Framing The World, VIII Numero
We know, Friday is not the Framing the world day. Nevertheless, in order to let you have a good Easter Monday, far from global worries, we decided to bring forward the release of this edition recommending a special version focused on the main crisis and significant events dealing with usual thematic breakdowns. That’s the reason why this edition presents news concerning not only Sudan coup d’état, but also Libyan affairs from Tobruk and Tripoli.
It’s necessary then to pay attention to Notre Dame and the initiative to collect one billion Euros to fund its rebuilding.
Shifting attention to south-east Asia, new considerations about Bangladesh and Myanmar crisis and Rohingya people condition.
Concerning Russia, a new interesting European Council for Foreign Relations report could make rise new questions about Russian strategy in Crimea and its developments.
Unfortunately, in this list Venezuela crisis can’t be overlooked, indeed it must be added to Nicaraguan crisis, which has been lasting for a year, and its news are undefined.
Finally in Europe, it’s important to remark the Brexit postponement, hopefully in order to get over the European Union crisis.
Then don’t miss our eighth number!
The next edition will be published in two weeks.
Cina, angsty news about control on Uyghur citizens. The New York Times states that in one month 500.000 faces have been scanned thanks to artificial intelligence implementation, which allows to identify people belonging to the Uyghur Turkic Speaking ethnic group, the muslim minority that lives in the mountainous areas of western China. This population has been suffering, for long time, several human rights violations that seem to exceed reality, and it makes rise new ethic issues.
The aim to classify citizens according to ethnic/racial criteria in order to implement coercive actions naturally arose very strong criticism from the International Community and, above all, it triggered debates on humanitarian, moral, social and economic implications; also it represents a serious record.
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE AND ECONOMICS
Notre-Dame, we’re starting back. The rebuilding of the cathedral has already started, at least relating to necessary funds: the France richest families have been having a race to allocate funds. François-Henri Pinault, owner of Kering (Gucci) started donating 100 million Euros. Bernard Arnault, leader of LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and so on...), responded and promised to donate 200 million, and Françoise Bettencourt (L’Oréal) did likewise. Total also took part donating 100 million Euros, to which it has to be added other 50 millions from the City Hall of Paris, 20 millions from Axa, 10 millions from Société Générale, 5 millons by Crédit Agricole and Disney Company, and undefined amounts from Apple, BCE, and Banque de France. Adding many others fund-raisers, the total sum amounts to about one billion Euros and it will allow rebuilding in less than 5 years, according to Macron (10 or 20 years according to experts).
But voices have been raised: lower classes demand how it is possible to collect one billion in 24 hours to rebuild a church, while Macron’s reforms plan, previewing investments for 8-10billions, struggle to find the resources needed. The cynical but true answer is that the names of people involved in the fund-raising to rebuild Notre Dame will be linked to the cathedral for the next millennium. Obviously paying more taxes to finance unidentified government spending is not as appealing.
Unicredit, it could be worse. This is the result of the dispute between Unicredit, by one side, and the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve by the other, concerning the violaton of sanctions against Iran. The Italian colossus, the biggest European bank was accused to have managed about 2000 payments, corresponding to a total amount of 500 million dollars, towards Iranian subjects under sanctions regime, between 2007 and 2011.
Unicredit admitted it used its German and Austrian counts to transfer money to US bank accounts linked to the Iranian regime, and it cut a deal for a penalty value of 1.3 million dollars, one of the highest penalty ever paid by a European bank. Nevertheless there won’t be negative effects on Unicredit, indeed it will be allowed to unlock 300 millions exceeding the sanction, boosting the Cet1 of 8 basis points, confirming its capital position.
Unicredit is also engaged to have a compliance officer and control systems in its group, in order to identify and preview any violation of financial laws.
Spring, time for weighing. Goldman Sachs e Citigroup start tghe spring season of quarterly results in a conflicting way. Both societies exceeded expectations, that however, were quite low, so the societies can’t be entirely satisfied. In particular, GS ends the quarter with a fall in revenue of 13%, a profits decrease of 21%, and the trading sector declining. The result would have been even worse if David Solomon, the new Chief Executive Officer, had not reduced the remuneration (including salary + bonus), that decreased on average from 119.000 Dollars in 2018, to 90.000 Dollars previewed in 2019.
The first Goldman Sachs’ reaction has been the partnership with Apple and MasterCard in order to create a new “Apple Card”, with the aim to “recruit” younger generations, that have shown to not being attracted by traditional banks.
