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Framing The World, LXXXI Edition

The main news from the world

Framing The World, LXXXI Edition

In the new issue of FtW we deal with the latest events in the Russian-Ukrainian war, with the escalation of hostilities in Odessa and the demobilisation of Russian troops from Kiev. In addition to war activity, we also analyse US diplomatic engagement with Biden’s trip to Poland and Blinken’s trip to the Negev summit. Of great importance in Africa is the humanitarian crisis in Congo and the support of neighbouring Uganda. In Latin America, on the other hand, we describe the role of Venezuela in view of the possible world oil crisis.

All this and much more in the 81th issue of Framing the World!

INDEX

  • HUMAN RIGHTS
  • ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCE
  • SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
  • NORTH AMERICA
  • LATIN AMERICA
  • ASIA AND THE FAR EAST
  • WESTERN EUROPE AND EUROPEAN UNION
  • CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
  • MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
  • TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
  • INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS


      HUMAN RIGHTS

      Lebanon, FIFA against Iranian authorities for sexist bans in stadiums. On March 29, 2022, in the city of Mashhad, tens of Iranian women could not enter the Imam Reza stadium by the local authorities. Police seem to have used excessive force during the action. The audience was there to take part in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying match between Iran and Lebanon. Over the past 40 years, there has been a convention that banned women from attending football and other sports in stadiums. While this ban is not written into law or regulations, the authorities have regularly enforced it for decades. This has led to many arrests throughout the years, with consequent beatings, detentions, and abuses against women. FIFA seems willing to use leverage with Iranian authorities to demand that they urgently overturn Iran’s discriminatory stadium ban on women and ensure accountability for abuses. Rumour has it that a final decision might also lead to the disqualification of the Iranian national team from the competition.

      Uganda, common action undertaken to face huge migration from Congo. Last week has featured a massive migration and a related humanitarian crisis of more or less 10,000 refugees moving from the southwest Kisoro district, fleeing violent clashes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which began on 28 March 2022. In addition, nearly 36,000 people have been displaced within the country’s borders. This has led to the need to coordinate efforts among the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the Government of Uganda and other humanitarian partners. Security conditions are making it difficult to reach those affected, but a taskforce run by the UNHCR and the WFP is being established to organize the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Many refuges in Uganda are being accommodated by host families, or found hospitality in markets and schools. “As with many previous incidents, they want to stay close to the border so they can more easily get news of what is happening in their villages, in the hope that the violence stops, and they can return home”, as the UNCHR officially stated.

      Poland, Polish activists arrested at Belarusian borders. While Polish volunteers are being depicted as heroes for helping Ukrainian refugees during the Russian aggression, at the Polish-Belarusian border, Polish police is criminalising volunteers for providing aid to people leaving Belarus. They mainly escape in the forests on the Polish-Belarus border, where their only hope is represented by the activity of such activists, who are currently risking imprisonment to help them. Police has so far arrested four volunteers for helping a family with seven children. A prosecutor charged the volunteers with organizing illegal immigration, a crime punishable by up to eight years in prison. Polish authorities have blocked access to the border since last year, when Belarus began encouraging people to travel from the Middle East and other countries into Poland. Warsaw responded by forcing people back to Belarus, sometimes violently, leaving them trapped in poor conditions and with little or no humanitarian support.

      Edoardo Cappelli

      ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCE

      Wall Street, a negative quarter. Three positive weeks, including the best week since 2020, were not enough to recover the declines caused by the Russian attack in Ukraine. Wall Street had to record its first negative quarter in the last two years, with the Dow Jones down 4.5%, the S&P500 down 5% and the Nasdaq down 9%, burdened also by increasingly high inflation figures in Europe, above 7% even in Germany, and the slowdown of the Chinese economy. It went even worse on the bond market, which closed the worst quarter since 1980, as shown by the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, which fell by 6%. The only worse quarter dates back to 1931, at the height of the Great Depression. On the other hand, the excellent performance of the American labor market continues, with an expanding workforce and unemployment down to 3.6%, now close to the record of 3.5% in February 2020.

