Just a few months ago, detailed allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment first broke into the mainstream media. Courageous actresses took a stand against a powerful figure within a multi-billion dollar industry that normalises sexism and further headlines were made by the legal fund created by actresses under the “Time’s Up” banner. This has sparked a new phase of a growing women’s movement in the USA which began with the explosive reaction to Trump’s election but has also had international repercussions. It was also quickly followed by accusations of similar harassment in Westminster.
In December a question mark still hung over the future of the Brexit negotiations between the EU and Britain. This indicates the problems that will lie ahead for these negotiations in the coming months. The most important and contentious question was: What will be nature of the border between Northern Ireland and the South in the context of Britain leaving the Single Market and Customs Union? This constitutes the only land border between the EU and the UK.
As we go to press, talks to create a new pro-independence government in Catalonia continue. The election on 21st December resulted in a majority for pro-independence parties. The Spanish state and the conservative Rajoy government had attempted to suppress the independence referendum and subsequently suspended Catalan autonomy, prompting the snap election.
Sudden large scale nationwide protests have shaken Iran. Sections of the masses have shown utter defiance of the regime. Youth, facing unemployment estimated to be between 25% and 40%, have particularly been to the fore. The protests, initially against the rise in prices and corruption, almost immediately developed into fighting and clashes with security forces with a mounting death toll. In some cities, people attacked police stations, pro-regime paramilitary headquarters and religious seminaries. This rapid development seemed unbelievable even for the most optimistic political analysts and activists.
Trump’s declaration of unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while ignoring the right of the Palestinians for a state with a capital in Jerusalem, ignited a wave of protest around the world, and already has raised the death toll amongst Palestinians.