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Global Pulse: Bhutan’s balancing act, German party wants to defeat nativism with humour

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Germany’s bid to defeat nativism with satire

The political party in Germany promising to stem the far-right in the election next month is a joke, literally. “Yes to politics, no to politics,” is the motto of the satirical party – Die PARTEI – which is seeking to halt the advances made by the nationalist, anti-immigrant party – Alternative for Germany – that needs just five percent of the vote to enter Parliament.

While the AfD campaign hinges on the claim that two years after the massive refugee influx in the country, Germany is in a state of crisis, Die PARTIE’s leading campaigner is busy mocking at this claim – through humour. “If you look at the numbers, it’s like you have 82 German baboons and then two other baboons come in. Those two would have to work really hard to Islamize German society,” Nico Semsrott says. He speaks of Stephen Colbert and John Oliver’s role as coping mechanisms for liberals in the US, and is seeking to do similar stuff in Germany.

 

Overreliance on Iran could land Syria into another war

Iran might just be the big winner as the war in Syria ebbs, and the consequences could be disastrous. Be it granting reconstruction contracts or supporting pro-government militias in the war-weary country, Iran’s presence looms over Syria and its future. And Bashar-al-Assad cannot ignore it.

Until 2010, Syria enjoyed a unique geopolitical flexibility in the region. That may well be gone now. While Assad has explicitly said that Syria will look more to the East than to the West in the future, experts are of the view that becoming a client of Tehran would be “a nightmare” for his country. Until now, Israel has lent tacit support to Syrian opposition groups, including jihadist ones, along the border only to stem Iranian proxies. But if Syria continues to gravitate towards Iran, Israel might feel compelled to respond. The result could even be an Israel-Syria (read Israel-Iran) war.

Bhutan’s balancing act

Speaking of overreliance, while Doklam is diffused, it may well propel Bhutan out of its overreliance on India.  “Voices in Bhutan advocating closer ties and more cooperation with China were becoming louder and gradually gaining momentum,” says a Himalayan analyst. Reason: China can give greater economic support to the landlocked kingdom.

According to some analysts, Bhutan’s relationship with India has been suffocating with India, and the tiny kingdom is bound to want more room for political manoeuvre in the future. “If India’s border closed tomorrow, we would run out of rice and a lot of other essentials in a few days. That is how vulnerable we are…Many Bhutanese resent this,” the executive director of the Journalist Association of Bhutan said.

 

The struggle for South Africa’s endangered languages

Three South African sisters – the youngest of them being 84-years old – are struggling to save the country’s first language. The task is particularly hard because they’re the only ones in the country, and well the world, to still fluently speak the language.

“We abandoned the N||uu language and learned to speak Afrikaans, although we are not white people – that has affected our identity,” says 84-year old Katrina Esau. Afrikaans, now one of the eleven official languages of the country, was brought by the Dutch settlers after arriving in South Africa in the 17th century. But N||uu isn’t the only South African which may soon be extinct. In the town of Springbok, Nama language is also at risk of disappearing, even as its speakers lobby the government to make it an official language. “If you don’t have language, you don’t have nothing…I want to speak Nama because that’s what and who I am,” says a community leader.

The method to the North Korean madness

While North Korea may be sidelined in the global discourse as the most isolated country in the world, it keeps getting the money. Despite the sanctions, Pyongyang’s economy is doing better than what it did a decade ago. To add to that, North Korea is amply aware of what the future may hold if it were to give up its nuclear programme. If Muammar al-Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein’s experiences are anything to go by, Kim would know that without the nuclear weapons, there’s nothing much left for him.

Far from the popular perception that North Korea is just an unpredictable country, with a man who has little consideration for the costs of nuclear destruction at its helm, this piece argues that Pyongyang’s military and nuclear programme is both methodical and strategic.

Compiled by Sanya Dhingra.

 

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