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The uncertain projection of the international community towards new perspectives

Framing The World, XLIV Edition

The international community enters the last quarter of 2020 thinking about how to recover from the pandemic, but with the number of infections always rising. From Iran to Tunisia, from Israel to South America, from the Far East to Europe, efforts are being made to halt the socio-economic crisis produced by the circulation of the virus. While Iran embarks on a new dialogue with Russia, China tries to play a leading role in the distribution of the future vaccine and in Europe the debate on Brexit is opening up again, we will also present the new developments in the fields of human rights and terrorism. Find out more in this new issue of Framing the World!

HUMAN RIGHTS

South Sudan, food insecurity used as a method of war. The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan published a report on 5 October showing that between January 2017 and November 2018, government and opposition forces intentionally deprived the civilian population - often targeting non-aligned communities - of vital resources. These actions are defined as acts of collective punishment and intentional aggravation of food insecurity as illicit methods of warfare. For the government, it also constitutes a violation of international obligations - under the African Charter of Human and Peoples' Rights - to respect, protect and implement the right to food for all in South Sudan. It is therefore difficult to achieve both the transition for the country and the overcoming of the humanitarian crisis that opened together with the civil war in December 2013.

(Sara Squadrani)

China, 39 countries ask the United Nations to take action against human rights violations. On 6 October, a joint interregional declaration was presented in the third Committee of the UN General Assembly, dedicated to social, cultural and humanitarian issues. German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen coordinated the initiative. The 39 countries, including the US and most EU states, urge China to respect the human rights of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang and of the minority in Tibet, as well as of the people of Hong Kong - for which serious concerns are expressed about the Law on National Security. China is asked "to allow immediate, meaningful and unrestricted access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights" and to "support autonomy, rights and freedoms in Hong Kong and to respect the independence of the judiciary ”.

(Sara Squadrani)

El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras: anti-LGBT persecution. There are many LGBT asylum seekers in the United States who come from the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and who find themselves having to flee their country for real persecution. The recent Human Rights Watch report documents the state of security for LGBT people in these three countries and how local institutions are unable to adequately protect these people from violence and discrimination. The data collected shows that in these Central American countries there are among the highest rates of homicides against LGBT people and that governments are actually adopting policies that do not aim to simplify their lives but to complicate them further. These include the inability of trans-gender people to change their names and gender indicators on their official documents, or the non-existence of general provisions for civil non-discrimination.

(Federico Brignacca)

Asylum seekers in Italy, some news with a new decree. At the beginning of October, the Council of Ministers overturned the policies of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini anti-immigration with a new decree that aims to re-establish in Italian law the residence permit for humanitarian reasons, which will be called "special protection". The permit, lasting two years, wants to be a tool for all those people who do not have the right to asylum but if they were sent back to their countries they could suffer torture or treatment against human rights. The decree has not yet been subject to parliamentary control, which may make changes, but the openness towards asylum seekers is clear from the Council of Ministers.

(Federico Brignacca)

Holland, anti-sexual exploitation courses. The Dutch government has launched a campaign called "No place for sex trafficking" which aims to change the attitude of owners of bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels in detecting possible abuse or exploitation within their commercial activities. As the national report on human trafficking in the Netherlands reveals, the phenomenon involves not only women and children but also men and transsexuals. In particular, there are suspicious attitudes in hotels that would indicate acts of sexual abuse. Therefore, to empower and train hotel staff, the Netherlands is planning training courses on how to identify the danger and how to inform the authorities, helping them to identify pedophiles and exploiters. By doing so, hotel staff would obtain a certificate of responsibility.

(Chiara Scuderi)

Great Britain, from the lack, arises the law to commit crimes. Boris Johnson's government has filed a bill with the municipalities authorizing that in the future British intelligence services, undercover agents and informants may commit crimes if deemed necessary in an operation. The text states, however, that murder and torture will be excluded and that agents will not have to violate the European Convention on Human Rights, and that such an authorizing crime should be considered "necessary and proportionate". In fact, the MI5 (British intelligence services) have always acted under an implicit power to authorize crimes, says the British Court, which does not translate into the right to immunity. From this lacuna arises the need to intervene legislatively.

(Chiara Scuderi)

Chiara Scuderi, Federico Brignacca and Sara Squadrani



ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCE

China, extremely positive news. Last week’s data showed a strong performance by the industry sector, whose profits were up in August 19% year-on-year, bringing 2020’s total profit decline to 4%, up from 8% in July. Further signs of recovery came from domestic flights, back to 80% of the pre-COVID level, and from data on domestic tourism during 'Golden Week' which, although lower than in 2019 (637 versus 782 million travelers), offer relief to a hard-hit sector. Biden's likely election (estimated at 60%) could also improve trade relations with the US (but not the political ones). All these elements have pushed up the Yuan by 1.45% against the dollar, little in absolute value because the currency is in a managed floating exchange rate, but the strongest rally in the last 15 years.

