By Valida Azamatova
Thanksgiving Day has existed in the United States since the original Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving nearly 400 years ago. It’s a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes the famous big turkey you buy at your local Walmart, stuffing, potatoes and green been casserole. It’s a time when Americans can give thanks and reflect on those individuals, groups and institutions that they often neglect to remember. I am inviting you to read this essay, where I will reflect on countries that we don’t often talk about or that don’t have a chance to circulate longer in the media.
The first topic that we often see covered for only a limited time are the humanitarian needs in countries throughout the world. Several countries are on the top of the list: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. There have been observations of conflict and crises on the African continent that attract less attention than others. The people that are affected by this don’t have the opportunity to seek asylum in other countries or flee to Europe or the United States. Conflicts are worsening in these countries and the international community does not really notice it.
Another country that was observed last month was Brazil. This country held a very divisive election on October 7th 2018. Why was it important? It was big, attracting over 145 million eligible voters. The two leading men, Jair Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad came from polar opposite parties. Bolsonaro is a far-right lawmaker form the Social Liberal Party and Haddad is a left-winger. With the election being called corruptive and scandalous, it was hard to predict the winner. In the end, Bolsonaro was declared the winner with over 50% of the popular vote. Many Brazilians fear for the future of Brazil, thinking the new President will turn the country into another Venezuela.
Earlier this month, the United States imposed sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector. Iran is heavily dependent on its exports of oil, and these sanctions would hit their economy hard. President Trump pulled out of a multilateral agreement with Iran and lifted a wide range of sanctions in return. But now these sanctions are being re-imposed. The US wants to exclude and punish any company that trades with Iran. The European Union has made plans to implement a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is a payment strategy that will help companies avoid the US system. The SPV would complete transactions between Iran and the companies it is trading with by avoiding direct payments into Iran. But even with the implementation of a new mechanism, companies still fear of secondary sanctions imposed by the United States. Even though Iran’s economic development is not directly reliant on the US, the loss of trading partners over this could have a heavy impact.
In conclusion, the scale of each issue in these countries is different but the main goal of the Orientalist Express is to bring awareness to these topics and educate the readers. I think that this year, being surrounded by a turkey or ham, I will be grateful for the Orientalist Express for letting me build new friendships in the team and giving me the opportunity to speak to all our listeners about International Relations. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!