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Framing The World, LXII Edition

A snapshot of a changing world

In the new issue of Framing the World we report the events that have characterized the last two weeks. Among the most important ones there is the G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall, the NATO summit in Brussels, and the one between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, in which the relation between the West and China held a prominent role. We tell about the examples of sustainability coming from Latin America, about the signals of inflation coming from the main world economic areas, about the justice finally done in the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, about the electoral outcome in Iran and much more.

Enjoy the reading!

HUMAN RIGHTS

Geneva, UNHCR publishes the new “2020 Global Trend” report: 1% of the world population forced to displace. Over the last year, millions of refugees and others are forced to leave their home and country because of conflict, persecution or events representing a serious danger for public safety. The phenomenon is now affecting more than one percent of humanity, with fewer and fewer of those who flee being able to return home. The report shows an unprecedented 79.5 million were displaced by the end of 2019. A total so high like this, has never been witnessed before. The report also underlines the poorer perspectives for refugees regarding the possibility to end their survival journey. “In the 1990s, on average 1.5 million refugees were able to return home each year. Over the past decade that number has fallen to around 385,000, meaning that growth in displacement is today far outstripping solutions”, declares the UNHCR.

(Edoardo Cappelli)

Hong Kong, Police arrest “Apple Daily” Editor following the Chinese National Security Law. Hong Kongese authorities have intervened to arrest some key members of several important media broadcasts in the country. Most importantly, police arrested the top editor of a popular daily newspaper, “Apple Daily”, founded by dissident Jimmy Lai. The arrested editor is called Ryan Law, and police officers seized his computers and searched desks. City’s authorities have also proclaimed that anyone daring to challenge national security through the diffusion of news and allegations would suffer harsh consequences. This repressive environment is of course a consequence of the imposition of the Chinese security law over the territory of Hong Kong. The law is officially a way to avoid security issues, but it’s used as a means of repression of dissent, in a town where activists over the last years have been fighting (harshly but uselessly) to gain full independence and democracy.

(Edoardo Cappelli)

Budapest, the Hungarian Parliament approves a law banning “the dissemination of homosexual material” to minors. The Hungarian ruling class has adopted an avowedly anti-LGBTI bill that prohibits the dissemination of information and educational materials deemed “promotional” or merely depicting consensual relationships between homosexuals, as well as content that can encourage the gender change of minors. The radicalism of the maneuver is astonishing, but it is not surprising that something like this was carried out. This is yet another proof that in Europe there are different realities, which travel in opposite directions regarding human rights although the ideological guidelines of the European Union are very clear.

(Edoardo Cappelli)

Ghana, some progress on arrested activists. Charges of "unlawful assembly" of 21 activists for attending a meeting to denounce human rights violations against the LGBT community should be dropped. The High Court released the activists after about twenty days of detention last June 11, but five days later there was a remand to better examine the documentation supporting the charges. "The unlawful arrest and detention of human rights defenders simply for attending a human rights training session is a stain on Ghana's reputation," said Wendy Isaack, LGBT researcher at Human Rights Watch. The request Human Rights Watch makes in its statement is addressed to the prosecutor to abandon the attempt to punish the activists.

(Federico Brignacca)

Canada, human rights violation in the detention of immigrants. There are thousands of people, including those with disabilities, who are imprisoned every year for immigration and detained in abusive conditions. Human Rights Watch has published a one hundred page report "I Didn't Feel Like a Human in There: Immigration Detention in Canada and Its Impact on Mental Health" in which it has documented in detail this complaint. "The abusive system of immigration detention in Canada is in stark contrast to the rich diversity and values of equality and justice for which the country is known globally," said Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, noting the work they are doing with Human Rights Watch to improve the treatment of immigration detainees.

(Federico Brignacca)

Egypt, death sentences for Rab'a protesters should be commuted. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to move forward soon in commuting the death sentences of 12 protesters who were wrongfully arrested and tried for participating in the 2013 Rab'a sit-in in which security forces killed more than 817 protesters. The convictions had been issued for terrorism in 2018 after nearly three years of trial. "The Rab'a trial was a mockery of justice, so it is outrageous that the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences," says Joe Stork, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch.

(Federico Brignacca)

Edoardo Cappelli and Federico Brignacca



ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCE

US-EU, a historic agreement. The United States and the European Union, after 17 years of controversies, contrasts and punitive duties, have reached an agreement to resolve the dispute regarding subsidies to the aeronautical industry and to the respective "national" champions, Boeing and Airbus. The agreement calls for the extension of the truce negotiated in March for another 5 years, a period in which both government subsidies to the two manufacturers and punitive duties (worth $11.5 billion) imposed by the two sides will be suspended, pending a final agreement that will end one of the major points of friction between the two sides of the Atlantic; a similar accord was reached two days later with the United Kingdom.The agreement also includes cooperation against non-market practices of third countries, namely China, that damage civil aviation and is part of the strategic anti-Chinese rapprochement that the G7 and NATO summits have outlined.

