What solution for the radioactive waters of Fukushima? What future for Northern Ireland? How did the pandemic affect the Italian-Russian adoption system? And more, is Lebanon reconstruction looming? These are just some of the questions addressed in the new issue of Framing the World. We also talk about the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and the diplomatic relations of Libya, Iran and Turkey, where the meeting between EU representatives and Erdogan sparked controversy. You will find all this and more in the new issue of FtW!
Tripoli, Erdogan deploys 380 mercenary units from Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has signalled the action of Ankara, which seems to have no intention in taking a step back in the scenario of the Libyan capital and the Tripolitania region. A mood of discontent among the Syrian fighters already present in Libya, forced to remain in the North African country, is also underlined. Already at the beginning of the year, the Turkish president had sent two thousand Syrians to work in the area. Turkey, through this manoeuvre, seems therefore willing to strengthen its presence there. After the controversy regarding the relations with the institutions of the European Union, the objective of reinforcing Ankara’s leading role in the international arena is clear.
Trapani, dozens of Italian and foreign journalists illegitimately intercepted. In 2017, the Prosecutor’s Office of Trapani began an investigation into the ships of the NGOs that rescued migrants in the Mediterranean. Today, interceptions of dozens of journalists’ conversations with the staff of the aforementioned boats, or with personalities under investigation at the time of the facts, emerge. As a rule, journalists enjoy the complete confidentiality of their sources. The only reason why a journalist can be put under wiretapping is for a proven relevance of one’s attitude in criminal matters. In this case, the intercepted journalists were not even investigated. The most striking case is that of Nancy Porsia, a freelance journalist who documented the torture in Libyan detention centres. For many, this is an attack on the free press, unworthy of a democratic country; an attempt to silence those who reveal the distortions of an agreement made on the skin of thousands of migrants.
Khartoum, 132 victims in clashes between communities in Western Darfur. On Saturday, various members of the Masalit ethnic group and those of nomadic Arab communities started violent clashes in various areas of Western Darfur. The UN reports that the violence has caused thousands of Sudanese to flee to neighbouring Chad. After the fall of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, the country’s government is committed to trying to bring peace agreements between the various factions that militate in the most problematic regions of Sudan, which have been raging in a terrible civil war since 2003. These events coincided with a demonstration against gender discrimination by hundreds of Sudanese women in the capital.
Chad, pre-election beatings and abuse. Chad's security forces have carried out violent crackdowns on protesters and political opponents for the presidential elections on Sunday, April 11, in which Idriss Deby Itno, in government since 1990, is running for a sixth term. "While many Chadians are bravely taking to the streets to peacefully demand change and respect for their fundamental rights, the authorities are repressing dissent and hope for fair or credible elections," says Ida Sawyer, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Belarus, freedom of speech under attack. Belarus continues to be the talk of the town, whose parliament in recent weeks has received eight bills, including amendments to laws regarding the mass media and gatherings in the country. These would legitimize the expansion of restrictions on the mass media and further damage press freedom in the country, putting the work of independent journalists at risk. There have been 18 criminal cases brought against journalists in the past six months, with three receiving prison sentences ranging from six months to two years.
Afghanistan, more women participation in UN talks with Afghan government. Human Rights Watch says that, in view of the talks between Afghan government officials, political leaders and Taliban under the auspices of the United Nations scheduled for April 16 in Istanbul, it will be important to give a prominent role and full participation to women. The UN has already expressed in 2019 through the Deputy Secretary-General that "the inclusion of women is critical for sustainable peace and development in Afghanistan." In particular, UN Security Council Resolution 1325 fits right into this context calling for "equal participation and full involvement of women in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security."
