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Impeachment 2

Trump’s Impeachment Looks at President Trump’s View on Friendship

Next week will see President Donald Trump go on trial to defend the accusation that he offered $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine if they gave him information he could use on his political enemies.

And although it is only Trump’s “deal” with the Ukraine that is on trial, it seems that a new story regarding his world view is appearing in the media, making America’s strong relationships with its allies seemingly being based on how much money he can get from them, such as larger subsidies for US troops based in locations including South Korea.

Trump had also bragged about the fact that Saudi Arabia had placed $1 billion into a US bank account in an attempt to gain a detachment of US troops – a claim that has been declared untrue.

And while it seems that Trump is only out to get as much money as he can from his new found “friends,” he is also restricting them too. He has threatened European allies with 25% auto tariffs if they did not enforce a dispute mechanism against Iran with regards to the nuclear deal. He also threatened to take action against Iraq that would “make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame” if the country evicted US troops from the country, as is their sovereign right.

This came alongside the news that Baghdad had been warned by the US that its central bank’s account in New York could be frozen, which was seen as a clear attack to destroy their economy.

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It is actions like these that make many think that if this is the way America treats its friends, they may end up lonely soon. It has also been noted that by having a foreign policy purely designed to increase the country’s wealth goes against the United States’ mission to make the world safer for democracy.

As is always the case, Trump has his supporters who cannot see anything wrong with what he is doing. Trump’s announcement that the world has been “ripping off” America has been seen by many as exaggerations, however many others agree with him saying that creating deals with other countries is the way America has always worked.

Several text messages have been released by the House Intelligence Committee and have thrown a new name into the Ukraine issue. Robert F. Hyde – Connecticut’s congressional candidate – had sent texts where he seemed infuriated with then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Texting Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Hyde said, “she had visitors.” Before adding “Hey broski tell me what we are doing what’s the next step.”

In retaliation to the messages being released Hyde’s Twitter account for his election campaign appeared to renounce Parnas as “some dweeb we were playing with” while Adam Schiff, House Intel leader was dismissed as a “desperate turd.”

Yet despite Trump’s dubious ways of keeping his friends happy he seems keen to be rebuilding his relationship with China.

Following on from the recent trade war with China, which saw many of China’s technology giants including Huawei being banned in the country as well as TikTok being banned from all US military, it seems that the two countries have been working towards a deal that should keep both countries happy.

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Trump’s trade deal with China was reported during the week and if Trump’s assurances that President Xi was watching on TV in Beijing is to be believed, the Chinese President would have been shocked with what he heard in the 40 minute tirade Trump delivered to Chinese leaders, CEOs, cabinet members and lawmakers as well as the world’s media. Trump was keen to announce that the impeachment is a “hoax,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “tosses and turns” and is unable to get a good night’s sleep as well as other facts that many were not expecting to hear.

He continued to thank President Xi who is “a very, very good friend of mine” before explaining that “we’re representing different countries. He’s representing China, I’m representing the US, but we’ve developed an incredible relationship.”

Following on from Trump’s fallout with Iran many countries in the Gulf and Europe fear retaliation. The President’s unpredictable behavior alongside his habit of off-the-cuff speeches has left many governments concerned that although the American President will react when American lives are at stake, he may not be so supportive if regional interests are under attack or even merely threatened.

A great example is Trump’s reluctance to react when Iran allegedly attacked vital Saudi oil facilities last year. Although America has declared that one of its policy priorities is to protect Saudi Arabia there clearly are conditions. Ilan Goldenberg from the Center for a New American Security is an expert on Middle East issues and said there are two sides to these “battles.”

“On the one hand, they are happy that Trump is willing to sanction and pressure and take Iran down a notch.” However it appears that “they are nervous that he is unsteady and goes too far… No one really knows what Donald Trump will do”

Whatever Trump does decide to do, it is unclear whether being his friend is beneficial to you or not.

Iran

Iran, China and Russia Join Forces To ‘Send A Message To The World’

In a move that will “send a message to the world” Iran, China and Russia are set to carry out their first ever-joint military exercises in the “near future.”

Rear, Iran’s commander of its navy, made the announcement amongst the continuing tensions between Arab Gulf countries and the United States.

In his press conference reporters were informed of the joint exercises that would take place in the southern waters of the Indian Ocean, with the Iranian navy working beside the Russian and Chinese navies. Although the planning and design for these activities were completed in October, he also confirmed the troops were getting ready for the action, which may happen during December.

Semi-official Mehr news agency has also quoted Khanzadi as stating the joint operation would “send a message to the world.”

“A joint war-game between several countries, whether on land, at sea or in the air, indicates a remarkable expansion of cooperation. [The drills] carry the same message to the world, that these three countries have reached a meaningful strategic point in their relations. We do not condone the kind of security that only caters to the benefits of one specific country at a specific time and which disregards the security of others.”

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The move will ensure there is “collective security” at sea following months of unsure tensions throughout the Middle East. Many see the fact that the announcement was made on Navy Day, a day that celebrates the success of the Iranian Navy throughout the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, as highly significant.

It is claimed these exercises have been arranged in keeping with Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) recommendations and are aimed at improving security in the area. Established in 2008, IONS holds meetings every other year to discuss maritime issues and promote friendships between the littoral states of the Indian Ocean. The last meeting was held in 2018 in Tehran.

