Framing the World, number XVII

A comprehensive overview of the main international events

Here we are again with a new issue of Framing the World, ready to start a new week catching up with the most important world events! We start with Europe, where political tensions are rampant: Boris Johnson is risking everything to achieve Brexit by October 31, while Italy tries to form a new government.
Moving to further east, we’ll have a quick look at the conflict in Ukraine and to the mysterious explosion in Russia, while in the Middle East, the risk is an all-out conflict between Israel and Iran. This last was unexpectedly took part in the G7.
We will then talk about Africa, with a particular focus on terrorism given the attacks in Burkina Faso and the tenth anniversary of Boko Haram.
We’ll also discuss about Japan’s attempt to replace China as a development partner.
The Indian subcontinent is instead affected by some different serious issues linked to the situation in Kashmir and to human rights; in fact millions of Bengalis have been expulsed from the north-east, after many important changes occurred in Bangladesh.
Concerning the Far East, we will update you on the Hong Kong protests and on the Korea-Japan diplomatic crisis, still far from a peaceful conclusion.
South America instead,is affected by many negative events, with new data on the violence of Mexican police, the FARC picking up their arms again, the environmental damage to the Amazon rainforest and Argentina which seems ever closer to a default.
We will finally conclude our view of the world with the United States, updating you on the latest news on the trade war against China and a historic verdict for the opioid epidemic.

This and much more, in the new Framing the World edition.

Moving to further east, we’ll have a quick look at the conflict in Ukraine and to the mysterious explosion in Russia, while in the Middle East, the risk is an all-out conflict between Israel and Iran. This last was unexpectedly took part in the G7.
We will then talk about Africa, with a particular focus on terrorism given the attacks in Burkina Faso and the tenth anniversary of Boko Haram.
We’ll also discuss about Japan’s attempt to replace China as a development partner.
The Indian subcontinent is instead affected by some different serious issues linked to the situation in Kashmir and to human rights; in fact millions of Bengalis have been expulsed from the north-east, after many important changes occurred in Bangladesh.
Concerning the Far East, we will update you on the Hong Kong protests and on the Korea-Japan diplomatic crisis, still far from a peaceful conclusion.
South America instead,is affected by many negative events, with new data on the violence of Mexican police, the FARC picking up their arms again, the environmental damage to the Amazon rainforest and Argentina which seems ever closer to a default.
We will finally conclude our view of the world with the United States, updating you on the latest news on the trade war against China and a historic verdict for the opioid epidemic.

This and much more, in the new Framing the World edition.

Human Rights

Bangladesh, the country’s top court ordered to remove the term ‘virgin’ from marriage certificates. In a landmark verdict, the country’s top court ordered to replace the term ‘virgin’ in the marriage certificates with the word ‘ unmarried’ – while the other two options, ‘widow’ and ‘divorced’, stay unchanged. Furthermore, the Court stated that the groom will have to declare their marital status too. The changes to the certificate will come into force in October, when the Court is expected to publish its verdict. Human rights groups have largely acclaimed the verdict, which represents a huge step forwards in the protection of women’s rights.

Croatia, attacks against the Serbian community are increasing. Recently, the attacks against the Serbian community in Croatia increased. The last attack, occurred in Uzolje, has been carried out by a dozen of individuals armed with bats and a machete and with their faces covered, who entered into a bar and destroyed the place. Five person were injured in the aggression, including a 9 years-old child. The perpetrators have been arrested; they risk from six months to five years of prison. Few days later, the Croatian PM Andrej Plenković and the President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović harshly condemned the racist aggression.

Libya, 40 migrants drown off the Libyan coast. After the latest shipwreck off the Libyan coast, 40 migrants lost their lives at the sea. About 60 migrants survived; they were rescued and brought to land by the Libyan Coast Guard. This accident occurs just few weeks after another wreck in which about 150 people are estimated to be dead. At the moment, 900 people have lost their lives in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2019.

Russia, the ECHR condemns Russia over a domestic violence case. In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia over a domestic violence case for having violated Article 3 and Article 14 of the convention, and taken in conjunction with Article 3 of this last. In particular, the Court asserted that Russia’s lack of legislation to fight domestic violence indicates a systematic failure to address this critical problem. Furthermore, the Court warned Russia that if additional cases will occur in future, it may decide to adopt the so-called ‘pilot judgement procedure’, to instruct the government to adopt policy and legal changes.

