Framing the World number XII
A complete picture of the main international events.
It has been two weeks since our last number, that means that it is time for a new edition!
Here we start from Japan, where diplomatic meetings with Iran have been held, but it also lost two oil tankers attacked in the Strait of Hormuz. Then we switch to China, that was diplomatically active holding talks with Russia and North Korea, but it has to deal with protests in Hong Kong.
Then we move to the United Kingdom, where the competition for the leadership of Tories already began, while the United States introduced some novelties related to human rights.
In Africa instead, news concern Central African Republic, which seems to be stabilising, while in Mali and Somalia bloodsheds go on.
In the meantime, the Islamic State keeps representing a threat for Syria, and it’s increasingly present in Afghanistan. Also we focus on South America and especially on Venezuela, which opened its borders.
Finally economic news will regard certain mergers involving well-known Companies, in addition to eventual novelties about FCA-Renault.
The 12th edition of Framing the World contains all of this and much else besides.
Saudi Arabia, 13-year-old boy arrested and sentenced to death. Murtaja Queriris is a Saudi boy who has been arrested in 2014, when he was only 13, during a demonstration held by the Eastern Province in order to ask the Government to further safeguarding the Shia minority. The public prosecution has asked for the boy to be sentenced to death because of some crimes he committed when he was only 10-year-old. Queriris is in jail for five years, and for a month he’s been isolated, beaten and subject to intimidation during his interrogation. He could meet his lawyer only once, before the first hearing in the trial, in August 2018. Several non-profit organisations, principally Amnesty International, denounced the case: this sentence contravenes International law, which bans death sentences against underage people at the time they committed a crime.
Botswana, homosexuality is not a crime anymore. The Supreme Court of Botswana issued a historic judgement coming out against the Penal Code stipulation that criminalises same-sex sexual relations, providing even 7 years of prison for infringers. According to the Court, law shouldn’t regulate private relationships between consenting adults. The right to privacy includes the right to freely choose his own sexual orientation, it is a human right.
Ecuador, same-sex marriage has been approved. On June 12 the Constitutional Court of Ecuador recognised same-sex people’s right to marry, with five favourable votes out of nine. The historical decision has been achieved after a long battle for LGBTQ rights, and it opposes the Constitutional text adopted in 2008; this last considers marriages as a union between men and women. Until today in Latin America four countries permitted same-sex marriages: Argentina and Uruguay since 2011, Brazil and Colombia since 2016.
Hong Kong, a first step towards the recognition of LGBTQ rights. The High Court of Appeal of Hong Kong issued a historic judgment declaring that the Government refusal to grant conjugal rights to same-sex couples. After a 4 years trial, judges unanimously expressed themselves in favour of a local official who asked the Court to give his husband (they got married abroad) the same conjugal rights granted for heterosexual couples. This sentence represents the first important step towards the recognition of same-sex couples’ right to marry.
Italy, the Court of Strasbourg states that whole-life jail is contrary to Article 3 of the ECHR. In the sentence related to the case “Viola against Italy” the European Court of Human Rights declared that incompressible whole-life jail sentence – that is a life imprisonment without every kind of benefit; it is imposed on prisoners who don’t collaborate with authorities – constitutes an inhuman and degrading treatment, and it breached Article 3 of the Convention.
The Court criticized the fact that the absence of collaborations is equal to be dangerous to society. Also, the Court observed that the choice to cooperate isn’t always free – some of the prisoners don’t fess up as they fear to endanger their relatives – and it not always involves a true repentance. The decision concerns the case of Marcello Viola, imprisoned for mafia-type criminal activities, murder and abduction; he is in jail since nineties. The State must now adapt its legislation.
United States, the state of Alabama approves chemical castration for paedophiles. Governor of Alabama Kay Ivey recently signed a law bill that requires the responsible for sex crimes against under 13 to undergo chemical castration one month before their release. The chemical castration is a medical treatment that provides the use of medicinal products in order to reset the sexual interest of the subject, but it is a reversible process, even if it is suspended. That’s why the new Alabama law provides that prisoners subject to chemical castration must continue the treatment until a Court declares that it is no longer necessary. Also, medical expenses will be paid by inmates. According to many activists however, this decision would represent an infringement of individual’s right to physical integrity.
