UK - EU Agreement
The announcement that an agreement had been made between UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and EU President Ursula von der Leyden gave the impression that the grown-ups were back in the room (at least on the UK side – that had always been the case on the EU side). It was a recognition that the natural ties between the UK, whether geographical, political, economic, social, cultural, intellectual or on any other basis, are both stronger and more permanent that the political disarray that had characterised the previous five years, since David Cameron first announced an EU referendum to be held in 2026, and then the disastrous decision (from an EU perspective, and also in hindsight from a UK, one, though to many people that was not a surprise) to say ‘Non’ to EU membership. The UK rhetoric on EU disengagement has always been confrontational (‘No Means No!’), obstructionist and in some cases down-right mendacious. (Prime Minister Boris Johnson made signed agreements concerning Northern Ireland that he knew he had no intention of keeping). It feels like this is the beginning of a more stable, constructive and, dare one say it, adult relationship.
Israel - Palestinian
Tensions In Israel, the most right-wing and extremist government in its history has seen a rapid rise in the numbers and severity of confrontations between Israeli and Palestinian populations. On Thursday, military action in the Jenin refugee camp that killed nine Palestinians was the largest operation for many years. On Friday, seven Jewish worshippers were killed as they were leaving Friday night prayers by a lone Palestinian gunman, who was later killed by police. On Sunday, two Israeli brothers were killed in Huwara, a Palestinian village with 7,000 residents. Later that evening, a mob of up to four hundred Israelis invaded the Palestinian village of Huwara, torching houses, cars and shops. “I think the village of Howard needs to be wiped out. I think the state of Israel should do it,” Israeli Minister of Finance Beazley Ostrich, who also handles civil administration in the occupied West Bank, was quoted as saying by Israeli media on Wednesday. Major General Yehuda Fuchs, who commands the Israeli military in the area, told a news reporter that ‘The incident in Huwara was a pogrom carried out by outlaws’.
Greece and Ohio Train Crashes
A train crash in Greece left at least 43 people dead, after a passenger train and a freight train crashed on the same rails. The tragedy has been blamed on human error. A train crash in Ohio, involving a train carrying toxic chemicals, has highlighted the dangers of secondary consequences from what are already high impact crisis management events. The inability to respond to an incident that has been overtaken by the secondary consequences is the hallmark of any crisis event, whether it is because of chemical spills, high-impact weather damage, infrastructural failure, flooding or any of what are countless possibilities.
Turkey / Syria Earthquake Response
That has been seen in the response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, where the death toll has risen to over 47,000. The slowness of the response to ensure the safety and wellbeing of survivors is increasingly becoming the story, alongside issues concerning building regulations that allowed sub- standard building to be erected in the face of the need to house large numbers of refugees. The physical location of the impacted areas, which are often mountainous and hard to reach, combined other weather conditions (cold and snowy), security matters concerning the ability of response agencies to move in what are considered anti-government strongholds and the political environment in which the governments in both Syria and Turkey are considered autocratic and corrupt, demonstrate the level of complexity associated with the aftermath of natural disasters.
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