Inflation, an "expensive" May. Signs of inflation are multiplying and are coming from all the major world economic areas.In China the Producer Price Index (which tracks prices received by domestic producers for their output) rose by 9% in May, the highest value since 2008, and above forecasts that estimated +8.5%, primarily due to the rise in raw materials, although the annual comparison is partially affected by the decline in prices observed in the worst months of the pandemic. In Germany prices are also on the rise, +2.5% for the CPI (Consumer Price Inflation) and +7.2% for the PPI (both measured on an annual rate), as well as in the United States (+5% for the CPI), where a strong increase is noted (+3.8%, the most since 1992) if food and energy consumption (core inflation) are excluded. However, central banks are not worried (see below) and consequently markets are not particularly affected.

Central banks, inflation is not a problem. The Federal Reserve and the ECB believe that the inflation of these months is due on the one hand to the comparison with the deflationary effects of the pandemic restrictions of spring/summer 2020 and on the other hand to the effect of the reopening and increased demand for certain goods, such as oil and mining and agricultural commodities, and from adverse one-time events such as the Suez blockage. If the first effect will logically disappear when the annual comparison is made with months that in 2020 were more normal (for the United States from July onwards), the second will resolve itself when supply and demand rebalance. Therefore the FED confirmed the purchase of $120 billion of bonds per month and rates between 0 and 0.25%, although it now plans to raise them twice, instead of once, by the end of 2023, a move that unnerved the markets, strengthening the dollar (+2% against the Euro), increased, temporarily, the yield on government bonds and brought the Dow Jones to its worst week since last October (-3.45%).

Commodities, has the decline begun? If, as the central banks claim, the signs of inflation currently visible stem mainly from the strong increases that commodity prices have experienced in recent months, and not from structural causes, the most recent market trend would seem to confirm that the inflationary flare is transitory. Last week, indeed, almost all raw materials, excluding oil, have suffered declines, in some cases considerable: palladium -14%, copper -6%, corn -5% in the last week alone. The cause is to be found partly in the decisions of the Fed, which by strengthening the value of the dollar have put pressure on prices, and partly in China, whose government has ordered the release of part of the copper, zinc and aluminum stored in strategic reserves precisely in order to temper inflation in this market segment.

China, the Party is worried. If the American and European markets (Paris and Frankfurt in particular) hover around historic highs, the Chinese stock exchanges of Shanghai and Shenzhen remain rather weak despite the rapid economic recovery in China having already begun in the summer of 2020 (GDP 2021 estimated at +8.5%). To weigh are the increases in raw materials, which have brought the PPI index to its highest level since 2008, but no less important are the risks linked to a financial sector increasingly under the careful watch of the Communist Party for certain presumed systemic vulnerabilities. In recent weeks, the authorities have made decisions that limit the freedom of the markets (in contrast to Xi's own promise of greater freedom), such as forcing domestic banks to hold more foreign currency, censoring online searches of cryptocurrency exchange platforms, and banning the publication of bullish equity-index targets.

Leonardo Aldeghi



SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Ivory Coast, the former president returns to the country. After being acquitted on appeal by the judges of the International Criminal Court of charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in post-election violence in Côte d'Ivoire between 2010 and 2011, the country's former president Laurent Gbagbo returned to his homeland on Thursday 17 June. The plane on which the former president travelled departed from Brussels and landed at 16.30 local time in the former capital of the state, the city of Abidjan. Near the airport, the police had to disperse, using tear gas too, a small crowd of his supporters intending to welcome Gbagbo. However, the return - after ten years - to the Ivory Coast of the former president was mainly accompanied by a tense atmosphere.

(Andrea Ghilardi)

Zambia, the "father of the fatherland" KK dies. Kenneth Kaunda - Zambia’s first president - died at the age of 97 on Thursday 17 June. Kaunda had been hospitalized for days in the capital Lusaka for an episode of pneumonia, not linked to COVID-19. In the 1950s, Kenneth Kaunda - popularly known as KK - was a key figure in what was then the movement for the independence of Northern Rhodesia from British rule. In 1964, after the granting of independence, he became president and, as head of the United National Independence Party, he then led the country for 27 years. He only resigned in 1991, after losing the election. KK is also remembered for supporting attempts to end apartheid in South Africa and for being one of the main supporters of the liberation movements in Mozambique and present-day Zimbabwe.