Federico Brignacca and Edoardo Cappelli
ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCE
Post-Covid, industrial production is booming. Despite some logistical difficulties (e.g. the blockage of the Suez Canal) and the shortage of semiconductors, which has been slowing down car production for several months and which does not seem destined to disappear in the short term, in most parts of the world March seems to have been the decisive moment for the revival of the industrial sector. The Chinese and American PMI indices beat forecasts and reached 51.9 and 64.7 respectively, the latter the best figure since 1983, but the data also indicate a high level of outstanding orders, a sign that production is failing to keep pace with demand. In Europe, on the other hand, France, Germany and Italy saw production fall by 4.7%, 1.6% and 0.1% in February, respectively, with France particularly hard hit by the decline in the automotive sector (-11.4%) and Germany by the drop in investments.
USA, jobs and subsidies. As mentioned, American industrial production is unable to keep pace with the demand and analysts have identified the cause on the one hand in the lack of raw materials and semi-processed materials, and on the other in the difficulty of finding personnel to hire. It is not surprising, therefore, to see that in March the private sector added 916,000 new jobs (675,000 were forecast) but rather the increase in unemployment claims, which rose from 728k to 744k (694k expected) and more than 8 million jobs lost compared to 2019. The contradiction is partly explained by the delay with which the hospitality sector is recovering pre-covid levels, but on the other hand, one cannot deny the generosity of state and federal subsidies, which often compete with the wages offered by employers.
USA, here's the American Jobs Plan. After countless indiscretions, Biden presented to the public his infrastructure plan (but it would be reductive to limit it to infrastructure) worth $2.3 trillion. In addition to the nearly $1 trillion earmarked for infrastructure (transportation, energy, water, digital networks), there is also $400 billion for the elderly and disabled, over $130 billion for child care, schools and colleges, and tens of billions more for social spending. However, Biden also wants to revive competition with China and plans to spend $300 billion to strengthen the American industry and another $180 billion in R&D spending, which if approved would be some of the largest ever funding for civilian research. Passing these measures is a sore point, however, given the razor-thin margin in the Senate and the lukewarm response to the plan from the party's more moderate members, especially since it is being paid for by tax increases.
Biden, a global tax system? The Biden administration, in order to cover part of the programs it intends to pursue, has presented to the world a proposal for the taxation of multinational companies that would overcome the stalemate in the negotiations underway for several years at the OECD. In documents sent to the 135 countries involved in the negotiations, the US Treasury has set out the idea of determining a minimum level of taxation (21%) applicable to companies on the basis of sales made in each country and a mechanism that would allow individual states to collect taxes even if the companies do not have a physical location in the country (or have it in a tax haven...), as often happens in the digital economy. The proposal has received full support from the Italian Prime Minister Draghi, who is also chairing the G20 this year, and from other European countries such as Spain.
Wall Street, still a new record. The American stock markets continue to run and surprisingly so do the European ones, which despite the much worse epidemiological situation compared to the American one, have obtained roughly the same performance as Wall Street since the beginning of the year, while Asia remains weak, although it has improved slightly in recent days. The S&P500 has reached its 19th new record high since the beginning of the year (the sixth in two weeks) and exceeded 4000 points, 434 sessions after reaching 3000 points (the fastest 1000 point increase ever), but many hesitate to speak of a "bubble". To push the markets higher are the expansionary policies of the FED, which will not withdraw its support for many quarters to come, and Biden's investment plan, also capable of overcoming the effects of the tax increase that will finance it, at least in the intentions of investors.
Chad, presidential elections. On Sunday 11 April the electoral round began to elect the new President in Chad. At the beginning of March the Supreme Court had validated 10 candidacies while it had excluded 7, not without dissent. The current outgoing president Idriss Deby Itno challenges 6 opponents and he is in the race for the 6th consecutive term. Tensions continued to affect the political scene until the days leading up to the elections. Between Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 people were arrested for attempted "terrorist acts, murders, serious attacks on public order and state security" - announced the Public Security. Among them, various members of the opposition.
Uganda, agreement over intelligence signed with Egypt. Il Cairo for some time has been trying to weave a network of economic and military agreements with various African countries crossed by the Nile, with the aim to have more political force with which try to solve the dispute with Ethiopia regarding the construction of a large dam on the Blue Nile River. An important agreement with Uganda, the country where the White Nile originates, has recently been added to this network. The two nations have agreed on a deeper cooperation in the intelligence sector, with an enhanced exchange of information. This agreement was reached on Wednesday 7 April thanks to a meeting of senior military officials related to intelligence from two countries, who highlighted how Uganda and Egypt are linked with regard to the events unfolding along the continent's most important river.
