Once again this week we find Iran in the foreground, which is facing strong internal protests following the crash of the Ukrainian Airlines flight. We will also see what could happen in trade after an initial agreement has been reached between the United States and China. Violence continues to afflict Lebanon and Syria, and South America still experiences turbulent times. We will then go to Asia to comment on the important elections in Taiwan, and to Libya for the peace talks between the two governments and involving all the major world players. In Russia, finally, a decisive moment with the resignation of Medvedev and the plans for constitutional reforms in view of the end (if ever there will be such a thing) of the Putin presidency.
But this is just a taste, much more awaits you in this new issue of Framing the World.
Hong Kong, Human Rights Watch executive director barred from entering the country. In the past days, the Hong Kong government has banned Mr. Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the NGO Human Rights Watch, from entering his country for "immigration reasons". According to Mr. Roth, however, this is just another evidence of the Chinese government's interference in Hong Kong affairs: Mr. Roth had in fact just arrived in Hong Kong to launch the 'World Report 2020', a 652-page report in which Human Rights Watch criticizes China for having perpetrated numerous human rights violations.
Iran, the government admits that it shot down a civilian plane ‘by mistake’. On January 8, during the Iranian retaliation against the American military bases, a Boeing 737 of the Ukraine International Airline crashed in Tehran immediately after take-off, causing the death of 176 people (no survivors). Although the Iranian government initially denied being involved in the tragedy, claiming that the accident had occurred due to a technical failure, the state had finally admitted that it was responsible for the attack: the plane was in fact bombed 'by mistake' by the Iranian army. In the following days, many Iranians demonstrated against the government, but the police reacted violently to quell the protests.
Italy, a new ‘National coordinator for the fight against anti-Semitism’ has been appointed. On January 17, the Council of Ministers established the new position of 'National coordinator for the fight against anti-Semitism', which will be entrusted to Professor Milena Santerini, professor of Pedagogy of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and vice president of the Shoah Memorial Foundation in Milan, as well as member of the National Didactic Council of the Shoah Museum in Rome and of the Contemporary Jewish Documentation Center (CDEC). She was also a deputy of the Solidarity Democracy - Democratic Center group in the last legislature. Last year, Professor Santerini was named Knight of the Italian Republic.
Lebanon, pacifist protests violently repressed by the armed forces. On 14 and 15 January, the Lebanese armed forces repressed some peaceful protests by resorting to excessive use of force and to the launch of tear gas to the demonstrators. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, 47 people were injured: they were brutally beaten by the armed forces, arrested and subjected to physical violence even in prison. In addition, over a hundred people (few of them were even minors) were arrested just for taking part in the demonstrations.
Migrants, still some tragedies in the Mediterranean. In the past days, two tragedies took place in the Mediterranean Sea. On January 11, a ship carrying 19 migrants from Turkey was wrecked off the coast of Çeşme, in the province of Izmir, causing the death of 11 people (including 8 minors). The tragedy occurred a few hours after the wreck of another boat with 50 people on board, which sunk off the island of Paxi: 12 people died, 20 were saved while the remaining 18 have not yet been found.
Syria, the Syrian and Russian armed forces bombed a crowded market. At least 21 civilians died and another 82 were injured in a bombing launched by the Syrian and Russian armed forces against a crowded market in the Idlib province. Despite the fact that a truce had been established, Syrian and Russian military forces continued in fact to launch indiscriminate attacks across the north of the country. The United Nations will investigate on the possible commission of international crimes in the country.
ECONOMICS AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCE
Trade war, a first deal. After months of negotiations, the phase one deal was signed by the United States and China and a final agreement should happen in the coming months. The text signed last Wednesday (01/15) provides that in exchange for the freezing of new American duties, China will commit to buy $200 billion more goods and services (in particular, energetic and manufactured ones) over the next two years. In addition, American (as well as Chinese) duties will remain in force for at least 10 months, during which time the White House will assess whether or not Chinese behaviour will justify their elimination. The most important part of the agreement, however, concerns the protection of intellectual property, the real cause of the clash between the two powers, and binds China to reform its legal system to ensure the protection of patents and trade secrets, as well as to punish counterfeiting and digital piracy more severely.
Phase One Deal: the consequences. The main (positive) consequence of the agreement is that in the coming months it is unlikely to see a resurgence of the duty war. Otherwise, very little has changed. First, duties will remain in force for at least the next 10 months, while the parties assess the mutual respect of the agreement. Second, tariffs will remain a political issue and an instrument that the President is not afraid to use, especially in view of the November elections. Third, the supply chains that have left China will not come back as the agreement is neither complete nor definitive. Fourth and last point, American (and not only) investments in China will not return to the previous levels, since the agreement does not do enough to decrease the uncertainty.