Chevron, shopping time. Last Friday Chevron reached an agreement to acquire his rival, Anadarko Petroleum paying an amount of 50 billion Dollars. In this way the colossus created by J.D. Rockfeller took possession of shale deposits of the Permian Basin (Oklaoma and Texas) and it should exploits its capabilities to extract materials for a lower cost. Profit levels should increase and give Chevron the chance to get benefits from the oil prices increase, that are estimated to reach 80 dollars by the end of the year. These societies are partially overlapping, so Chevron will sell its most outdated assets for a total amount of 15-20 million dollars, to avoid a loss of profits. Anadarko shares responded positively, getting more than 32% to match the premium (surcharge) paid by Chevron.
Cars, new Europeans rules. The EU Council has adopted a new Regulation concerning cars newly-registered and their CO2 emissions that, from 2020 will have to decrease of 37,5% by 2030. Every automobile group will be allowed to emit 95 g/km on average. Heavy fines are previewed for those who exceed; sanctions reach 95 Euros every pound over the limit, and the amount has to be multiplied for the number of automobiles sold in 2020 and 2021. Some analysts calculated that the total amount could reach 33,6 billion, and halve profits of most important groups. This is a good news for the buckling European economy, that owes automobile groups a GDP high percentage.
It seems paradoxical that it is required to decrease emissions if, at the same time the use of diesel motors, the most efficient available to us, is discouraged. It comes out that in 2019, for the first time after 20 years, average vehicle emissions increased from 112,8 to 121,5 g/km (+7.7%) corresponding to the decline of diesel market share (55,8% to 43,2%).
Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir has been dismissed. It’s necessary to clear and connect up all the points that make up the Sudanese affair in a frenetic sequence of events and news. First of all, the dismissal of the president represents the outcome of a year of disorders, during which his entourage of loyal supporters got narrower, as Jeune Afrique highlights. In 2018 a reorganization of management invested every government environment: policy, economy, the army... to exclude al-Bashir opponents.
This reorganization also caused a growing division between Nationalists and Islamists , close to the previous President Al-Tourabi. The social crisis, expressed during the protests on 19 December began to bring pressure to bear the government , becoming an open challenge to the authorities. Nevertheless, only at the begin of April the people strongly hailed and sustained the army which announced the dismissal of Bashir, on 11th of April. The announce came from the general Awad Ibn Awf, vice-president and Minister of Defence, so people started gathering in the streets to cheer, supporting the change.
However it has been the cause of new problems: Ibn Awf became Chief of the Military Council for two years, while people was standing for a Transitional civil and democratic government . Therefore, 30 hours later, on Friday night, Ibn Awf announced his dismissal in favour of general Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, who adopted, then, inclusive measures towards population and different political factions, in order to find new solutions. We must underline that this behaviour doesn’t satisfy the main active political and social groups (for example l’Association des professionels Soudanais, SPA), that did not intend to renounce a civil transition.
Recently the African Union has aligned people’s position and supports Sudanese requests, threatening the government to suspend Sudan participation in the AU if, by 15 days, starting from Monday, it will not permit the creation of a Transitional Civil Council elected by national political factions.
Nicaragua, a crisis that has been lasting for a year. The beginning of crisis in Nicaragua dates back to 2018 when a fire that burnt more than 5000 hectares of Indio Maìz forest, and the government didn’t authorized the intervention of firemen teams provided by the bordering Costa Rica. Protests by young University students engaged in environmental defence blown up fast, thanks to the use of social media.
As soon as the government could curb the spread of young people’s protests dealing with environmental damages, an uprising concerning reforms of social security measures introduced by the Government followed.
Today protests continue. The numbers of dead people and political prisoners are not trustworthy but it is estimated that disorders caused hundreds of dead people and about a thousand of political prisoners.
The USA has boosted sanctions against the country to increase pressure to bear the Nicaraguan Government.
Venezuela, the ongoing crisis. The US National Security Advisor has announced new sanctions against Venezuela to bring heavier pressure to bear Maduro’s Government. Trump’s advisor has declared that the United States are fighting military and Intelligence services in order to limit governmental travels and commercial operations. It is the US that requested to the European Union to not allow Russian aircrafts directed to Venezuela, to cross the European airspace.
According to Formiche.net it seems that the United States have asked Italy to clear its position concerning the recognition of Juan Guaidò’s transitional Government, already recognized by many countries. The US negotiating power is very strong in Italy as, according to the well-known review Formiche.net, these countries are negotiating a possible US intervention in Libya, in support of Italy.
ASIA AND FAR EAST
North Korea, when a door closes, another one opens...? In People’sAssembly of North Korea, on 11th April, Kim Jong Un has opened a dialogue with the United States, declaring that if the country approach third summit with North Korea” with a certain methodology that can be shared with us, we can think of holding one more talk”. President Trump responded on Twitter “I agree with Kim Jong Un of North Korea that our personal relationship remains very good, perhaps the term excellent would be even more accurate, and that a third Summit would be good in that we fully understand where we each stand”. Monday South Korean president Moon Jae-in has expressed willingness to call for a fourth Summit with North Korea, following recent Kim Jong Un accusations against Seoul concerning its role in the previous negotiates with the USA and its toothless mediation.