      Oil, a recession coming? In a report published by two economists at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, Lutz Kilian and Michael Plante, an inevitable global recession is projected if most of Russia's oil remains excluded from international markets for the rest of the year, a scenario in which the economic slowdown would be even longer than the 1991 oil shock caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait the previous year. The supply disruptions caused by the war so far, even without official sanctions on oil and gas but only on banks and financial transactions, have taken about 3 percent of global supply out of the market. The two economists conclude that unless the missing supply is replaced quickly, it is necessary for oil prices to rise and remain at high levels to remove the excess demand.

      Oil, the American play. President Biden, after so far unsuccessfully exploring an agreement with Iran and Venezuela to bring the two countries back into the markets to replace Russian crude, and given the bad relations with domestic producers, has decided to use strategic reserves to increase supply. The US will put 1 million barrels per day on the market for the next six months, equal to almost 1/3 of the remaining reserves after previous releases. As with similar measures taken in recent months, the price of oil plummeted nearly 10% at the White House announcement, with Brent falling to $104. As Goldman Sachs notes, however, the effect for consumers will be positive in the short term, but at a structural level little will change and indeed, the replenishment of US reserves in the medium to long term will generate further pressure on prices.

      China, the covid bill. While in the West attention is focused on the war in Ukraine and the consequences on agricultural and oil markets, in China the main concern is still Covid, which has returned to spread rapidly. While the rest of the world is learning to live with the virus, also thanks to effective vaccines, the Chinese government's policy is of " zero covid" and very strict measures to stop its spread. In recent weeks, the most affected areas, Shenzhen and Shanghai, are also among the most economically significant, and the cost of the restrictions is estimated to be in the order of $46 billion per month, with an impact on growth of about 3% per month, which could double if the measures were to spread to other areas of the country. The impact, however, would also spill over to the rest of the world, given the Asian country's status as the world’s largest manufacturer.

      Bonds, the curve inversion. For the first time since 2007, the yield on 5-year U.S. government bonds surpassed that of 30-year bonds, thus generating the much-feared inversion of the yield curve, and a few days later so did that between 2 and 10 years (first time since 2019). The curve is normally positive, with longer bonds offering higher interest than short-dated ones, given the obviously higher risks, but it can invert when investors sell short-term bonds (increasing their yield) and buy long-term ones ( lowering their yield), in a move that signals the expectation of a decrease in long-term interest rates, which typically occurs during a recession. The signal is negative, since every recession since 1955 has been preceded by an inversion some 6-24 months in advance, but not too reliable since not all inversions have been followed by recessions, especially if short-lived.

      Leonardo Aldeghi

      SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

      A continent at war, a snapshot of Africa's major instabilities. The war in Ukraine has brought the topic of war back to the centre of international media attention, but in Africa the clashes, civilian deaths and suffering linked to the political instability of various territories are, unfortunately, an all too familiar reality. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, 12 African countries exceeded the 1,000 mark in armed violence between the beginning of 2021 and mid-March 2022. A total of 42,949 civilian casualties were reported, including 10,584 in Nigeria and 8,786 in Ethiopia. In particular in Nigeria, a long-lasting Islamist insurgency and the activity of several militias continue to plague the northern regions, while the separatist rebellion in Biafra has been the cause of unrest in the south of the country. In Ethiopia, on the other hand, a real conflict has been going on since November 2020 between government forces and Tigray separatists, which has led to a proliferation of mass killings. The Jihad activity in Somalia, the numerous terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad, the continuous clashes between militias in the territory of Cabo Delgado, in Mozambique, and in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and, finally, the little-known civil conflict in Cameroon must also be highlighted.

