From Boko Haram’s attack of a Nigerian military base to the surge of a rise of ‘Euroskpeticism’ in the European Union, here 10 events which have occurred this May that everyone should be aware of:
1. Boko Haram members attack a military base in Buni Yadi and kill 31 Nigerian security guards
A militant extremist Islamic group fighting violently for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has been known to cause great havoc in Nigeria and bordering states through bombings, assassinations, and recently abductions. On May 25, 2014, Boko Haram gunmen infiltrated the Buni Yadi military base in Nigerian and literally opened fire. Witnesses stated that these gunmen arrived brusquely and stated randomly shooting into the air, including blasting rocket propelled grenades at the base. Boko Haram has recently been publicized for the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in mid-April.
2. U.S. President Obama announces that the gradual ‘Afghan pullout’ will be completed by the end of 2016 – not 2014 anymore
This Tuesday, May 27, Obama issued a public statement asserting that it was “time to turn the page a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq” and announced that the remaining troops stationed in Afghanistan would be gradually withdrawn from the area by the end of 2016. Originally, all troops were due to be removed from Afghanistan from the end of this year 2014 according to his earlier statement in 2011. Obama and the White House have recently changed that plan and decided to leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan to this date.
3. Modi and the BJP came out victorious in India
On May 16th 2014, Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide victory in India’s general election. After running in nine phases from April 7th to May 12th – the longest election in Indian history – the National Democratic Alliance won 336 seats, and the party itself had secured 282. With 543 seats in the Lok Sabha (or House of the People which is the lower house of India’s Parliament), and 272 needed by a single party to obtain a majority, this was a major victory for Narendara Modi and the BJP. For this election, the average turnout rate was 68.38% which is the highest ever in Indian general elections.
4. Coup d’état strikes Thailand
On May 22nd, General Prayuth Chan-ocha led the Royal Thai Armed Forces to launch a coup d’état against the ‘Yingluck cabinet’ – the somewhat transitional government of Thailand. This occurred after about half of a year of consistent political crisis in Thailand. Protests followed this coup but the military managed to shut them down – albeit numerous deaths – and inform Thai citizens that the protests were unnecessary. The military instituted a “junta” which they named The National Council for Peace and Order to oversee the state. General Prayuth saw this coup as necessary as he felt it would restore stability in and the integrity of Thailand. While in power, he and his army have, among other authoritarian-like acts, disbanded the Senate, arrested multiple protesters and dissidents, silenced the press, and enforced a curfew. The rest of the world sits watching, asking “What will become of Thailand?”
5. Sentenced to Death over Christian faith
Meriam Ibrahim of the Republic of Sudan was sentenced to death on Thursday, May 15th after refusing to give up her Christian faith and ‘repent’. Born from a Muslim father and an Orthodox Christian mother, Meriam grew up as a Christian after her father left her alone with her mother. In an interview, she stated: “I was never a Muslim. I was raised a Christian from the start.” After marrying a Christian man, she assumed that she held on even tighter to the Christian faith. Yet in lieu of Sudan’s sharia laws, this was considered heinous. She was arrested and convicted of “apostasy” in Khartoum, and given four days to give up the faith to evade the death penalty. After making it clear she would not do such a thing, she was given the death sentence which would be applied after her grace period (when she was arrested, she was 8 months pregnant). The international community quickly responded with disgust towards Sudan and sympathy for Meriam – even starting the “#SaveMeriam” trend on Twitter. Having now given birth to her child, Amnesty International and even the United States government, among others, are trying to raise awareness in support of Meriam and hopefully influence the Khartoum court to reconsider its verdict.
6. The Pope visits the Holy Land
From May 24 to May 26, Pope Francis took an unscheduled pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During this pilgrimage, he visited major religious sites in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, reaching and praying at the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem: the Western Wall of the Jordan River. He greeted and kissed the hands of many Holocaust survivors at a memorial in Jerusalem as well. He also met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Mohammed Husseni. Through this pilgrimage, he not only brought together the world’s Christians, but also either willingly or unwillingly sponsored more ‘amiability’ between Christians and Muslims when he was in Israel by preaching: ”May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters! May we learn to understand the sufferings of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence!”
7. Sisi wins the presidency in Egypt
Ex-Egyptian military general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won a wide victory in the 2014 Egyptian presidential election. Winning with over 90 percent of the votes cast, he defeated his opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi. Yet although Sisi did win such a large percentage of votes, the actual voter turnout was extraordinarily low. This could be due to ‘political apathy’ and the fact that most Egyptians aren’t content with yet another military personnel becoming president. Sisi also has to look towards repairing a broken economy and trying to mitigate tensions with Islamist groups and the youth.
8. ECLAC reveals a new record in FDI in Latin America and the Carribean
Disclosed at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the new report “Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2013” exposed that foreign direct investment in the regions had risen by 5% to a new high of $184.92 billion in 2013. The report also showed that with the exception of 2006 and 2009, FDI had steadily increased in the regions each year since 2003. ECLAC stated: “This growth has been sustained by an increase in domestic demand and high prices for commodities exports.” However, it also predicted that FDI will diminish this year due to hindered economic growth in the past two years and a decrease in the prices of commodities such as metal.
9. Maya Angelou dies at age 86
Author, poet, civil rights activist, and renowned public figure, Dr. Maya Angelou has recently passed away. Stemming from abuse, rape, and prejudice as a child and young adult, she rose to become a change-engendering, award-winning, and action-inspiring author and poet. Through works such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and speeches and even lessons, she defined what inner fortitude truly meant and proved to be the epitome of resilience – being a living proof of what can happen if you “never give up.”
10. The European Union gets more ‘Euroskeptic’
In the recent election, anti-EU countries such as Germany, France, and the UK have increased their presence in the European Parliament. Although the ‘mainstream’ parties still hold the most seats, far right ‘Euroskeptics’ have made remarkable gains. Even though the ‘Euroskeptics’ don’t hold anywhere close to the majority of the seats in the European Parliament, their increased presence can be seen as a threat to the integrity and ‘union’ of the EU. Anti-EU countries have issues with certain policies of the Union such as pushing for the adoption of the Euro by all its members and the immigration policy sponsoring the free movement of European Union citizens and non-EU citizens throughout all member states.
Was a major event in par with those listed above neglected? If so, comment below!