India, in northern east regions borders are permeable. It’s been for four years now Indian border with Bangladesh is one of the most permeable border of the country. DailyO, an Indian opinion magazine held by the group “India Today”, explains how the transfer from side to side is very simple, especially crossing River Brahmaputra towards Barasat, or in the Indian state of Assam. There are several consequences of this uncontrolled migration, which include need of demographic and civil registration control, and even infiltrations of terrorist Jihadist groups or criminal gangs. Easiness for migrants to be confused with people, and the absence of a civil register serving as identifier (National Register of Citizens) are the main weaknesses, related to borders issues, in the Indian state of West Bengal.
Myanmar, Rohingya people search for home. Rohingya people belong to an ethnic group that lived in Myanmar, and then was persecuted by Buddhist majority in the country. Today Rohingya crisis covers 700.000 refugees fled in Bangladesh. The biggest refugee camp in the world, Cox’s Bazar, at the border with Myanmar, presents an unaffordable condition. For this reason, the Bengali Government has decided to reallocate volunteer refugees in Bhashan Char island, one hour away from the coastline. But no Rohingya seem to be interested in being displaced; they even declared that they would prefer to die, rather than move. The redistribution was planned for mid-April, but it still hasn’t been implemented nowhere. All of this issue seriously affects the local community.
CENTRAL EUROPE AND EUROPEAN UNION
Finland, Social democrats win elections. Social democrat party obtained 17,7% of votes, followed by the True Finns party, allied with Salvini. Given that Parliament is divided, it will be hard to form the Government. The most likely majority includes Social Democrats allied with the National Coalition Party, the Greens, and the Swedish People’s Party.
Brexit, extended until 31 October. Between 10 and 11 April the European Council has decided to give London a further Brexit extension until 31 October.
“A flexible extension, a little shorter than I pictured, but it’s enough in order to find a better solution” Tusk stated at the end of the summit. The negotiation has been longer than expected because of divisions between those who wished a long postponement (such as Merkel) and those who stood for a shorter prolongation (Macron). At this stage, London may be forced to chose its representatives in the European Parliament (European elections are planned from 23 to 26 May). Theresa May obviously wants to avoid this eventuality and she will try to find an pact to ratify the agreement expected to be ready by 22 of may- avoiding the participation in European elections.
CENTRAL EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
Runet, Internet will be the ruler. The Duma chambers have approved the project for the “Runet”, the huge firewall that will allow Russia to have a better control on data exchanged within the country. The project aim to protect Russia from foreign threats, and it is considered a reaction to the US cybersecurity policy. The total government spending amounts to 400 million Euros and large social media business will be forced to use Russian servers, or they will be excluded from the trade. The National Authority will get a greater control over information, thanks to a better monitored data stream. The draft law, as reported by Formiche.net, could take effect in novembre.
Crimea, can the Black Sea become a battle front? The European Council for Foreign Relations has published an article that outlines Russian strategy of military occupation in Crimea; since 2014 Russia employed Naval, military and air forces to strengthen its control on the mainland. So a further geopolitical scenario become relevant because of the presence of US and NATO forces in the Black Sea. Russia seems to intend to keep an almost exclusive naval control on military forces present in this region, that’s extremely important to implement strategies in the Mediterranean Sea, in Libya and in Africa, but also for a possible reaction against Russian military build-up in Ukraine.
Is there an asset for Moscow? The easing of tensions with Turkey and better bilateral Relations give Russia the privilege to be supported by a State that can curb foreign presence in the area, regulating traffics trough the Bosphorus Strait.
Meanwhile Kiev has been subjected to eight attacks on Donbass front, without victims among Ukraine ruler.
Ukraine announce the capture of suspected Russian assailants. As reported by ANSA News Agency, and the Ukraine information Agency UNIAN, Kiev has announced the capture of 7 suspected Russian assailants, 4 days before the run-off for presidential elections. Ukraine Secret Service (SBU) stated that these subjects were hired by Russian Intelligence to kill political figures and conduce terrorist attacks. The SBU affirmed that the group is active since 2014 and it is suspected to have caused the death of Maksim Shapoval, officer of Ukraine Intelligence, killed by a car bomb in june 2017. This news makes the satiation even more complicated, as Ukraine integration with Western institutions could depend on these elections.
Kosovo and Serbia: a possible agreement by the end of the year. During an interview for the Guardian newspaper, The President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci declared that it’s possible to find a solution with Belgrade by the end of the year. Additional elements confirming the content of this declaration will be visible on 29th April, at the Regional Conference in Berlin, convened by Merkel and Macron. The improvement of relations will however depend on Pristhina’s willingness to withdraw duties, that had been augmented of 100%, on Serbian import; up to this point Belgrade cleared to not intend to make compromises.