Sara Squadrani e Andrea Ghilardi
Minneapolis, pulmonologist: “George Floyd died of asphyxiation.” Pulmonologist Martin Tobin stated during the George Floyd death trial that taking Fentanyl may not have been the main cause of the man's death. The doctor relied on the treatment suffered by the African American, forced to the ground with a prolonged pressure of a knee on the neck, which would have killed, according to Tobin, even a healthy person. This contradicts the thesis of Derek Chauvin’s defence, stating that Floyd died from an overdose. Furthermore, the testimony also represents a step forward compared to the various autopsies carried out during the last period, which had advanced the hypothesis of death due to heart problems independent from the actions of the police officer. This had raised the suspicion of partiality, so much so that Floyd's family demanded independent analysis.
Atlanta, mobilizations against the law that limits the right to vote. On March 25, the Republicans who govern Georgia passed a law that reduces the number of public spaces where it is possible to cast one’s own vote and the number of days when one can vote by mail. The law follows Trump’s accusation of fraud in the elections of last November, but in fact it is yet another attempt to further isolate the African American communities (voters with a democratic majority), making it more difficult for them to vote. However, Republicans now risk a boomerang effect. Various historic Atlanta-based companies, such as Coca-Cola or Delta, have announced their will to take their brands out of the state. Similarly, the Major League Baseball has announced plans to stop the July All-Star Game from taking place in the city of Georgia.
Argentina, communication between Fernández and Putin. On 5 April, Alberto Fernández received a call from Vladimir Putin after testing positive for the virus, despite having taken the Sputnik V vaccine between 21 January and 10 February. The Argentinean president's state of health worries Moscow. Argentina was one of the first countries to be the gateway for the Russian vaccine in Latin America. The Argentinean president replied that he is asymptomatic thanks to the vaccine and that the vaccination campaign based on the Sputnik V is having positive results in the country. For his part, Putin declared his willingness to send more doses to Argentina. Moreover, Argentina had asked for Russia's support in the process of renegotiating its debt with the International Monetary Fund. As a consequence, the desire to deepen political relations between the two countries seems to be clear.
Brazil, Bolsonaro and the new vaccine plan. If a year ago President Bolsonaro articulated speeches denying the existence of Covid 19, determined by open statements referring to the disagreement of using masks, restriction measures and the need of being vaccinated, today, we see acts of antithetical strategy. In fact, in addition to the establishment of a crisis committee that aims to design a common strategy to fight against the corona virus between the central and local authorities, the federal government has signed an agreement with Pfizer and Jansen laboratories securing 138 million doses that should arrive between May and December this year. The reasons are: the health crisis (which counts more than 300,000 deaths), the political crisis (which distances Bolsonaro from certain re-election) and the economic-financial crisis.
Chile, postponement of elections. The elections for the constituent assembly, governors, councillors and mayors were due to take place on the weekend of 10-11 April. However, President Sebastián Piñera had proposed postponing the event due to the serious pandemic situation. The bill presented was initially approved by the Senate but rejected by the House, due to some points that caused much controversy. The bill was finally approved by both the House and the Senate and enacted by the President. In particular, it stipulates that 15 and 16 May, when elections are held, will be considered public holidays. Mayoral candidates will remain in office until 15 April and the election campaign will be resumed on 29 April. The presidential primaries will be held on 18 July 2021.
Cuba, 60 years of "bloqueo". March 29, 2021: the capital of Cuba and 50 cities in other countries around the world, have been protesting against the embargo imposed by the United States on the Cuban island, in 1962. Therefore, hundreds demonstrated to demand its elimination, because those restrictions seem even more incompatible with the contemporary pandemic logic, according to Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. So, if in 2015 Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro bound a historic cooperation that at the time allowed the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, with Trump this work of normalizing relations was repudiated. To date, it is unclear whether Biden plans to pick up from Obama's path: the revision of the approach towards Havana is still an enigmatic "work in progress”.