When asked if Iran was prepared for counter attacks Khanzadi confirmed “the Iranian Armed Forces enjoy very high capabilities, and the United States does not have the courage for a direct confrontation with Iran, and that is why it uses proxy agents, such as terrorist groups, to advance its goals.”

This summer has seen several attacks on oil facilities belonging to Saudi Arabia as well as Gulf tankers with America laying the blame on Iran. A British-flagged vessel was seized by Tehran in ‘retaliation’ for an Iranian tanker being captured off the coast of Gibraltar.

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In a further act of retaliation America – and Britain – increased their military presence in the region, causing tensions in the Middle East to increase dramatically, causing experts to issue a warning that any further action – in particular in the Strait of Hormuz – could have severe consequences on the world’s oil supply.

Following the shooting down of a US drone by Islamic Republic in June, Trump threatened air strikes against Iran, however these were subsequently cancelled. There has also been the issue of Iran distancing itself from their nuclear pact with the West, thanks to President Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.

Further sanctions against Iran, that were suspended under the deal and therefore causing severe damage to Iran’s economy, were officially reinstated by Washington in November 2018. This has led to Iran asking Europe to help them avoid the sanctions, yet despite efforts by Germany, Britain and France, these pleas have so far been unsuccessful, leaving Tehran feeling they had no choice but to take drastic steps to abolish the nuclear deal and hopefully forcing assistance from Europe.

Protests have erupted in Iran after the sanctions led to a significant increase in petrol prices with Amnesty International believing around 143 people have been killed in an attempt to stop the protests. This is something Iran disputes as they say there is no evidence to support this statement.

However on a recent visit to London, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – recently charged with fraud, breach of trust and bribery – has claimed the protests are a ‘dangerous conspiracy’ against the government that are backed by both Israel and America.

It was announced by the head of Iran’s nuclear programme that they had increased the number of banned IR-6 centrifuges they were running with President Hassan Rouhani announcing they would be injecting uranium gas into over 1,000 centrifudges at a secret location – another encroachment on the agreement.

Although experts fear such technology could theoretically mean nuclear weapons would be produced in the next 12 months, Iran has always insisted its atomic programme was purely to for peaceful reasons and has denied making nuclear weapons.

Eifel Tower

2019’s Most Popular Travel Destinations

2019 was a huge year for international travel. UK based market research company Euromonitor International recently measured and listed the top 100 travel destinations people visited within the past year, and some of the results may surprise you. While Hong Kong has been making major world news headlines due to its political unrest and civilian protests, it remained the number one travel destination for 2019. So much so that Euromonitor reports that by the time the month is up the city will have been visited by 26 million travelers this year alone. The protests have led to an 8.7% decline compared to last year’s stats; however, that didn’t stop the metropolitan city from being at the top of the list.

The decrease in travel isn’t isolated to just Hong Kong. Over-tourism and tourist misconduct has become a growing issue, and has already lead to a lot of restrictive travel policies, especially in Europe. Europe and Asia are the two continents that typically take over Euromonitor’s list every year. However, this year due to a combination of the stricter tourism policies in Europe and an increase in Chinese tourists travelling to other countries within the continent, Asia has dominated the entirety of the list, but Europe and some spots in America are also mixed in there. 

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Hong Kong

Euromonitor reports that Asia had the fastest growth in international traveler arrivals. This is also most likely due to the extreme size of Asia and the many different cultures and countries available for travel lovers to go to. Bangkok and London took the second and third spot on the list; Euromonitor is able to measure all of this information by pulling airline data and marking the parts that show international travelers who spend over 24 hours in their destination. This year, they measured travelers who went to over 400 different cities. 

Since the company uses airline data, international travel via cruise ship or any other possible mode of transportation is not taken into account. The reports for 2019 indicated that Asia was the most popular destination for tourists this year, followed by Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. The reports also predict that European travel is on a relatively steady decline, and Singapore, which took spot number 5 on the list, is the travel destination that will likely gain the most popularity in 2020. Singapore offers a very authentic and engaging tourism market that allows travelers to fully engulf themselves in their culture and beautiful landscapes, which is why it increased in popularity by almost 6% this year. 

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Bangkok, Thailand

Euromonitor also reports that in general, tourism is down, and a lot of it has to do with travelers wanting a more “localized” experience. 

“They are proving popular as travelers seek newer, more localized experiences and less crowded locations. The popularity and increased number of low-cost carriers to these destinations has also favored the growth of previously less explored destinations,” says Euromonitor

This is mostly in regards to European travelers, and their desire to branch out more within their own continent. Travelling from country to country is a lot easier in Europe, as there are many forms of public transportation that go all over the continent. It’s for this reason that a majority of European tourists are mainly remaining in Europe, or going “across the pond” to scratch their traveler’s itch. Below is the top 20 list of top travel destinations based on collective data from 2018 and 2019, according to CNN

Euromonitor’s Top 20 Cities:

1. Hong Kong
2. Bangkok, Thailand
3. London, England
4. Macau
5. Singapore
6. Paris, France
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
8. New York City, USA
9. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
10. Istanbul, Turkey
11. Delhi, India
12. Antalya, Turkey
13. Shenzhen, China
14. Mumbai, India
15. Phuket, Thailand
16. Rome, Italy
17. Tokyo, Japan
18. Pattaya, Thailand
19. Taipei, Taiwan
20. Mecca, Saudi Arabia