The United States, the Justice Department recognised that workplace discrimination against gay employees still occur. On August 23, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in which it argues that the federal prohibitions on employees discrimination can’t protect individuals from being fired or disenfranchised in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. The said federal law is envisaged in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion or national origin. This amicus brief recalls another one submitted few weeks ago by the Justice Department with regard to transgender people.

Uganda, small steps towards the abolition of death penalty. On August 21, Uganda’s Parliament approved a series of amendments which will confine the death penalty to the most serious crimes. According to these amendments, the judges are no longer obliged to recur to this penalty. The campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Uganda started in 2009, when a landmark judgement defined the death penalty ‘unconstitutional’.

Marta Stroppa

Economics and International Finance

US-China, the latest updates. The US-China trade war seemed to be at the point of no return when Beijing announced, on Friday 23, that it would have imposed new duties for $75 billion (between 5 and 10% of the value for over 5000 categories of goods) and President Trump had responded by canceling temporary exemptions and increasing the level of duties already scheduled for October 1st. In a few minutes, this decision had caused a sudden collapse of markets (NASDAQ -3%, Dow Jones -2.37%), and an equally rapid increase in the prices of gold, Swiss franc and dollars, given their role as safe havens. However, the response of Vice Premier Liu He, who said he was interested in a negotiated solution between the two countries, and Trump's counter-response (“Xi is a great leader and we will find an agreement”), removed most of the worries and brought serenity back to the markets.

Argentina, default is coming? The fate of the South American country looks increasingly grim. The stock market volatility had increased before the primary elections, questioning Macri's re-election hopes, so there are now concerns about the repayment of its bonds. The new finance minister Mr. Lacunza, who took over from Mr. Dujovne (the scapegoat for the electoral defeat), informed the Monetary Fund of the decision to renegotiate the payment of government bonds for more than $100 billion. Following this move, Standard & Poor's has downgraded Argentina credit score, declaring selective (and technical) default on the bonds whose payment was postponed. IMF inspectors returning from Buenos Aires have announced that contacts have been positive but also that it will take time to understand the impact of government decisions. Anonymously, other Fund officials said they were worried about a possible exclusion from international markets if Argentina actually declared a default. A new round of negotiations will begin today (2 September).

Opioids, millionaire compensation. For Johnson&Johnson the sentence is harsh: the company owes $572 million in compensations to the state of Oklahoma for contributing to the most serious health emergency in the history of the state. The ruling refers to opiod drug marketed by J&J. The company would have hidden or minimized their risks of creating addiction, promoting instead its benefits and pushing doctors to easily prescribe them. It led to more than 400,000 deaths for overdoses from 1999 to 2017 across the US, 6,000 of which only in Oklahoma. The ruling, although milder than the $17 billion requested by the prosecutors (J&J earned more than 5% on the stock exchange), is an important precedent for the over 2,000 lawsuits open in all the US against another company that invented these drugs: Purdue Pharma. A few days later this last offered between $10 and $12 billion to settle pending lawsuits and is considering bankruptcy.

Amazonia, gold and fires. If fires in the Amazon forest made the news, an even more dangerous phenomenon for tropical forests is illegal gold mining. Gold prices that reached a 6-year high ($ 1550 / ounce) have prompted the "buscadores" to open new illegal mines, tripling the value of this production. It is estimated that at least 20 of the 90 tons of gold extracted in Brazil, (for a value of $820 million) and 35 out of the 145 tons produced in Peru (first continental producer and sixth in the world) are illegally extracted. More than 70% of this production is sold in European markets, thanks to counterfeit certifications. This not only provides funds for South American cartels, but it also causes significant pollution, so that 78% of the population of the Peruvian region of Madre de Dios are contaminated from the mercury used to separate gold from other materials.

Tobacco, a merger ahead. Philip Morris and Altria, which separated from its parent company in 2008 to focus on non-tobacco businesses - holding important stakes in Kraft Foods and SABMiller (beer) - are considering to re-unite. The reasons behind these decision concern the sales of those holdings by Altria, the merger of rival British American Tobacco with Reynolds America into a fearsome competitor, and the continuing decrease in cigarettes sales (-3% in 2018). These factors make a change in the PM business plan imperative, which was identified in electronic cigarettes and cannabis, sectors in which Altria is a leader. The merger, practically on a par basis (49% of new stocks to Altria and 51% to Philip Morris) would lead to the creation of a $210 billion conglomerate, although the success of the transaction appears doubtful, as shown by the doubts of investors, with important sales on the stock and -10% on the stock exchange.