United States, the state of Maine recognize the right to assisted suicide. The state of Maine recently legalized Assisted suicide to let terminal ill patients to end their suffering thanks to a medical aid. So Maine becomes the eighth country in the US to recognise such right – the first US country to recognise the right to assisted suicide was Oregon, in 1997.
Venezuela reopens its border with Colombia. After being closed, under decision of the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the border between Colombia and Venezuela has been finally reopened. In the first two weeks dozens of thousands migrants already crossed it to take refuge in neighbouring countries – it’s been recorded that during the first day more than 30.000 people crossed it. These last are added to more than 4 million Venezuelan citizens who fled from the country since the war began.
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE AND ECONOMICS
USA Defence, a new colossus. Raytheon Company and United Technologies Corp., two of the biggest Company in the world operating in aerospace and defence fields, announced to have found an agreement providing a merger in mid-2020. This move will create a giant of this sector, which value is over $120 billion, with annual sales for $74 billion; it will be second only to Boeing. The new company’s name will be Raytheon Technologies Corporation, of which 57% of shares will be held by United Technologies, and Raytheon will own 43%; both began to celebrate for growth rates respectively of 4,4% and 8,7%.
The aim of this kind of operation is to avoid specialisation on a limited range of products and the risks it would lead to. These companies in fact, has many common clients, but the most of their products are different. That’s why the merger will allow them to create a complementary order book, with greater investments in R&D field, with cost synergies for at least $1 billion per year – even if scepticism dominates expectations about this amount.
Italy and France, act two. The merger between FCA and Renault failed, or not? After that the French Minister of the Economy Le Maire suspended negotiations (it is said he did it because of Nissan worries about the alliance among Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi) he is the one who revives a possible merger. Jéan-Dominique Senard, president of Renault, said to be annoyed that Le Maire was the one who first encouraged him to sign an agreement with FCA and then denied his permission (the French state is the main shareholder of Renault, it owns 15% of its shares) to reopen negotiations in the past 10 days, putting pressure on the Ministry of the Economy. Now it seems that his efforts have paid off: FCA managing director Mike Manley is in Paris since last Thursday unofficially, to consider the resumption of negotiations, and he would have brought some useful documents with him to persuade Nissan to accept.
At this stage, the assembly of the Nissan associates planned for June 25 might be the decisive moment.
Italy and France, the new alliance. Last Friday (June 14) Naval Group, a French company operating in military shipyards, and Fincantieri signed a deal. The forming company will be 50% French and 50% Italian, his headquarter will be settled in Genoa, and its research centre will be in Tolone. The deal will mark the new alliance between Italy and France in the military field, while waiting for a definitive permission to include Stx France (civilian ships) that would lead to create the biggest shipbuilder company in the world.
The deal had been approved by the CEO of Naval Group (whose shareholder is the Ministry of Defence) on April 17, but the French government preferred to not spread the news to avoid anti-Italian criticism during the election campaign. In this way the two companies will no longer compete as they used to making Brazilian and Romanian Navies lose commissions obtained by other producers.
Trade war, an avoided crash. United States and Mexico found a deal in order to avoid the implementation of duties on Mexican goods imported to USA. Details are still secret, but Mexico will endeavour to curb illegal immigration to the north and acquire higher quantities of American agricultural products, waiting for the ratification of USMCA trade deal (that substitutes NAFTA agreement).
Concerning contrasts with China instead, several experts say that Beijing would be defeated in the long term, because the US are a consumer country, so they would have a decisive advantage comparing with an exporting country like China, which is to choose their supplier country (while China couldn’t do the same to sell its products). This would be the reason of Chinese current slowdown; China should cease to undertake unfair commercial practices it used until today, such as the prohibition to directly invest in the country, providing the obligation to transfer technologies and technology thefts.
Oil decline continues. Oil price keeps declining because of the fall in demand and large accumulated stocks, which recorded their highest levels in two years, descending to minimum levels during the last 5 months.