Peru, population barred from voting. Peru's Foreign Ministry announced that the 19,711 citizens residing in Venezuela will not be able to vote in the elections on Sunday 11 April because the Maduro’s government's Chancellery did not provide the necessary authorisation for them to exercise this right. The Venezuelan government responded that it would never allow itself to obstruct the electoral process of another state and that the Peruvian authorities must take responsibility for what happened. Similarly, since Chile has declared a total quarantine until 12 April, Peruvians living in that country will not be able to exercise their right to vote.
Ginevra Ricca and Elisa Maggiore
ASIA AND THE FAR EAST
China, the 'vaccine diplomacy' and the charge against the UK. The Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has accused China of implementing a 'vaccine diplomacy' towards Paraguay, promising millions of doses to the country. According to Wu, Beijing is trying to influence the positions of Paraguay, which remains one of the few countries that recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan. The very high number of asylum applications in the UK by activists of Hong Kong, led Beijing to accuse London of being a 'platform for pro-independence agitators in Hong Kong' and of 'providing refuge to wanted criminals'.
Japan, a solution for the radioactive waters of Fukushima and the new peak of infections. According to the Japanese media, next week Tokyo could take a final decision, authorizing the release of radioactive waters of Fukushima in the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese Government has reassured the main opponents of the solution, namely the neighboring countries and the fishing industry, that the necessary safety measures will be taken in order not to damage Pacific waters. Meanwhile, a new alarming increase in the number of infections in Tokyo brings uncertainty about the organization of the Summer Olympics of 2021 and forces the Japanese government to consider the introduction of new restrictive measures.
Taiwan, the support of the United States. The Biden administration has once again confirmed its support for Taiwan, placing strong emphasis on the country’s relevance in the Strategic Competition Act, which could be approved on April 14. In fact, the bill, which focuses on the American opposition to China, calls for Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations, the World Health Assembly, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Criminal Police Organization. The bill also urges the United States to confirm and reinforce its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances, key documents that outline relations between the two countries.
WESTERN EUROPE AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
Italy, Draghi flies to Libya. Prime Minister Draghi has chosen Libya as the destination of his first official visit abroad. The choice is not accidental, but the result of a specific desire on the part of the Italian government to reaffirm its centrality in the North African country. In recent years, in fact, Russia and Turkey have played a leading role in the civil war, to the exclusion of Italy. With his visit, Draghi made explicit Rome's closeness to the new transitional government that will have to lead the country to elections on 24 December. Libya will have to face an important process of reconstruction that will offer new opportunities for Italian companies to relaunch the historically intense commercial exchange between the two countries. Linked to Libyan stability, there is also the issue of migration, which, at least at the moment, has been left somewhat to one side.
Northern Ireland, clashes in Belfast. It was not a quiet Easter in Northern Ireland. Numerous people took to the streets against the police, injuring several officers, and setting fire to the streets of Belfast and Derry. The protesters were all from the loyalist group that supports Ulster's membership of the United Kingdom. The protest was sparked by the local police's decision not to prosecute Sinn Fein members who had violated anti-coveted restrictions to attend the funeral of a former IRA member. However, tensions have been growing for months. The Brexit has brought unresolved issues to the surface and loyalists fear that the part of the agreement between London and Brussels regarding the status of Northern Ireland could lead to a reunification of Ireland in the future.
United Kingdom, farewell to Prince Philip. The husband of Queen Elizabeth died on 9 April. Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, would have been 100 years old next June, but had recently suffered from health problems. In 1947 he joined the British royal family after marrying Elizabeth, who was princess at the time. From 1939 to 1952 he served in the British armed forces, participating in numerous battles during the Second World War. From 1952 onwards, he dedicated himself to his role as the Queen's consort, which he held until 2017 when he decided to retire to private life.