Leonardo Aldeghi

Sub-Saharan Africa

Burkina Faso, jihadist attack causes 24 deaths. The wave of jihadist attacks in the Sahelian area affecting the center of Mali and the north of Burkina Faso does not stop; on the contrary, it seems to acquire ever greater danger and frequency, and on August 19, it reached the borders of Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso), in Koudougou. This is the bloodiest attack suffered by the armed forces of Burkina Faso. On Tuesday 20 August the main opposition party - the Union for Progress and Change (UPC) - echoed people’s request for the resignation of the government led by Christophe Dabiré, considered unable to face the threat.

Burkina Faso, another 500 soldiers to fight terrorism. The choice to recruit 500 more soldiers is due to the need to cope with the losses caused by terrorist attacks in the recent years. In fact terrorist activities led to the death of more than 500 soldiers, according to the numbers shared by Jeune Afrique. The recruitment campaign will be carried out until mid-October and it will involve 13 women (one from each region of the country) among the 500 soldiers, all born between 1996 and 1998 - from 21 to 23 years old.

Chad, state of emergency in the provinces of Ouaddäi and Sila. The decision comes from the President Idriss Dèby Itno, who declared last August 18 the state of emergency s in the eastern provinces of the country, on the border with Sudan, for the next three months. The choice was motivated by the numerous deaths that occurred in August (see last edition); however, according to the President, the reason for the clashes between farmers and breeders was linked, and reduced, to the disorders affecting the neighboring country, but they might be much deeper.

Mali, greater cooperation with Burkina Faso in the fight against terrorism. Following the attack in Koudougou, the Minister of Defense of Mali, General Ibrahima Dembélé, met Prime Minister Burkinabè on Monday 26 August to communicate his condolences but also to reaffirm the country's intention to support Burkina Faso in this challenge. A bilateral mission aimed at strengthening border cooperation in the fight against jihadism has already started. The threat of ethnic jihadism (as some defined it) started in Mali and has spread southwards, but it also involved Ouagadougou and alarmed the coastal states, among which the most exposed is the Ivory Coast.

Central African Republic, the FDPC rebel group breaks relations with the government. Since February, the Central African government has operated on the basis of a peace and power sharing agreement with a plethora of rebel groups. At the end of July, the FDPC group, headed by Abdoulaye Miskine, had already asked for the resignation of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. Now, instead, it seems that it has started a new recruitment campaign and made an alliance with another group, the PRNC: Miskine would have confirmed the second news, denying the first one. The peace agreement, the eighth in its history, is increasingly weak even though the UN MINUSCA mission is already present in the country. Also, there are rumors about the possibility that the European Union will organize a civil mission next Autumn. It willl operate with the existing military operation EUTM (Training Mission) RCA.

South Sudan, faint hopes for a return to normality. After years of civil war that led to the starvation of thousands of people and destroyed the entire social fabric, positive examples are emerging: one of them is given by the of Marial Ajith community, settled in the north west of the country. The area, which is characterized by very fertile lands, thanks to the presence of numerous rivers and water basins, was one of the major producers of agricultural commodities, fruit and vegetables, then exported to other regions of the country. Only several years after the end of the conflict and the intervention of the FAO, some of these communities are returning, as they started benefiting from the distribution of tools, seeds and know-how, to produce more, granting the survival of the local population.

Afro-Japanese Summit, seventh edition in Yokohama. The Tokyo international conference on African development has been opened on Wednesday, August 28, and is taking place in the sign of Shinzo Abe's will to strengthen Japan's role in the African continent. The desire to act as an alternative partner to China is certainly one of the main objectives of Tokyo, that has made increasing efforts in this direction during the past years.

Marcello Alberizzi

North America

Mexico, police rapes. The dominating corruption within the state institutions is not the only fear for the population and the international community. There are increasingly frequent complaints about alleged sexual violence committed by some police officers: two violence have been recently reported.
Meanwhile the mayor of Mexico City announced that an investigation has started, and that some agents have been suspended from their office. The United Nations has also intervened, drawing up an estimate of the women who are killed in the country, and it appears that every day nine women lose their lives but the complaints are not

very precise because people do not trust the police.