      (Andrea Ghilardi)

      FIFA doctor dies, when sport turns into real drama. Ghana qualified for the World Cup in Qatar following a good game against Nigeria, which ended in a 1-1 draw. However, this is not the main theme around this important sporting event, as madness broke out after the match. A large invasion of the pitch by Nigerian fans triggered violent clashes, involving not only the fans but also the players themselves and some of the staff. Among them was the doctor Joseph Kabungo, who was on the pitch on behalf of FIFA to carry out the usual doping controls after the match. However, Joseph was beaten to death during the discounts. The security forces present at the stadium could do little to counter the fury of the fans. FIFA and the local authorities are now expected to respond to a tragic drama that has little to do with sport.

      (Andrea Ghilardi)

      Giulio Ciofini and Andrea Ghilardi

      NORTH AMERICA

      Canada, presented the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada's Next Steps for Clean Air and a Strong Economy. During an event at the GLOBE forum in Vancouver, Prime Minister Trudeau, along with Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, announced the Canadian government's emissions reduction plan. By 2030, Canada wants to reduce emissions from coal and fossil fuel use by 40%-45%. $9.1 billion has already been allocated to incentivise both the private and public sectors. Measures include greater incentives for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and tax breaks for companies using carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology, already used in some regions such as Saskatchewan.

      (Emanuele Volpini)

      US, Biden flies to Poland. After the NATO meeting in Brussels, President Joe Biden flew to Poland, where he met Polish President Duda. Before the official meeting at the royal castle in Warsaw, Biden stopped in Rzeszow, a town about 80 km from the Ukrainian border. Rzeszow is the main location for receiving Ukrainian refugees - or, as Duda calls them, 'guests' - and sorting them. It is also the logistical centre where military aid for Ukraine is sorted. During his visit to the 82nd Airborne Division, Biden reiterated how the crisis is a struggle between democracy and an oligarch.

      (Emanuele Volpini)

      US, Blinken in the Middle East. Secretary of State Blinken headed to the Middle East after participating in President Biden's European trip. The purpose of the visit is to show how Washington is still deeply attached to its regional partners. However, the Ukrainian crisis has also had repercussions on the strategies of Middle Eastern players, encouraging them to move away from the American sphere of influence and bringing them closer to the Beijing-Moscow axis. Another looming issue is the tension between Israel and Palestine, rekindled after the attacks in recent days that have claimed several victims on Israeli territory. The difficulties of the trip were also highlighted by the cancellation of visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the main parties involved in the Secretary of State's trip.

      (Emanuele Volpini)

      In the United States, lynching becomes a federal crime. US President Biden has signed a bill making lynching a federal hate crime, stating that these crimes are not just a "relic" of a bygone era but still a real threat to American society. The bill is named after Emmett Till a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who was brutally murdered in 1955 by a group of white men in Mississippi after paying compliments to a white woman.

      (Federico Pani)

      The labour market is recovering. Biden said unemployment in the United States dropped to 3.6% during the month of March, also thanks to the creation of 431,000 new jobs. The Head of the White House did not hesitate to call it a "historic recovery", also in consideration of the high rate of abandonment that has emptied American pockets. Undoubtedly, an encouraging sign in view of the midterm elections, scheduled for next November.

      (Federico Pani)

      Sarah Palin back on the pitch. Former Alaska governor and a leading figure on the American right, Sarah Palin has decided to run for the United States Congress again. Palin corso 2008, in the republican ticket led by John McCain which was however eliminated by Barack Obama. Militant of the Tea Party, Palin also contributed to Donald Trump's victory in 2016.

      (Federico Pani)

      Emanuele Volpini and Federico Pani

      LATIN AMERICA

      Peru, the Supreme Court frees Fujimori. The Supreme Court of Peru will free former President Alberto Fujimori after 12 years in prison. Fujimori should have left as early as 2017, when the current President granted him the pardon. The decision generated much criticism, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights demanded the revocation of the provision, so Fujimori returned to prison. The former president had been sentenced definitively to 25 years in prison for the massacres carried out by death squads against the civilian population.

      The news of his release provoked harsh reactions from public opinion and the United Nations, which called on the Supreme Court to respect the rights of the victims.

