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Global pulse: Trump fails Syria as Assad continues to bomb his own people

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As president Bashar al-Assad attacks his own people with chemical weapons, it is a failure of Trump’s policy towards Syria. Brazil’s former president Lula is in jail but continues to determine the course of politics. Victor Orban wins the election in Hungary, using a campaign marked by xenophobia.

The failure of Trump’s policy towards Syria

Bashar al-Assad reportedly attacked his own people in the suburb of Douma with chemical weapons Sunday.

“Having seen that the United States would not react to his repeated violations of international laws, Assad has intensified his use of weapons of mass destruction,” writes Max Boot in The Washington Post.

The praise for Trump’s initial action in Syria, like the 2017 strike at a Syrian airbase, now seems to be baseless.

“I, too, supported the strike, but I doubted it would amount to much…What is required is a comprehensive diplomatic-military plan to end a six-year civil war that has inflicted so much human suffering and empowered so many extremist groups.'”

“Needless to say, no such plan was ever forthcoming from the Trump administration.”

Further, Trump withdrawing support to rebel groups who fight Assad and possibly setting a deadline to get out of Syria is set to have serious consequences.

“A premature departure will risk the success of the anti-Islamic State campaign and hand eastern Syria to Assad and his patrons.Trump’s is the second presidency in a row that has made a hash of policy toward Syria, allowing the country to become, in retired Gen. David Petraeus’s words, a ‘geopolitical Chernobyl’ spewing refugees and terrorists across the world.”

Former president of Brazil goes to jail

“It was a moment many Brazilians thought they would never see. On April 7th, after spending three days among his supporters in the headquarters of the metalworkers’ union in São Bernardo do Campo, a suburb of São Paulo…Brazil’s former president handed himself over to the federal police. He will now begin a 12-year prison sentence for corruption and money laundering,” writes The Economist.

Lula was found guilty of accepting an apartment in exchange for helping a construction company get contracts from the government.

“As news helicopters thundered overhead, thousands of activists from Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) converged on the union headquarters. Mr Moro’s deadline came and went, while Lula negotiated the terms of his surrender with the police. He let the suspense build. On the morning of April 7th he heard a mass in memory of his late wife. He then addressed supporters, reasserting his innocence and accusing his enemies of fabricating the charges to foil his presidential bid. In the evening he left the building on foot, making his way through crowds of supporters to surrender to police.”

With Lula going to jail, he cannot contest the presidential elections to be held in October this year. His imprisonment, however, will determine the course of these elections.

“Lula divides public opinion like no other Brazilian politician. Despite his conviction, 37% of Brazilians say they would vote for him in October’s election, making him the most popular candidate by far. Millions of Brazilians escaped poverty during his presidency, from 2003 to 2010.”

“His imprisonment makes the election campaign less predictable.” While Lula’s endorsement of candidates from other left parties can change their prospects for the good, it has come as “blow for Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing demagogue who portrays himself as the antithesis of Lula.”

“Although many Brazilians will see the election as a referendum on Lula’s conviction and incarceration, the issues at stake go beyond that. Voters have an opportunity to elect a new generation of politicians to congress and state legislatures who reject the corrupt practices of today’s lawmakers.”

Viktor Orban becomes PM of Hungary, once again

“Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, who has set about transforming this former Soviet bloc member from a vibrant democracy into a semi-autocratic state under one political party’s control, appeared to have won a sweeping victory in national elections on Sunday, with 93 percent of the vote counted,” writes Marc Santora in The New York Times. 

Winning the election by a significant majority, Orban now has the capacity to change the constitution.

“Gabor Vona, the leader of Jobbik, the largest opposition party, conceded defeat while lamenting the tenor of the election, which he called ‘the hate campaign.’”

“The results were not unexpected, given the divisions of the opposition and the uneven playing field on which they were forced to compete. But they still alarmed Western officials who view Mr. Orban’s style of government as a threat to values such as the rule of law and a free press.”

Orban’s win is going set an example for neighbouring European countries such as Poland. He himself spoke highly of autocratic governments in countries like Russia and Turkey.

“Mr. Orban built his campaign on castigating Western nations as a hostile, multicultural force, where Muslim immigrants ran wild and where traditional family values were under constant assault.”

Orban channelised nationalistic sentiments and often relied on xenophobia to make his case.

“Immigration was a major focus of the election, and throughout the day, state television replayed some of the most dramatic images from 2015, when the crisis of refugees and immigrants flooding into Europe from the Middle East and Africa was at its peak.”

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