EU a Vacation Home for Britain? While the global tensions were freezing down after World War II into a Cold War, European nations, in 1957, formed the European Economic Community (EEC), which the United Kingdom was not a part of. In 1963, UK showed hints of joining the EEC. However, then President of France, Charles de Gaulle was skeptical about the British tilting towards the Americans even after EEC membership.
UK joined EEC in 1973 and soon after, in 1975, it was on the brink of exiting. It was saved by a referendum, a first during the period of Britain’s stay in the EEC. The politically Eurosceptic Labour Party lost its limb and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was formed.
The rollercoaster went downhill again in 1984 when Conservative Party PM Margaret Thatcher took a tough stance towards the payment of Farm Subsidies to the EEC at a time when UK was the third poorest country amongst EU nations. The Iron Lady’s strong opinion was heeded then and is in place to date. This event is seen to have given UK a more vocal position in the EEC.
European Union was founded in 1992 through the signing of the Maastricht Treaty by EEC member nations. Britain’s bumpy ride with the EU started on various different terms post-1992.
21st Century Britain’s Outlook on EU Once all-pervasive and powerful, the British were slowly losing ground in the EU. Due to the horror of the ‘Mad Cow‘ disease, British Beef was banned by EU nations during the late ’90s. At the beginning of the 21st Century, British-made chocolates, that contained vegetable-oil, sparked a controversy. And with the addition of 8 new members in the EU in 2004, Britain was apprehensive about the flocking economic migrants.
While the 2008 Global Financial Crisis was settling, David Cameron, PM of UK, in a very bold move rejected an EU treaty in 2011 on the grounds that it did not protect the financial sector of Britain. EU members were enraged with Britain’s decision and mulled over Britain’s stay in the EU.
Cameron fought elections with the agenda of renegotiating the UK-EU terms. Cameron won the election and decided to hold a referendum on whether Britain will remain in the EU on June 23, 2016.
I don’t just want a better deal for Britain. I want a better deal for Europe too. It will be an in-out referendum. It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics. I say to the British people: this will be your decision.
– David Cameron in his 2013 Bloomberg Speech
Post Referendum Snapshot 2016 Referendum resulted in 51.9% voters voting to ‘Leave‘ EU. Pro-Euro Cameron resigned and Theresa May held office. On March 29, 2017, May revoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Revoking the Article is the first step if a country voluntarily wants to leave the EU. May also stated that UK would not be a part of the EU Customs Union and the Single Market, and that European Court of Justice (ECJ) would not have jurisdiction over UK. The Brexit date was formalized to be 29 March 2019 even if Britain had a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ with the EU. It must be noted that Northern Ireland and Scotland voted against Brexit.
One of the issues that hindered the problem was UK’s demand to build a hard border between Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK. Interestingly, Northern Ireland, which voted against Brexit, will continue to follow EU norms. Whereas Scotland is mulling over an independence referendum.
Britan’s Exit Deal negotiation stretched for two years. In 2018, the EU rejected the UK-prepared revised Exit proposal that outlined UK – EU ties post-Brexit. EU and UK were to decide upon the divorce on fronts of legality, politics, economic policies, trade & commerce, migration laws, aerospace laws, etc.
May’s Brexit Proposal got rejected three times in the UK House of Commons. Brexit Date got extended from March 29, 2019, to 30 June 2019 to 31 October 2019. In the compelling European Parliament Elections of May 2019, the pro-Brexit Party won. Thersa May resigned and Boris Johnson was asked by the Queen to form the government.
On 17 October 2019, EU and UK agreed on the revised Exit proposal. Extending the Brexit Date for the third time, EU deferred it to 31 January 2020. Boris Johnson, PM of UK, presented EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill which passed in the House of Commons and later in Parliament, once MPs were assured that a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ is off the table. It received Royal Assent on 23 January 2020.
What Next for Britain? The Act is up for a vote in the European Parliament on 29 January 2020. With the Brexit date on 31 January 2020, the UK must get the Act passed in the European Parliament or either get an extension or settle for a ‘no-deal Brexit‘ – a scenario in which Britain exits EU without withdrawal agreement.
If the Act passes, the UK will undergo an 11-month transition period. During that period, UK and EU will negotiate the terms and conditions on trade, aviation, water treaties, law, data security and sharing, utility supplies, pharma treaties, etc. ECJ will hold jurisdiction over UK and almost all the rules including movement in UK by citizens of EU members, and of Britons in EU will remain the same.
Maastricht Treaty – The treaty founded the European Union and established its pillar structure which stayed in place until the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009. The treaty also greatly expanded the competences of the EEC/EU and led to the creation of the single European currency, the euro. More Info
Mad Cow – In the United Kingdom, from 1986 to 2015, more than 184,000 cattle were diagnosed with the peak of new cases occurring in 1993. It is believed that a few million cattle with the condition likely entered the food supply during the outbreak. More Info
The Irish backstop is a defunct appendix to a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement developed by the May government and the European Commission in December 2017 and finalised in November 2018, that aimed to prevent an evident border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. The backstop would have required keeping Northern Ireland in some aspects of the Single Market, until an alternative arrangement were agreed between the EU and the UK. More Info
Diplomats from 15 countries visited the Valley to monitor the current situation closely. The fact-finding mission is the first one since the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. India wants the International community to be assured of the normalcy in the region.
