Tragedies in Turkey and Belgium; Obama’s Historic Cuba Trip

This week, the Study Abroad Office is juggling several events and several International Terrorist scares. Our schedules have been increasingly hectic, so here are the Top Four stories that you need to know this week:

  1. Brussels Attack
    Brussels Map
    Brussels Map where the explosions occurred (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: On Tuesday Morning, three bombs rocked the capital of Belgium. The first of these blats hit the Brussels Airport, Zaventem, and killed 11. Two bombs detonated in this area and then another hit the metro station, Maelbeek, where 20 people were killed. In all 260 individuals were injured and the death toll is at 31 individuals. It has been announced that two of the suicide bombers were brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui; the pair were from Belgium. The brothers were two of the four members involved in the attacks, with one unidentified man who also died at Zaventem. The other has been identified as Najim Laachraoui and is on the run. There or reasons to believed that Laachraoui had something to do with the terror attacks in Paris last December. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35879141.
    • Why You Need to Know This: There is not much yet confirmed about what happened yesterday, as this story is still developing. Belgium is going through three days of national mourning and members of the international community are stepping forward to help. Belgium acted swiftly, identifying the pair of brothers in the attack and alerting the international community about Laachraoui, as well as locking down most of the city on Tuesday. Things are beginning to return to normal in the city’s capital today, but everyone remains on alert.
    • Office Top Tip: There are concerns about safety throughout the rest of Europe after this latest terror attack in the region. However, Europe is one of the safest places in the world right now. The entire continent is on alert and even more so now. Do not let the fear that terror groups are attempting to generate keep you from traveling and experiencing the world.
  2. Paris Suspect Captured
    Brussels Abdeslam Raid Map
    Location of the police raid where Abdeslam was captured (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: A week before the terrorist attacks hit Brussels, Belgium officials cornered and arrest Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam. He is the only survivor of the group that carried out the attacks in Decemeber that is currently in police custody; authorities are looking for one more individual, Mohamed Abrini. He is reportedly cooperating with authorities. It was learned that there were two other individuals living with Abdeslam who had been using fake Belgian ID cards to get in and out of the country. One was Laachraoui, one of the attackers in the Brussels bombing that occurred yesterday. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35860157.
    • Why You Need to Know This: This story broke late last week; it wasn’t until yesterday that authorities had any idea of Laachraoui’s whereabouts. The Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders has voiced questions of whether or not Abdeslam knew about what was going to occur at Zaventem or Maelbeek when he was arrested. With only one member of the Paris attack group left and with Laachraoui on the run, Belgium, France, and the rest of Europe are bringing even more forces into the mix to try to find these two suspects.
    • Office Top Tip: Do not let this fear that Islamic State is generating keep you from traveling and doing what you want to do. These men are on the top of the Most Wanted lists across Europe and the World. As always, remain vigilant and if you see anything that seems out of the ordinary, report it immediately.
  3. Obama in Cuba
    Obama and Castro
    US President Obama and Cuban President Castro (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: For the first time since 1959, a United States President has stepped foot on Cuba. President Barak Obama landed in Cuba on Monday beginning a series of talks with President Raul Castro. For the past several decades, diplomatic relations have been nonexistent and a trade embargo had been firmly in place. After two years of secret talks, in December 2014 Obama announced that the countries would restore diplomatic relations. The two leaders met at the Palace of the Revolution. At the end of Obama’s trip, he gave a speech that was broadcast across Cuba. In it Obama called for the lifting of the 54-year-old Trade Embargo, citing that US Policy towards Cuba needs to change because it didn’t work. From Havana, Obama has traveled to Argentina. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35856126 and http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35856126.
    • Why You Need to Know This: One of the key moments in the speech was when Obama said, “I know the history, but refuse to be trapped by it.” Obama’s administration has been paving the way to this political reunion for years and now and now that things are finally looking like they are going towards a new relationship, there have been no qualms that both governments disagree on many issues.
    • Office Top Tip: With Cuba’s doors reopening and things beginning to warm up politically, expect a new influx of travel heading to Cuba.
  4. Tragedy in Turkey
    Itanbul Blast Site
    Investigators surround the site of the Istanbul blast (Image Courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: Last week, a suicide bomb hit a busy shopping area in Istanbul, killing at least 4 and injuring almost 40. Although no one came forward to claim responsibility for the attacks, the Turkish government has been quick to blame Kurdish militants in recent attacks in recent months. The ceasefire between the Turkish government and the Kurdish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) came to a screaming halt last summer, and since then there have been almost 900 casualties. For more on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35850625
    • Why You Need to Know This: In the past 6 months, 4 massive terror attacks have struck Turkey. Almost 200 people have been killed in these violent conflicts. Three of these attacks have been in 2016 alone. There is an intense feeling of angst and fear in the region. It is important to remember that Turkey, which shares a border with the volatile Syria, is under constant threat week in and week out.
    • Office Top Tip: Be wary of any travel to Turkey. It is important to remember that the area is in intense turmoil. We are very reluctant to send any students to the region.

Check back next week for more news so you can Know Before You Go!

All stories are based off of information gather from CNN, the New York Times, The Guardian, The BBC, and the Telegraph.

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