Here Are the main events in Politics that occurred this week:
1. Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Special Election Race
In a major upset, Democratic candidate and former federal prosecutor Doug Jones won the Alabama Special Senate Election on December 12 after a campaign that showcased the increasing power of sexual misconduct allegations and the limits of President Donald Trump’s political influence even in states that he still remains popular in. Jones’s victory in a state that has not had a Democratic Senator since 1996 was a dramatic repudiation of both his opponent, Roy Moore, a controversial former state judge twice who is accused of molesting several women between the late 1970s and early 1990s, as well as the policies and proposals of President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress. In his victory speech, Jones stated that the “entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of what zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake.” Additionally, Jones went on to send a message to his colleagues in Washington, urging them to “get things done for the people” by passing the Children’s Health Insurance Program as well as voting against the Trump Administration tax plan.
Despite his overwhelming rejection by the voters of Alabama, Republican candidate Roy Moore has yet to concede, accusing the Democratic Party of vote rigging and has announced that his campaign would be seeking a recount. The election of Doug Jones as Senator from one of the most conservative states in the entire country signals both a wholesale rejection of the policies of the Trump Administration by even his most hardcore and loyal supporters as well as a foreshadowing of the results of the 2018 midterm elections. Additionally, the election of Doug Jones perhaps is a sign that the Democratic Party can regain much of the ground that they lost in the Southern states over the past 50 years by campaigning with a positive and inclusive message, as well as de-emphasizing divisive social issues and instead focusing more on addressing economic issues that negatively impact the working class.
2. US Ready for Direct Talks With North Korea
On December 12, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the US is ready to begin direct talks with North Korea without pre-conditions, backing away from a key demand that Pyongyang must first accept that giving up its nuclear arsenal would be part of any negotiations. While reiterating the long-standing position that the US views the North Korea nuclear program as a major national security threat, Tillerson said the United States was “ready to talk anytime they’re ready to talk”, but there would first have to be a “period of quiet” without any nuclear and missile tests. The new diplomatic overture on the part of the US comes two weeks after North Korea said it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that put the entire US mainland within range of a potential nuclear strike.
Overall, the international community has applauded Secretary of State Tillerson’s offer. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that the Chinese government welcomed all efforts to ease tension and promote dialogue to peacefully resolve the problem of North Korea’s nuclear arms program. The Chinese government hopes the United States and North Korea can meet each other halfway and take meaningful steps on dialogue and contact, Kang told reporters. Additionally, China has expressed a willingness to work with both the US and South Korea to secure North Korean nuclear weapons in the event of a collapse of the government of North Korea. Despite strong support for these new diplomatic efforts by China, Japan has been critical of any engagement with North Korea, arguing that any efforts would play into the hands of the North Korean government and not lead to any constructive policy change. On the contrary, the Japanese government supports increasing the already crippling sanctions in place in North Korea to convince the regime to change its policies (despite the fact that history shows that sanctions have little to no effect in forcing policy change). Overall, it is too soon to tell of the renewed diplomatic efforts between the US and North Korea will lead to any lasting results, but they do represent a positive step forward on the part of the US in solving long-standing disputes peacefully.
3. Iraq Proclaims Victory in the War Against ISIS
On December 9, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced an end of the war against militant group Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and said that Iraqi forces had regained full control of the country’s border with Syria. “Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I, therefore, announce the end of the war against Daesh” (Arabic for “ISIS”), Abadi said at a press conference in Baghdad. “Dear Iraqis, your land has been completely liberated, and your towns and villages have been returned to the homeland,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a press conference in Baghdad. “The dream of liberation became a reality.” The victory came after the military shifted its focus to rout out militants in the border areas between Iraq and Syria. “Our forces fully control the Iraqi-Syrian border, and thus we can announce the end of the war against Daesh,” Abadi said.
After Abadi’s announcement, the Iraqi government declared Sunday a national holiday to celebrate the victory that was celebrated by the US and several of Iraq’s major allies such as Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. The US government and President Donald Trump offered its “sincere congratulations to the Iraqi people and to the brave Iraqi Security Forces, many of whom lost their lives heroically fighting ISIS. Additionally, UK Prime Minister Theresa May also congratulated Iraq but warned the threat is far from over. Despite the fact that major combat operations in Iraq have ended, the threat of violent extremist from the remnants of ISIS and other militant groups remains. Additionally, Iraq will continue to face a massive reconstruction effort over the next decade in order to help rebuild itself after nearly four decades of continuous warfare, chaos, and brutal authoritarianism.