Several politicians were detained as part of preventive measures and none other than Indian politicians were allowed to visit J&K.
In October, EU Parliament members visited the Valley but this is for the first time Delhi invited foreign diplomats to visit India controlled J&K to have a ground report of Kashmir’s situation.
Envoys consisted of members from US, Vietnam, South Korea, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Peru.
Aim of the visit is to interact with civil society leaders, have a briefing on security parameters, and talk with Army and Intelligence Services.
EU envoy visit is postponed but it will be important as it has put forth a demand to give them a free hand which may also include meeting detained political figures like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti.
The reviews of envoys at the International level will be of greater importance for India because of the constant portrayal of a tense situation in Kashmir at the international front.
The government has started postpaid telephone services and SMS services to bring back normalcy in the region.
Indian government has denied this visit to be a planned one.
Jammu and Kashmir (Union Territory) – J&K has been a subject of dispute between India and Pakistan. Moreover constant terrorist infiltration in India has caused great distress in this region. But after the abrogation of Article 370, there has been a reduction in the violent elements in the valley. More Info
US-Iran relations have once again spiked up with USA retaliating by killing one of the world’s most powerful people, Iran’s General Q. Soleimani. With USA holding ‘Trump’ cards on matters like trade, oil, militancy, its outlook of strongarming global opponents is quite familiar. On the other hand, protest-hit Iran has continued its Uranium enrichment activities beyond limits.
Crux of the Matter
A Bumpy Ride: US-Iran Ties Tracing back the ties between America and Iran, the heat of the moment does give nostalgia about how both the countries play the game. For USA, around World War II, Iran became the focal point in the Middle East because it bordered the Soviet Union.
The beginning of the end of good ties with the Shah of Iran started deteriorating when, allegedly, US and UK drove out the then Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953 as he wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil sector. A covert operation was carried out through spreading apprehension among Iranians regarding the economic situation and internal conflicts. This is something that Iran has witnessed in recent. The 2019 Protests saw masses coming out to protest the economic gap and dilapidated living conditions of many.
Modern World Outlook America’s policy toward Iran seems ambiguous after the 1953 coup. With Iran gaining weight in the geopolitical spectrum with an increase in oil supplies, the common belief that America puppeteered Iran started disintegrating. The 1979 Revolution of Iran gained traction on the grounds that Shah of Iran, Mohd. Reza Pahlavi was trying to conspire against the state. This lead to the hostage crisis, in which Iranian protestors seized US Embassy in Tehran and held hostages for 444 days. Thereafter, US imposed heavy sanctions on Iran, hurting Iran’s economic front.
Iran-Iraq-USA – A Two-on-One Handicapped Match Iran-backed Hezbollah‘s attack on American sites and America’s retaliation in Iran-Iraq war by bombing the Sassan oil platform to neutralize Iran have added to the deterioration of the ties of US-Iran. The world condemned American strike on Iranian Airbus that killed 290 civilians. America blocked the economic growth of Iran through the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act that prohibited countries from making heavy investments in Iran.
America regarded Iran as one of the countries that were the ‘axis of evil‘. Since then, Iran accused USA of trespassing into Iranian territory by frequently sending drones to capture the nuclear development of Iran. USA has been accusing Iran of providing financial and logistical support to the Hezbollah group. In 2007, US raided the Consulate of Iran and captured several Iranian diplomats and citizens for examination of potential threat.
During Obama Reign The Strait of Hormuz has been the pivotal point during Obama‘s leadership. Entry of US drones in the sovereign area of Iran, and Iran retaliating with firing in the Persian Gulf had escalated tensions in 2011 and 2012. Iran’s Navy Chief had threated to close the Persian Gulf. In 2019, Iran shot down American Military Surveillance drone and accused US of flying in the sovereign air space. US contended the claim.
However, diplomatic ties during the Obama period began to improve. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif began constructive conversations with American diplomats.
Iran Facing Trumpism Donald Trump banned the entry of citizens of Iran and several other countries to protect America from terrorism. Trump also withdrew USA from Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Once again, Iran intimidated to block Strait of Hormuz. USA accused Iran of bombing Aramco’s fields. It decided to send troops and drones to secure the area. USA and Trump administration were most furious about Iran-backed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) support to militant activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2019, USA threatened to issue sanctions against any country that bought oil from Iran. US started deploying its military in the Gulf region as a recourse action plan in case Iran attacks American troops, diplomats or citizens. In June 2019, Iran once again shot down one of the USA’s Military Drones on the ground that it was violating airspace. USA continued to issue strict sanctions and deployed warfare military in Qatar. Kataib Hezbollah (KH) had attacked American military facilities and injured several military personal. In retaliation, USA bombed weapon storage sites of KH in Iraq and Syria.
Nuclear Nagging and Iran By providing Nuclear reactor, USA supportedIran’s first Nuclear program in 1957. In 2003, USA had accused Iran of using Uraniam enrichment program to develop Nuclear weapons. As per the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), USA and many countries violated the treaty by not disarming to the extent. Whereas Iran violated the terms for inadequate reporting of nuclear material, its use, and processing.