      (Ludovica Costantini)

      Cuba, The media battle over the Russia-Ukraine war. The reason why a media war is being fought in Cuba to justify the Cuban government's support for Russia lies in the historical ties between the Soviet Union and Cuba. The latter has not only supported the Putin regime's policies for geopolitical and economic reasons (or rather for the financial debt Cuba has maintained with Russia for the last decades), but since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war there has been 'a clear contrast between the Cuban media narrative defined as pro-government, i.e. controlled by the regime and its propaganda apparatus, and the independent media proliferating in the islands, even if many of them are affected by blocks in internet access': politicians close to the Cuban regime appear to be narrating the invasion in Ukraine through the same justifications used by the official Russian media, legitimising their official narrative of denazification of Ukraine and protection of regions where Russian citizens live.

      (Elisa Maggiore)

      Ecuador, Government crisis and resignation of Interior Minister. The Minister of the Interior of Ecuador, Alexandra Vela, has submitted her resignation from her post to the President of the Republic, Lasso. The reason for Vela's resignation is her disagreement with the presidential political line with regard to the problems caused by the obstructionism practised by the Ecuadorian Parliament. In fact, throughout her time at the head of her ministry, the minister reiterated the need to make use of the constitutional norm 'muerte cruzada' in the name of preserving democracy and transforming the country. According to this rule, Lasso could have decreed the dissolution of Parliament, which would also have entailed the simultaneous fall of the government and of President Lasso himself; the measure would have led to new general elections, legislative and presidential, in which Lasso himself had the possibility of re-election: a hypothesis that was ruled out and which convinced the Minister to abandon her post.

      (Elisa Maggiore)

      Venezuela, the war in Ukraine and new prospects for a role between Moscow and Washington. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has opened a window of opportunity for Maduro and his government, which in recent weeks has toned down its support for President Putin and called for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine. We know that Caracas has been hit by Washington's economic sanctions and accusations of human rights violations, but the crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine represents an opportunity for the Bolivarian government to try to improve its position vis-à-vis Washington, 'the latter willing to revise its sanctions policy towards Venezuela if talks between Maduro's government and the opposition go ahead'. Venezuela's goal is to become the new energy supplier to the US and UK (which are banning Russian oil and gas exports because of the conflict in Ukraine). In fact, among the issues discussed with Maduro is the possibility of Venezuela taking over the market primarily supplied by Russia, thus becoming once again the US supplier of crude oil.

      (Elisa Maggiore)

      Chile, the first acts of the Boric government. Among the main themes of the election campaign of the new Chilean President there were elements such as the achievement of gender equality, the protection of human rights and environmental protection. The new government has moved towards this last point, with the signing of the international treaty of Escazù, a regional agreement ratified by 24 countries between Latin America and the Caribbean, representing the first binding environmental treaty in Central and South America. The most innovative part of this agreement is represented by the inclusion in Article 9 of specific tools to protect activists. Precisely for this reason, was proposed the creation of a shared platform with the United Nations Program for the Environment and various NGOs and institutes that deal with the issue.

      (Ludovica Costantini)

      El Salvador, state of emergency approved to combat violence. On March 26th alone in El Salvador were recorded 62 murders, resulting from gang violence. President Nayib Bukele asked for and obtained from Parliament the proclamation of a state of emergency to combat this phenomenon. The decree was approved by a large majority and provides, in addition to a limitation of gatherings, the possibility of detaining people without a specific mandate. The police have already arrested some members of the gangs, in particular the Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13.

      (Ludovica Costantini)

      Elisa Maggiore and Ludovica Costantini

      ASIA AND THE FAR EAST

      China, former Minister Fu Zhenghua expelled from the Communist Party. The government news agency Xinhua announced last Thursday, March 31, that Communist Party figure Fu Zhenghua, formerly the former minister of justice in 2011, has been expelled from the party on charges of having befriended “fraudulent politicians” and for committing “extremely despicable acts”. According to the Chinese press, the case of Fu Zhenghua (a rising political figure for his role in the 2013 verdict against former security chief Zhou Yogkang) would be linked to Sun Lijun, who was charged in 2021 with corruption. As early as last October, Fu was placed under investigation for “serious violations”. Several sinologists have speculated that the investigation may be linked to a possible break in Fu’s ties with Xi Jinping.

