by Jacob Solis
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY REACHES NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN
On July 14, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the P5+1, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany. The deal would lift economic sanctions and remove Iran’s capability to create a nuclear weapon for the next 15 years.
Opponents of the deal assert that lifting economic sanctions could create a more powerful Iran capable of building a nuclear weapon when the deal expires. Opponents have also expressed concern over Iran’s alleged funding of various terrorist groups across the Middle East, including Hamas, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Many of these opponents, especially those in the Republican presidential race, have been calling for a better deal.
However, Secretary of State John Kerry, who played a major role in brokering the deal, has consistently denied the existence of any other deal.
“The alternative to the deal that we have reached is not some kind of unicorn fantasy that contemplates Iran’s complete capitulation,” Kerry said in a congressional hearing. “I’ve heard people talk of dismantling their program, but that didn’t even happen under President Bush when they had a policy of no enrichment. Our intelligence community confirms, and you can sit with them and they’ll tell you, that’s just not going to happen.”
Congress has been given 90 days to review and approve the deal. However, President Obama has received increasing opposition to the agreement from Republicans and pro-Israel Democrats. Perhaps most damaging to the deal was the defection of Democratic New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is likely to replace Nevada Sen. Harry Reid as senate minority leader.
“I believe Iran will not change,” Schumer said. “Under this agreement [Iran] will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”
Obama has been slowly building up the necessary votes to overturn any congressional rejection of the nuclear deal, but whether or not the agreement will be approved remains unclear.
GREECE IN CRISIS
As the global economy slowly rose from the ashes of the 2008 economic crisis, Greece, one of the smallest economies in the eurozone, stayed firmly rooted in disaster. For years, the Greek economy danced on the brink before coming to a head in July when the so-called “Grexit,” or Greek exit from the eurozone and accompanying economic calamity, seemed almost inevitable.
The crisis first heated up in 2009 when Greece’s credit rating was downgraded out of fears that Greece might default on its then- 300-billion Euro debt. To tackle the problem, then-Prime Minister George Papandreou enacted harsh austerity measures in order to receive 220 billion Euros in bailout money from various world monetary institutions.
By 2014, however, little had changed in Greece and the leftist Syriza Party took control under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in early 2015.
By July, fears were growing over concerns that Greece would again be unable to pay its ever-increasing debt. Greece’s creditors were now asking for deeper austerity cuts and reforms contrary to what Syriza had promised in the 2014 elections. Thus, in a move to gain some control over his creditors, Tsipras held a referendum asking the Greek people whether or not they wanted a bailout.
While the people voted against the bailout, Greece’s creditors, notably the German-led European Central Bank, remained stolid. Tsipras was forced to capitulate to the original bailout deal while also closing banks and imposing capital controls. In defeat, Tsipras resigned on Friday, Aug. 21, triggering snap elections to take place on Sept. 20.
However, even with this second bailout, Greece remains a country on the verge of crisis.
Jacob Solis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.