By Ryan Kelley
Oh, the joys of our college days! During these wondrous four years, (or sometimes five; maybe six if you love it that much; who’s judging?) we delve into any opportunity for fun, pursue our scholarly endeavors unto depth and work tirelessly to make our own distinctive marks on the brief time we will be spending here. In light of this organized chaos we call life, students far too often forget to keep an eye on what is going on in the world.
Current issues are the gears behind the global machine, and yet we tend to disregard this news in favor of more enticing, less taxing, means of mental stimulation. (Love & Hip-Hop and the Bachelorette, anyone)? However, look no further; UGA Elite is here to provide the masses with relevant world news—concise enough to read within your time constraints, but detailed enough to provide the vital information you need to know. And so it goes:
1. The Conflict in Gaza is Over (Huzzah!)—For Now.
The most recent escalation of violence and discord between the Palestinian military faction, Hamas, and the state of Israel came to head in June 2014 with an isolated incident: the abduction of three Israeli teens in the West Bank by two members of Hamas. In response, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a mission to locate the boys, eventually discovering their bodies.
After their burial, yet another rogue incident was carried out, this time amongst three Israeli citizens who went on to kidnap and murder a Palestinian youth in a plot of revenge. The kidnappings and eventual murders of these youths were lone incidences, yet they consequentially exacerbated tensions between Israel and Palestine, resulting in one of the bloodiest conflicts between the two nations in recent times.
An exchange of rocket fire ensued between Hamas and the IDF, however, with Israel’s funding and ballistic capabilities far outranking that of Hamas; the magnitude of losses were drastically disproportionate between the two belligerents. Toward the end conflict, much of Gaza has been obliterated, with cost estimates up to $7.8 billion to rebuild the decimated infrastructure, business and homes. Though thousands have been injured on both sides, more than 450,000 Palestinians have been displaced, with the death toll reaching over 2,100 people—70% of those deaths consisted of civilians. This is compared to the 66 IDF deaths and 8 Israeli civilian deaths.
Thankfully, after almost two months of carnage, a one month ceasefire was drafted by Egyptian mediators, agreed upon by both Hamas and Israel on August 26. Unsurprisingly, each side claimed victory. Now, the world can breathe a sigh of relief, as some form a stability has been reintroduced to the region.
Nevertheless, the peace agreement, though a success in its own right, is only set to last a month. Not only that, but Israel continues to occupy Palestinian terriroty. The definite future of relations between Israel and Palestine lies in a realm of unpredictability. The lines of allegiance have been drawn and morale is remains ambiguous. The only thing left for the world to do in the midst of heightened escalation is to anticipate an outcome characterized by its uncertainty.
2. The Islamic State’s Bold Declaration to the US
The jihadist organization commonly known as ISIL, more appropriately deemed the Islamic State, has made a rampage across Iraq and Syria, unsettling an already shaky stability in the region. The movement that established its roots during the US led Iraqi invasion, gained prominence during the ongoing civil war in Syria; More recently, it has existed as a splinter cell of Al-Qaida and served as a belligerent against the authoritarian Al-Assad regime in Syria. It has since gone on to form as a powerful entity on its own, hailing a primary goal to institute a caliphate across the Middle East. The Islamic State is notorious for its inhumane actions to solidify its power across conquered territories, engaging in the ethnic cleansing of cultural and religious minorities in Iraq, executing naysayers and dissenters, and indoctrinating citizens with the promise of looming consequence for those who oppose its views. Needless to say, The Islamic State rules with an iron fist and serves as a serious concern for the security and stability of not only the region, but the entire world.
In its most recent acts of terror, the Islamic State publicized the beheading of two American journalists (James Foley and Steven Sotloff) in a bold statement to denounce US presence in the region, vowing to continue its campaign to destroy American interests until Obama ceases the “killing of Muslims.” The Obama administration ensured the public that these brutal murders would not lead to the United States backing down in the fight against ISIL. In fact, Obama made a statement this week solidifying that stance. In an address to the American people on Wednesday, Obama stated that not only would the US deploy a limited number of troops to the region to train Iraqi forces, they would be conducting strategic strikes in both Syria and Iraq to quell the ISIL threat, also promising to arm and fund Syrian rebels in their stride to topple the standing Al-Assad regime.
It seems as though the Islamic State has accomplished its goal in waking the sleeping giant. Often criticized for his passive role (save for countless drone strikes conducted throughout the Middle East and Africa) Obama has decided to vehemently take a firm stance in order to suppress the ISIL threat. In the coming weeks, the global community will see just how effective the new campaign will be.
3. Are We Losing the Battle Against Ebola?
Well quite frankly, yes. The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has proven to be an epidemic much more difficult to combat than originally anticipated. Ebola was discovered in 1976, affecting Central Africa; nevertheless, the disease was eventually suppressed to manageability. However, the endemic reemerged with a vengeance, affecting a 2-year old boy in Guinea, extending and eventually killing his entire family. It went on to spread throughout several West African countries, with the highest death toll being in Liberia at over 1,200 deaths out of around 2,000 cases.
Current fatality estimates stand at approximately over 4,000 deaths. Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal have also been stricken with the virus, resulting in the closing of borders and the implementation of a state of emergency in many of the effected and surrounding countries.
The World Health Organization has listed the mortality rate between 60-65%, conveying that this is undoubtedly the deadliest Ebola Outbreak in the relatively brief the history of the disease. So, the burning question remains: why has Ebola been so hard to contain? The answer to the question is not so simple.
First off, in settings of crippling, overarching poverty where Ebola reigns on high, living conditions are poor—access to sanitation, clean water and medical facilities are a challenge to secure. This in itself creates a breeding ground for the disease to fester and transfer to individuals on an escalated scale. Limited resources and technology of existing medical facilities also hinder efforts to offer treatment to those inflicted with the virus.
Additionally, a lack of education among local communities regarding the source and implications of the deadly disease have made fighting this epidemic a desperately trying task. What’s more is that many are in complete denial, blaming healthcare professionals as the reason behind the virus; others have gone on to say that sorcery is the cause. Despite the bleak nature of the situation, there have been a glimpses of progress.
As of recent, four American victims infected with Ebola have been flown to the United States for care; every patient has had a relatively positive prognosis and two have been completely cured with the assistance of an experimental drug called, ZMapp. With that being said, their full recovery is most likely attributed to the high quality of healthcare.
Needless to say, the afflicted West African nations remain in a state of suffering and the only way to defeat this epidemic is to ensure cooperation between local populations and public health providers, increased funding to affected nations to provide a higher level of healthcare and education, and more importantly, improved governmental collaboration between surrounding West African countries. Only through solidarity and communication will the West African nations be able to emerge victorious in the midst of widespread misfortune.