(Andrea Ghilardi)

Sara Squadrani e Andrea Ghilardi



NORTH AMERICA

Geneva, summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin is resolved without any particular novelty. The summit that involved the American and Russian presidents, last June 16, came after various provocations that have led the two countries to have one of the most battered relations in recent years. Biden’s attempt was to present the United States as a country that has resumed its vocation as a protagonist on the world stage, thus erasing Trumpian isolationism. It was also an excellent opportunity to show itself as a great ally of Europe in the dispute with China. Putin, for his part, has risked practically nothing in terms of maintaining his domestic power. The big topics (such as cyber-security or the Navalny case) have not been dealt with head-on, except with some more or less evident allusion.

New York, Governor Cuomo announces the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions as 70% of adults got vaccinated. The State’s health guidance specific directions, which include social gathering limits, capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screening, and contact information for tracing, are now back to being optional for individuals entering commercial facilities. Also, the mask obligation does no longer exist in open air spaces. Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. However, The State’s COVID restrictions remain in effect for large-scale indoor event venues—now defined as indoor venues that hold more than 5,000 attendees. It is a remarkable result, considering the near past of the city, which was one of the most hit regions of the whole world at the beginning of the pandemic.

Edoardo Cappelli


LATIN AMERICA

Chile invests in renewable energy. The Atacama Desert becomes an open-air power plant. The first concentrated solar power plant in Latin America has been inaugurated. The numbers are staggering. With an investment of 1,300 million dollars, the plant has a central tower of 250 meters high where the heat sink is located and towards which thousands of heliostats will converge. The Power Concentration Solar Plant (CSP) of the multinational EIG occupies an area of 1,000 hectares and is located in Cerro Dominador, one of the places where one of the world's highest levels of solar radiation is concentrated. This system is designed to be able to store heat and energy even during the night. In 201, a 100 MW photovoltaic system was activated. On 8 June, an innovative solar thermal system was added, with a power of 110 MW. The plant will be responsible for a reduction of 630,000 tons of CO2 per year.

Colombia. HRW accuses police of abuse of power against protesters. The very serious abuses of power refer to the protests held last April. The NGO conducted interviews and investigative reports in 25 cities in Colombia. President Duque is the direct accused. To curb the controversy, he had declared the entry into force of reforms for the National Police and the modernization of the Ministry of Defense. HRW, however, affirms the need for rights education, the insufficiency of such measures, the necessity to separate Police and Defense and the need to establish an institution of a civil nature so that it can react appropriately to demonstrations, avoiding in this way unnecessary bloodshed and repeated violence. Police fired at demonstrators at close range, killing at least 16 intentionally. On other occasions they made excessive use of violence: beatings and at least 17 beatings of brutal violence. The document also reports the acts of violence by demonstrators against uniforms. ‘The human rights violations committed by the police in Colombia are not isolated incidents of undisciplined agents, but the result of profound structural failures’, said José Miguel Vivanco, director of the Americas of HRW.

El Salvador: Bitcoins become fiat currency.The president Nayib Bukele has proposed that Congress approve a law for cryptocurrency to become a valid currency within the country. The law was passed without major difficulties, thanks to the large majority that Bukele could rely on. El Salvador thus becomes the first country in the world to legalise the use of cryptocurrency, equating it to the other regularly used by the population: the US dollar. Investors and the inhabitants are in the grip of uncertainty. No public analyses have been disclosed regarding the use of Bitcoin as an official currency. The country would lack the transparency of statistical and economic studies and proven data. Corporations, foreign investors who have economic interests and commercial links with the Pan American state are in agitation.

Nicaragua. Wave of arrests in recent days. The International Community of American States and the European Community show strong agitation over the latest events coming from Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega and his deputy, his wife Rosario Murillo, a woman of enormous ambition and true holder of power, are incessantly making dozens of arrests. Due to the fear of not winning the next election, scheduled for November, the police are arresting potential opponents of Ortega. To these are added those accused of ‘undermining the independence, sovereignty and self-determination of the country or inciting foreign interference in internal affairs.’ The OAS (Organisation of American States) has voted a measure against Nicaragua by a full majority (26 states out of 34) calling for the immediate release of political prisoners and guaranteeing free elections The US also sided in favour, being one of the member states, with the signature of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Peru: the oldest ecosystem in the world has been found. The Putumayo forest is a true undiscovered jewel, which is located in the south of Colombia on the border between Ecuador and Peru, near the Andes. It boasts a historic record: it would have been five thousand years old and has never been subject to deforestation or other harmful human practices. The forest is prosperous and full of life. In addition to an infinite number of unknown and unclassified animal and plant species, there are 330,000 inhabitants, about 50,000 are indigenous to the Amazon or belonging to groups not separated by the borders imposed by the States. The area is wild and only the natives are able to orient themselves. Only recently, a group of scholars decided to go over there and see what was there. They started by classifying plant species and made a shocking discovery: some of them are more than 5,000 years old, as can be read in a research just published in the prestigious scientific journal “Science”. The state in which the trees were found denotes that someone lived there but in a harmonious way with the surrounding environment and above all in an absolutely sustainable way, without changing their conformation. Preserving it.