The ongoing oil declines didn’t stop even after the attack against two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, that led to relevant geopolitical risks in Middle East. In fact, even in the hours following the attacks the oil price increased of more than 4%, the up-mentioned attack didn’t provoke any additional buying of the so-called “shelter assets” (Swiss franc and gold); also, the increase didn’t balance the huge fall occurred on the day before the publication of data on stocks (-4,4%). These factors show that financial players didn’t expect a clash between USA and Iran. In the end of the day of the attack, oil price decreased to +2%, and it kept fall down during the following day.
Wall Street, why do you grow? The global growth is slowing down, and the US economy is doing the same (only 75.000 more work places have been created until May, but 177.000 were expected, and 224.000 places were occupied in April), also, European economic growth rate doesn’t rise rapidly; but Wall Street keeps growing and it got close to its all-time high once again. Experts explain what happens by using the acronym “TINA”, standing for “There Is No Alternative”, and refers to choices investors can actually take: given that governments bonds yield low returns, currencies are quite volatile because of trade tensions, and raw material prices decrease as result of the global economy slowdown, there is no alternative but invest in shares, making American price lists rise.
Also, after all these “bad news”, tomorrow (June 18), or during the next reunion, the Federal Reserve may decide to boost the economy by cutting interest rates; in this way it would further encourage people to invest in the stock market.
Central Africa, the aim is to consolidate the position of the Army. Regular Central African forces couldn’t enter the city of Kaga Bandoro, in the north of the country. Some days ago they were finally transferred to a military base; it is hoped that it will be the beginning of Central African forces in this highly strategic area.
However, there is a relevant detail: troops cannot get out of the base, as the zone is still dominated by armed groups who have been controlling this crossroads of pastures and flocks (this aspect often causes conflicts, as we explained in some previous editions). If we want to be optimists, we can say that the peace deal signed by national troops and rebel groups is being slowly rolled out but, actually, it remains to be seen its degree of effectiveness, and how stable it will be.
Ethiopia, Internet slowdown for three consecutive days. Between 11 and 14 June several accesses to internet and SMS texting have been prevented: three consecutive days, between 12 and 14 June, added to the morning of June 11. These features were enabled only in the late afternoon of Friday 14 and, during those days, many doubts raised about the reasons why the government took this decision. It seems that, basically, it want to prevent eventual leaks of news, documents, and to prevent students from copy during high school exams. There is no official news but somebody remarks that it is the fourth event of this kind since President Abiy Ahmed took office. Occurrences like this are frequent in the African continent, and they give rise to doubts about the centralization and the democratic nature of Internet.
Madagascar walks the path of a stable government. As we announced n the previous number, the result of Malagasy elections would have been very important in a semi-presidential system similar to the French one. Winning the legislative elections held two weeks ago would have meant to elect a PM sharing the same political position as the president. According to INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), Rajoelina’s coalition obtained 84 seats out of 151, independent candidates got 51 seats, and the competitor, Ravalomanana only got 16 seats.
Mali, 24 children and 11 adults were killed during the attack against the village of Sobane Da. At first, it was known that victims were 95, but then estimates decreased to 35 deaths, after some inspections. It is about the attack perpetrated on June 10, against a village of the municipality of Sangha – 60/70km far from the border with Burkina Faso – where the same European Union is currently conducting a mission (EUSAMS, Stabilization Action in Mopti and Segou). Nobody claimed yet responsibility for the attack, but local population sustains that it’s been perpetrated by Fulani pastors co-opted by a suspected jihadist group headed by Amadou Koufa; the group settled in the region since 2015, and it threatens bambara and dagon ethnic groups. These groups are mainly farmers, and recently created protection groups.
Also, the attack led to the termination of General Sisi Alassane Touré’s charge.
Somalia, two explosions in Mogadishu. The Somali Parliament and the route to the airport have been hit by two explosions. Concerning the first target, 8 people died, and 16 were wounded, while in the second attack there were no victims. Al Shabaab already claimed responsibility.