      (Francesco Ancona)

      North Korea, a new intercontinental missile test was carried out. At 7:25 a.m. (local time) last March 25, the North Korean General Staff announced that it had carried out a new missile test. However, this time, South Korean and Japanese intelligence identified the launched missile as belonging to the ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) class. North Korean media have described the missile as “a new type of ICBM”, classified Hwasong-17 (the vectors of which had already been successfully tested in an unofficial way between the end of February and the beginning of March 2022), with however several modifications that, according to US and South Korean intelligence, would have improved its capabilities, as demonstrated by this latest test.

      (Francesco Ancona)

      Philippines, largest military exercise with U.S. kicks off. On March 28, the largest military exercise to date between the United States and the Philippines began. The exercise, called “Balikatan” (shoulder-to-shoulder), will involve more than 9,000 military personnel, including 4,000 Filipinos and 3,000 Americans. The exercises will involve a series of amphibious landings, airstrikes and ship movements in two locations before ending on April 8. Humanitarian work is also on the agenda. According to a U.S. defence spokesman, Balikatan is needed to “improve crisis action planning and crisis response capability”. The military exercise is seen by experts as a clear signal from Manila of a sharper deployment alongside the U.S., mainly due to growing military tensions with the Chinese navy in the South China Sea.

      (Francesco Ancona)

      Japan, the Foreign Minister arrives in Poland. The Japanese Foreign Minister arrived in Poland on Saturday 2 April to make arrangements to welcome people displaced from Ukraine. Hayashi Yoshimasa plans to visit the area bordering Ukraine and hold talks with senior Polish government officials as well as visit a facility that currently houses the fleeing people. He will also consult with NGO workers. Before leaving Japan, he told reporters that the government will give all possible assistance to help Ukraine and that it will study all the means necessary to meet the needs of the population.

      (Agnese Marchesini)

      South Korea, the delegation of the newly elected President left for Washington on Sunday. The delegation for President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol led by Representative Park Jin left for the United States on Sunday, April 3, before Congress drops for a break. The delegation is expected to meet with leading US administration officials, congressmen, and think-tanks to discuss a wide range of topics, including the two countries’ alliance, North Korea, global affairs and economic security. The delegation made it clear that this is not a presidential envoy, but a delegation whose role is to discuss various affairs with the United States ahead of the official launch of the Yoon government in May.

      (Agnese Marchesini)

      Taiwan, thanks to the United States for supporting their international participation. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the United States in a press release for its sustained support for the country’s participation in international organisations following a high-level seminar between the two countries. The MOFA said the seminar was the first bilateral in-person high-level meeting between the two countries since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and as such reflects the “solid partnership”, MOFA Secretary General said Taiwan will continue to work to expand its international role. Taiwan will work to jointly maintain the rules-based international order, strengthen multilateral governance and regional cooperation.

      (Agnese Marchesini)

      Francesco Ancona and Agnese Marchesini

      WESTERN EUROPE AND THE EUROPEAN UNION

      EU-China summit, possible pressure from Beijing on Moscow. The summit between representatives of the European Union and China was held on Friday 1 April. A number of issues were addressed during the two-hour discussion between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Council President Charles Michel and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. They discussed climate transition, the protection of biodiversity, economic and trade relations and, of course, the war in Ukraine. In particular, on this front, an EU official pointed out that China is carrying out actions aimed at exerting influence on Russia’s choices. However, it was also highlighted that a radical change in Chinese foreign policy cannot be expected.