European Union, an armchair for two! On April 6, during the official visit to Ankara of the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, an unexpected diplomatic incident sparked numerous controversies. In fact, at the time to sit down, President Von der Leyen was left without a place to sit, since the only two chairs available had already been occupied by Michel and the Turkish president Erdoğan. After a moment of disappointment, she positioned herself on a sofa to the side. This event immediately aroused various reactions; if on the one hand the official protocol places the President of the EU Council above the President of the Commission, thus in fact justifying this differentiation, at the same time, however, the practice during this type of visits equates them, thus requiring an equal treatment. However, considering how Erdoğan himself welcomed in 2015 the at the time Presidents Juncker and Tusk, both sitting next to him, one could think that the different treatment for Von der Leyen may depend, more than on his official role and on protocol issues, on his gender, thus highlighting an aspect of the Turkish government's vision that is far more serious and offensive.
European Union, the European rightwing parties meet in Budapest. On April the 1st, the leaders of the main rightwing parties of Hungary, Poland and Italy gathered in the Hungarian capital to discuss closer cooperation in Europe in the future. The Hungarian Prime Minister and leader of the Fidesz party, Viktor Orbán, the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Jakub Morawiecki, head of the Pis party, and Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega, during the summit highlighted the common values on which their parties are founded, also declaring that they intend to continue to talk with other right-wing parties in Europe. This cooperation comes following the exit of the Hungarian party Fidesz from the European People's Party group in the European Parliament. The intention of the three leaders could therefore be to create a new single large group that brings together most of the far-right movements of the European political landscape, thus changing the political balance within the European Parliament.
Greenland, the opposition wins the elections and will decide the future of a massive mining project. The party IA (Inuit Ataqatigiit), for decades the main opposition party in Greenland, won the elections on 6 April with 37% of the votes. The Social Democrats of Siumut, with 29% of the votes, lost for the second time in their history. This result could lead to significant international repercussions, since the main topic of this electoral confrontation was the exploitation of the rare metal deposits of Mount Kuannersuit. The winning party is against the plan to turn the mountain into a mining site, which was already attracting the interest of several international companies. This is because, given the presence of radioactive uranium among the rare metals of the mountain, this project would have damaged the untouched environment of the island. It will therefore be interesting to follow what the new government will decide on this important project.
Leonardo Cherici and Andrea Ghilardi
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine: possible outbreak of a civil war. In the last two weeks, tension has returned to increase on the border between Russia and Ukraine, two countries at war since 2014 following the invasion and subsequent occupation of eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian militias. Independent observers in Russia and Western countries have noted that for days the Russian army has been amassing troops and military vehicles not far from the Ukrainian border, so much so that there is open talk of the possibility of a new invasion. The Russian government has not denied the hypothesis: on Friday the spokesman of Russian President Vladimir Putin blames Ukraine for the increase in tensions and made it known that Russia ‘‘will not stand by and watch’’ in the event of a ‘‘humanitarian catastrophe’’. On Thursday one of Putin's main collaborators, Dmitry Kozak, explicitly said that Russia will intervene militarily to defend ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the event of an offensive by the Ukrainian army.
The pandemic brings the Italian-Russian adoption system to its knees. The closure of the borders linked to the pandemic has also hit the adoptive procedures hard, and if it is possible to obtain special visas for those who have to work in Russia or for family reasons related to reunification, it seems impossible to obtain them for those couples who have already met the children and should make the last journey for the final decision of adoption. It is not just a matter of paperwork: behind each of these practices there are children who are waiting in the institute for parents who had promised them that they would come back to pick them up to start a different life together. They are children who in the meantime - according to the reports of the liaison bodies - have stopped eating or have fallen into depression, so that to the damage of their previous life, abandonment has been added a new damage: preventing them to have an alternative life to the internment.
