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Why We Do This: A Tribute to All Ordinary Faces (Courtesy The Economist KAL)
Our team has been on the prowl throughout the weekend on the elections in France, the protests in Venezuela, the elections in Iran, the tragedy in Afghanistan along the continued challenges faced by Europe. It has been fascinating to be witness to it.
We begin with Europe. France is in the midst of the election season. As we went to press, France was in a period of "reflection" as the people of France went to the polls. Although the Terrorist attack in Paris cast a shadow, it will be Macron and Le Pen advancing to the second rounds. The people of the United Kingdom, though, are also going to the polls. The Prime Minister, Teresa May, called the elections to strengthen her hand and it appears that she has the upper hand as the UK Labor Party is struggling, The Scottish National Party is agitating for another independence vote and difficult negotiations with the European Union Looms.
As we have been assessing our World, we have been assessing the Middle East This week (or what we actually like to refer to--the Near East (as favored by the State Department here in the United States). The Palestinian hunger strikes are continuing as Israel contemplates moves to break them. As we noted earlier, the Elections in Iran have begun in earnest. The ruling factions have begun battling it all out. What our team found so interesting was how a special envoy of Vladimir Putin went to see the leading Conservative candidate, Ebrahim Raissi. What is critical to note that the alleged Russian Meddling has not been just in the US or Europe--but part of an apparent Worldwide effort by the Russians to assert what they view as their rightful place in the World. This is as they continue to deal with profound internal challenges in large measure due to the aftermath of the Oil Price Collapse. Ebrahim Raissi is being tipped as the leading conservative challenger even though the Mayor of Tehran has entered the race for the Third Time. What is quite interesting is how out of almost 1700 People who registered, only 6 people past the so-called "test" of the Guardian Council. The Mayor of Tehran gave a speech outlining his "objectives" for the campaign. It was full of unrealistic promises--in effect promising to outgrow China which is an absolute impossibility. This is as questions continue on his own conduct and apparent corruption as a result of his efforts running the Capital. The incumbent President, Hassan Rouhani, has his own profound challenges as the election season has begun. Our team looks forward to a weekly Notation throughout the 30-Day Election Cycle on Iran.
Beyond Iran, there is Afghanistan. The United States has approximately 9,000 Troops fighting in Afghanistan. The past two months has seen some brazen attacks by the Taliban--this is as Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State in the West), has continue to gain ground in Afghanistan. The latest brazen attack was in the North of Afghanistan as the Army's Main Base in the North of the country, Mazar-Sharif, was attacked that resulted in some 140 deaths. One ordinary Afghan said it best: If they can attack a heavily protected Army Base, they can one day attack the Presidential Palace. The attackers went in wearing Army Uniforms and used an Army Vehicle and attacked Soldiers as they were leaving Friday Prayers. From our assessment, the Afghan War is not going well at all as at least 9 cities continue to be under siege by the Taliban as the Government struggles to maintain a semblance of law and order. The US Commander who ordered the "Mother of All Bombs" to be deployed has asked for additional reinforcements. This is as the cost of the War was exemplified as President Trump awarded the Medal Of Honor to an Army Veteran who lost a leg last month fighting in Afghanistan.
As we have assessed Latin America, the protests in Venezuela have continued. The weekend saw protesters marching in silence to remember the fallen who had been killed as a result of the protests. Inflation is rampant, basic good are next to non-existent as the suffering of the people continues as Nicholas Maduro stubbornly holds on. The ordinary faces of Venezuela are stuck in limbo as the struggle for basic rights continues.
It is bound to be a very challenging week indeed......