      (Andrea Ghilardi)

      Russian gas cut? Europe prepares. Several European countries are moving in recent weeks to prepare for a possible, and for some analysts probable, cut or even closure of gas supplies from Russia. During a joint press conference between the German Minister of the Economy, Robert Habeck, and his French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, it was emphasised that in the future an energy situation could arise in which the supply of Russian gas is strongly conditioned and compromised by the conflict in Ukraine. This is why it is important for European countries to prepare for this eventuality. Germany has in fact decided to activate the preventive alert of its gas emergency plan, as has neighbouring Austria, which has followed the German model. While these are only pre-emptive moves, they clearly show that there is a real fear in Europe that the war in Ukraine could directly jeopardise the energy imports of much of the continent.

      (Andrea Ghilardi)

      United Kingdom, shock report on malpractice in public health. Lack of care, denied caesarean sections, and horrible medical decisions by several doctors: this is the content of the report which is scandalising the island across the Manica Channel. Twenty years of malpractice, which allegedly caused the death of 201 newborn babies and 9 mothers in the maternity wards of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust in central England. These victims could have been saved if they had been treated and followed the appropriate medical procedures. The British Health Minister himself, Sajid Javid, personally apologised to the more than 1500 families involved in the scandal. Following the publication of this report, which highlighted among other things the serious budget shortfalls in the public health service, Boris Johnson promised substantial investment in the sector, with particular attention to the maternity ward.

      (Andrea Ghilardi)

      Portugal, gender equality in the executive led by Prime Minister António Costa. A couple of months after the Socialist Party’s victory in the elections, Prime Minister Costa presented his new government, which perfectly respects gender equality. In fact, including the Prime Minister, there are eight men and eight women; among the seventeen newly appointed ministers, there are nine women. Crucial roles have been assigned to women: Mariana Vieira da Silva has been confirmed as Costa’s deputy (the first time in Portugal’s history that a woman has held this position); defence has also been entrusted to a woman, the sociologist Helena Carreiras, university professor and president of the National Defence Institute. Given the numbers of women in politics, the Portuguese experience is an important example in Europe and beyond.

      (Bianca Franzini)

      European Union, agreement reached on the Digital Markets Act. At the end of March, the European Parliament and the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union reached an agreement on the Digital Markets Act (DMA); final approval is expected in 2023. These are measures aimed at regulating the digital sector in the EU together with the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DMA will prohibit certain practices of large digital companies that act as gatekeepers (i.e. attract at least 45 million users in the EU per month) and allow the Commission to conduct market investigations and sanction non-compliant behaviour. In addition, it has been decided that the largest messaging applications (such as Messenger or Whatsapp) will have to open up to smaller platforms.

      (Bianca Franzini)

      European Commission, postponed until a later date the presentation of two proposals for the Green Deal. The European Commission was due to present two new Green Deal proposals in the agri-food sector on 23 March. One of the two proposals was supposed to reform the directive on the use of pesticides and set a target of halving their use by 2030, and the other was supposed to restore natural areas. Many countries, especially in Eastern Europe, asked for these measures to be reconsidered or modified after the invasion of Ukraine, fearing a reduction in agricultural production at a time when the issue of European food security is already particularly delicate.

      (Bianca Franzini)

      Bianca Franzini and Andrea Ghilardi

      CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA

      Russia, Defence Ministry accusations against Biden's son. According to the official Russian news agency TASS, the Defence Ministry is allegedly in possession of compromising correspondence between Hunter Biden, the second son of the US President, and employees of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Pentagon contractors. The letters, as stated by the head of the Russian Radiation Protection Forces Igor Kirillov, reveal Hunter Biden's direct involvement in the allocation of funds to Metabiota, a Californian Pentagon contractor, to support research programmes on Ukrainian territory and the creation of pathogens to be used as bacteriological weapons.

      (Davide Shahhosseini)

      Ukraine, strong explosions in Odessa. According to the Odessa Life newspaper, the explosions (at least ten) are located in the city centre and have led to the damage of "a critical infrastructure", while according to other sources the missiles have hit fuel deposits. Odessa's strategic objective is to be read in the Russian change of strategy - also following the first timid negotiations mediated by Turkey - aimed at putting pressure on the eastern area of ​​Ukraine, specifically the Donbass, and on the southern area, such as it is clear from the bombing of Mariupol. According to the Ukrainian government's statements, “the entire Kiev region would have been liberated”, also following the demobilisation of the troops of the Russian Federation.