MIDDLE-EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
Egypt, after three millennia an ancient city has been reborn. "The Rise of Aten": this is the name given to the city by the archaeologists who gave it new life by digging under the desert sand. It is the largest industrial and administrative association in Imperial Egypt (1391-1353 BC). While regarding external relations, al-Sisi is preparing to welcome for the second time an official visit by Tunisian President Saied to Cairo between 9 and 15 April. The first official visit, following the outbreak of the respective revolutions and counter-revolutions, was in 2015 when the Tunisian Head of State, Essebsi, had visited the Egyptian capital to revive bilateral relations between the two North African countries. The focus of the meeting will undoubtedly be the economic ties between the two and the reconstruction projects concerning Libya. In addition, a new agreement for the sharing of military intelligence has been signed between Kampala and Cairo, with the aim of preventing and resolving the possible escalation of tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia, which would inevitably involve Uganda.
Lebanon, is reconstruction on the horizon? A few days ago the President's advisor tweeted that Michel Aoun is planning to create a common economic market whose members would be Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. This initiative would be a compromise between the necessary (but strongly conditioned) international aid and the maintenance of Lebanese sovereignty and independence from external powers. A proposal for the reconstruction of Beirut’s port, destroyed by the explosion of last August, has come from external powers, specifically from Germany: based on this project, the European Investment Bank (EIB) will get available between the 2 and 3 billion euros, if the Lebanese government arranges public finances and eradicates rampant corruption.
Iraq in search of alliances. Iraqi Prime Minister Al Kadhimi went to Riyadh on an official visit to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with the aim to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries and foster regional cooperation. As reported by the Iraqi Ambassador, political, security and economic questions were discussed. The Saudi kingdom declared that it will support Iraq in the war against terrorism and extremism, a war that can only be concluded in respect for Iraqi territorial sovereignty and without the interference of foreign actors. On the other hand, to encourage commercial development, an ad hoc fund of 3 billion dollars will be created for the Iraqi private sector. Energy affairs have been defined only in vague terms, as the two countries have always been competitors.
Turkey, trying to distinguish the wood from the trees. Incessant in these hours are the accusations, counter-accusations and assumptions involving the so-called “sofagate” that has seen unpleasant diplomatic incidents between Ankara and the visiting European leaders. To throw gasoline on the fire, there was also the accusation of the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi against the Turkish President, branded as “necessary dictator”. Interconnected events that show two much deeper trends. On the one hand, the willingness - and a certain awareness - on the part of Turkey to be able to alternate between aggressive or more accommodating rhetoric in making copious demands on several fronts but without having to face truly divergent issues. On the other hand, a Europe limited to cosmetic claims and in struggle to give substance, through a unified and decisive voice, to the deepest instances and synthesis of individual national interests. Thus, excluding a necessary economic-commercial exchange, the hot topics - from migrants to the Eastern Mediterranean, from human rights to the customs union - remain unresolved on the table and at risk of damaging Europe’s image and objectives in the long term.
Iran, long-distance relations. In recent weeks, dress rehearsals of dialogue between Tehran and Washington have resumed in Vienna, the very place where the historic nuclear deal (JCPOA) was signed in 2015. After former U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the agreement, however, the recent ones are called “indirect talks” as Iranian delegates have made their participation conditional only on the mediation of the European countries that remain signatories to the agreement (France, Germany, the United Kingdom), but especially China and Russia. Europe's desire would be to bring the agreement back to life before the possible changes with the upcoming presidential elections in Iran, but from the US side several impediments persist. The Biden administration, in fact, is willing to revive the dossier only after assurances on two fronts: the real status of Teheran's missile program and the positioning of its regional proxies. From the Iranian side, however, the request is for an easing of sanctions and to strengthen the “joint efforts” pragmatically requested by the EU itself. Time is short and the parties remain distant.