Sudan, the true nature of the Transitional Military Council. After the repression carried out by the TMC, Nothing seems to have changed with compared with Bashir’s regime. The reaction to people’s pressure to set up a transitional civilian council cause the death of an undefined number of people (120 according to estimates given by the public Hospital Services, a hundred according to EU sources, and 60 according to the authorities) in many towns of Sudan. A total rupture of the political dialogue between the civilian side and the military one, and the suspension of all deals for years ensued from the events of the past week: the following day the TMC has announced that next elections will be held by 9 months. Criticism also came from the Europe against “a premeditated escalation” sustaining that “the responsibility lies with the Transitional Military Council, as the authority in charge of restoring confidence-building measures in order to resume negotiations with the civilian part”. The next Foreign Affairs Council (that’s going to be held today - June 17) may be a way to express harsh criticism against Sudan, at a time when the AU suspended this country, and the International Community (guided by the USA) calls for an independent inquiry.
Sudan, Bashir has been arraigned. If the news announcing the possibility to know that Bashir has been settled in Court to face charges of corruption and possession of the foreign currency was real, it would be really relevant. After that he was dethroned last 11 April, news about the ex-dictator that the International Criminal Court required to sentence all crimes he committed during the civil war in Darfur. The date in which Bashir will attend the Court hasn’t been defined yet, but it seems that it will happen this week.
Argentina, ni una menos. The economic crisis is not the one to affect the Latin American country. The increasingly critical situation concerns the State, and the request of a legal recognition of more rights.
“Ni una menos” is the feminist movement that protested on June 3rd to fight against every kind of violence and, in particular, to stand for legalize the abortion, that’s still a taboo topic in many western countries too, not only in those developing countries. In fact many protests blew up in several countries, such as USA.
Canada, native Canadians. The country is known for having been the place of destination of Euroopean and Asiatic migrants. On June 3rd a government report on the 30-year genocide of indigenous people has been published after three years of research, and the content is scary. According to somebody, the term “genocide” may be extreme, but it was; data showed that more than 4.000 women and girls from four different native communities were killed or disappeared.
El Salvador, the new president. Nayib Bukele, new president of El Salvador, took office on 1st June, after that he won last February elections. He stood out during the elections debates for not presenting any proposal for government. Similarly, during his installation ceremony, his speech was rough, not clear, and it broke up the continuity between the previous government and the current administration.
After the speech, he posted a tweet ordering to the Armed Forces to not pay tribute to colonel Domingo Monterrosa, known for being responsible for the El Mozote massacre. This last caused the murder of over thousand people, half of which were children, during the civil war in 1981, when the soldiers of his battalion attacked Alàcatl.
Honduras, protests continue. The government keeps implementing the measures it adopted in the last months, even if these last fed discontent and disappointment among the population. On May 30 doctors and teachers held a general strike in different cities of the country. In certain cases violence was used during the protests to fight against two implementing decrees adopted by the Parliament in the end of April. The measures adopted facilitate the privatization of education and health systems and, in the most of cases, they cause layoffs in these sectors.
Mexico, a contradictory situation. President Lopez Obrador invite to welcome and respect migrants, trying to combat against Trump’s policies. This last is now threatening to impose new custom duties on Mexican products if it won’t contain the flux of migrants who try to reach the US. Although the Mexican president underlines that they need to flee from their countries, he is contradicted by the implemented politics and acts committed by the police, army, and the new National Guard; these last arrest migrants crossing the border, and resend them to their home countries. Most of migrants come leave from Honduras, because of the economic crisis and the presence of criminal gangs in the country.
United States of America, the ban of tourism toward Cuba, and the closure of the chessboard of Hormuz. Ex President Barack Obama resumed relations between Cuba and his country, by investing in a gradual development, in order to strengthen relations between these two countries. Recently however, the US banned the tourism toward Cuba, that increased during the first months of 2019. In the meantime, halfway around world, in the Persian Gulf, the routes for oil flame the contrast between Iran and the US. These last blame the Middle Eastern country for the attacks conducted against their oil tankers in that area, but Iran disclaims any responsibility. There are many other players that would benefit from a war between Iran and the United States, and it’s Iran that mentioned this possible event.
Venezuela reopens its borders. Migratory flows resumed, after the border between Colombia and Venezuela has been reopened. But the published data belie the flow of Venezuelan migrants toward Colombia since the border was reopened. It seems that the most of Venezuelan citizens get back to their home countries. In the meantime, Pdvsa oil company opened in Moscow to defend its interests, and it moved its office from Portugal to the Russian capital. At the same time President Putin announced that Russia stopped supply its South American allied with weapons, but it keeps doing maintaining the Venezuelan equipment. The situation in the country will stay tangled for much longer, but the assurance that no third country is intentioned to intervene militarily is a first step for the International community.