Giulia Patrizi



ASIA AND THE FAR EAST 

China, first manned mission inside China’s new space station. This Friday (June 18), China’s space agency launched the first manned mission in order to conduct technical tests on the new Chinese space station’s core module, the Tianhe, which was launched last April. In addition to being the first manned mission on the new station, it will also be the longest mission for the Chinese space agency, expected to last six months. The launch took place at 9:22 a.m. local time (1:22 GMT) using the March 2F rocket; a few hours later, the Shenzhou-12 capsule successfully carried out the docking procedure on the Tianhe module. The crew, composed of 3 Chinese Air Force pilots (Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo), will be in charge of transporting and installing materials and technical and scientific equipment in order to make the new module operational.

North Korea, a new - and more “green” - economic plan to cope with the crisis. Last week during a meeting with party leaders, Kim Jong-un presented a new economic plan to cope with the food crisis and the hardships caused by the combined effect of U.S. sanctions and Covid-19. The scope and details of this ambitious plan have not been specified, however it would consist of “tangible changes” aimed at ensuring that North Korea can be self-sufficient. One of the peculiarities of this new plan would be a greater focus and emphasis on recycling, especially plastics, which North Korea imports largely from China. North Korea's reuse and recycling of resources would be relevant from the standpoint of self-sufficiency, as well as from an ecological point of view. Plastic imports from China, in fact, plummeted more than 80% in 2020 alone due to Covid-19; this would force the government to implement a policy of reusing everyday tools and items in order to alleviate the need to import plastic.

Taiwan, record number of Chinese fighter jets in Taiwanese airspace. On Tuesday, June 15, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the sighting of several military aircraft, belonging to the Chinese People’s Army Air Force, within Taiwan’s military airspace: an airspace outside the national territory where foreign aircraft are identified and monitored for national security reasons. This latest incursion featured a new record number of sightings; according to reports from Taipei, the Chinese mission in Taiwan’s airspace consisted of a total of 28 aircraft - including 20 fighter jets (14 of the J-16 model, and 6 of the J-11 model), 4 nuclear bombers (H-6 model) and 4 other reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircrafts. The Chinese squadron flew over the Taiwan-controlled Pratas archipelago, as well as the southern part of the island of Taiwan itself.

Francesco Ancona


WESTERN EUROPE AND THE EUROPEAN UNION

UK, the Delta variant is frightening. Although 80% of the national population has already received at least one dose of the vaccine, the Delta variant - formerly known as the Indian variant - is spreading rapidly in the UK. The data of the last few weeks have in fact highlighted a rebound in infections. Between Wednesday and Thursday, 11,007 new Covid-19 cases were registered, thus highlighting a growth that, in the last two weeks, has accelerated considerably. For now, the increase in deaths and hospital admissions remains more contained. The British government, however, preaches caution, while aiming to speed up the recalls with the second dose of the vaccine. At the moment many wonder whether the strategy of covering the largest part of the population with just one dose, before completing immunization with the second, is partly an element that facilitates the spread of the Delta variant.

(Andrea Ghilardi)

European Union, peace signed with the United States on the Airbus-Boeing dispute. After more than 17 years, the EU and the USA have reached an agreement on the dispute over subsidies to their respective aircraft manufacturing companies. The clash between Washington and Brussels centered on mutual accusations of illegal public subsidies, aimed at facilitating Boeing and Airbus, respectively. The agreement announced on Tuesday 15 June provides for the suspension of reciprocal duties for the next 5 years. The president of the european Commission Ursula von der Leyen, after the meeting with the USA president Joe Biden, stressed how this agreement really opens an important new chapter in relations between the EU and the USA, since this agreement has the aim of transforming a sector so far characterized by a discount in a new field of cooperation.

(Andrea Ghilardi)

Germany, urban guerrilla in Berlin. On Thursday 17 June, the Friedrichshain district of the German capital was the scene of harsh clashes between the police and a group of occupiers. According to what was reconstructed, the police had to carry out a security check in an illegally occupied building, but the occupants, fearing an eviction, reacted violently. Stones and various objects thrown against the police, improvised trenches with bins, tires set on fire and tear gas. This is the synthesis of a real urban guerrilla. It all ended with around 60 injured policemen.

(Andrea Ghilardi)

UK, G7 in Cornwall. The members of the G7 met in England to address various issues beyond the pandemic emergency. At the heart of the meetings was certainly the West’s relationship with China, with a softer European line and a harder American one. The final document represents a compromise: Beijing is asked to respect human rights and to clarify the origin of Covid-19. Very important, however, was the proposal to set up an infrastructure project in low-income countries as an alternative to China’s New Silk Road, testimony to the fact that the West wants to actively engage in containing Beijing’s expansion. Other issues such as climate change, pandemic prevention and the relationship between the UK and the European Union were also addressed during the summit.

