The Israel-Hamas War and Colombia’s Social Protests

The Israel-Hamas War and Colombia’s Social Protests
An anti-government protest in Bogota, Colombia, May 10, 2021 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).
This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which uses relevant WPR coverage to provide background and context to the week’s top stories. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. What matters in global affairs? It’s a question that, as the editor-in-chief of World Politics Review, I keep constantly in mind, because our job at WPR is to help our readers answer it, week in and week out. At times, the answer is right in front of us: the top story on newspaper front pages and news broadcasts around the world. At others, it lies in stories that aren’t necessarily dominating the news cycle, but nevertheless reflect deeper trends driving developments we feel our readers need to be aware of. This week is a good example of both kinds of stories. As the Israel-Hamas conflict dragged on into a second week, we continued to cover it from a variety of angles that complemented the ubiquitous breaking news coverage of the fighting and the tenuous cease-fire that took effect Friday.
  • In our Middle East Memo newsletter, Thanassis Cambanis looked at the proximate causes of the latest round of fighting in the broader context of a regional retreat for human rights.
  • In our China Note newsletter, Rachel Cheung explained how China was taking advantage of the Biden administration’s initial inaction on pressing for a cease-fire to seize the moral high ground in United Nations Security Council diplomacy.
  • In his weekly column, Howard French critically examined America’s historical record on the Israel-Palestine conflict and how it helps perpetuate the status quo.
  • And in her bi-weekly column, Charli Carpenter debunked some of the myths surrounding how the international laws of war apply to the violence committed by both sides.
At the same time, another story that has faded from the headlines continues to unfold, with major implications for a range of interlocking trends driving global developments: protests in Colombia that have now entered their fourth week.
  • Though protesters’ demands reflect local grievances in different parts of the country, they can be largely grouped into two main categories: economic and social inequality, and insecurity at the hands of armed groups but also Colombia’s security forces, whose heavy-handed response to the protests has caused dozens of deaths to date. Adam Isacson explained why security sector reform is long overdue in Colombia in September, when another wave of protests over police brutality broke out.
  • These two grievances were recurring themes in regional protest movements that preceded the pandemic—in Chile, for instance, as Nicolás Saldías explained in 2019. Those protests triggered November’s constitutional referendum, paving the way for this week’s election of a constituent assembly to draft the new charter. But they also featured prominently in protest movements in Algeria and Iraq before the pandemic as well as in the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. and around the world last summer.

This Week’s Highlights

In her Tuesday tech column this week, Emily Taylor took a look at the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the competing pressures felt by targeted entities and policymakers when it comes to improving cybersecurity for critical infrastructure. As Emily noted, any attempts to address these issues will “have major implications for the implementation of smart cities, which can bring substantial benefits to public safety, quality of life and the environment.”

But they do so through the introduction of sensors [that] are networked—and therefore vulnerable to hackers. So to prevent tomorrow’s smart cities from becoming no-go areas exposed to unchecked criminality, improvements to cyber resilience are essential. And in a briefing on Tuesday, Liam Taylor examined how the order that has long kept Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in power is “crumbling from below.” Museveni, who has ruled the country for 35 years, was just inaugurated for his sixth term after winning an “election” in January that was marred by fraud and widespread violence, which continues even now.

Sharpening class divisions, ethnic resentment and a gaping generational divide have found expression in the People Power movement of Robert Kyagulanyi, a pop star-turned-politician who is better known by his stage name of Bobi Wine. The regime has responded with brutal tactics, honed in war.

What’s on Tap

And coming up next week, we’ve got:
  • A briefing by Van Jackson on the Biden administration’s recently completed North Korea policy review.
  • Another briefing by Lindsay Cohn on extremism in the U.S. military.
  • An in-depth article by Arif Rafiq on the implications of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan for neighboring Pakistan.
  • And a second, bonus in-depth article by Jeremy Shapiro on how Washington can responsibly implement a U.S. foreign policy based on restraint.
See you next week! Judah Grunstein is the editor-in-chief of World Politics Review. His WPR column appears every other Wednesday. You can follow him on Twitter @Judah_Grunstein.

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