ASIA AND FAR EAST
China and Hong Kong: a bickering couple. “President Putin is for me a best friend” said Xi Jinping during his visit to the Kremlin in the first days of June. During this State Visit the two leaders signed several trade agreements concerning important companies as Gazprom and Alibaba. Then they met again in Bishkek (Kirghizistan) to participate in the summit held by the Shanghai Coop. Organization (on 14 June), to move to the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe (15 June), where president Putin donated Champagne and a box of Russian Ice-cream to president Xi for his 66th birthday. In the meantime, in Hong Kong protests blew up against the new extradition bill (proposed in February) that would have allowed the extradition to any country, even those with which the town hasn’t signed any formal agreement (making extradition to China possible). More than a million people took to the streets, causing the postponement of the bill.
Also, new contrasts rose with Philippines.
Japan, a problem concerning its ships. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo visited Iran between 12 and 14 June, after having obtained the US approval during the commemorative meeting with the European òeaders in Normandy. It is the first time that a Japanese leader makes a state visit to Iran after 1979 and the Khomeini’s revolution. The aim is to reduce tensions in Middle East, and those between the US and the Islamic Republic, also in order to resume oil commerce, that has been suspended because of the sanctions imposed by the United States.
Also, Thursday 13 June two oil tankers were attacked, one of which was directly linked to a Japanese company. The US accusation are directed against Iran, which disclaims any involvement in the event. Minister for Foreign Affairs Osuga said that no responsible has been indentified, but there’s talk of strange “flying objects”.
North Korea, contrasting opinions. On June 12 President Donald Trump communicated to have received a letter from the North Korean leader that seems to contain birthday wishes for the American president. The interpretation given by the receiver makes somebody talk about a third summit between the two countries.
However, at the same time, 25 countries of the General Assembly sustain the US in accusing North Korea to infringe sanctions on oil imports, identifying China and Russia as possible providers. “It is our common responsibility before the times and history to put the precious centuries-old tradition of friendship on a higher stage” – said Kim Jong-Un last Wednesday referring to Korea’s relations with the Russian partner. “I express firm belief that the common understanding and agreements made at our first significant meeting will bear rich fruits [...]”.
South Korea, an active conduct. Monday 10 June Yoo Myung-hee, the South Korean Trade Minister and his British homologue Liam Fox signed a free trade agreement before Brexit, to maintain the EU benefits it currently enjoys.
20.000 students signed a petition addressed to Moon Jae-in urging him to take position in favour of Human Rights concerning the events occurred in Hong Kong, related to the extradition bill. Nothing is defined yet, but many think that President Xi Jinping will visit Seoul for a short summit with Moon at G20 in Osaka (28-29 June). Anyway, contrasting sources sustain that it would be difficult to organise a so important event in such a short time.
India, Vayu. Cyclone Vayu, the most violent ever recorded in the country, before the cyclone season, reached 140 km/h and caused the evacuation of Gujarat state, a state in the western coast of India.
Also, Pakistan prolonged the closure of its air space bordering with India until June 28; it started on February 26, after the Indian airstrike against the terrorist training ground of Bakalot, affiliated with the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) armed group.
Finally, during the summit in Kirghizstan, Modi met Putin and Xi Jinping: “I hope we’ll soon get together in Japan. I also think that we should hold talks in the RIC (Russia-India-China) format there”, said the Indian leader who wishes a stronger dialogue with these two powers during the G20 in Osaka.
WESTERN EUROPE AND EUROPEAN UNION
United Kingdom, the Tory leadership contest continues. Thursday 13 June it was held the first vote round to elect Theresa May’s successor to lead the Conservative party. Here you have the list of candidates who will participate in the second round of vote: Boris Johnson won the first place with 114 votes. Known for his firm positions about Brexit, ex Minister for Foreign Affairs resigned as he was dissatisfied with how Theresa May was carrying out negotiations to leave the EU. He declared that if he became leader, Great Britain would get Brexit done by 31 October, “deal or no deal”. Jeremy Hunt is in the second place with 43 votes: in 2016 election campaign he was in favour of “remain”, but since then he became a “leave” supporter.
