The Week in Brief

Babylon Radio’s weekly column is here to provide you with a quick insight into some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The dawn of a new era is quickly approaching. Following eight years at the helm of the world’s most powerful nation-state, Barack Obama’s presidency is nearing its end. President Obama’s tenure has been riddled with many highs and lows, ranging from his failed attempts to close Guantanamo Bay, to the introduction of a national healthcare scheme dubbed ‘Obamacare’, as well as ongoing troubles surrounding race relations. Regardless of one’s view, Obama has presided over an important period in American history, and used his farewell speech in Chicago to outline some poignant moments during his presidency.

Europe experienced a less nostalgic week, as things took a frosty turn. Freezing temperatures were recorded throughout the continent, leading to several deaths, with people struggling to cope with the deluge of cold weather.

In Paris, diplomats from seventy states participated in an international conference aimed at reinvigorating peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Surprisingly, both the Palestinians and Israelis were not invited to partake in the proceedings, but were welcome to hear the conference’s conclusions.

Controversial leader Rodrigo Duterte continues to make headlines. Having previously claimed to have carried out extra-judicial killings during his time as mayor of Davao, Duterte warned that martial law maybe imposed across the Philippines. The latest declaration comes in response to the country’s ongoing fight against its endemic drug problem.

For Moroccans, donning the burka may be a thing of the past. Apparent security concerns have been credited for Morocco’s recent ban of the burka. The religious garb, which covers a woman’s entire body and face, is to be banned in the North African state. Local vendors will no longer be permitted to produce, import or sell this particular item of clothing.

As President-elect Donald Trump nears the White House, concerns around his impact on the environmental world remain unclear. What is clear, though, is that renewable energy will play an important role in the future. As such, the United Arab Emirates has pledged $163 billion to cleaner energy in the coming years.

The Long Goodbye: Obama Bids Farewell to the American People

Outgoing President Barack Obama went full circle in his final speech as America’s head of state. Obama picked Chicago, his hometown and the place “where it all started”, to deliver his farewell speech. In what remains an uncertain time in U.S politics, Obama took the opportunity to send a message of hope. Drawing on his famous campaign slogan “Yes we can”, Obama declared, “Yes we did”, and used the moment to recap on some noteworthy highlights during his presidency. Of the many memorable moments experienced under America’s first black president, Obama reminisced on economic upturns, the Iranian nuclear agreement and Osama Bin Laden’s long-awaited termination. Obama told the 18,000 people in attendance that democracy, climate change and a need to heal the wounds of a bruising election campaign were a priority for future generations.

Winter is Coming: Freezing Temperatures Devastate Europe

At least twenty deaths have been recorded across Europe as ice-cold temperatures have swept through the continent. Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Russia and the Czech Republic have all reported casualties due to the chilling weather. The fatal impact has been compounded by other consequences, with cancelled flights and migrant camps adversely affected by the troubling weather.

International Conference Aims to Reboot Middle East Peace Talks

Seventy states have congregated in Paris today in a bid to relaunch the seemingly endless talks between Israelis and Palestinians. The one-day summit has been organised to reinvigorate the stagnant peace process between the two rival sides. Calls for a two-state solution have underpinned the conference, yet both the Palestinians and Israelis were not asked to partake in the talks regarding their future. Israel has labelled the conference as a “rigged” affair, whilst the Palestinians welcomed the conference as a positive move. The summit ended on an unremarkable note, with the conference calling for neither side to take unilateral actions.

Philippines Contemplates Martial Law in its Fight Against Drugs

The cost of President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign has already cost the lives of 6,000 people. A combination of government actions and vigilante killings has occupied the crux of the state’s drive. Duterte’s divisive approach took on a new level of scrutiny this week, with martial law suggested as a possible measure in combatting the country’s ongoing problems.

Morocco Bans Religious Garb

Criminals’ use of the burka has led to the Moroccan government taking extreme measures. Such actions come as a response to the increased use of the burka by offenders to mask their identities. Businesses will now be banned from making, selling or importing the garment and have 48 hours to clear their stock. The policy has come in for severe criticism from religious leaders and human rights organisations within the country.

Renewable Energy Set to Fuel the Gulf

One of the world’s leading oil suppliers has committed $163 billion to renewable energy. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is hoping to realise half of its national energy needs from renewable sources by 2050. This represents a key shift in policy for a country that creates much of its wealth from oil production. In particular, the UAE will try to harness its potential for solar power in order to reach their stated goals.


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