(Leonardo Cherici)

Italy, Draghi’s visit to Spain. The prime minister flew to Spain to receive a prestigious award for “European construction” and for a bilateral meeting with prime minister Sánchez. In his speech at the Cercle d’Economia, Draghi reiterated the importance of expansionary economic policies to boost growth and counteract the economic recession, but always with a view to increasing productive investment. With Sánchez, on the other hand, the migratory issue was at the centre of the meeting: in recent weeks the number of arrivals has increased considerably and Draghi is trying to build a network of alliances in view of the next european Council to reach an agreement on the issue of relocations. The two prime ministers also reiterated their intention to work so that Madrid and Rome will be protagonists in the relaunch of a European Union that succeeds in reducing the differences between North and South.

(Leonardo Cherici)

Leonardo Cherici and Andrea Ghilardi



CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA

Bosnia Herzegovina, Srebrenica: Ratko Mladić sentenced to life in prison for genocide. After 26 years of waiting, on 8 June 2021 the Hague court marked the conclusion of the terrible events in Srebrenica. The sentence is unequivocal: life imprisonment. The Bosnian Serb general Mladić - named by the media ‘The executioner of Srebrenica’ - who led the Serbian military against the Bosnians, is responsible for atrocious war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in July '95 against 8.372 Muslims (mostly men). The estimates would be partial. Many graves have not been found and several bodies are still missing. Eleven indictments: genocide, murder, extermination, persecution and terrorism. The International Criminal Court in The Hague was created to try crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, commonly referred to as the "residual mechanism". It was the most terrible massacre after the Second World War ended.

Latvia, Riga: parliamentary cooperation agreement with Mongolia. At the end of May 2021, Vice-President Dagmāra Beitnere-Le Galla of the Latvian Conservative Party JKB officially met Barkhas Dorj, the new Mongolian ambassador. The main points of the meeting were: to establish the bond of friendship between the two countries, to exploit parliamentary cooperation so as to create a collaboration that could affect economics and education, and to invest in Latvian-Mongolian transport. The ambassador applauds the growing presence of young Mongols studying in Latvian universities and the transport agreement. Beitnere-Le Galla wants to upgrade infrastructure to create a Latvian-Mongolian system thanks to Latvia's privileged position as a link with Northern Europe. The two countries celebrate 30 years of cultural relations and cooperation and look forward to fruitful collaboration based on shared democratic values.

Poland, the European Council presses for the country to revoke anti-LGBT laws. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe expresses strong concerns about the measures against individual freedom and against human rights that have long since become law in Poland. The country is not new to laws that aim at favouring the ‘traditional family’ - and thus cancel what does not conform to it - carried out by pro-life far right, or Catholic propaganda movements. The Council calls on the Polish regions and cities to immediately withdraw their resolutions declaring that they are ‘free from LGBT ideology’ and argues that ‘the rights and recognition of LGBTI people are under pressure in Europe and that the increase in the discourse of hatred towards them is creating divisions between citizens, cities and regions’. In addition, local and regional authorities are invited to support more vigorously the rights and well-being of LGBT citizens and to foster dialogue between the parties.

Russia, the country’s ambassador will return to the States. After Biden was asked if he considered Putin a killer and the consequent affirmative answer by the U.S. President, Putin had decided to recall Ambassador Anatolij Antonov because he was needed for some consultations in Russia following the unfortunate declaration. It was March 17th. The case: the chief editor of ABC News, George Stephanopolous, had asked President Biden the fatal question. He thus replied referring to the suspected Russian use of chemical and biological weapons. In particular, reference was made to the use of nerve agents to damage Naval’nyj and Skripal'. Bilateral relations had drastically reduced since then. After the meeting in Geneva between the two presidents, Putin declared that he had received an adequate explanation regarding that incident and that his colleague was a person of great experience. Subsequently, Maria Zakharova - spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry - said the ambassador is expected to return to Washington to resume his mandate as early as next week.

Russia - Poland, tensions: Russian hackers responsible for a cyber-attack in Poland. On 18 June, the President of the "Law and Justice" Party and Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski denounced a cyber-attack from the Russian Federation, damaging officials, ministers, and deputies of various parties. At a first verification of the facts, many institutional accounts of high offices would have been violated. Among the best-known names would be Michal Dworczyk, a member of the Chamber of Deputies and head of the Prime Minister's office, who has already denied the presence of top-secret files in his mailbox. However, some emails appeared on Telegram regarding the management of Covid-19, including restrictions and diplomatic relations with Ukraine and Belarus. The files are believed to have been modified by someone located in Russia, using Russian language software.