In contrast to Johnson, he believes that a “no-deal” would be a political suicide for his party.
Denmark, the results of the Parliamentary elections. On 5 June, Danish people went to the polls to elect the new Parliament. The Social Democratic Party, led by Frederiksen, won the first place, with 26% of consents, defeating the Liberal Party, guided by the outgoing Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, that obtained 23%. Danks Folkeparti (right party) declines too: it passed from 20% of 2015 to 8,7% in 2019. The key to success of Social Democrats has two sides: on the economic hand, the party adopted left-wing positions, implementing a high taxation to finance public spending. On the immigration hand, however, Frederiksen shifted to right-wing moves, promoting further controls at the borders, and more stringent immigration regime. The Danish elections are also important for Europe, because the new government coalition may sustain Margrethe Vestager’s candidacy to the European Commission.
European Parliament, the new political groups. The League leader, Matteo Salvini, indicated the name of the new soverainist/nationalist coalition in Europe: Identity and Democracy (ID). This new group will include ENF members and some deputies from other Eurosceptic parties like the AFD party. Marco Zanni (League) has been elected president of the group.
Concerning liberals instead, Macron also decided to create a new group named Renew Europe, replacing the ALDE group (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe).
Politico explains that he took this decision to avoid to use the term “liberal”, that’s badly seen in France, as it is linked to extreme capitalism supporters.
Spain, the trial against separatists ends. The trial against the supporters of the independence of Catalonia (2017) has ended. During the past months, twelve separatist leaders have been questioned and they sustained to be victims of false and abstract accusations. Oriol Junqueras, Catalan ex vice-president and relevant figure of separatism, has been sentenced to 25 years of prison. According to the Spanish law, the charge of rebellion provides the use of violence, so the effort of the Public Ministers was expanding this concept. Separatists responded sustaining to have acted in the limits of democracy, in order to implement it, without any attempt to conduct an “armed” rebellion. The affair becomes even more complicated if considered that some of these leaders have been elected to the European Parliament. The affair is far from conclusions. We’ll have to wait the final verdict.
CENTRAL EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
Russia announces the ceasefire in Syria. Wednesday 12 June Moscow announced to have reached a ceasefire deal in the Syrian province of Idlib, afflicted by clashes between Government and rebels. The truce was fixed thanks to Turkey’s mediation. Its duration is still undefined, but it will grant people to find a way to safely evacuate the area, after that 25 people were killed during the last air raid. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, basically English, declared that the civilian victims toll is 285 people since April.
Russia tests its missiles again... in the Arctic. Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed to have tested its anti-aircraft missile system Tor-M2DT, held in the Astrakhan region. According to the TASS news agency, the new missiles’ special feature is resisting to extreme temperatures, until -50 Celsius degrees, so that they can be employed in the Arctic region together with the Russian Navy in the North Sea. The first test on the “Arctic” weapons started in November 2018, and it denotes that Moscow aims to strengthen its presence in the region. Russian authorities confirmed that the actions carried out by the Russian Navy don’t constitute a threat for third states operating in that territory.
Accident in the Gulf of Oman; Moscow gives its opinion too. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov commented what happened in the Gulf of Oman, where two oil tankers suffered considerable damages after the event considered as a further attack perpetrated in order to mine the safety of transport through the Strait of Hormuz. Ryabkov, who was in Teheran to mediate the fragile JPCOA agreement, said that it’s better to not be hasty in blame Iran, that’s the main suspect for the US.
Ukraine, a call for Europe and for gas. Ukraine warns Europe to get ready for a gas supply crisis the next year, because of tensions with Russia. The current deal will be effective until 1 January 2020; after that date, a new deal will be necessary to transport the Russian all over Europe, but there is no certainty that it will be found, according to the Ukraine deputy foreign minister Olena Zerkal.
Zelensky has been invited to Washington by Donald Trump. The Ukraine president, Volodymir Zelensky, has been invited by his American homologue to Washington, according to information given by the Ukraine Embassy in the United States. If it was confirmed, this visit would officially show the US sustain to the (Euro-Atlantic integration) process undertaken by Ukraine in the last years, and it would be an important step towards its success.