Puerto Rico, a new governor. The unincorporated territory of the United States of America has a new governor since the beginning of August: Wanda Vazquez, who replaced Ricardo Rosellò. This latter had to resign because of the spreading protests, due to the publication of his chats with some of his collaborators. The chats contained numerous homophobic and sexist comments.

United States, looking for investments. Trump's foreign policy, based on a series of trade negotiations, looking for immediate advantages, seems ever more defined. The last diplomatic scrapping involved Denmark: Trump said he wanted to buy Greenland. Following the negative Danish response, Trump canceled the official visit scheduled for today, 2 September 2019. Meanwhile, the White House has announced that if the rules will not be rejected by the courts, a new regulation will be adopted, and it might lead to a possible separation of immigrant families, added to children and young people detention without time limits. But the United States are already thinking of the 2020 presidential elections; the first polls regarding the democratic primaries say that Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are regaining consents, at the expense of Joe Biden.

Michele Pavan

South America

Brazil, foreign funds cut. Germany was the first nation to stop providing funds to help the Brazilian government to preserve the Amazon rainforest. During the past days, Norway did the same, explaining that the Bolsonaro government is not working to stop deforestation in the Amazon, that advanced faster in recent years. Norway has invested about $ 1.2 billion in the fund over the past few years.

Colombia, a revival in the arms of the FARC. The return to arms was announced by former commander Ivan Marquez, after the repeated violation of the peace agreements signed in 2016 by the Bogota government and the FARC. In the video forwarded to the local broadcasters, the former commander lists the violations of the agreement: first, he mentioned the violent offensive against the former members of the FARC without any criminal investigation, reminding that the agreement provided the recognition of former exponents’ immunity. Colombian authorities have killed more than 150 representatives. In addition, the government is accused of repressing the NGOs committed to monitoring the implementation of the peace agreement. Marquez believes that more than 500 activists from these organizations have been murdered. The FARCs take the original name FARC - EP or Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - Ejército del Pueblo; until now they only carried out self-defense activities against army incursions without any kidnapping and ransom requests.

Costa Rica, tensions with Nicaragua. The news dates back to few days ago: new tensions between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, presented a complaint against the Nicaraguan government accusing it of having entered Costa Rican territory in order to kill a boy from Nicaragua.
The tensions between the two countries had been already inflamed when the the President of Costa Rica condemned Nicaragua’s repression activities. Of course the government headed by Daniel Ortega did not appreciate the condemnation of the Costa Rican colleague.

El Salvador, the acquittal of Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez. A very long and exhausting process regarded Evelyn Beatriz. In 2015, when she was sixteen-year-old, she was raped and gave birth to a dead child in a bathroom, so she was sentenced was sentenced to 30 years in prison, for aggravated murder. On August 19, the girl's second trial ended with an acquittal. It is a reached goal, given the backwardness of the country's laws on abortion that had imposed

imposed her to spend 33 months in prison. They are the most restrictive laws in the world regarding abortion.

Michele Pavan e Mario Ghioldi

Asia and Far East

China, between Hong Kong and the United States.

Yang Jiechi, former PRC ambassador to the United States and now Director of the Central Commission of Foreign Affairs, visited the United States on Tuesday 27th to confer with his American counterpart Mike Pompeo. The same day in which Beijing declined the request to let two US ships (USS Green Bay and USS Lake Erie, which had applied for

September) dock in Hong Kong. The meeting between them, aimed at discussing about the dossiers of Taiwan, Xinjiang and South China Sea, allowed a confrontation on the situation of the former British colony.
Concerning HK, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (born in '96) and pro-independence activist Andy Chan (born in 1990) have been arrested on Friday. Police has also arrested 36 people (29 men and seven women), including a 12-year-old boy, with the charges of illegal assembly, possession of weapons and attack and police officers.
Moving to China’s military cooperation, a joint exercise with Russia, named Tsentr 2019, is scheduled for September 16-21.
However, the country’s dispute with the US stay unsolved, and it involves more and more elements; among these last, here we suggest an interesting article on the role of trade war on the Amazon forest.
Concerning Chinese internal policy, last Monday, Li Peng, a former Chinese prime minister and protagonist during Tiananmen 1989, passed away.

Japan, we all look to Africa.