Stock markets, volatile times. Despite the strong daily fluctuations, the U.S. and European stock markets are generally moving upward and managed to close the best quarter since 2010. The main cause is the hyper-responsiveness to the news about the aid package being negotiated between Democrats and Republicans. Every negative signal, as when Trump closed every space for compromise, brings the markets down by up to 2%, while every positive news, as when Trump retraced his steps and proposed a figure even higher than that demanded by the Democrats, cancels every loss and leads to increases of 2%. The COVID diagnosis and the subsequent updates on the President's health have also had a significant impact on the markets. The approaching elections, despite the level of political confrontation, do not seem to weigh too much: while Biden scares Wall Street with his promise to raise corporate taxes from 21% to 28%, his Green New Deal (disavowed it in the debate), which would bring 2 trillion investments in the renewables, leads to a relatively neutral judgment.

Labor market, contradictory signals. While the statistics show a return to pre-pandemic employment levels much faster than expected (51% of lost jobs now recovered), with more than 1.7 million more jobs created than forecasted in the U.S. alone since July, and subsidy applications declining below 900,000, announcements of furloughs for tens of thousands of employees are frequent and large, particularly in the energy, aviation and tourism sectors. Shell has announced 7-9,000 fewer employees by 2022, following BP's example (-10,000); Disney has cut 28,000 jobs across its theme parks, cruise lines, and retail businesses; American Airlines and United will reduce the workforce by 19,000 and 13,000, unless government intervention. However, UBS is optimistic: since the economic crisis is not a normal economic crisis and when the restrictions will end, consumers will be able to spend their accumulated savings, leading to a rapid increase in demand.

Europe and US, a conditional recovery. If China is recovering very quickly, Europe and the United States fare not much worse, but there is a caveat. The old continent continues the expansion phase, reported by a PMI index above 50 and at its highest since 2017, driven by German and Italian manufacturing (and Chinese demand) and able to compensate for the weakness of services. In the USA, the recovery is also being driven by industry, especially the automotive one with the excellent results of FCA and GM, and technology, so that GDP is expected to rise by 35.2% in the third quarter. However, in both economies the continuation of the recovery seems to depend on aid packages that are now at risk: in Europe, the Next Generation EU (supposed to help weaker countries) is blocked by opposition from some members, while in the USA the new stimulus round (to help small businesses, aviation and the hospitality sector) is hostage to political rivalries.

Italy, Government intervention rises again. Nexi, the largest Italian digital payments company, has reached an agreement to buy SIA, the Italian state-owned fintech firm, thus creating one of the biggest payment providers in Europe. The €4.56 billion deal will give Nexi a 70% stake in SIA and create a €15 billion company and with revenues of €1.8 billion. More importantly, CDP (a subsidiary of the Ministry of Economy and Finance) approved the transaction as SIA’s largest shareholder becoming the largest shareholder of the new company. This demonstrates the return of Government intervention in the economy, which already last week scored a second deal: Euronext’s purchase of Borsa Italiana from LSE for €4.3 billion with the support of CDP, which will obtain 7% of the shares and the right to appoint two members of the board, including the chairman.

Leonardo Aldeghi



SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

East Africa, 6 million people affected by the floods. According to data provided by the UN, with almost 6 million people affected by seasonal flooding in East Africa, including more than one and a half million displaced persons, the number of people affected by flood-related disasters has increased six-fold in the last five years. In some areas of the region, even the most massive torrential rains of the century are being recorded. To better understand the increase in the phenomenon, suffice it to say that if in 2016 the number of people affected by the floods exceeded one million, in 2019 this figure reached four million, with a consequent increase in damaged housing and activities. The peak of rainfall is expected in November, and its cause could be identified in the increase in the temperature of the Indian Ocean, although it is expected that the volume of rain could double by the end of the century.

(Martina Pignatelli)

Mali, liberated Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio. Both were kidnapped in Niger in 2018, Pier Luigi Maccalli, a priest of the diocese of Crema on a mission about 150 kilometers from the capital Niamey, and the engineer Nicola Chiacchio, perhaps kidnapped during a vacation, were released in Mali on October 9, 2020. Kidnapped by a jihadist militant group, a French health worker and a former minister of Mali were also freed with them. A long mediation, which after two years has finally led to today's positive outcome. The Italian foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio celebrated the news with a post on Twitter: "Good news: Father Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio are finally free and well. They had been kidnapped by a jihadist group. Thanks to our intelligence, in particular to Aise, and to all those who worked to bring them home".

