Illustration by Ben Beechener
Welcome to The Oxford Blue’s new regular publication The World Beyond OX1. Each week your Global Affairs team will bring you five key stories of note from around the world. They are short and snappy summaries of what are inevitably nuanced and complex events and we hope you use them as a springboard to explore global current affairs in more depth.
Tsunami hits Tonga after an underwater volcanic eruption
At 4:10am GMT on Friday 14th January, the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted, causing a 1.2m high tsunami to hit Tonga. Communication across the South Pacific country has been down since the event, meaning there have been no immediate casualty reports. Nonetheless, multiple mobile phone videos show large waves hitting Tonga’s shores and swirling around urban infrastructures. Whilst Tonga was the first country to be hit, authorities in Figi and Samoa have also issued Tsunami warnings to their people, urging them to stay away from the coast and to move to higher ground. New Zealand’s emergency management agency also expects strong and unusual currents on the shores of the country’s northern and eastern coasts.
China and Iran begin the implementation of a 25-year cooperation agreement
Hossein Amirabdollahian, the Iranian foreign minister announced late on Friday 14th January that the cooperation agreement signed last year between China and Iran has entered its implementation stage. The agreement includes plans to strengthen both countries’ economic, military and security cooperation over the coming 25 years. The agreement demonstrates China’s opposition to sanctions placed on Iran by the United States, challenging the US’s attitude towards Teheran.
European Elections: A comeback for Berlusconi, or a breakthrough for Taubira?
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former premier, has been backed by Italy’s right-wing parties for the upcoming Italian presidential election. Convicted for tax fraud and famous for his ‘Bunga Bunga sex parties, he is considered a surprising choice. Whilst he has the support from the centre-right bloc, he is facing opposition from Italy’s Democratic Party and the populist 5-Star Movement, the most prominent party in parliament.
In France, Christiane Taubira confirmed her candidacy to run for presidency in the 2022 French presidential election. Former Minister of Justice under François Hollande, she is an important figure in French politics. As a high-profile left-winger, she is known for the determination with which she advocated for same-sex marriage. Her candidacy adds to the already long list of left-wing presidential candidates, which now includes seven contenders.
Kazakhstan protests end
On Tuesday 11th January, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared that protests in Kazakhstan have ended. Beginning on 2nd January, protests were triggered by the removal of a state-enforced price cap on liquefied gas, beginning, before morphing into protests against corruption, inequality and poverty. During the protests, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, comprised of six former Soviet states, were called upon by Tokayev to restore order. They began their departure on Thursday 13th January. The protests led to deadly violence, with the current official death toll standing at 225, after Tokayev ordered security forces to ‘shoot to kill’ without warning. Caps on the price of vehicle fuel have been restored for six months and Tokayev has succeeded the previous Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev as chair of the national security council.
Cuban protesters handed harsh sentences
This week saw over 60 protesters in Cuba put on trial on charges including ‘contempt’ and sedition. The protesters were among hundreds of individuals arrested and detained during last year’s anti-government protests, many of whom were protesting peacefully. The protests took place in July 2021 in response to food and medicine shortages in the country, which has been subject to a U.S. trade embargo since 1962. Decades-long sentences have been handed down to those put on trial, including sentences of 20 and 30 years.