Baltic Countries, NATO’s training go on. NATO troops’ training in the Baltic countries go on. These trainings show how the alliance is trying to value its Eastern side, especially because of the events occurred in Ukraine; BALTOPS, the current naval training, will last until 21 June. The USA are charged to conduce the other states towards the historic Second Fleet, that was very active during the Cold War, and finally wound down by Obama in 2011. Moscow’s reaction? Further exercises, in order to show to be ready for an eventual armed clash against NATO forces.
Warsaw purposes a new initiative to facilitate the EU enlargement in the Balkans. The Polish government presented a new initiative to make the EU enlargement to the Balkans possible. In fact, Warsaw published an informal document (called “non paper” for this reason), through which it invites the EU General Affairs Council of 18 June to take another step on the road towards the enlargement to the Balkans. In particular, the document asks the Council to recognize the enlargement policy as the most effective tool to promote the European values in the Balkan area. The “non paper” aims to encourage the EU to start negotiations with Tirana and Skopje, to admit Albania and Macedonia in the EU. The document has been favourably received by several Central European States, and by the same Italy. The official beginning of negotiates is considered as the missing key to consolidate the European influence in the Balkan area, resizing Russia’ and China’s projects.
Andrea Maria Vassallo and Mario Ghioldi.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTHERN AFRICA
The Maghreb countries meet to discuss about the Libyan situation. Wednesday 12 June Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt met in Tunis for a ministerial meeting focused on the Libyan dossier. During the meeting, the three Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Khemaies Jhinaoui (Tunisia), Sabri Boukadoum (Algeria) and Sameh Shoukry (Egypt) reaffirmed their rejection of any kind of foreign interference and they invited the fighting parts to call a ceasefire, settling the dialogue under UN auspices. “No military solution exists to Libyan crisis, instead it is important to strengthen the political process”- as the final statement reports. These three countries are undeniably interested in the Libyan affair, and its consequences in the North African area. Within this framework, it’s important to highlight the role played by Egypt, and its strong bond with Haftar; Egypt’s president Al-Sisi in fact, considers the Cyrenaica strongman as the bulwark against the Islamist threat.
Iran-USA, the contrast exacerbates. In the morning of Thursday 13 May, two oil tankers (one on which was Norwegian, and the other one was Japanese) have been evacuated in the Gulf of Oman; The Iranian Navy and the Fifth Fleet of the American Navy welcomed the distress calls. The attack has been perpetrated a month after the one occurred in the Persian Gulf against four oil tankers – two of which belonging to Saudi Arabia. Also, in this case, the date of attack is the same of the last Shinzo Abe (Japanese PM)visit day in Iran: the main task of the Japanese leader was to mediate the dialogue between Iran and the US concerning the nuclear dossier. The United States blamed Iran for the attack showing a video supposed to feature some Pasdaran (Iranian Guardians of the Revolution) removing an unexploded mine from an oil tanker.
Experts don’t confirm the identity of the subjects, or the removed object. Iran strongly denies US accusations, sustaining that these last are unfounded and designed to conduct a new campaign against Iran.
Algeria, two ex Prime Ministers have been arrested for corruption. After a general investigation on corruption and clientelism dominating the Algerian political class, two ex PM have been arrested in few days. In fact, the Algerian Supreme Court remanded in prison Abdelmalek Sellal (Prime Minister since 2014 until 2017, he has worked in various departments, and was the manager of Bouteflika’s election campaign), few days after getting Ahmed Ouyahia arrested (he has been PM more than once, until the last government was created). Both took office as Prime Minister during the (long-lasting) Bouteflika presidency, who has been forced to tender his resignations in April – because of national protests. Since then, the army became the most influent institution in the country: chief-of-staff Ahmed Gaid Salah is currently making efforts in order to discover which political figures are involved in cases of corruption. The inquiry seems to be destined to involve many other important institutional officer.
Vincenzo Battaglia and Federica Sulpizio.