As previously reported, Japan hosted the TICAD conference on African development held between 28t and 30t August. Abe confirmed the will of the Japanese private sector to invest 20 billion euros in the continent. The guiding themes of its activity are: "people, innovation, resilience". The Tunisian foreign minister Khemaies Jhinaoui then expressed interest in seeing a more active Japan in the African territory.
Also, according to NHK, the country’s foreign policy involved Russian President Putin too; he will meet the Japanese Prime Minister this Thursday in Vladivostok. The Kurils are certainly on the agenda.
Referring to Japan’s relations with the US instead, the Japanese Ministry of Defense has asked for 1.2% budget increase (50 billion) in order to face regional threats. Furthermore, during the G7 (24.08-26.08) held in France (Biarritz), president Trump and Shinzo Abe declared their intention to sign a new trade agreement by next month. A decrease in tariffs on US agricultural products seems to be taken into consideration.
Finally, on Saturday 31th, Bangladesh and Japan signed a memorandum of cooperation on the acceptance of qualified workers from Bangladesh.

South Korea, troubled relations.

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh will meet his South Korean counterpart (after meeting the Japanese Minister for Defence) in Seoul on 5-6th September, to discuss about military cooperation. The dispute between Japan and South Korea, led to the exclusion of Korea from the "white list" of the countries with which to maintain a preferential export regime, stay unsolved. However, some analysts believe that the Japanese choice might cause even major problems in the long run.
Therefore last Thursday South Korea announced that it wants to withdraw from the intelligence sharing agreement signed with Japan in 2006, during the Obama administration.
Also, on August 25, South Korean forces began two days of extended exercises around an island (Dokdo-Takeshima) also claimed by Japan, provoking protests from Tokyo.

North Korea, Mike Pompeo’s mission.

The country’s situation has been already discussed this summer; seven missile tests (from 25th July), the last of which has been deployed on Saturday 24th August, as response to the joint military exercises carried out by the United States and South Korea. "We are ready for both dialogue and standoff." said Ri Yong-ho, North Korean foreign minister, in response to Mike Pompeo's comments on the maintenance of sanctions. The North Korean deputy foreign minister Choe Son-hui this Saturday (August 31th) stated that, at this stage, the chances of a constructive dialogue with the US are fading, and mentioned Pompeo’s speech pronounced at the American Legions' s 101st National Convention, in which he defined North Korea "as a rogue state."

India, an interesting report.

An interesting New York Times report about the situation in the Indian Kashmir tells a different story from the national medias news. This month Rajnath Singh, Indian defense minister, said that he wants to revoke the "no first use" clause on the use of nuclear weapons, allowed only in response to a nuclear attack. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi then commented yesterday "Pakistan is ready for dialogue but it will only work if India is equally interested,".
Concerning the domestic policy of the country, nearly 2 million people in northeastern India (state of Assam) face the threat of statelessness and detention after being excluded from an official list (National Register of Citizens) designed to eradicate illegal immigrants. Many critics sustain that the said measure constitutes an attempt to expel millions of people from the Muslim minority, many of whom fled the neighboring Bangladesh.
Finally, it’s necessary to mention India’s going to achieve the goal of its first moon landing, scheduled for the 6th of september.

Stefano Sartorio

Western Europe and European Union

Italy, consultations for a new coalition government. After the crisis opened by Matteo Salvini on August 8, Italy is looking for a new executive. Former PM Conte had resigned after his speech at the Senate, in which he accused the League leader of being moved by political interest and having repeatedly disrespected institutions. However, after a round of consultations with representatives of parliamentary groups, Mattarella again entrusted Conte, who is conducting negotiations between the 5 Star Movement and the Democratic Party. The two political forces have been adversaries for all these years and there’s been no lack of harsh declarations, sometimes offensive and exceeding the limits of political debate, between “grillini” and democrats. The negotiations are complicated by Luigi Di Maio, who seems to be intentioned to blow everything up if the DP does not accept his 10 points. The League, “Brothers of Italy” and “Forward Italy have instead asked the President of the Republic to dissolve the Chambers and to bring the country to early elections.

United Kingdom, Boris Johnson suspends the Parliament. Everyone was surprised by British Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks, until 15 October, minimising the time frame for a parliamentary debate on Brexit. Legally, Parliament can be suspended, but usually this occurs between sessions, not at such a delicate time. Boris Johnson has always been one of the most ardent supporters of the United Kingdom exit from the European Union, even at the cost of a "no-deal" option; this move confirms that the Prime Minister is ready to play dirty in order to succeed. Meanwhile, the opposition has filed three appeals against the decision of the tenant on Downing Street, but one of these last has already been rejected by the Scottish court in Edinburgh. Is there still something that Parliament can do to prevent the possibility of a Brexit without agreement? Opposition MPs may pass a no-confidence motion on the government by September 10 and call for

general elections in October.

