Chris Tarquini looks back at the week’s main stories from around the world, including the latest from Mail, Burma, Syria and the US Presidential elections.
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As much of Britain focuses on the budget at home and Syrian rebellion and French or American elections abroad, events in the African nation of Mali are starting to rise to prominence as troops in the country’s capital Bamako have mutinied and driven both state TV and radio off air.
Ironically the complaints of the military forces revolve around the lack of arms available for a battle with Tuareg rebel forces in the north of the country.
Armoured vehicles have been prepared around the Presidential palace against any potential revolt and with elections expected to still take place in just under a month there will be international concerns that fighting could spread to include infighting within government forces.
Other western African regions have pledged military support to the government to aid them, however whether this is enough to satisfy the troops involved in the mutiny remains to be seen.
Sticking to the subject of elections the Burmese government has invited the USA and the European Union to send election monitors to watch the upcoming election on April 1st.
The election is being seen as an important test of the ‘pro-democratic reforms’ apparently being undertaken in the country, which will involve renowned pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi running for one of the 48 seats at stake.
Burmese leaders will be hoping that if the elections can be seen as free and fair it may lead to the lifting of some of the crippling international sanctions imposed on the country and its description as a ‘key test’ by the EU and US will undoubtedly further their desire to be seen in a positive light.
Luckily election observers from North Korea are also expected to be in the country to make sure everything is in order, so they have some tough people to impress.
President Assad’s Syrian forces continue to brutally suppress the uprising in the country as the USA encourages the dictatorship to follow a UN-backed peace plan.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Syrian leadership to “take this path, commit to it, or face increasing pressure and isolation”. The plan, which has been endorsed by both Russia and China, comes as Syrian government forces shell suburbs of the capital Damascus; however both nations objected to an earlier, harsher condemnation of Assad’s regime and its actions.
Russia has reportedly told Syria it had “made a lot of mistakes”, however whether this refers to the torture and execution of unarmed civilians or just the way they have allowed themselves to be portrayed in the media is unclear.
Certainly with the bloodshed seemingly having no end in sight, this may not be the last or harshest action to be taken against the violent regime.
As America condemns Syrian government actions much of the world is focused on the sabre rattling on policies both foreign and domestic as the US election heats up.
With libertarian Ron Paul yet to win a state and former speaker Newt Gingrich having a campaign in seemingly terminal decline the race is quickly becoming a tough race between businessman and failed former politician Mitt Romney and ultra social conservative Rick Santorum.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Santorum has surprised the political world with the performance of his under-funded and poorly organised campaign, but his message of strong Christian values, hawkish defence views and a sudden conversion to caring about budget deficits and national debt are playing well with the Republican base.
Despite taking many of the southern states and running close to Romney in some mid-western primaries, following his loss this week to the former Massachusetts Governor in Illinois (the home state of a certain President Obama) party elders are starting to coalesce behind the questionably conservative Romney.
The most recent endorsement has been the important support from popular former Florida Governor and Bush family member Jeb Bush, who argued:
“Primary elections have been held in 34 states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall.”
Despite having the toxicity of the Bush family name even in Republican circles, Jeb is respected as an influential party elder and a potential future candidate. Certainly a win for Romney in the upcoming Wisconsin primary could see a huge swing of support to him and put to bed many doubts over whether he is a sure bet for the Republican nomination.
President Obama was expecting to take on Romney in the autumn and it now looks more certain than ever this will be the case. Despite the likely soon to be GOP nominee’s huge range of faults, with Obama sitting at a 46% approval and 46% disapproval rating in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll it could be the closest election since Gore v Bush.
As Gingrich and Paul start to fall away and Santorum faces an uphill battle both financially and in the delegate count, America and the world will begin to ask, am I for Mitt or Barack?