Tag Archives: sahel region

Tom Arms’ World Review

Ukraine

The Ukrainians are advancing – slowly. They don’t trust the Russians. Vladimir Putin has given his troops the order to abandon the western half of the key city of Kherson. Civilians and medical staff have been evacuated from both the eastern and western halves of the city divided by the river Dnieper.

But the Ukrainians are not rushing in to fill the vacuum. They are concerned that the Russians have covered their retreat with land mines and other explosives and have trained their artillery on the deserted streets. Furthermore, that they are preparing for deadly street-to-street, house-to-house fighting in the eastern half of the city.

In the meantime, the Kremlin rumour mill continues to churn out stories about the imminent overthrow of President Putin. The left anti-war wants peace and an end to the war while the right nationalist wing is demanding that more resources – including, if necessary, tactical nuclear weapons, be thrown into the fight. The latest opinion polls, however, show that 78 percent continue to support Putin personally, although support for the war is slipping.

2022 World Cup

Someone should have warned the Qataris about being careful about what you wish for before they started bribing officials to secure the 2022 World Cup. The sporting event is second only to the Olympics in the pantheon of international sporting events and usually brings economic and political benefits to the host country.

In the case of Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family, they are spending $30 billion on hosting the football event. This involves building half a dozen stadiums, roads, a state-of-the-art metro and a number of hotels. They can afford it. Qatar is the smallest nation ever to host the World Cup, but it is among the top ten wealthiest in the world. The per capita income of the oil and gas-rich Gulf emirate is $61,000 a year and it has a sovereign wealth fund of $450 billion. It can afford to show off its wealth.

But at the same time, it would rather not have the spotlight turned on its human rights record – especially as regards migrant labour and LGBTQ rights. Tens of thousands of construction workers were recruited from South Asia to build the World Cup infrastructure. They worked in searing heat, were paid abysmally low wages and lived in squalid dormitory conditions. If they wanted to return home they had to apply for an exit visa which was rarely granted. The Guardian reported that 6,500 of them died. This figure been disputed, but the newspaper says it is based on reports from South Asian embassies in Qatar.

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