Russia also stated on the matter of duties imposed by Kosovo, calling for the European Union and the US to act as intermediaries to make Pristina revoke duties.
Serbia, thousands of people protest against the Government. The opposition forces took to the streets to protest against the Government, outside the Parliament of Belgrade; requests concern, above all, the creation of a mixed Commission that could hold free elections. After a series of insults and threats against the Government, the Interior Minister Stefanovic considered these requests defining them “ridiculous” because of the contained number of participants.
As response, protests organizers declared that several routes that would have allowed participants to reach Belgrade had been cancelled, especially by private companies which could have been subjected to strong governmental pressure, according to Jugoslav Kaprijanović, a commenter who took part in the protests.
Ingushetia, the small Caucasian Republic fear new violence. The Balkan and Caucasus Observatory has published an interesting article about the small, unknown Republic of Ingushetia, at the border between Georgia, North Ossetia, and Chechenya: in 2018 several protests blown up following a suspected territorial exchange, not that clear, with Chechenya. Now new uprisings have upset local people’s life because of some amendments modifying referendum rules: territorial matters won’t be decided trough referendum procedures anymore. It could bring to a unification with Chechenya. Then the independence of this small Republic is in danger, and the issue could cause further protests and even a new conflict in the Caucasian region.
Andrea Maria Vassallo.
MIDDEL EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
Libya, the number of dead people and refugees is increasing. Missile strikes hit Tripoli on 16th April around midnight. The attack, which included the use of Grad missiles (they have a range of 30 km), caused a series of blasts in the Abu Slim district, very close to the capital centre. The death toll amounts to at least 7 dead people and thirty wounded. Although Haftar forces have been accused, they denied their involvement in the attack, blaming terrorist militants.
An additional raid has been conducted by General Haftar armies in the Wadi Rabie area (about 35km east of Tripoli) causing the death of five local soldiers.
Also, armed clashes go on, at the edges of the capital. “Our military units now occupy new positions along the perimeter of Tripoli and they advance to new points” declared Ahmed al-Mismari, Haftar forces spokesman, as reported the Arabic newspaper Al Wasat.
According to the World Health Organization, the victims have been 200 (and more than 700 wounded) since the hostilities began.
Also, the number of displaced people increased dramatically to 25.000 (including more than 8000 children).
Israel, Netanyhau is ready to shape the new executive. The first move goes to the right.
Elections held on 9 April saw the outgoing Minister Netanyhau as real winner of the election that can be considered the most important of the recent years in Israel. Although the Likud party (leaded by Netanyhau), the Blue party and the Wight party (leaded by Gantz) have obtained the same number of seats to the Knesset, the amount of votes for the right coalition made the difference, as the coalition ensure Likud the support of the majority in Parliament, to create the form the new Government. Negotiations have been inaugurated by the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and they have brought to new conclusions: Netanyhau will lead a coalition made up by five right parties (including Ultra-Orthodox factions) having 65 seats over 120 of the Knesset. Following the nomination and the constitution of his fifth government (that makes him the longest-serving Prime Minister in the history of Israel), Netanyhau has 28 days (that can be extended of 2 weeks more) to form the new executive.
Algeria, protests for the total removal of the political Bouteflika entourage go on.
Friday protests haven’t ended yet and clashes are exacerbating. During the manifestations against the Government on 13 April, security forces employed tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd, arresting 200 people. Algerian citizens do not intend to renounce their primary task: the complete removal of political class linked to Bouteflika.
Indeed, Algerian society sustains that the same political system that generated crisis and corruption can’t hold and organize elections planned for 4th April.
The long-awaited change of institutional top positions –that followed Bouteflika dismissal- has now involved Tayeb Belaiz, chief of the Algerian Constitutional Council, who had been Minister for 16 years in the past. The Council will play a key role in the next Presidential elections: it will have to examine candidates, and grant transparency and regularity during the electoral process.
We have to wait to understand if Bouteflika’s choice to dismiss will be his followers’ predilected move.
Framing the World is a project designed and created thanks to a team of Mondo Internazionale associates’ collaboration.
Andrea Maria Vassallo: Eastern Europe and Russian Federation
Leonardo Aldeghi :International Economy and Finance
Marcello Alberizzi: Sub-Saharian Africa
Marta Stroppa: Human Rights
Martina Oneta: Central-Western Europe and European Union.
Michele Pavan: America, Oceania ,and International Organizations
Stefano Sartorio: Asia and Far East
Vincenzo Battaglia: Middel East and Northern Africa.