Libya, the diplomatic rush continues: in recent weeks the leaders of the new government have been engaged in several meetings and diplomatic exchanges with various regional players. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Tripoli, making his first foreign trip to the North African country. On the same day, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also visited Tripoli's capital. Thus, the Hellenic country re-established diplomatic relations shortly after the reopening of the French embassy in Tripoli itself. But the prime minister of the transitional government also made a foreign tour. Abdul Hamid Dbeibah went to the Gulf and met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, before continuing on to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Israel, political forces negotiate to create a government: Reuven Rivlin, the country's president, on the basis of the results of the recent elections, has instructed the outgoing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to form the government. The Likud leader counts on the certain support of 52 MPs. In order to reach the necessary quota, Bibi will have to obtain the support of Islamists, national-conservatives and the extreme far-right Religious Zionism party, which, however, has vetoed collaboration with Ra'am's Islamists. Meanwhile, opposition leader Yair Lapid is also trying to attract Yamina's national-conservatives to his political bloc.
Federica Sulpizio, Samuele Abrami, Michele Magistretti and Sara Oldani
TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
Mozambique, the city of Palma declared 'safe' by security forces. The town of Palma, located in the northern province of Cape Delgado, has been declared 'safe' by the military. The city had been besieged by jihadist rebels on 24 March and intense clashes between the national army and the terrorists took place in the following days. The actual number of dead and wounded is still unclear due to the difficulty of the media in finding information on the ground. According to some government sources, dozens of people died in the assault, while the United Nations reports that 11,000 civilians fled Palma.
Nigeria, assault on prison in Owerri. On 5 April, an armed commando attacked a prison in Owerri, Imo State (south-east Nigeria). After engaging in a confrontation with prison guards, the attackers allowed more than 1,800 inmates to escape. Although the attack was not claimed, the government attributed responsibility to the 'Indigenous People of Biafra' (IPOB), a group with separatist aspirations and active in Imo State. The latter, however, denied involvement in the siege.
France, freedom for Luigi Bergamin: the sentence (in Italy) for the former militant of the Brigate Rosse falls under prescription. The meeting between the Minister of Justice, Marta Cartabia, and her French counterpart, Éric Dupond-Moretti, did not have the desired effects on the dispute that, for decades, has seen Rome and Paris punctually clash on the question of the extradition of former Brigade members who have found refuge - protected by the legal shield ‘Mitterrand’ - in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Before the meeting - which took place on April 8 - Minister Cartabia had reiterated the firm will of the Italian Government for the French authorities to grant the extradition of the former BR militant Luigi Bergamin - sentenced to 17 years imprisonment for the murder of the butcher Lino Sabbadin - before midnight on April 9: the day in which the crime would fall under the statute of limitations. On May 10, the statute of limitations could expire for as many former terrorist militants residing in France. Therefore, it will be the task of Italian diplomacy to try to break through that ‘juridical umbrella’ that for too long has kept open one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Italian Republic.
Belarus, terrorism charges aimed at the opposition leader. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a symbol of the resistance to Lukashenko's despotism and head of the pro-manifestation association BYPOL, has ended up at the center of an investigation by the State Security Committee and the Ministry of Interior. According to the General Prosecutor's Office, Tikhanovskaya, along with other members of BYPOL, planned a series of attacks - using explosives and arson attacks - in public areas and near military units in the capital. Tikhanovskaya has been in exile in Lithuania since the elections in August, when the numerous demonstrations against the re-election of Lukashenko provoked a violent campaign of repression by the authorities against the opposition movement.
Iraq, the ongoing dialogue on U.S. presence in the country. On 7 April, strategic negotiations resumed between the Iraqi and US Government on how to gradually disengage the US military from the country. The withdrawal of troops, which has accelerated since last year, does not imply a lack of interest on the part of the US in what is happening in Iraq: NATO had affirmed already in February its involvement in training and support to the Iraqi army for the counter-terrorism strategy. The US and its allies consider their involvement fundamental to prevent a reorganization of ISIS or other terrorist organizations. But pro-Iranian political and paramilitary formations in Iraq continue to pressure the government to end US interference in its domestic politics.
Mali, latest attack on peacekeepers: 4 dead. Another 19 soldiers of the UN mission were wounded on April 2 in what has been defined as a ‘complex attack’, conducted by armed terrorists at the military base of Aguelhok. The contingent involved was composed of Chadian nationals. Mali remains the most dangerous country for peacekeeping forces, which are the target of frequent attacks. Following the episode, the Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Missions, Jean Pierre Lacroix, has declared that it is fundamental to accelerate the peace process in the Sahel, underlining that plans for institutional reforms and political transition are being implemented, but that these must seek to involve as much as possible different political actors.