Slovenia. Joint declaration with Italy on Europe and the Balkans. On June 14th there was a meeting in which they talked about the future of Europe and the common desire to expand the community sphere of influence to the Western Balkans. Object of the bilateral cooperation: security, migration, sustainable infrastructure and mobility, industry and ecological transition, agriculture and fisheries, science, and universities. ‘Both countries expressed the need to resume negotiations for the entry of Albania and Northern Macedonia’, said Anže Logar, Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Luigi Di Maio would have reiterated that Italy and Slovenia have ‘common opinions’ and would like the accession process to be accelerated already in the next semester. Furthermore, the Balkan peninsula is still geopolitically unstable and only European institutions could help it in the path of stability and democracy of which the area needs. ‘Only a tangible and credible European perspective is able to firmly anchor the Western Balkans to Europe, to its values, and to avoid a return to nationalist sentiments in the region’, added Di Maio.

Giulia Patrizi



MIDDLE-EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)

Libya, new tensions and threats. On 6 June, ISIS again claimed a suicide attack in the north of the city of Sebha, in southern Libya. Fezzan, among Libya's three regions, still suffers from a lack of comprehensive control by government forces. The southern region is still in the hands of the various local powers and a crossroads for numerous illegal trafficking, given the porousness of the country's southern border. It is no coincidence that General Khalifa Haftar has made a visit to the area to try to promote his image in an attempt to influence the balance of power within Libya ahead of the elections this November. In the meantime, the forced stay of the Italian soldiers in Misurata is finally coming to an end, the Libyan embassy seems to have decided to issue visas to the replacement units.

(Michele Magistretti)

Turkey, Erdogan's plans. Before the NATO summit the Turkish president announced an increase in the currency swap with China, from about 2.5 billion to 6. At the Atlantic Alliance meeting, however, Erdogan seems to be taking a more conciliatory attitude. He even supported the withdrawal of foreign proxies on Libyan soil together with the French president. There remains the Turkish desire to influence the various regional scenarios in which it is involved, from the Middle East to the Eurasian steppes. On these lines, in fact, Turkish policy makers are working to maintain a bridgehead in Afghanistan as a peace-making element. Moreover, the president has announced Turkey's willingness to build its own base in Azerbaijan, which would be the first military base of a NATO country on the soil of a former Soviet republic.

(Michele Magistretti)

Egypt, Cairo's multidirectional strategy. President Al Sisi has invited the Emir of Doha for a visit to the country's capital. This move should be read in the context of the thawing of intra-Arab relations following the Al-Ula summit, which ended the embargo on the small emirate by the Gulf Cooperation Council and Cairo. In the meantime, Egypt is strengthening its relations with France by signing agreements worth around two billion dollars in various sectors. Moreover, the Arab country has recently signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding with South Sudan in an attempt to deepen its footprint in a new economic and commercial corridor along East Africa.

(Michele Magistretti)

Lebanon, international aid to save the army. Twenty states signed a memorandum of understanding last Thursday to distribute international aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), in financial and material hardship due to the very serious economic and financial crisis that the country of cedars has been experiencing since 2019. The Lebanese national army does not need armaments, but necessities such as food and medicines. The memorandum of understanding, signed between the United States, the Gulf countries, China, Russia and several EU states, has as its object the management of funds to be allocated to LAF directly (not through government channels) to allow soldiers to receive decent wages and avoid the collapse of the armed forces. As stated by the French Foreign Minister, the LAF are a backbone of the Lebanese state and play a crucial role in guaranteeing and maintaining internal and regional stability and security. However, aid is not enough, hence, it is necessary to overcome the government stalemate and reform the economic-productive system of Lebanon, which is completely collapsing.

(Sara Oldani)

Iraq, the work of the government Commission on forced disappearances continues. Iraqi authorities have recovered 123 bodies from a mass grave near the village of Badush and they will proceed to identify the victims through DNA analysis. Badush, located in the province of Nineveh (corresponding to present-day Mosul), is infamous for the massacre perpetrated by the Daesh militias during the military campaign to gain control of northern Iraq. Specifically, in the summer of 2014, Daesh raided Badush prison and freed some Sunni "comrades", while deporting and then killing at least 583 citizens, mainly Shiites. It was only in 2017 that Iraqi forces managed to reconquer the area and discovered the mass grave, a consequence of what the UN classified as a veritable act of genocide.

(Sara Oldani)

Algeria, the "system parties" still in parliament. Last week the Algerian electoral commission announced the results of the legislative elections held on 12 June. The seats are divided as follows: 105 of the National Liberation Front (FLN), 57 of the Rassemblement Nationale Démocratique (RND), 64 Islamists and 78 belonging to independent lists, a novelty positively evaluated by the regime, whose propaganda is oriented to paint Algeria as a "new" and "avant-garde" country. FNL and RND, traditional parties, will most likely have a greater influence in parliament so that no particular changes will arise within the political spectrum. The victory of the "system parties" was also favored by the very low participation rate, which dropped by 23% following the abstention campaign launched by the Hirak movement. President Tebboune, however, was not concerned by this data.