Germany, simplified rules for citizenship for descendants of persecuted by the Nazis. It seems incredible, but the German government has decided to simplify the procedure for obtaining citizenship started by applicants who were forced to leave the country during the Nazi regime, and lost their citizenship. Despite the art. 116 of the German Constitution states that the rights and citizenship revoked during the twelve years of Nazism are restored, there have been several internal problems that made this passage less obvious than expected. From 2016 onwards the number of requests spread. The most of applicants are descendants of German Jews residing in the United Kingdom, who decided to leave the country because of Brexit. The requirements have been reduced to a basic level of German and a minimum knowledge of the Federal Republic’s social order.

France, Macron proposes a European commissioner. In recent days, the French President had to chose the name to be submitted to the scrutiny of Ursula von der Leyen for the next European legislature. The choice fell on Sylvie Goulard, an expert in European economy and business, with a great political experience. From 2001 to 2004 she was councilor of Romano Prodi, then president of the Commission. Subsequently she was elected MEP, joining the ALDE group.
Macron had appointed her as Minister of Defense, but she had to resign because of an alleged irregularity in the payments of parliamentary assistants. She is the current deputy governor of the Bank of France.

European Union increases military coordination effort. In the last few months, threats to the safety and freedom of commercial ships - and not only - in the spread international arena. For this reason, Federica Mogherini stated that the European Union is striving to coordinate the naval presence of its countries in some areas of strategic interest. It is not known whether in the future the new mission will be expanded to the Strait of Hormuz, where tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased.

Leonardo Cherici


United States, every step towards Ukraine means to worsen relations with Russia. It seems that the US administration is going to grant the allocation of 250 million Dollars for military aid to Ukraine. According to Politico magazine, Trump decided to review the funding program for Ukrainian security, that’s managed by the national security working group. An ambiguous approach emerges from the US actions, given that president Trump pushed for Russia to be reinstated into the Group of Seven.
The US had already reinforced the relations with Ukraine in the last months, after Zelensky’’s inauguration, but America’s financial aid is not completely assured.

If Trump denies to allocate the said financial aid, it may show that Trump indulge Russian assertive behaviour towards Ukraine, that would disappoint the Democrats.
However, the Department for Defence confirmed the will to allocate the up-mentioned funds, but they are supposed to serve American interests, and not only Ukraine’s.
The final decision will be taken by 30 September.

New theories concern the accident occurred in Russia. Some U.S. Intelligence sources declared that the explosion occurred in Russia on August 8 was caused by the rescue of an old weapon previously tested, while the U.S. authorities thought that it was caused by a failed nuclear missile test. Also, according to the mentioned sources, the explosion would have occurred on board of the ship employed to rescue a missile from the depths of the Arctic Sea.
Moscow stays silent on the event, as it could reveal a flaw in Russia’s military system. But it may show Putin’s intent not to leak news that would deny Russia’s acquirement of a new global-range weapon; or perhaps Russia wants to show that the ecological disasters occurred in the area haven’t been caused by any nuclear test.
In the meantime, Russia inaugurated the first floating nuclear power station, the “Akademik Lomonosov”, which will sail the arctic route from Murmansk to Pevek; but concerns about new possible environmental disaster are concrete.

Five more Islands added to the Arctic map. After a Russian naval expedition five new islands have been mapped. These last were buried under the Nansen Ice shelf, but they are now visible because of the melting of the Arctic polar ices.
The discovery has been attributed to Marina Migunova, who’s now oceanographer for the Northern Fleet of the Russian Federation. The mapping of the islands has been recently made possible, because of the easier navigability of the Arctic waters.

Russia is consolidating its presence in the Arctic, both for its well-known military and economic interests, and for its increasing activities carried out in the Arctic region; These last show that the Polar region might become a new geopolitical pivot area, and not only for Russia.

Donbass, Ukraine tries to return to “normality”. Kiev is making efforts to make it possible for the Donbass region to return to normal life conditions. The new Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko, is trying to take steps toward the achievement of this objective. The first “tasks” are the prisoners exchange between the separatists and the Ukraine government, and the rehabilitation of primary infrastructure, in order to provide basic assistance to the citizens living in the conflict-affected areas. Prystaiko wishes that the intense work of the Ukrainian diplomatic system will lead to further progresses by the next six months.
Also, Kiev keeps on inviting the international community to give its contribution, as it would be a key part of this complex and tangled peacebuilding process.