(Martina Pignatelli)

South Africa, protest women raped by Anglican clergy. On the occasion of "Women's Day 2020", numerous women's rights activists, including many rape victims, hung underwear on the fence surrounding the residence of Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town. The protest was carried out in order to make the Anglican Church aware of the numerous acts of violence by South African reverends, in order to open an investigation. Many women were involved, including June Major, an Anglican priest who was raped by a priest in 2002 when she was still in the seminary. In 2016 she began her first hunger strike in protest at the Church's lack of help, in which she had put her hopes, but without success; on July 1, 2020, a new hunger strike began, and this time the Archbishop of Cape Town granted her requests.

(Martina Pignatelli)

Sudan, peace agreement between rebels and transitional government. Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and the President of the Transitional Military Council, gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, attended the signing ceremony of the peace agreement signed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo of the Sudanese government and the leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (a coalition of 5 armed movements and 4 politicians operating in Darfur and the southern provinces). The Sudan Liberation Movement and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North did not sign the agreement, the latter last month concluded a separate agreement with the government. The agreement was also signed by representatives of Chad, Egypt, the African Union, Qatar, the European Union and the United Nations in order to have international legitimacy. The agreement aims to resolve the consequences of a conflict, restoring regions, introducing different non-Arab ethnic groups and rebels into the government, the relationship between state and religion, equality at the national level and the sharing of resources.

(Michele Pavan)

Uganda, the "conflict" with Rwanda. The cold war between Uganda and Rwanda which originates from the exploitation of the natural resources of neighboring Congo and from personal rivalries between the two heads of state. There is no reliable information about what happened a few days ago. It is reported that some Ugandan fighters, with the aim of carrying out a raid on Rwandan territory, arrived at the border just before entering Rwandan airspace and were ordered to abort the operation. The fact is very strange as it conflicts with some diplomatic and economic relations for regional security. In fact, the news of the common stock exchange between Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda is recent. The Ugandan President is playing on two different levels, one official and one that could be defined as "unofficial". Surely the presidential elections at the gates are a challenge not to be underestimated.

(Michele Pavan)

Zambia, the challenge of climate change with renewable sources. About 85% of the country's energy production system is based on the country's water resources. This poses a serious risk to Zambia as the country's energy sustenance comes mostly from a single source. In fact, the drought is already compromising the security of the energy supply. The strategy the country is aiming for is precisely energy diversification by landing on new technologies such as wind and solar energy thanks to the support of countries such as Italy and many African companies that are committed to making their own contribution to the mitigation of climate change.

(Michele Pavan)

Martina Pignatelli and Michele Pavan

NORTH AMERICA

The Trump-Biden and Pence-Harris debates and the COVID-19 situation, less than a month before the election. They were two totally different debates: the one between the two presidential candidates was chaotic and full of interruptions, while the confrontation between the two vice-president candidates, Michael Pence and Kamala Harris, showed calmer and more measured tones, although characterized by some interruptions. President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, along with about forty U.S. officials. It seems that the cluster of the infection was the ceremony to announce the choice of the Supreme Court judge, Amy Coney Barrett, after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Meanwhile, more than 213,000 people have died of coronavirus in the USA.

(Marta Annalisa Savino)

Canada signs a Memorandum of Understanding with InfraAsia. Since signing the first MoU in 2018, InfrAsia (Infrastructure Asia) has been an important partner for infrastructure projects, trade and investment. Thus, Canada renews its commitment to working together to create new opportunities for Canadian companies, both in traditional sectors such as airports, railways, water treatment plants, and cutting-edge technologies and smart cities, to expand into markets in Asia. This commitment strengthens the economic relationship with Singapore and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

(Marta Annalisa Savino)

Mexico, the new law on children's rights. The Mexican House of Congress unanimously approved the draft amendment to several articles of the Immigration, Refugee, Protection and Asylum Act, which prohibits, among other things, the detention of migrant children and adolescents and places at the center of respect for human rights their protection and the regularization of their migration status. UN bodies have considered these changes to be an important step towards fulfilling the country's international commitments to various international human rights committees. This new legislation, in fact, will put Mexico at the forefront of strengthening child protection systems, guaranteeing thousands of children and adolescents their rights in an unlimited manner.

(Valeria Scuderi)

Marta Annalisa Savino and Valeria Scuderi



SOUTH AMERICA

Colombia, between violence and environmental problems. The UN highlights in its latest report that in 2020 in Colombia there were 42 massacres and 48 murders of social leaders and human rights defenders, including 9 belonging to ethnic communities and 5 women. These crimes were committed "mainly in areas with a low state presence, high levels of poverty, illegal economies and disputes between illegal armed groups and criminal organizations”. On the environmental front, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, David Boyd, called on the country to suspend, at least temporarily, the activities of the El Cerrejón coal mine, as it seriously damages the environment and the health of indigenous Wayúu people, who are highly vulnerable especially in this pandemic period.

