Eye on the World 1/20/20

Ukrainian passenger jet crashes in Iran

On Jan. 8, a Ukrainian passenger jet was shot down over Iran, and its subsequent crash resulted in the death of 176 people. Flight 752 had just taken off from Tehran’s airport when it was mistakenly shot down by the Iranian military, but the Tehran government denied that story multiple times before eventually admitting that “human error” caused the tragedy.

The Iranian government has also blamed “U.S. adventurism” and cited fear of escalation by the United States after Iran’s retaliation for the killing of Major Qassim Suleimani as reasons for the shooting down of Flight 752. However, that response has incited mass protests, many of which have called for the resignation of Ayatollah Ali Khahmenei. The assassination of Suleimani came after a period of mass protests against the government in the fall, but the deeper mistrust of Iranian officials seems to have gone nowhere since then.

Turkish government approves increase in troop deployment

In response to a break down in peace talks between the UN-recognized government in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and its parliament have authorized troop deployment to Libya. Though these forces have been authorized to act in a “training and advisory” role, Turkey has been supplying the Libyan government with armored vehicles and drone support to deal with the potential coup for some time.

In addition to Turkey and other western nations offering support for the Libyan government, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have all helped to assist the insurgent military led by General Khalifa Haftar. Though direct fighting has only occurred thus far between Haftar’s men and the government’s forces, this development could be another step in a potential proxy war for a nation that has had little peacetime since the overthrow of Mummar al-Gaddafi in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

President Putin proposes governmental changes

On Jan. 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed sweeping constitutional changes that resulted in the resignation of the entire parliamentary government headed previously by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Generally, the proposal would greatly empower parliament by limiting the currently sweeping powers of the Presidency. The changes put forth by Putin involve a strict two-term limit on presidents as well as allowing parliament to select the prime minister and confirm cabinet members. Additionally, these new rules would limit the rights of the President to reject any appointments, further strengthening the power of the body.

Finally, the plan calls for the permanent establishment of the State Council, a newly invigorated consultative body that would derive its power from the Constitution. This council had previously been used to hear the concerns of the Russian people while providing an official outlet to respond to issues. As these new proposals are implemented, the Russian government stands to look entirely different than before this change, which media outlets are dubbing the “January Revolution.”