Saturday 1 October 2016

In the world of international politics, my enemy's enemy can always be my friend

Last week, Trump, Isil and even Kim Jong Un managed to unite those who oppose them

Rachel Lavin

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

Hillary Clinton looks set to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for the White House Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Hillary Clinton looks set to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for the White House Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Following Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is back on course for the White House.

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Her candidacy was under threat for a while as Bernie Sanders had surprised everyone by pipping her to the post in the first few caucuses. But after winning seven out of the 11 states on Super Tuesday, the former Secretary of State is well on her way to getting the Democratic nomination.

It is perhaps for the best. America wasn't ready for Sanders's socialism, but it was also averse to the 'Clinton coronation', as the Wall Street Journal called it.

However, with Trump now threatening to win the presidential race after topping the Republican polls on Super Tuesday too, his candidacy will only propel Clinton's campaign.

Anti-Trump Republicans need a moderate Democrat to whom they can give a protest vote. For Clinton-sceptic Democrats, the threat of Trump provides them with a shared cause they can get behind.

Alternatively, if Sanders were to win the Democrat nomination, former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has hinted that he will run as an independent, so splitting the Democratic vote between more moderate and far-left voters.

And if Trump by some intervention didn't win the Republican nomination, he has also signalled that he would run solo, so splitting the Republican vote. In a divisive three- or four-way presidential race, it is Trump who has the most obvious mass following on his side.

It seems that America is gradually realising that, despite qualms about a second Clinton presidency, it is only Hillary who can stop Trump now.

While the prospect of Republicans and Democrats uniting to defeat Trump may seem incredible, elsewhere last week, bigger divides were bridged.

On Friday, Putin reaffirmed to European leaders that he is committed to continue using his influence in Syria to uphold the existing truce.

The determination of those involved is only further ingrained in light of the common enemy: Isil.

"I would like to stress one more time that the commitment to hold the ceasefire was confirmed as a key message by the Russian president: only attacks on Daesh (Isil) and al-Nusra Front," Angela Merkel told a news conference alongside Francois Hollande.

The 'cessation of hostilities', which officially began last weekend, has got off to a shaky start, with opposition co-ordinator Riad Hijab reporting that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Russia and their allies had carried out 90 air strikes in the country since the ceasefire was declared.

Meanwhile, Russia reportedly registered 14 ceasefire violations in Syria over the course of 24 hours and claimed that there had been shelling of residential areas and Syrian government forces.

But despite clashes in some cities and areas, the UN confirmed on Thursday that there had been "visible progress".

Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, claimed that violence in Syria has been "greatly reduced", adding: "In general, the cessation has been holding."

While conflict still grips large parts of Syria, Iraq and increasingly Libya, there is another threat on the horizon.

The US embassy has warned that the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq is in very real danger of collapse, unleashing a tsunami that would threaten the lives of up to 1.5 million people.

A further six million could be affected by the flow, which could spread 650km downriver, even washing up in Baghdad and taking out homes, agriculture, power stations and state infrastructure on its way.

The chance of such devastation happening might seem far-fetched but already the US embassy has warned US citizens to leave the Tigris flood plain.

Elsewhere, Europe saw chaotic scenes as tensions at restricted borders rose, with the UNHCR claiming that the EU was on the cusp of a "largely self-induced humanitarian disaster".

Refugees are increasingly turning to self-harm, both as a form of protest and an expression of despair. A woman tried to set herself on fire at the border of Macedonia and Greece as a bottleneck of over 10,000 refugees waited at the border.

Refugees waiting in Calais to get to the UK were removed by French police in chaotic scenes as shelters were set on fire, with many migrants resisting. A woman tried to slit her wrists when approached by police and a group of men sewed their lips together in protest.

The sad irony here is that while refugees torture themselves to get to the UK in the belief there is more of a generous welcome to migrants there, Britain has now reaffirmed that it is considering leaving the EU for the opposite reason, with limiting immigration a key issue in the debate.

In a further irony, however, on Wednesday France warned that if the UK leaves the EU it may end UK border controls, allowing migrants to cross the Channel freely.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the UN adopted harsh sanctions on North Korea after its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Just hours later, multiple short-range rockets were fired into the sea and on Friday Kim Jong Un placed his military on standby for nuclear strikes.

The chances of North Korea having effective nuclear weapons, let alone being able to launch them to any desirable target, are slim. However, when it comes to the manic leader of North Korea, even his tantrums are dangerous.

In some good news, despite some doom-mongers' most apocalyptic predictions, scientists have assured us that an asteroid heading toward the earth next week will 'whistle' past us. The 100ft wide Asteroid 2013 TX68 could pass within 15,000 miles of the earth and at most will provide some exciting telescopic viewing.

Sunday Independent

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