giving (the power) back to you, the people.” Donald Trump has assumed the presidency of a polarized country in which he enjoys less support in polls than any other president in recent history.

During the weekend, peaceful protests against the new president took place throughout the whole country. Additionally, violent riots broke out and police officers responded with tear gas in Washington, D.C. In all, more than 200 people were arrested.

10,000 people have been killed since the beginning of Yemen’s war

According to the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs office, at least 10,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the war in Yemen in March 2015. The figure shows an urgent need to negotiate solutions from both sides in order to end almost two years of sharp conflict.

Yemen is already the poorest country in the Arab world. UN officials consider that almost 80% of the population, around 19 million people, are in need of humanitarian aid. Furthermore, another 3 million have been displaced.

However, the devastation of Yemen has been widely ignored by the international community, and thus the United Nations urges states to focus on the “huge humanitarian cost” of the war in this country.

A historic effort to put an end to the division of Cyprus

During the following weeks Greek and Turkish community leaders will carry on negotiations on reunification talks with the object of arranging the first multilateral conference since the partition of Cyprus 43 years ago. These talks are seen as a determining event in the laborious process of resolving such a diplomatic puzzle.

Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akıncı will try to outline the essential features for a possible peace deal after more than 18 months of intense negotiations to settle inter-ethnic divisions. So far, issues of governance, political power-sharing, the economy and the European Union have also been discussed. Nevertheless, security will be the last point to be argued.

The commitment to a settlement from both leaders has helped to increase hopes. At a time where uncertainty is ruling in Europe, there is a belief that a peace agreement would bring stability to the region. Additionally, Antónito Guterres, the new United Nations Secretary General, called it a “historic opportunity”.

Barack Obama says goodbye to the presidency of the United States

On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his farewell address in the city of Chicago. In the speech, marked by emotional and nostalgic moments, Obama expressed his confidence in America for the new period the nation will face with the presidency of Donald Trump, and repeated his support to his successor. However, he also questioned some of Trump’s positions defended during the campaign, from climate change to voiding Barack Obama’s health care law.

The 44th President of the United States pointed out that that economic inequality, racism and closed-mindedness will endanger the nation’s democratic unity. He underlined that “America is not a fragile thing,” but when there are just 10 days left for Donald Trump to occupy the office, we could not but perceive his uncertainty over the path the nation is going to take from now on.

Polish political crisis grows

After allegations of government attack on freedom of press, the current Polish political crisis has worsened over the last few days, with diverse protests both in and outside the nation’s Parliament. Hundreds of furious anti-government demonstrators besieged the building, preventing politicians from the ruling Polish party, called Law and Justice, from leaving,

The turning point of the instability has definitely been the last government plan to limit media access to the Polish Parliament. Since the country returned to democracy almost 27 years ago, journalists have enjoyed unrestricted access, being free to follow every issue addressed in the Parliament and ask politicians any question.

This access has been regarded as a basic example of Polish democracy. However, the current government believes it is an unwanted privilege that the press has abused. Consequently, the government proposed cutting down the number of journalists with parliamentary accreditation, which has resulted in a sharp national crisis whose termination does not seem to be about to happen.

In fact, protesters hope to take to the streets again in order to keep pressuring the government as much as possible, while allegations of attemped coups d’état and threats to democracy increase.

Evacuation from Eastern Aleppo now under delay

The evacuation of civilians and medical staff members from the besieged neighborhoods of the Syrian city of Aleppo has been delayed due to the last airstrikes. Thousands had been expecting to leave after a deal announced at the United Nations.

As reported in the agreement announced last Tuesday by Turkey, Russia and Syrian rebels, the last remaining fighters had to evacuate to rebel-held territory, and civilians had the chance to join them or to move to government-held areas. This meant the whole city of Aleppo would be now in the hands of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The evacuation plan has been arranged after two weeks of quick advances by the Syrian Army and its allies, who drove insurgents into an increasingly tinier part of eastern Aleppo with the help of heavy airstrikes.

However, due to the last shelling, buses that were supposed to evacuate some of the last civilians and activists left the city empty after waiting for several hours. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed the rebels for blocking the evacuation, affirming that they had “resumed the hostilities” at dawn.

All in all, there was no international monitoring and thus troubles while implementing the deal were not precisely surprising. United Nations officials stated the Syrian government had refused their reiterated demands to observe the process and demonstrated the lack of effective mechanisms to enforce the agreement.

António Guterres swears in as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations

The former Portuguese prime minister will replace Ban Ki-moon on the first of January and become the ninth United Nations Secretary-General. He will place development at the center of the organization’s work and hopes to be the leader of the changes the UN needs.

Guterres, a former Socialist prime minister of Portugal and the head of the United Nations refugee agency for 10 years, focused his speech mainly on the importance of preventing conflict. He also said he would make the United Nations more “nimble” and “efficient” and promised a deep management reform for the following years.

Most UN diplomats affirm Guterres’ greatest challenge will certainly be dealing with the Trump administration. In his speech on Monday he indicated he would be “gentle”, at least for now.

The truth is that he is now under pressure to recruit women to his administration. Many diplomats had been campaigning for a woman to lead the international organization for the first time in 70 years, and Mr. Guterres has assured gender parity in his leadership.

Moreover, the General Assembly made an emotive tribute to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who leaves the office at the end of December after leading the United Nations for the past 10 years.