(Valeria Scuderi)

Cuba, a new plan to fight COVID-19. The Cuban government has declared that from October 12 a new economic and social plan will be launched to gradually return the country to normality. The objective will be to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and develop specific skills to deal with events that may occur in the "new normality". In particular, the head of Government Manuel Marrero said that "the objective of all provisions is to ensure the health of people, and at the same time to reactivate economic and social activity, based on epidemiological stability".

(Valeria Scuderi)

Chile, plastic bags banned. Last Friday, Chile became the first Latin American country to completely ban the commercial use of plastic bags. From this moment on, all Chilean companies will have six months to two years to eliminate the use of plastic bags. There will also be sanctions for all those who do not comply with the new rules. This is certainly a very good news, given the amount of plastic waste now present in the oceans and seas, plastic in constant increase, so much that it reaches the depths of the Mariana Trench. "We are undoubtedly taking a giant step towards a cleaner Chile," said President Sebastian Pinera during a public ceremony in Santiago, where he distributed canvas bags to passers-by.

(Martina Pignatelli)

Argentina, over 800 thousand cases of Coronavirus. While Europe is preparing for the risk of a second wave of Coronavirus, Argentina has reported a number of total cases reaching 800,000: to be precise, the total number of infected reported by the Argentine health authorities is 809,728. The extension of the lockdown until September 20, decided in August, did not have the desired effects; Argentina is now very close to Russia, in twelfth place globally with more than 21 thousand deaths due to the pandemic. Since the beginning of August, when there were about 200,000 contagions, the escalation has been very rapid with record numbers. At a time when the cases of Coronavirus in the world have exceeded 36 and a half million, compliance with the rules is increasingly essential for the health of all.

(Martina Pignatelli)

Peru, one million new trees in Machu Picchu. MINAM, the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment, has announced that one million trees will be planted in the area of the sanctuary of Machu Picchu, an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. The citadel sacred to the Incas will thus become in the near future the first tourist destination in the world concretely committed to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The Minister of the Environment Kirla Echegaray, said that soon the reforestation process will start, according to which one million trees of original species will be distributed on about 700 hectares of land, covering the entire area surrounding the complex of Machu Picchu, since 2007 one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

(Martina Pignatelli)

Venezuela, developments in the case of Venezuelan gold in the Bank of England. The dispute between the regime of Nicolás Maduro and the Bank of England for the access to 31 tons of gold bars (about 900 million euros) that the British entity holds in custody since the beginning of 2019 continues. Indeed, on Monday, October 5, the Court of Appeal of London annulled the verdict issued last July by the High Court with which Juan Guaidó had obtained the administration of these gold bars, recognizing him, therefore, as the de jure authority of the country. The case, therefore, will return to the High Court to determine definitively who the British government really recognizes as President of Venezuela, whether Maduro or Guaidó.

(Valeria Scuderi)

Valeria Scuderi and Martina Pignatelli


ASIA AND THE FAR EAST

China, COVAX adhesion and commitment to the distribution of the Covid vaccine alongside the WTO. A few days ago the news of China's decision to participate in the WHO anti-Covid vaccine distribution program was announced. The acronym COVAX stands for Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access and it is an alliance founded by the WTO last April. The goal is to distribute vaccines in an equitable way, especially in developing countries. This decision certainly has geopolitical advantages: China has always shown solidarity with developing countries, providing aid and obtaining economic advantages or resource-procurement advantages in exchange. This decision, perfectly in line with the solidarity position previously adopted, promotes a positive image of China, the country from which the epidemic originated. China’s position is diametrically opposed to the American one: the US has decided not to join COVAX and to work independently to the production and distribution of its own vaccines. According to figures released by the WTO, there are around 160 acceding countries, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

(Lydia Milly Certa)

Japan, the medicine against Covid-19 and the new business travel policy. The Japanese government is considering approving the antiviral drug Avigan in November, as a cure for Covid-19. Avigan, produced by the pharmaceutical company Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co., proved that it was able to improve the health conditions of patients without severe symptoms in more or less 11,9 days. The Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that the Japanese government will ease the restrictions on business travelers by the end of the month, exempting workers returning to Japan from the 14-days quarantine rule that is imposed on all the arrivals from Japan. In this way, the government has shown that it is aiming at a quick economic recovery of the country.

(Margherita Camurri)

India, the Feluda Test and feminist protest. A group of Indian scientists have developed the Feluda Test, a paper test that, other than being particularly cheap, is able to detect Covid-19 in less than thirty minutes. The functioning of the Feluda Test is very similar to that of a pregnancy test: a strip of paper is used, which simply changes color depending on whether it detects the virus or not.

