Last Week in Foreign Affairs (February 11 - February 17)
Indian Troops Clash with Pakistan-Based Militants in Kashmir
Just days after a car bomb set off by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad Islamist group killed 40 and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of a “crushing response”, Indian troops clashed with Jaish-e-Mohammad militants. Four Indians and two militants died in the firefight that took place in the Pulwama district of Indian-controlled Kashmir. India and Pakistan have historically disputed the boundaries of the Kashmir region since before the British withdrew from the region in 1947. In this most recent conflict, both countries have recalled their ambassadors, and tensions are further exacerbated by the fact that both states are nuclear powers. Pakistan has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and regional powers have vowed to help cool tensions to avoid any further escalation.
Snap Elections Called in Spain
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has dissolved the Spanish Parliament and called for snap elections to be held on April 28. The announcement comes on the heels of Sánchez’s failure to pass a 2019 budget through Parliament, which houses many members from his own Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. This failure is partially attributed to the re-emergence of right-wing nationalism in the country, especially by the Vox party based in the Andalucía region. Vox garnered attention through its platform promising to deport 52,000 illegal immigrants and calling for the U.K. to return Gibraltar to Spain. While the results of the April vote are far from certain, early polling suggests that the right has a chance to take the majority away from the leftist coalition currently in power. Vox, the first far-right party to sit in the National Parliament since the death of dictator Francisco Franco, is likely to be included in such a coalition government.
Australia’s Nauru Detention Center Releases Last Group of Minors
The last remaining group of minors still detained in a center on the island of Nauru have finally been relocated. Their release caps a years-long effort to free the youth from detainment on the island where many have spent a majority of their lives. These camps, funded by the Australian government, were implemented as an extension of the sweeping legislative changes in 2013 that altered the immigration landscape on the continent. The Parliament of Australia instituted strict immigration controls, especially on those seeking to enter from countries experiencing internal strife. These policies are perhaps most detrimental for those seeking asylum, who are held in indefinite detention and barred from settling in Australia even if their asylum application is found to be valid. Under an agreement between Australia and the United States made during the Obama administration, many of these children will be resettled in America, much to the chagrin of President Trump.
Nigeria Delays Elections
The Nigerian government has abruptly delayed by a week elections that were to take place over the weekend. Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the voting period due to concerns over unspecified threats to the country’s ability to conduct “fair and credible elections.” The delay came just five hours before polls were due to open in the West African nation, and the All Progressives Congress party and the People’s Democratic Party blamed each other for orchestrating the commission’s actions. This election cycle has been marred with violence and corruption charges, such as an ISIS-inspired attack just last week on a state governor’s motorcade. The decades of corruption and terrorism have sapped the democratic energy from one of the largest nations in Africa, so this election has been portrayed as a pivot point for the country.