      (Sara Oldani)

      Ukraine, Zelensky's accusations against the Hungarian Orban. In a nocturnal speech to the nation, the Ukrainian president, strong of the easing of pressure on Kiev, praised the resistance of the Ukrainian militants and their courage, raising strong criticism of the West for not having received enough support in terms of anti-missile systems. Accusations were also directed against the Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, calling him "the only one in Europe to openly support Putin".

      (Sara Oldani)

      Davide Shahhosseini and Sara Oldani

      MIDDLE-EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)

      Libya, the political stalemate blocking the country continues. The Libyan political landscape remains highly unstable. Cairo and Doha, in an unusual joint effort, seem to have tried to mediate between the parties by promoting a hypothesis of a single government, made up of members of both current executives. Meanwhile, tensions also persist between the president of the Libyan oil company and the oil minister of the Tripoli government. Moreover, the parliament in Tobruk does not seem to want to cooperate with the diplomatic path promoted by the United Nations at the instigation of the interim secretary of the UN Libyan mission, Stephanie Williams. The Prime Minister nominated by the Tobuk House of Representatives, Fathi Bashaga, continues to support the illegitimacy of the Dbeibeh government and claims that his own executive will soon take office in Tripoli, anticipating a peaceful entry into the city.

      (Michele Magistretti)

      Israel, the return of terror and the progress of diplomacy. Between 22 and 29 March, the country was hit by a series of terrorist attacks, some of which were claimed by ISIS. The attackers, among whom were also Arab-Israeli citizens, claimed a total of about ten victims and struck in Beersheba, Hadera and Bnei Brak. The country had not experienced such a number of attacks in quick succession for years. In the meantime, the country's foreign minister, Yair Lapid, brought together his counterparts from Morocco, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the USA in the Negev desert for a summit aimed at deepening cooperation between the participating countries. At the conclusion of the meetings, the desire to make the forum permanent was announced. In addition, negotiations for a comprehensive trade, military and infrastructure agreement between Israel and the UAE were concluded.

      (Michele Magistretti)

      Syria, enacted a law restricting freedom of expression. Runaway inflation and the food crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, have pushed the Assad regime to increasingly damage fundamental freedoms and human rights. The law promulgated on March 28 provides for a sentence of at least six months in prison for Syrians residing in countries that would disseminate information against the prestige of the Syrian state; the same penalty will also be applied to Syrians residing abroad if they disseminate information aimed at improving the reputation of an enemy state. In a circular, the presidency specified that this provision would also affect information in support of secessionist pressures in the country, with clear reference to the territory managed by the Kurds.

      (Sara Oldani)

      Michele Magistretti and Sara Oldani

      TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

      US, Blinken tones down after Biden's statements in Warsaw. During his visit to the Polish capital on 25 March, the US President called Vladimir Putin a 'tyrant' and a 'butcher', and hoped that he would not remain in power for long. These remarks, which the Kremlin described as seriously outrageous and disruptive of the dialogue between Moscow and Washington, forced the White House, through its secretary of state, to correct Biden's words. Antony Blinken, speaking directly from the summit in the Negev where he met with the namesakes of the countries that signed the Abrahamic Accords, emphasized that President Biden's words were not a strategy aimed at regime change in the Kremlin, but rather his intention to condemn the form of power aggressively exercised by Putin in Ukraine and the entire region.

      (Davide Shahhosseini)

      New African Union mission in Somalia. The UN Security Council recently approved a new African Union transitional mission in Somalia. The deployed force, which takes the name Atmis and replaces Amisom, will be active in the African country until 2024. The aim of the mission is to support the Somali authorities in countering al-Shabaab and Islamic State-affiliated groups. The Council's resolution affirmed "the need to combat terrorist threats by all means" and urged UN member states "to consider providing predictable, sustainable and multi-year support for Atmis".