A 19-year-old girl died last week from her injuries as a result of a sexual assault. The umpteenth act of violence has led hundreds of people to protest demanding severe punishment for the perpetrators, but also condemning some Indian ministers for failing to pass important laws in favour of women.

(Margherita Camurri)

North Korea, military parade in preparation despite coronavirus. North Koreans will attend a big military parade on October 10, possibly featuring the country's latest ballistic missiles. The holiday marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. The event includes art and industry exhibitions, a light show, visits to monuments and ceremonies to mark the completion of construction projects. Officials and experts say that North Korea could use the parade to show off a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Displaying a new missile could be a “low-intensity demonstration of force” ahead of the US presidential election that would be less provocative than a launch or nuclear test, while also drawing attention at a time when its economic achievements have been sluggish.

(Andrea Angelo Coldani)

South Korea, protests against the revision on the abortion law. The South Korean government has revealed its plan to overhaul laws to allow termination of pregnancy until the 14th week, reigniting the debate on restricting women's rights to abortion. The revisions also conditionally allow abortion until the 24th week of pregnancy based on social, economic and health concerns.

Currently, abortion is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and is only legally allowed in cases of rape or when the protracted pregnancy puts at risk the health of the expectant mother. The public will have around 40 days to submit their opinions about the revisions before the revisions are sent to the National Assembly for approval. Revising, not abolishing, the anti-abortion law, has invited strong protest from women's rights advocacy groups: both pro-life and pro-choice groups held separate protests in front of the National Assembly for what they considered as excessive or lack of restraints on abortion.

(Andrea Angelo Coldani)

Margherita Camurri, Lydia Milly Certa and Andrea Angelo Coldani


WESTERN EUROPE AND THE EUROPEAN UNION

Italy, Pompeo-Di Maio meeting. At the end of the bilateral meeting, Di Maio let it be known that he had a very positive meeting with Pompeo and many issues were addressed. Among the most important are the Libyan dossier and 5G. With regard to Libya, the Minister thanked the American government for its diplomatic efforts in the stabilization process of the country, reiterating the importance of bringing Tripoli to elections, without sabotage by other international actors. The other burning issue was 5G and the relationship with China. Washington fears that its allies may slip under Chinese influence, but the Italian government has reassured, claiming that it has already adopted legislation to maintain a high level of monitoring. To dispel any doubts, Di Maio reiterated Italy's membership of the EU and NATO.

European Union, sanctions in Minsk. After weeks of condemnation by CFSP Representative Borrell, the European Council met and decided to formally proceed with sanctions against 40 Belarusian individuals, held responsible for the violence and repression taking place in the country. The measures include a travel ban and an assets freeze. The European Union continues not to recognise the result of the elections, claiming that they did not comply with international standards. Brussels said it is ready to provide economic support to "democratic Belarus". Meanwhile, President Macron met with opposition leader Tikhanovskaya and assured her of French support.

European Union, tension with London. Relations with the British government are increasingly complex, as the end of the transition period approaches. In the past few days, President von der Leyen has virtually met Boris Johnson. Both stressed the importance of reaching an agreement before the end of the year, but London then made it known that it was ready for a possible no-deal. Unlike in the past, Brussels also did not rule out the possibility of a no-deal, but still preferred a normalisation of relations by 2020. In the meantime, the European Union has taken legal action against the United Kingdom because of the law passed by the government that could violate the agreements made previously.

European Union, a small turning point at the ECB. Lagarde opened the possibility to rethink the objectives of the European Central Bank. The context has changed and this should also lead to updating the targets of the Frankfurt Institute. Inflation would no longer seem to be the ECB's main concern. Lagarde praised the unconventional instruments used in the past years, arguing that they have allowed the Eurozone to grow. The President considers it necessary to maintain an expansive monetary and fiscal policy until the economic crisis is overcome. What seems to be emerging is a more political management of the ECB, and one that re-proposes the traditional opposition between the French and Germans on the role of the Central Bank.

European Union, budget chaos. There has been a very tough confrontation between Parliament and the Council during the so-called "Trilogue", the legislative procedure that provides for several steps between the European institutions. The stalemate may have direct repercussions on the Recovery Fund, associated with the European budget 2021-2027, with the concrete risk of slowing down its approval. The European Parliament calls for greater respect for the rule of law and criticizes the cuts to some European programs wanted by the Council. Negotiations will resume next week, hoping for a more conciliatory tone on both sides. No one would be in favour of postponing approval of the aid package for economic recovery.

