US deploys carrier strike group in middle east; Stevo Pendarovski wins North Macedonia’s presidential election
Story 1– US deploys carrier strike group in middle east as a warning signal to Iran
The United States has decided to deploy the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force in the Middle East as a warning message Iran. The information was shared by US national security adviser John Bolton on May 5, 2019.
Bolton said that the deployment of the carrier strike group with a bomber task force to the US Central Command region was in response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings from Iran.
The carrier strike group is expected to be deployed in the US Central Command region, east to the Red Sea and perhaps in the Arabian Sea or the Persian Gulf, where the US Navy currently has no aircraft carrier stationed.
Through the deployment, the US aims to send a clear and unmistakable message to Iran that any attack on the US and its allies’ interest would be met with unrelenting force.
According to Bolton, the United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but it is fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.
The announcement comes as tensions between the US and Iran are at a high point over Iran’s nuclear program, with the US increasing sanctions on the nation in the past year since president Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
The Trump administration had recently designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which is the nation’s most powerful military institution, as a terrorist group. It was the first time the US delivered such a designation for a foreign government’s institution.
Iran responded with the same designation for the US military’s Central Command, which oversees the Middle East region.
The US also recently ended sanction waivers that were extended to eight nations for import of Iranian oil.
Story 2– Stevo Pendarovski wins North Macedonia’s presidential election
Stevo Pendarovski, supported by the ruling Social Democrats (SDSM), won the North Macedonian presidency in a run-off vote that was held on May 5, 2019.
The 56-year-old garnered 51.66 percent of the vote, beating nationalist VMRO’s Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova which got 44.73 percent. The remaining 3.61 percent of the votes were void.
• The run-off vote was called after neither candidate received enough ballots for an outright win in the first round of voting that was held two weeks ago.
• The victory is significant for the future of the republic of North Macedonia, which seeks to get a date to start European Union accession talks in June and become the 30th NATO member state by 2020.
• The campaign for the elections was dominated by divisions over a change to the country’s name that was agreed to pacify Greece and open the way for EU and NATO membership.
• Greece has, for decades, demanded that the ex-Yugoslav republic change its name from Macedonia, arguing that it implied a territorial claim on a northern Greek province also called Macedonia.
• The new name was formally ratified earlier this year. But the accord continues to divide North Macedonians and has eclipsed all other campaign issues.
• Hence, the voter turnout in the run-off elections was 46.6 percent, above the 40 percent threshold needed for the election result to be valid but still low.
• While Pendarovski was in favour of the name change, Siljanovska-Davkova, a university professor, opposed the move.
The president holds a largely ceremonial post in North Macedonia but is the supreme commander of the armed forces and also signs off on parliamentary legislation.
The refusal of outgoing President Gjorge Ivanov, a nationalist, to sign some bills backed by parliament has delayed the implementation of key laws, including one on the wider use of the Albanian language.
However, Ivanov had no authority to block the constitutional amendments passed earlier this year by a two-thirds majority of parliament that enabled the name change to North Macedonia.