Thursday Blurbs - News You Should Know
Editors Note: Jake is back to writing!! We missed him. His pieces from his trip, so far, will be featured over the upcoming weeks. Enjoy!
The Imprisonment of Josh Holt
We often hear about Americans wrongfully taken captive in North Korea, but it's not often we hear stories about this happening elsewhere.
I want to introduce you to Josh Holt.
Josh was arrested by the Venezuelan government two years ago for allegedly possessing an illegal weapon. Holt, who was in Venezuela for his wedding, has been held without a trial.
Utahn Politicians have been making efforts to ensure his safety and freedom, and it is believed that Holt is being held captive for political purposes in response to the US charging the Venezuelan First Lady's nephews with drug trafficking and for the economic sanctions put on the Country by the US.
The US State Department has announced that they will hold the Venezuelan government personally responsible for anything done to harm, sicken, or injure Holt while he is in captivity.
Recent videos he has posted to social media suggest that his health is wavering and that the prison he is held in is on the verge of mutiny. He has claimed that he fears for his life and if nothing is done to save him, he will either die of disease or be murdered.
Now, I do not know the full details of his arrest nor can I attest to his innocence, but any American Citizen that is being held without trial by a foreign government is a problem in my eyes. I want to see a stronger effort come out of our State Department to bring this man home.
U.S. Embassy Move Rocked with Violence
It was U.S. Policy for decades to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but it did not happen until this week.
And it did not happen cleanly.
Violent protests rocked the holy city as the United States' new embassy was opened. Over 1,000 Palestinians were injured and over 50 killed by Israeli border guards who opened fire upon the massive crowds.
Reactions by world leaders have been split. Theresa May of the United Kingdom spoke out against the use of violence, but Angela Merkel of Germany agreed with the United States' assessment that Israel was right in defending their borders.
In a region so wrought with strife, one can only pay attention to how those around the world are reacting. The United States has never before so defiantly supported Israel as the current administration does; it will be of keen interest to all watching to see which nations line up alongside the United States in this struggle.
Democracy in Iraq
In 2003 a United States led coalition invaded Iraq and purged Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party from power, installing a Democratic Government in its place.
In 2018, the people of Iraq voted for Moqtada al-Sadr to be their new leader.
Al-Sadr is not a friend of the Americans (or any of Iraq's biggest allies, to include Iran).
Al-Sadr is a popular Shia Leader and the namesake of the "Sadrist Movement" in Iraq. This movement is marked by conservative religious practices and a persistent resistance to foreign powers, to include both the United States military and Islamic State fighters. He has called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and criticized Iran for its support of him. He wishes to improve Iraq's ties with Saudi Arabia and other Arabian Peninsula states while throwing a cold-shoulder to Western powers. Additionally, his rise to the top was heavily assisted by a coalition he formed with Iraq's Communist Party.
It will be interesting to see how Iraq fairs under the rule of al-Sadr. I am happy to see that after 15 years of unrest, elections have continued on in Iraq. Self-determination is extremely important in a nation, and though a leader like al-Sadr might not be what the American Government had in mind when they invaded in 2003, the fact that peaceful elections are honestly and fairly being carried out in Iraq today is great news.
North Korean Cold Feet
North Korean officials were angered by the continuation of military exercises between the United States and South Korean militaries, going as far as to put on hold high-level talks that were scheduled for today.
Officials out of Pyongyang fear that with continued military activity by the United States in the South that North Korea might be at risk of a "destiny" similar to that of Iraq or Libya (nations in which the United States violently overthrew their governments).
North Korea, who previously stated that they would not require the United States to withdraw their military from the Peninsula as part of the denuclearization process, now appears to be backtracking on this. North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un went as far as to say that he would have no choice but to, "reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit," which is scheduled for June 12th in Singapore.
This would be the devastating setback that we all feared would happen. North Korea has flirted with cooperating with the West before, and I honestly believed that this time was different. Hopefully Kim will prove that this time is different and that North Korea will cooperate with the rest of the world in working towards denuclearization and great global peace.