Leonardo Cherici

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA

Russia-Iran: new dialogue for bilateral cooperation. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have once again renewed their mutual support to face international challenges. After having received clear support from Tehran for the very recent ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh, President Putin in turn confirmed his support for Iranian efforts to implement the international JCPOA, whose respect, as Putin himself said, remains of vital importance for international security. The two Presidents also discussed the joint fight against Covid-19, with possible testing in both countries of the Russian produced vaccine "Sputnik V".

The clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia rekindles the Caucasus war. The very recent resumption of hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region has rekindled one of the most important "frozen conflicts" in the world. Begun in 1992 and ceased (not definitively) in 1994, the conflict is now resumed for the control of the above mentioned region, disputed between the claims of the Azerbaijani government and the Armenian population. The cause of this new violent outbreak of tensions is represented by mutual reprisals dating back to last July. Now it is feared that the conflict could spread to the regional level and also involve other powers on the chessboard, such as Turkey and Russia. A first truce has been announced on October 10, but with already mutual accusations of violation by Baku and Armenia.

Andrea Maria Vassallo



MIDDLE-EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)

Tunisia, the reinvigoration of the pandemic imposes difficult choices. There are four governorates of the northeast region of Tunisia where a curfew has been imposed to curb the surge of contagion from Covid-19 in the country: Tunis, Ben Arous, Ariana and Manouba. In addition, the economic crisis and generalized discontent seem to have fueled the phenomenon of crime at the national level. It is no coincidence that President Kais Saied - aware of the orientation of public opinion - has expressed himself in favor of lifting the ban on capital punishment (a position already expressed during the election campaign) following the brutal murder of a 30-year-old woman north of Tunis. In the country the courts can still attribute the death penalty in response to various crimes (such as terrorist acts) but only after presidential signature.

(Federica Sulpizio)

Algeria, towards the referendum on the new constitution. The call to the polls of the Algerian people to vote on a new constitutional text is scheduled for November 1. The text prefigures the transfer of more powers to parliament and the prime minister, as well as the formal recognition of more freedom. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune also announced that legislative elections will be held following the referendum. On the other hand, still regarding internal dynamics, Human Rights Watch has denounced the expulsion of more than 3000 migrants by Algerian security forces. The facts date back to September; thousands of migrants were arrested and transported to the border with Niger to be expelled.

(Federica Sulpizio)

Egypt, tensions within the country. Anti-government protests continue to find their center in rural areas, where people - terrified to see their humble homes demolished - demonstrate at the cost of being arrested, if not killed (so far two victims). In fact, many people have been detained (estimates range between 500-700 arrests) in an attempt to quell the riots by the police forces. The government has promptly labeled the anti-government demonstrations as the result of a conspiracy by the Muslim Brotherhood. On the other hand, an important archaeological discovery was made south of Cairo, in the cemetery of Saqqara, where 59 wooden sarcophagi dating back 2,500 years were found.

(Federica Sulpizio)

Turkey, the return to no man's lands. For the first time after 46 years, it will be possible to access the beach of Varosha, a neighborhood in the city of Famagusta in northern Cyprus. The "abandoned beach" is located in terra nullius after the Turkish intervention in 1974 in response to the enōsisof the Greek colonels. The decision of Ersin Tatar, PM of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and Turkish President Erdoğan came close to the October 11 elections. The gesture threatens to rekindle the fuses of the past since the protests of former residents were echoed by the Greek condemnation of Athens and Nicosia, as well as a call from Russia and the UN. Ankara's loud voice also resounds in Nagorno-Karabakh, where the thawing of the conflict has led to intervene alongside the "Turkish-Azerbaijani brothers'', with Bayraktar drones and (according to the Armenian front) with Syrian mercenaries. While this unprecedented multi-facetted activism shakes up relations with Moscow and Tehran, it continues to produce a double consensus in the conservative-religious bangs as well as in the nationalist and pan-Turanian ones.

(Samuele Abrami)

Iran, the price of sanctions and unstable borders. The U.S. Treasury Department recently announced the inclusion on its blacklist of 18 major Iranian banks, considering the financial sector "a further way of financing the hostile activities of the Iranian government". Despite assurances from Washington, several international analysts and the governments of France, the United Kingdom and Germany themselves have pointed out that new rounds of sanctions could increase the import price of humanitarian and health equipment. Still in the midst of the Covid-19 emergency, Iran is facing a delicate socio-economic crisis that risks worsening also due to low oil prices. Not least, the instability produced by the clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan raises further questions about Iran's real space and capacity for manoeuvre. The international isolation and internal crises continue to block any possible improvement and who mostly pays the price is still the population.