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by Iran and the P5+1 country members. It would lift sanctions off of Iran and in return, Iran shall curb its nuclear capacity and allow UN to carry out Nuclear Facility checks in Iran. The deal was also expected to boost Iran’s economy. In 2018, Trump decided to withdraw from the JCPOA and reimpose economic sanctions.
Iran Engulfed in Protests November 2019 witnessed Iranians protesting against the excessive petrol prices. The economic disparity in the nation had flamed the protests furthermore. Some experts account Iran’s economic dilapidation to US and other economic sanctions. However, Iranian authorities were brutal on protestors. Around 1,500 protestors died during the protests.
The small retaliatory efforts of Iran – whether to drive out American troops or to strong-arm America for oil deals, nuclear treaties, or economic support – have been met with American boulder rocks like drone attacks.
Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (ILSA) is an Act to impose sanctions on persons making certain investments directly and significantly contributing to the enhancement of the ability of Iran or Libya to develop its petroleum resources, and on persons exporting certain items that enhance Libya’s weapons or aviation capabilities or enhance Libya’s ability to develop its petroleum resources, and for other purposes. More Info
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) together with the European Union. Under the deal, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. On 8 May 2018 the United States officially withdrew from the agreement after Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum ordering the reinstatement of harsher sanctions. More Info
The President of U.S. Donald Trump said on Saturday the States is ready to target 52 Iranian sites if Iran attacks American assets. This move comes in response to Tehran, who slammed Trump as a ‘terrorist in a suit’. He was also compared to tyrants like Hitler and Genghis, after a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s twitter handle showed no signs of distress over the love lost between U.S and Iran, as one of his series of tweets quoted “The USA wants no more threats!”
He even stated that the chosen 52 Iranian sites represented the 52 Americans who were held hostage in Iran after being seized at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Asked about this ongoing war of words during an interview with Fox News, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said that “the president is trying to make it clear to the Iranians that this is a very bad path for them to go down.”
In the meantime, A growing number of Democrats have said the Republican president’s action is bringing the United States to the brink of war. The Pentagon has declined to comment on this matter.
Donald Trump, is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality.Trump was born and raised in the New York City borough of Queens, and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School. He took charge of his family’s real-estate business in 1971, renamed it The Trump Organisation, and expanded its operations from Queens and Brooklyn into Manhattan.He entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated 16 other candidates in the primaries.His political positions have been described as populist, protectionist, and nationalist. More Info
In a pre-emptive action against Iran, US President Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian Military General Qasem Soleimani. Pentagon said that Soleimani was responsible for orchestrating attacks on American soldiers, diplomats, and service members in Iraq. Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah condemned USA’s attack and said: “harsh revenge awaits the criminals“.
Crux of the Matter
Deteriorating US-Iran Ties Tensions have been escalating between USA and Iran as Iran-backed armed forces recently launched an attack on an American embassy in Baghdad. The attack was a protest against the American attack on Kataib Hezbollah. Recently, Aramco’s fields were attacked by drones, for which US has blamed Iran. US announced to deploy troops in the Gulf region to protect it from Iranian invaders. Besides that Iran has been engulfed in anti-establishment protests on account of economic hardships faced by commons. During the protests, more than 1500 civilians are reported to have been killed by the authorities.
USA Retaliates In what is being called as harsh retaliatory action, USA, on a green signal from Prez Trump, launched an airstrike on Baghdad International Airpot on Friday, early midnight. It killed the Quds Force Leader, Qasem Soleimani and Deputy Head of Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. According to the Pentagon,” The move was a decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad that was intended to deter future Iranian attack plans.”. Pentagon has accused Soleimani and Quds Force of killing American soldiers, diplomats, and service member. It also held Soleimani responsible for the attack on December 27 that killed American contractors and Iraqi people.
Iran Warns of Harsh Revenge Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei condemned the attack and declared three-day mourning for Soleimani. Vowing to take revenge for the actions of America, Khamenei said harsh revenge awaits the criminals. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javed Zarif has called this move “an act of international terrorism” and an “extremely dangerous and foolish escalation“. Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said that, “the assassination of Muhandis was an attack on the Iraqi state, government and people.”. Soon after, oil prices spiked amidst concerns that oil supply may be hindered by Middle East. Brent Crude Oil rose by 4.4% and touched $69.16.
Qasem Soleimani was an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations. Soleimani began his military career in the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s. He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, providing military assistance to anti-Saddam Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq, and later Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War, particularly in its operations against ISIS and its offshoots. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015. More Info
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was an Iraqi-Iranian military commander who headed the Popular Mobilisation Committee which is active against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant group. The organisations he oversaw are reported to have close connections to the Quds Force, part of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was the commander of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, and prior to that worked with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps against the Saddam Hussein regime. Allegations of terrorism have been levelled against him over his activities in Kuwait in the 1980s. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in Kuwait for his involvement in 1983 Kuwait bombings. Muhandis was on the United States list of designated terrorists. More Info