      Syria, clashes in ISIS prison camps. Last week, new clashes took place in the Hol prison in north-eastern Syria. Fighting broke out between Kurdish forces - who control the facility - and detained Islamic State militants. According to local reports, about ten people were killed and the firefight lasted for several hours. The most serious similar incident occurred on 20 January, when ISIS militants attacked the Kurdish prison of Gweiran, causing more than 100 deaths and the escape of many Daesh militants. The instability of Kurdish prisons is a major security problem not only for Syria, but also on a regional and international level. 

      Davide Shahhosseini 

      INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

      UNSC, emergency meeting following North Korea missile test. On Friday, March 25, the United Nations' top political affairs and peacebuilding official, Rosemary Di Carlo, urged the Security Council to be united in its response to the DPRK's latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch as country delegates met in an emergency session this afternoon to discuss the issue. "Security Council unity in this matter is essential to defuse tensions, overcome the diplomatic impasse and avoid a negative cycle of action-reaction," said Rosemary DiCarlo, also stressing the United Nations' commitment to working with all parties toward a complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, urging Pyongyang to "set a course toward dialogue", and build on previous diplomatic efforts. Finally, Di Carlo recalled Council Resolution 2397 (2017), which reaffirmed the body's decision of the DPRK's ban on further missile launches.

      (Francesco Ancona)

      NATO, Alliance’s annual report published. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the publication of his annual report for 2021. Within the document, all aspects of the Alliance's defence and deterrence work during the past year in the various domains (sea, land, air and space) and different contexts (operations and peacekeeping missions) operational are analysed. On Ukraine, Stoltenberg said NATO had repeatedly warned that Russia was ready to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine: "We prepared for the worst but worked hard for the best. We made every effort to engage Russia in dialogue, but Moscow consistently refused us and eventually decided to cut diplomatic ties." Another important focus of analysis in the document is the Operation Resolute Support; in this regard, the Secretary General has highlighted how the allied troops were able to evacuate more than 120,000 people in the course of three weeks: "The lessons we have learned from Afghanistan will shape the Alliance's response to crises in the future," said Stoltenberg. Finally, the document highlights that 2021 was the seventh consecutive year of increased defence spending among allies, representing a 3.1 percent increase in real terms and a total of $270 billion more since 2014.

      (Francesco Ancona)

      WFP, after months of waiting the first humanitarian convoys enter Tigray. After more than three months, the first batch of international aid has reached the war-torn Tigray region of Ethiopia, a week after a ceasefire was agreed between the government and rebels. Hundreds of thousands of people are facing starvation in the area, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front have been at war for 17 months. "WFP-led convoys to Tigray are back on the road and making steady progress," a WFP spokesperson reported. "They have just arrived in Erepti (near the Afar region) and will soon enter Tigray; they are carrying over 500 tons of food and nutritional supplies."

      (Francesco Ancona)

      Francesco Ancona 

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

      Agnese Marchesini: Asia and the Far East

      Andrea Ghilardi: Western Europe and the European Union, Sub-Saharan Africa

      Bianca Franzini: Western Europe and the European Union

      Davide Shahhosseini: Terrorism and International Security

      Edoardo Cappelli: Human Rights, North America

      Elisa Maggiore: Latin America

      Federico Brignacca: Human Rights

      Federico Pani: North America

      Francesco Ancona: Asia and the Far East, International Organizations

      Giulio Cofini: Sub-Saharan Africa

      Laura Salvemini: International Organizations and Terrorism and International Security

      Leonardo Aldeghi: Economics and International Finance

      Ludovica Costantini: Latin America

      Michele Magistretti: Middle-East and North Africa

      Rosario Giorgio Maria Saffioti: Central and Eastern Europe and Russia

      Samuele Abrami: Middle-East and North Africa

      Sara Oldani: Middle-East and North-Africa

      Valeria Lavano: International Organizations

      Vincenzo Battaglia: Terrorism and International Security


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