Davide Shahhosseini, Laura Morreale and Vincenzo Battaglia
World Health Day, WHO recommendations and the upcoming Global Health Summit. On 7 April, World Health Day, the World Health Organization launched 5 calls for actions aimed at improving health globally. According to the WHO, it is necessary to ‘‘Accelerate equitable access to COVID-19 technologies between and within countries’’, ‘‘Invest in primary health care’’, ‘‘Prioritize health and social protection’’, ‘‘Build safe, healthy and inclusive neighbourhoods’’, and finally ‘‘Strengthen data and health information systems’’. More, on April 7, Italy reaffirmed that it will host the Global Health Summit in Rome on May 21. During the Summit, leaders, managers of international organizations and representatives of global health organizations will work to develop a ‘‘Rome Declaration’’ whose aim is to strengthen cooperation in the field of health, especially in order to prevent future global health crises.
IOM, new report on Covid-19 and the State of Global Mobility in 2020. Published by the International Organization for Migration in collaboration with the Institute for Migration Policies (MPI), the report represents the first global analysis on the effects of the border closures and travel restrictions adopted during the pandemic on the movement of migrants and refugees in different areas of the world. Mobility across borders in 2020 has been analyzed in three phases (January-May, June-September, October-December), while the three main trends highlighted - which could persist - were: the widening of the gap between the opportunities for mobility, the increasing socio-economic vulnerabilities for those who depend on mobility to survive, and the amplification of relationships of dependence and exploitation. Finally, the report asks what the future of mobility will be given the evolution of the pandemic situation.
IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings. The cycle of seminars held by the two main bodies dealing with global economy was held between April 5 and 11 in a virtual mode. Among the topics covered were the economic projections, financial and fiscal policies, but also inequality, debt, the climate crisis and the vaccines. While the April seminars involved international and national institutions, the Fund and the Bank listened to some voices from civil society in the previous two weeks, during the March 22-April 2 forum. Thus, there is a growing awareness of the importance of fostering dialogue with civil society, which can be an opportunity to introduce different perspectives from the institutional ones: universal access to health, citizen monitoring of the work of governments, international organizations and businesses, progressive fiscal measures were among the topics discussed.
UN launches first Youth 2030 report. Periodical reports will monitor the UN's Youth 2030 strategy, which aims to promote intergenerational dialogue on the basis of the organization’s three pillars: peace and security, sustainable development and human rights. Awareness of the vulnerabilities affecting younger generations around the world has prompted the UN to increasingly address youth issues, the Secretary-General states in his opening letter to the report. The post-pandemic economic crisis, the climate crisis and difficulties in accessing education are among the main global challenges particularly affecting young people that the UN strategy aims to address.
Laura Morreale and Sara Squadrani
Framing The World is a project conceived and created by the collaboration between members of the team of Mondo Internazionale associates.
Andrea Ghilardi: Western Europe and the European Union
Arianna Giannino: Central and Eastern Europe and Russia
Davide Shahhosseini: Terrorism and International Security, Latin America
Edoardo Cappelli: Human Rights, North America
Elisa Maggiore: Latin America
Federica Sulpizio: Middle-East and North Africa
Federico Brignacca: Human Rights
Ginevra Ricca: Latin America
Laura Morreale: Terrorism and International Security, International Organizations
Leonardo Aldeghi: Economics and International Finance
Leonardo Cherici: Western Europe and the European Union
Lorenzo Bonaguro: North America, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia
Margherita Camurri: Asia and the Far East
Michele Magistretti: Middle-East and North Africa
Samuele Abrami: Middle-East and North Africa
Sara Oldani: Middle-East and North-Africa
Sara Squadrani: Sub-Saharan Africa, International Organizations
Vincenzo Battaglia: Terrorism and International Security