USMCA, a new agreement. Last Thursday (1/16) the U.S. Senate definitively approved (89 to 10) the text of the new trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which before entering into force will have to be signed by President Trump in the coming days and then ratified by Canada, both mere formalities. The effects of the new free trade area in North America will obviously be positive for the three countries, but the impact will be particularly significant for the United States, which, thanks to specific clauses in the new treaty, will protect jobs in the automotive sector and digital intellectual property (e.g. music, e-books, ...) more effectively than with the NAFTA. Independent analysts forecast 0.3% of additional growth per year and 589,000 new jobs.
Tesla, the race continues, but... The rise in the stock market of the automaker continues, which after tripling its price from June to December, in the first two weeks of 2020 rose another 28% to a $92 billion market cap, thus becoming the most capitalized U.S. car company in history, ahead of GM and Ford. There is no shortage of good news, such as the start of production at the new plant in Shanghai, but the price reached does not seem to reflect the value of the company, which has not yet closed a year in profit (maybe 2019 the good one), and produces less than 5% of GM's cars. In fact, Credit Suisse and UBS believe that the stock may plummet 50-60% this year, also due to the arrival of rivals in the electric car market such as Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes. A first negative signal came from the collapse of sales (- 46.6%) in California (Tesla's main market) in the fourth quarter.
New year, old results. It’s once again time for the quarterly results of listed companies, which will be published in the coming weeks, but which already last week have reserved good news, especially from the banking sector. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup surprised with the high profits reported by trading activities, despite the decrease in commissions and low interest rates, but the MVP was JPMorgan, which saw its profits increase by 21% thanks to a +56% in trading revenues, and earned over $1 billion more than expected. Analysts remain negative for 2020, however, predicting that the industry's capitalization will drop by about $10 billion.
Germany, some data. The German economic growth was just 0.6% in 2019, the lowest figure since 2013 and far from 2017 (+2.2%) and 2018 (+1.5%), but enough to record the longest expansion phase (10 years) since the reunification. The country avoided a technical recession thanks to the good performance of services, but was weighed down by the drop in exports and the weakness of the automotive industry. In addition, for the eighth consecutive year the state has reduced the public debt: in 2019 the surplus was €49.8 billion, and public debt is now only 62% of GDP. The latter figure will put even more pressure on Chancellor Merkel to invest the savings accumulated in recent years: right-leaning parties are calling for tax cuts, while the asks for more welfare and more public investment.
Angola, Isabel dos Santos is looking forward to the presidential election. What is most worrying about the possibility of such a candidacy is the presence of a charge against the billionaire due to an alleged diversion of public funds. However, she does not give up and hopes that she can follow in the footsteps of her father, José Eduardo, who held the post before her from 1979 to 2017.
Guinea Bissau, the official results of the presidential elections are in. The National Electoral Commission has confirmed the victory of Umaro Sissoco Embalò who defeated his rival Domingos Simões Pereira in the run-off with 53.55% of the votes. The party currently holding the majority in the National Assembly, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) - from whose ranks Pereira emerges - confirmed that it will appeal to the Supreme Court for the second time to request the annulment of the vote for irregularities and fraud.
Niger, massacre among soldiers. Just one month after the attack perpetrated by the Islamic State that had led to the deaths of 71 soldiers (of whom I have spoken here), a second - carried out in the same way - has caused 89 losses. This occurred at Chinagoder, in the same region of Tillabéri in Inates. The recurrence of the attack in terms of mode and frequency raises many doubts about the possibility of the country being able to manage this phenomenon and the protection of its citizens in the region.
The tragedy of the Iranian flight PS752 hits also Canada. There were 176 total victims of the flight’s breakdown of Ukraine International Airlines from an iranian missile, which fell on the 8th January 2020. The Canadian President Justin Trudeau spoke about a “canadian tragedy”, which counted 57 victims and affirmed that those people would have not died if not for escalation recently occurring in the region. In fact, the accident happened after the attacks between the United States and Iran and it is a “reminder so that everyone works for a de-escalation and moves forward to reduce the tensions and to find solutions that will not involve other conflicts”. Canada would clearly have preferred to be informed of the intention of Trump’s Administration to attack the Iranian general Soleimani, but the USA did not warn in advance of this intention. Indeed, Trudeau argued that Iran would have to assume the full responsibility for what had happened, responsibility then admitted by the Revolutionary Guards’ Aerial forces Command, Amir Ali Hajizadeh. So, the iranian missile “accidentally” hit the ukrainian airplane: it is supposed to have been launched without the order because of communication’s interferences.