Andrea Maria Vassallo e Mario Ghioldi

Middle-East and North Africa (MENA)

Iran, new possibilities are emerging after the G7. Almost surprisingly, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Biarritz in the middle of the G7; the amazement was especially noticeable on the face of the American president Donald Trump. The arrival of Zarif was however predictable, since the French president Emmanuel Macron had previously announced the will to promote a political initiative favorable to redefine the sanctions against Iran, on behalf of the G7. Trump, in disagreement with this initiative, had no contact with the Iranian delegation. The Elysium immediately pointed out that the Iranian minister was not formally invited to the G7, but only to a "Franco-Iranian" meeting. Despite this, at the end of the meeting in Biarritz, the American president said he was in favor of meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani "if there are the right circumstances". As response, the Iranian leader has specified that the chances of success of such dialogue are firmly anchored to the revocation of "all the illegal and unjust sanctions" imposed by Washington to Tehran.

Syria, air raids in Idlib. The Syrian city is now battered; Assad's forces, together with the Russian troops, have perpetrated continuous air raids in the Syrian region controlled by anti-regime insurgents (partly supported by the neighboring Turkey). Their main target was the Hurras al-Deen group (linked to al Qaeda). The most obvious consequence of the attacks resulted in a wave of civilians that fled Idlib. In this regard, Ankara’s government has warned the international community of the risk of a new refugee emergency, expected to affect Turkey and Europe. However, the Turkish authorities have erected cement barriers along the border, effectively preventing Syrian refugees to enter the country. But this limitation did not discourage the escaping civilians, who requested to enter for humanitarian reasons, and they gathered along the Bab al Hawa border crossing. During the protest caused by the denial of Turkey, many incidents occurred between the Turkish military forces and the Syrian civilians.

Syria, Lebanon and Iraq: Israeli raids against Iran-backed militias. The tension between the Jewish state and Tehran spread after a series of raids perpetrated by Israel against the Iranian pro-Shiite positions in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. During the night between Saturday 24 August and Sunday 25, the Israeli air force bombed a precision missile depot (controlled by the Pasdaran - Iranian revolutionary guards) near Damascus. Contrary to Tel Aviv's tendency to deny (or not confirm) attacks, the said bombing was claimed by Netanyahu himself. A few hours later a second raid (in which two drones have been employed), attributable to Israel - but not claimed - struck the southern suburbs of Beirut - inhabited by Shiites and controlled by Hezbollah.
Also, the next day, another (presumably) Israeli raid was conducted against a convoy standing at the border between Iraq and Syria - it killed 9 victims among pro-Shia militias. In response to the attacks, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah said his fighters are ready to shoot down any Israeli drone flying the Lebanese skies.
Therefore, Israel runs the risk of a counter-offensive by pro-Shiite militias, with all the consequences on the stability in the Middle East.

Yemen, the opposition between the government and the separatists of the South. The separatists of the Southern regions have regained the control of Aden, the current headquarters of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. The city had already been conquered by the southern militias on August 10, and then returned (10 days later) under the control of forces loyal to President Abd Rabbih Mansur Hadi. In recent days, according to local sources, the balance has changed again and Aden is back in the hands of the rebels. However, the situation might still change. Meanwhile, the clashes between the separatists and the government troops have been going on for weeks. In theory, both factions are allies against the Houthi, supported by Iran. In practice, however, the southern rebels and the government adopt a very different point of view about the future of Yemen. In addition, the rebels of the Southern region are openly supported by Abu Dhabi which, in turn, does not support Hadi because of its alleged links with the Islah party - close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Vincenzo Battaglia e Federica Sulpizio

Terrorism and International Security

The price America pays for the "war on terror". If on the one hand there are thousands of American soldiers and civilians killed and injured, on the other hand the United States has also had to bear very high financial costs for the logistics of military operations, assistance of veterans and for interest applied on the loans necessary for finance the "war". According to calculations prepared by the Watston Institute of Brown University, the US will spent 5 thousand 933 billion dollars in the "war on terror" by the end of 2019, of which 822 billion in Iraq and 975 billion in Afghanistan, the two areas that have catalysed the most of the investments. According to data from Sipri, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2018 the US military spending was 649 billion dollars, with a ratio between military spending and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rising to 3.2 percent. But the costs will increase more and more every day to assist veterans.