ONU-United Nations. FAO, UNICEF and WFP UN agencies published a joint statement concerning South Sudan, to announce that 61% of the population will have to face an extreme food insecurity in the next months. The main causes are short rains and difficulties in granting access food because of high prices that make impossible to buy it. In the same time, an Ebola outbreak afflicts the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2018, killing 1400 people. In the past days the WHO – World Health Organisation – has announced that the outbreak reached Uganda. Ruanda, that’s a bordering country, fears the outbreak, as it would put in knee the State.
TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
Boko Haram perpetrated an attack along the lake Chad. Last weekend some suspected Boko Haram militants conducted a terrorist attack in Cameroon, causing the death of soldiers and civilians during one of their most deadly attacks in the country. The Ministry for Defence of Cameroon underlined that “more than 300 armed Boko Haram fighters” attacked military units in Darak, an island near the lake Chad, in the northern region of Cameroon, that’s about 1000 km far from the capital, Youndé. The victims toll is 24 dead, among which 16 soldiers and 8 civilians (according to Al Jazeera). While a military source communicated to the AFP news agency that fighters killed at least 37 people, and about 40 attackers have been captured. Boko Haram hits not only in Nigeria (where the group has a bigger influence, especially in the north west), but also in the bordering states as Cameroon, Niger and Tchad.
Fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. After a second analysis focused on money laundering and terrorist financing in Italy, conducted by the Financial Security Committee (FSC) between 2014 and 2018, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance highlighted that Italy is considered to be able to deal with risks of laundering and finance Terrorism. In Italy, the risk evaluation is “very significant”, as it is at the higher step in the scale of four value adopted to analyse some phenomena recorded in the country. While terrorism financing is “significant enough”, as its score in the scale of value is 3 out of 4.
This is due to external factors dominating the economic system, for example the frequent use of cash, or illegal activities (drug, prostitution, cigarettes smuggling, and the spin-off activities). This analysis is conducted all over the world, and all countries presented their own risks according to analysis from 15 agencies which decided to make joint efforts with control bodies with the aim to develop a strategy to fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
Afghanistan: an increasingly important front for the Islamic State. After having been defeated in Syria and Iraq, ISIS tried to reorganise itself by starting operations in Asia and Africa. It would have reserved a key role to Afghanistan in its new project. The terrorist attack of 13 June against a police vehicle in Jalalabad – in the province of Nangarhar- is only the last of many attacks perpetrated by ISIS militants in the Afghan territory.
According to local and US security forces, the Caliphate is currently recruiting new fighters in Afghanistan to plan new attacks against the USA and other western countries. The IS-K (the acronym standing for Afghan militants linked to ISIS- Khorasan Province) today involves thousands of fighters coming from Central Asia and other territories such as India, Bangladesh and Chechnya. Also it seems that ISIS expanded its influence across Nangarhar and three other provinces (Nuristan, Kunar and Laghman).
ISIS in Syria is extremely seriously damaged, but not dissolved. Although ISIS were militarily defeated, it is still a concrete threat in Syria. Terrorist attacks carried out by Daesh militants, that often aim to hit the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) show the operability of this terrorist group. The last attack for which the same Islamic State claimed responsibility occurred in Raqqa – the old capital of the black caliphate – where certain explosions killed several victims (among them two SDF members). Also, as reported in the previous edition, ISIS adopted a new strategy, that is not violent but quite rough: to burn thousands hectares of land cultivated in the north western areas of Syria, in order to feed fear and starve civilians. Within this framework, international players intervened in support of the SDF, providing equipments and specific tools to prevent and put out the fires..
Laura Vaccaro Senna and Vincenzo Battaglia.
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
Federica Sulpizio: Middle East and Northern Africa
Laura Vaccaro Senna: Terrorism and International Security
Leonardo Aldeghi: International Finance and Economics
Leonardo Cherici: Western Europe and European Union
Marcello Alberizzi: Sub-Saharan Africa
Mario Ghioldi: Eastern Europe and Russian Federation
Marta Stroppa: Human Rights
Michele Pavan: America; Oceania; International Organisations
Stefano Sartorio: Asia and Far East
Vincenzo Battaglia: Middle East and Northern Africa; Terrorism and International Security.
Translated by Simona Maria Vallefuoco.
Original Article: https://mondointernazionale.com/framing-the-world-xii-numero
published on 17 June 2019.