United States, aid to Porto Rico. Leaving for a moment aside the “impeachment” question – topic which we will deal with in the next weeks – we look at the US President Donald Trump’s action in a country which needs help because of the earthquakes beginning at the end of the year. The governor Wanda Vazquez declared the state of emergency on January 7th affirming that “in this way aid could come before”. It was therefore approved a declaration by Trump’s Presidency in which funds for assistance become available for the municipalities of Guánica, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce, Utuado e Yauco. The support includes the granting of temporary houses and the recovery of houses hit by the disaster, loans and other programs to help citizens and business owners to recover from the earthquake’s effects. Damages of millions of dollars can be counted and the NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) had indeed revealed that some zones of the caribbean Island had been subject to modifications at a geographical shape level.
Mexico, shooting in a school from a child of 11 years old. According to some authorities’ declarations, a 11-year-old guy started to shoot with two guns of different calibre, hurting six people and killing a teacher, before taking his own life. The child had been influenced by a videogame called “Natural Selection”, the governor of Cohaulia, Miguel Ángel Riquelme argued. It is not clear yet how he has got the guns, so the investigation is going on. Mexico had already lived stories like this such as the one of 2014, when a 15-year-old boy killed his schoolmate of 13 in the State of Mexico. Then, in 2017 a young boy shot and hurt four classmates in the city of Monterrey. After the shooting, the Mexican President López Obrador declared the fact as a “deplorable tragedy” expressing the condolences to the families involved.
Marta Annalisa Savino
Argentina, Fernandez's first official trip will be to Europe. The new President Fernandez will be in Europe at the end of January. The Argentine President had anticipated that among the first trips abroad there would be Italy. The Italian visit will be very important for the president himself, especially in view of the meeting with Pope Francis. The Pontiff, his compatriot, appeared several times in the Argentine political debate, not hiding his well-known sympathy for the Peronist front, which emerged clearly during the presidential elections of the last year. After the visit to the Holy See the Argentine president will also have the opportunity to meet the Italian president Mattarella and the premier Conte. Instead the Parisian stage will be postponed because of problems on the agenda of French President Macron.
Bolivia, continues the fight against Morales and his former government. In recent days, the Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra al Crimen de Bolivia has arrested in La Paz Carlos Romero, former minister and head of the wallet of the government of Evo Morales, who is officially under investigation for alleged corruption. Before his arrest, the former minister had asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to protect him from abuse and harassment by armed groups, sympathizers of the de facto government. Police officers arrived at the hospital where he was, loading him onto a motorcycle to a police station to testify in a trial for alleged corruption in the Unidad Ejecutora de Lucha Integral Contra el Narcotráfico (Uelicn). While former President Morales continues to make people talk about himself, from Argentina where he is in exile. According to his latest statements, he wanted to create a people's armed forces similar to the Venezuelan ones when he resigned in order to regain power.
Chile, the new anti-pillage law inflames the parliamentary debate. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera once again stressed the importance of the new anti-shoplifting law debated in parliament, considering it necessary and mentioning its functionality on his Twitter profile, "The aim is to achieve the restoration of family security and social peace”, tweeted the President himself. Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel stressed that with this project the objective is to isolate violent minorities in order to protect the peaceful majority, eager for peace and respect for public order in order to be able to express themselves. Instead the opposition decided to criticise the government's initiative, saying that this law makes it possible to suppress social protest with prison. "The government insists on a policy of repression instead of making the social reforms that the Chileans are demanding," said Socialist MP Manuel Monsalve. Meanwhile the National Institute of Human Rights will launch an investigation into the chemical used against the protesters, based on the various complaints received, asking the Ministry of Health and the police for further explanations.
Colombia, a new Paro General has been convened for January 21. The Comité Nacional de Paro en Colombia, composed of groups of workers, students, peasants and indigenous people, has announced that on January 21, mobilizations will resume in the South American country. Jimmy Moreno, spokesman for the Congreso Nacional de pueblos y la Cumbre Agraria, said that the mobilization will develop in different regions of the country and a large number of participants are expected. Following the pattern of mobilizations that began with the national mass unemployment on November 21, a cacerolazo is expected in the squares of the country. All this while waiting for the next meeting of the Comité Nacional de Paro where the calendar of the next mobilizations will be defined, the projection of the territorial assemblies that will be held from January 15 to 29 and the national meeting scheduled between January 30 and 31, thus preparing for the most important event that will take place, according to spokesman Moreno, in March.
Cuba, the actions of the Clandestinos group have reached Santiago. The Clandestinos group reached Santiago, where they filled a mural by Fidel Castro and a statue by José Martí with paint, filming it all live social. This was the first action of the group outside the Cuban capital Havana commented on the facebook page of the group, Todos somos clandestinos. The new action was greeted with particular outrage by the supporters of the communist regime and applauded by several groups of Cubans. In the meantime, several organizations have sided against the restrictive measures imposed by the US Congress against flights to Cuba.