(Sara Oldani)

Iran, Ebrahim Raisi elected new president. Raisi, as predicted by recent polls, won the presidential elections on June 18, obtaining 62% of the votes, equal to about 17.8 million votes. Far away are the other remaining candidates, who respectively obtained 3.3 million preferences for the moderate Hemmati, former governor of the Central Bank and 2.4 million for Rezaei, former commander of the Guardians of the Revolution. The victory of Ebrahim Raisi determines a consolidation of the conservative and hard line already present in parliament and the prototype of the new organization of justice. Raisi, head of the judiciary, has several challenges that will see him busy starting from August, the month of his official inauguration as president: overcoming the economic-financial crisis, stiffened by US sanctions and the consequences of the pandemic and the question of restarting negotiations on nuclear power. Despite the high consensus of the candidate, also implicitly favoured by the Guardian Council, it is important to note the weight of the "abstention party": the turnout is the lowest since the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979.

(Sara Oldani)

Michele Magistretti and Sara Oldani



TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

Somalia, suicide attack against soldiers. On 15 June, a terrorist blew himself up in a military training camp in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. The death toll is at least fifteen, with several wounded in serious condition. According to local sources, the attacker disguised himself as a recruit in order to go unnoticed and carry out the attack. The responsibility for the incident lies with the jihadist group al-Shabaab, which aims to overthrow the Somali government and impose sharia law. The terrorist cell has, among its principal targets, the national military structures.

(Vincenzo Battaglia)

Nigeria, Boko Haram confirms the death of its historic leader Shekau. The death of Shekau had already been announced several days ago by the rival group ISWAP, affiliated to ISIS and born from a split from Boko Haram. Shekau allegedly blew himself up during fighting between the two rival cells, according to ISWAP sources. Boko Haram confirmed the death of its leader with a video that was delivered to Afp on 15 June. The protagonist of the footage is Bakura Modo, known as Sahaba, one of the most important commanders of the Nigerian Qaedist group. He strongly accused Al-Barnawi, leader of ISWAP, calling him a 'perverse aggressor' and responsible for the killing of Shekau.

(Vincenzo Battaglia)

Sahel, Macron announces the end of Barkhane. The number of French soldiers present in the region will be progressively reduced, the defence ministry announced on 17 June. General L. Michon, who has just been appointed to replace M. Conruyt, will lead the end of the operation and the transition to a new counter-terrorism framework. According to Macron’s intentions, this will see an increased cooperation with the European partners in the Takouba force and with the US, allowing the partial disengagement of the French army. Both in France and in the Sahelian countries, Barkhane has been criticised for several reasons: support for local governments implicated in massacres of civilians, accusations of neo-colonial interference in local politics, the death of around 50 French soldiers since the start of the operation, which is difficult to justify at home in the face of poor progress. The decision of the new military government in Mali to open a discussion table with the terrorist organizations has caused discontent at the Elysée Palace, which has always opposed this hypothesis.

(Laura Morreale)

Canada, alleged London (Ontario) killer faces terrorism charges. The man, accused of the 6 June attack in which a family of Pakistani origin was hit by a truck, will face terrorism charges, in addition to murder accuses as originally planned. This will not greatly aggravate his legal position, as he already faces life imprisonment for the deaths of the four members of the family, but it is a strong signal condemning racial violence. It is in fact the first time that an islamophobic racist act has been trated under anti-terrorism legislation: the perpetrator of the shooting inside a Québec City mosque in 2017, had only been convicted of the murders. Usually, terrorism charges involve suspects affiliated with transnational jihadist organisations, but rarely include incidents of domestic violence. Prime Minister Trudeau immediately described the act as a terrorist attack, as did Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. The legal decision finally arrived on 14 June: this is an important step in mobilising public opinion.

(Laura Morreale)

Italy, dismantled a counterfeiting network in Lombardy: they provided false documents to foreign fighters. 7 people were arrested in the operation conducted by the District Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Directorate of the Milan Public Prosecutor's Office, called "Caucasian job". Among those who have benefited from the counterfeiting "services" offered by Turko Arismekov - head of the organization - there is also Kujtim Fejzullai, the Macedonian terrorist responsible for the attacks in Vienna last November. The organization made use of online platforms - in particular Instagram - to advertise their products and of international circuits such as Money Transfer for the remuneration of the latter: 800 euros for residence permits, 400 for documents such as identity cards and driving licenses, 1600-2000 euros for a passport. The head of the Anti-terrorism pool of the Court of Milan, Alberto Nobili, affirmed that with the arrest of Arismekov the largest criminal organization in Europe for the production of false documents has been eradicated.