In 2021 the trial of the minds of September 11th. The organizers of the September 11 terrorist attacks will stand trial in 2021. According to the New York Times, a military judge took this decision. The trial will begin with the selection of jurors at the Camp Justice in the maximum security military prison in Guantanamo, on the island of Cuba. The accused individuals are: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ammar al-Baluchi, and Mustafa al-Hawsawi considered responsible for the attacks that killed nearly three thousand people between New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.

Afghanistan, the Taliban continue to strike. On Saturday, August 31, the Taliban perpetrated (and claimed responsibility for) a further armed attack in Kunduz, in the north of the country. The death toll is around 10 soldiers and civilians killed.
In 2015 the Islamic extremist group had besieged this city, temporarily occupying it until the counteroffensive of the Afghan forces, supported by the US retook control of the town. Furthermore, on August 28th, Taliban fighters killed 14 members of a pro-government militia, hitting a checkpoint in Herat (western Afghanistan).
These attacks occur in conjunction with the ninth negotiating round between the Taliban and Washington. Commenting on the latest events, President Ghani's spokesman blamed the fundamentalist movement, stating that this last "does not believe in the opportunity for peace provided by the US and the Afghan government". "On the one hand it is talking to the United States, on the other it is attacking houses and villages," he added.

Boko Haram, 10 years of violence and terror. The Nigerian fundamentalist group is 10 years old. A decade marked by kidnappings, massacres and devastation. Boko Haram (which means "Western education is prohibited"), began to embrace weapons in 2009 with the aim of establishing an Islamic state based on a strict interpretation of the Sharia. The group killed 30,000 victims, as well as more than 2 million displaced people fled their cities since Boko Haram embarked on its armed campaign. The jihadist cell does not operate only in Nigeria, but it also affects its bordering states (Niger, Cameroon and Chad). The main targets are police stations and military facilities, but attacks against churches, mosques, villages and markets also constitute a part of the group’s activities. In 2015, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau promised loyalty to the Caliphate. Although it has shrunk in terms of men and field of action, the fundamentalist group keeps on threatening Nigeria and the neighboring states. In fact, just a week ago, Boko Haram was responsible for yet another attack against a village in southern Niger, killing twelve victims.

Laura Vaccaro Senna e Vincenzo Battaglia

International Organisations

United Nations, from Amazonia to Taiwan. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, announced the possibility of evaluating the need for a meeting of the General Assembly entirely dedicated to the Amazon.
Meanwhile, in Congo, cases of Ebola continue to increase. More than 3000 cases have been recorded and 2000 people died because of a particular outbreak that made the mortality rate rise by 67%. Unicef and Save the Children declared that the most endangered people are children. Also, the WHO declares measles alarm in Europe, as some cases reappeared in the United Kingdom, Greece, the Czech Republic and Albania. The cases are increasing by 300% and it is necessary to resort to vaccines for an adequate coverage of the population to stop the contamination from spreading. On the other side of the world, Taiwan calls for participation in the United Nations once again, citing its interventions in the international community and declaring that if the United Nations want to be inclusive, they should also be inclusive with Taiwan.

Michele Pavan

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

Andrea Maria Vassallo: East - Europe and Russia Federation

Federica Sulpizio: Middle East and North Africa

Laura Vaccaro Senna: Terrorism and International Security

Leonardo Aldeghi: Economy and International Finance

Leonardo Cherici: West Europe and European Union

Marcello Alberizzi: Sub-Saharan Africa

Mario Ghioldi: South America, West Europe and Russia Federation

Marta Stroppa: Human Rights

Michele Pavan: North America, South America, Oceania and International Organizations

Stefano Sartorio: Asia and Far East

Vincenzo Battaglia: Middle East and North Africa; Terrorism and International Security

Original article: issued on 2 September 2019.
Translated by: Andrea Maria Vassallo, Federica Sulpizio, Laura Vaccaro Senna, Leonardo Aldeghi, Leonardo Chierici, Marcello Alberizzi, Mario Ghioldi, Marta Stroppa, Michele Pavan, Stefano Sartorio, Vincenzo Battaglia, Simona Maria Vallefuoco.

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Economia Africa Europa Medio Oriente Organizzazioni internazionali terrorismo

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