(Samuele Abrami)

Libya, between internal negotiations and external agendas: after the first round, negotiations between representatives of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica in Morocco, in the town of Bouznika, resume. Under the auspices of the United Nations, a videoconference was also held in the format of the Berlin talks. At the beginning of October, according to the Turkish newspaper "Daily Sabah", the EEZ delimitation agreement between GNA and Turkey was registered by the UN secretariat. In the meantime, it seems that new Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group have arrived in support of Haftar and that Turkey is strengthening its presence in the al-Watiyah base. According to some analysts, a massive Turkish air force presence on Libyan soil could significantly alter the strategic balance in the Maghreb.

(Michele Magistretti)

Israel, government and country in difficulty: while Algeria rejects the normalisation of relations with Israel together with Sudan, in the latter there has been strong pressure from Islamists, Lebanon, with the detached approval of Hezbollah, is about to sit down at the table to discuss the delimitation of sea and land borders. Israel also signs an agreement with the Jordanian kingdom for flights of a commercial nature to fly over the airspace. At the same time, however, due to the sale of military equipment to Azerbaijan, Armenia withdraws its ambassador in protest. In the end, the government is the victim of an internal crisis caused by the pandemic and the strong street protests calling for Bibi's resignation and the relaxation of health measures.

(Michele Magistretti)

Samuele Abrami, Federica Sulpizio and Michele Magistretti



TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

Syria, new concerns over security situation in the east of the country. Isis is strengthening its presence in rural areas of Deir Ezzor province, on the border with Iraq. For months, militias have been launching attacks against both military and civilian targets, and their action seems to have intensified in recent weeks. From their part, Isis cells are the object of numerous offensives by both pro-Assad and SDF forces and allies. The rivalry, even through direct clashes, between the government of Damascus and the Kurdish-led forces for the control of those territories seems to have produced a situation favourable to Isis, which has allegedly regained control over the population of some small rural centres. He also discusses the SDF's decision to release 20,000 Syrian refugees detained in the al-Hol camp: many of them were relatives of Isis militiamen.

(Laura Morreale)

US, two former British ISIS militants to stand trial. Part of a cell of British foreign fighters, known as "The Beatles," has been transferred to the United States to appear in a Federal Court in Virginia. We are talking about El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, detained since 2019 at an American base in Iraq for kidnapping, torture and killing several hostages, including the American journalist James Foley. The judicial case of the two former fighters seems to have come to an end, after the controversy over their extradition to the US. Although the UK had revoked their citizenship, it was opposed to their transfer to the US, for fear that they would be sentenced to the death penalty. Now that the US government has agreed not to apply the death penalty in their case, the UK has approved the transfer and has agreed to provide the information available to it on the convicted.

(Laura Morreale)

Italy, foreign fighter Alice Brignoli repatriated. "Syria is not what I thought". It is with this sentence that Alice Brignoli, an Italian citizen of 42 years old from the province of Lecco, presented herself to the Milanese pm Francesco Cajani and Alberto Nobili in the interrogation for the validation of the arrest for conspiracy to commit terrorism. Alice, along with her Moroccan-born husband and their three children, had joined the Caliphate in the spring of 2015, after a long journey through the Balkans and Turkey. According to what was said during the interrogations, it was the husband, who died in Syria, who encouraged the radicalization of his wife. Through the network of contacts that Brignoli's husband had built in Italy, the ROS Carabinieri are trying to trace back to those who have ultimately followed and supported the family's membership in Daesh.

(Davide Shahhosseini)

Italy, storm on Saras: suspicions about a cargo of oil purchased between 2015 and 2016. To end up in the spotlight of the anti-terrorism prosecutor of Cagliari is a consignment of 12 million crude oil, purchased by the well-known oil company controlled for 40% by the former president of Inter Massimo Moratti. To date, the Cfo Franco Balsamo and the head of the commercial office Marco Schiavetti are under investigation: on both of them are pending charges of money laundering, forgery and tax crimes. According to the reconstruction of the purchase stages, Saras purchased the suspicious cargo from Petraco Company, based in London, which in turn would have purchased the cargo from Edgwaters Falls, which is an offshore company based in the Virgin Islands. The latter, according to the authorities, would have purchased the consignment directly from Iraq, without passing to the Iraqi state oil agency, which is the only one recognized on the international level. This last passage increases the suspicion that this cargo, in relation to the period of purchase, came from fields that at the time of the facts were under the control of the Caliphate. Saras has rejected all the accusations.

(Davide Shahhosseini)

Davide Shahhosseini and Laura Morreale


INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Nobel Peace Prize at the World Food Programme. The UN food assistance programme operates in 88 countries by supporting populations at risk of malnutrition and famine. The Committee assigning the Nobel Prize wanted to give the agency a symbolic recognition for its widespread action in conflict zones, which prevents hunger from being instrumentalized as a weapon by warring parties. Moreover, at a time of global economic recession caused by the pandemic, the international support provided by the WFP can mitigate the food insecurity that has affected many more people than in previous years.