(Davide Shahhosseini)

Burkina Faso, new jihadist attack in the north: over 160 victims. This is the worst attack since several jihadist groups began operating in the territory in 2015, contending for and controlling increasingly sizable portions of the territory. According to local authorities, the attack first targeted army auxiliaries and then the homes of the inhabitants who were murdered, among the latter there were also children. Burkina Faso seems to have entered a new spiral of violence. The attack was launched a week after two attacks in the same area, in which four people were killed. On May 17 and 18, 15 villagers and a soldier were killed in two assaults on a small rural town and a patrol in the country's northeast. The country has been experiencing a deep phase of political instability since 2015, which has and continues to bolster terrorist organizations operating in the region.

(Davide Shahhosseini)

Vincenzo Battaglia, Laura Morreale and Davide Shahhosseini



INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

NATO, new 2030 agenda approved. At the end of the NATO leaders' summit in Brussels held on June 14, the reform of the new defense agenda for 2030 was approved. NATO leaders reaffirmed their support for Ukraine and Georgia and at the same time confirmed the approach of defense and dialogue with Russia. However, the main focus of the summit was China, which was placed at the center of the Alliance's attention and identified as a challenge to the international order and NATO's security. At the meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also reaffirmed the duty of each member to continuously increase investments in the defense sector: "To do more, Allies agreed that we need to invest more together in NATO", he stated.

(Francesco Ancona)

OHCRC, 10th anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. To mark the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Council's endorsement of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights - which occurred in Geneva on June 16 - the Guiding Principles’ Working Group released a brief study on the progress made over the past decade in implementing the guidelines. According to the study, over the past 10 years there has been "significant progress" in respecting human rights, thanks to the implementation of action plans by an increasing number of companies and states, aiming at improving working conditions and eliminating harmful corporate practices toward workers. Despite increased awareness of human rights, many regions of the world are still experiencing abuses by companies against their workers, who very often have neither the tools nor the political clout to see their rights respected and guaranteed.

(Francesco Ancona)

International day of Family Remittances, the message of the UN Secretary General. Celebrated on 16 June, the International Day of Family Remittances was established by the UN General Assembly (Res. 72/281) in 2018, when the role of migrant workers' remittances was also included in Objective 20 of the Global Compact for migration (GCM). The Secretary General, on the occasion of the celebration, reported a low decrease in remittances sent in 2020, which is representative of the enormous effort that migrant workers have made to support their families in the year of the pandemic. Underlining the important role that migrant workers have in the economy of many areas of the world, Guterres recalled the need to work towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 10.c: "by 2030, reduce to less than 3% the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5%".

(Sara Squadrani)

Council of Europe, 40th session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Held from 15 to 17 June, the second part of the 40th session of the Congress discussed the issue of the protection of LGBT people as well as the role and responsibilities of local and regional authorities regarding the rights of these people, the monitoring of the European Charter of the local autonomy and the election observation missions, and finally the issues of territorial solidarity and the challenges and opportunities presented by home-sharing platforms for municipalities. On the subject of LGBTI rights, monitoring reports were adopted regarding Armenia, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, and a resolution on the role of local and regional authorities with regard to the situation of LGBTI people in Poland was adopted, given the growing pressures on them in the country since 2019.

(Sara Squadrani)

African Union, launched an investigation for violations of international law in Tigray. The Commission of Inquiry - operational since 17 June - will investigate allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in conflict taking place in the Ethiopian region for seven months. Its mandate will last three months, with the possibility to extend it, and will start in Banjul, capital of the Gambia. According to the AU press release, the Commission will carry out its activities in neighbouring countries and in Ethiopia, if conditions are met. Ethiopia reportedly reacted by calling on the organisation to suspend its investigative activities immediately, and by proposing a joint investigation. But the involvement of the Ethiopian government - already present in a parallel UN investigation - would jeopardise the impartiality and independence of the new commission.

(Laura Morreale)

UN, Security Council hears: international action needed in Myanmar. UN Special Envoy for Myanmar C. Burgener held a closed-door meeting with Security Council representatives. According to what she told reporters, during the meeting she called on the Council to act in response to the situation, which she described as “very worrying”. The country’s health system and food security are at risk, while arrests, killings and disappearances have continued in the country. According to Burgener, violence has also spread to areas which are normally less exposed. In order to build a common response within the SC, where positions on Myanmar are not unanimous, the Special Envoy has started bilateral talks with different members. She hopes that the UN can show unity and take concrete action against the serious human rights violations in the country.

(Laura Morreale)

Laura Morreale, Sara Squadrani and Francesco Ancona







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

Francesco Ancona: Asia and the Far East, International Organizations

Ginevra Ricca: Latin America

Giulia Patrizi: Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia

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

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


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