BY: CLAUDIA A. GONZALEZ
The decision comes as an update of the Executive Order 13780, which is set to expire soon, with respect to vetting capabilities and travel restrictions. In this new version of the executive order, Venezuela, Chad, and North Korea are included while Iraq is excluded, adding another dimension to the recent travel bans being imposed by the Trump Administration. This decision comes at the heels of surmounting pressure from several other sanctions that the Trump administration has been taking towards Maduro’s government.
WHY IT MATTERS:
This order comes in the wake of a shift in US foreign policy towards Venezuela and its deteriorating democratic processes. Most recently at the United Nations General Assembly meeting , President Trump stated that the United States is likely to intervene in Venezuela to help the country restore democracy.
Under the travel restriction, Venezuela will become the only country whose government officials, as well as immediate family members of government officials will be subject to rigorous vetting procedures, without it affecting regular Venezuelan citizens (Section 2F of the Order).
A common accusation raised by the opposition has been that government officials from the Venezuelan Chavista government preach 21st Century socialism, but store their wealth in the United States. Conversely, opposition leaders have denounced how the Chavista government is increasingly becoming a state sponsor of drug trafficking– a year ago, 2 nephews of Venezuela’s First Lady, Miss Cilia Flores, were convicted on drug charges by a US Court. Whether this proclamation answers to the first or second accusation, the administration’s announcement appears to be signaling a new pivot, which sets in motion a different approach that the United States is taking towards Venezuela and possibly opening a new front for the United States’ war on drugs.
SAUDI ARABIA’S DECISION TO LET WOMEN DRIVE IS A SIGN THAT THE CROWN PRINCE HAS BEEN HANDED THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM
September 26, 2017
BY: OSSAMA AYESH
The decision is a sign that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is positioning himself to take complete control of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and push forward his reformist agenda.
A royal decree in Saudi Arabia signed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz himself recently announced a decision to allow women to drive. The decision marks a reversal of a longstanding tradition in Saudi Arabia. As it stands, a new high level ministerial committee will convene to discuss the specific details of the royal decree. The decree states that women will be allowed to drive “in accordance with Islamic Law.” The official rollout of this policy will take effect in June of 2018 after the ministerial committee finalizes the details of the order.
WHY IT MATTERS:
This development will be interpreted by many as the latest sign that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is consolidating even more power and authority since the change in succession. The Vision 2030 Plan, the Crown Prince’s multi-sector blueprint for the future and path ahead for modernization and reform, is beginning to take shape ahead of the 2020 target known as the National Transformation Plan. Part of Vision 2030 promises to increase women’s participation in the workforce, but the policy of guardianship greatly hinders this possibility.
While old Wahhabi policies around women seem to contradict much of what Vision 2030 lays out, the recent decree illustrates two possible key developments. The first is that the ideological gaps between older Wahhabi fundamentalists and the newer generation are increasing, creating the increased possibility of turmoil within the royal family. The second is that Muhammed bin Salman’s agenda of social, political, and economic reform in Saudi Arabia is being realized, which would invalidate recent reports stating that he is currently scaling back Vision 2030.