(Laura Morreale)

World Mental Health Day, and the WHO initiatives. The occasion, which falls every 10 October, was celebrated by an online awareness-raising event, attended by political figures, artists, activists and representatives of WHO and other international organisations. The occasion was a reminder of the importance to invest in research and treatment for mental health, which still receives little attention compared to the needs of the world's population, despite progress in recent years. According to the WHO, the pandemic has been added to difficulties already experienced by the sector: on the one hand, the incidence of mental disorders has increased; on the other hand, access to services dedicated to these disorders has decreased. The UNHCR also spoke out on the subject on 10 October by stressing that refugees are still a particularly vulnerable group in this respect.

(Laura Morreale)

The African Union withdraws the suspension of Mali. The country had been suspended by the Union following the military coup that deposed President Keïta last August. Three days before the withdrawal, the regional association of West African states - ECOWAS, made up of 15 countries - had withdrawn the economic and trade sanctions imposed on Mali. The recent appointment of a new transitional government was, in fact, seen as a sign of stabilisation by other states: sanctions were aimed precisely at exerting pressure to prevent power remaining in the hands of the military. Four out of the 25 ministers appointed are, however, from the military ranks, and Colonel Assimi Goita, at the head of the military junta that took power in August, will cover the position of vice-president in the new executive.

(Laura Morreale)

New agreement between the Pan American Health Organization (OPS) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). On October 9, the two organizations signed an agreement to improve the health of 70 million migrants living in the Americas. A more coordinated action will be taken to support countries in the Americas to address health and migration issues. Therefore, in this framework, OPS and IOM are ready to support the inclusion of the specific needs of the migrant population in the health and development policies of the Region, both in the context of COVID-19 and beyond the current pandemic.

(Valeria Scuderi)

COVID-19 and electronic commerce. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has published a recent survey on online purchasing changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, which would show that the pandemic had produced lasting effects, thus accelerating the transition to a more digital world. "The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed online shopping behavior," said UNCTAD Secretary General, Mukhisa Kituyi, adding: "The acceleration of online shopping globally underlines the urgency of ensuring that all countries can seize the opportunities offered by digitization as the world moves from pandemic response to recovery”. The survey was conducted on about 3,700 consumers in 9 emerging and developed economies: Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Switzerland and Turkey.

(Valeria Scuderi)

Welcome to North Macedonia in NATO. On October 8, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, to NATO headquarters. On that occasion, Stoltenberg wanted to acclaim the accession of North Macedonia to NATO on 27 March 2020, calling it "a remarkable achievement after years of determination and considerable commitment to reform; a good thing for the people of North Macedonia". During the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern Macedonia benefited from the Allies' support with the provision of medical equipment and financial aid to alleviate the burden of the health system and will soon receive assistance and technical aid to deal with the COVID-19.

(Valeria Scuderi)

Valeria Scuderi e Laura Morreale





Framing The World is a project conceived and created by the collaboration between members of the team of Mondo Internazionale associates.

Andrea Angelo Coldani: Asia and the Far East

Andrea Maria Vassallo: East - Europe and Russia Federation

Chiara Scuderi: Human Rights

Davide Shahhosseini: Terrorism and International Security

Federica Sulpizio: Middle East and North Africa

Federico Brignacca: Human Rights

Laura Morreale: Terrorism and International Security and International Organisations

Leonardo Aldeghi: Economy and International Finance

Leonardo Cherici: West Europe and the European Union

Lydia Milly Certa: Asia and the Far East

Margherita Camurri: Asia and the Far East

Marta Annalisa Savino: North America

Martina Pignatelli: Sub-Saharan Africa, South America

Michele Magistretti: Middle East and North Africa

Michele Pavan: Sub-Saharan Africa

Samuele Abrami: Middle East and North Africa

Sara Squadrani: Human Rights

Valeria Scuderi: North and South America, and International Organisations

Vincenzo Battaglia: Terrorism and International Security



Translated by: Andrea Angelo Coldani, Andrea Maria Vassallo, Chiara Scuderi, Davide Shahhosseini, Federica Sulpizio, Federico Brignacca, Laura Morreale, Leonardo Aldeghi, Leonardo Chierici, Lydia Milly Certa, Margherita Camurri, Marta Annalisa Savino, Martina Pignatelli, Michele Magistretti, Michele Pavan, Sara Squadrani, Samuele Abrami, Valeria Scuderi, Vincenzo Battaglia.


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America Economia Internazionale finanza internazionale Africa Estremo Oriente Medio Oriente terrorismo internazionale sicurezza internazionale Organizzazioni internazionali Europa Unione Europea

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