Honduras, new migrants have left for the USA. The first caravan of migrants in 2019 left the country on 15 January, leaving from the bus station of the large terminal in San Pedro Sula for the USA. In the meantime, the Honduran government wanted to reveal important data on the migration phenomenon. In the last 15 months more than 20,000 Honduran citizens have decided to flee the country in caravans, most of them have been deported and almost 5,000 are in Mexico waiting for an American report on their asylum applications. The Honduran authorities reiterated that the immigration agreement aimed at containing the flow of migrants, signed with Washington, will be fully implemented in the coming weeks. "Our teams have completed the two phases of implementation to start implementing the agreement”, said the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States, Chad Wolf, after a meeting with President Juan Orlando Hernández in Tegucigalpa. All this while the brother of the Honduran president, Juan Antonio Hernández, is about to be found guilty of drug trafficking, definitively in the US.
Venezuela, between Maduro and Guaidó, Parra comes out. New year, same life for the Venezuelan country, where the incessant war between Guaidó and Maduro continues. On the day of the epiphany, Juan Guaidó was blocked by the police as he tried to climb over the fences of the parliament to enter the courtroom. All this when inside, the Member of Parliament Luis Parra self-proclaimed himself President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, in the presence only of the pro-Maduro MPs and critics of Guaidó, admitted to the palace by the pro-Maduro police forces. Despite these problems of public order, Guaidó was able to swear again as interim president of the country after also assuming the role of president of the National Assembly. Following the events that occurred on that day, the US decided to sanction Congressman Parra and other government officials who tried to block the re-election of Juan Guaidó, recognized by the US administration as the legitimate leader of the country and president of the Venezuelan National Assembly.
ASIA AND FAR EAST
China, an African tour and Taiwan elections. Chinese President Xi Jinping praised Kiribati for being "on the right side of history" after the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (on joining the BIS) in China on Monday, January 6. Kiribati had joined the One China Principle in September 2019. On Saturday 11 January, Taiwan's elections saw Tsai Ing Wen winning 58%, outclassing his pro-Chinese challenger Han Kuo Yu. The Foreign Minister's spokesman commented, "regardless of what happens in Taiwan, the basic facts will not change: there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is part of China. On the 12th, Wang Yi landed in Zimbabwe to talk about China's support for the country, including the sanctions imposed by the UN. In the following days he went both to Djibouti and Kenya to discuss the possibility of voting for their membership in the Security Council as non-permanent members. Carrie Lam said in a speech to the Legislative Council, addressed to young people: "to guard one country, two systems... instead of bringing damage to this important system because of a misunderstanding. Otherwise, they will create the situation they are concerned about today."
Japan, problems on the Middle East position. On January 7, Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono announced that the country intends to send Marine Self-Defense Forces units to the Middle East to protect shipments and ease tensions with Iran. A survey conducted by Kyodo News on Saturday and Sunday showed that 58.4 percent of voters are opposed to sending ships. The result is likely to help the opposition during the upcoming session of the Diet, which begins January 20, as some have criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the plan in the region given the high tensions between Iran and the U.S. Last week Abe Shinzo was then traveling to the Middle East, in the countries of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, to reduce tensions with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompey met with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts on Tuesday 14 to discuss the blocked nuclear negotiations with North Korea. Two MSDF planes arrived in Australia on Thursday 16 to assist in fire-fighting efforts.
WESTERN EUROPE AND EUROPEAN UNION
European Union, presented the Green Deal. The President of the European Commission von der Leyen presented the environmental plan in front of the plenary of the Parliament in Strasbourg. The measure will characterize the policy of Brussels for the next ten years. It speaks of 1000 billion investments for a transition to a more sustainable development model. Around 500 billion will come from the EU budget and the rest from national co-financing, the EIB and private individuals. An energy transition fund will also be set up to help regions that are more dependent on coal or polluting activities. These include some German, Polish and Italian territories.
United Kingdom, approve Johnson's latest agreement. The British Parliament approved the latest version of the agreement wanted by the Prime Minister. The elections on 12Â December have reinforced his majority and, now, the vote will pass to the House of Lords, where no surprises are expected. It is very likely that the agreement will become law within a few days. Johnson has announced that he will make a speech to the nation on January 31 and that 50 pence coins will be minted to celebrate the UK's exit from the European Union.
The Italian and European future in the international crisis. The international crisis in Libya and Iran have made a point; The European Union and in particular Italy do not have a defined role with which they can face the communitarian and international issues. It seems that Europe is blocked by the different visions of their members (France, Germany) on the crucial problems (security and defense) and she is not able to take her role in the international system, where it matters more. In the meantime, Italy is facing the same problem of identity, when in reality she should find a precise role in the Union. On the 15th of January ’20 there will be the Conference on the Europe’s future. For this reason, Italy must understand her position in the Union. Starting from the definition of her role in the EU, then the relation between herself and the EU, third supporting the vision of a unite Europe. That is why both Europe and Italy have to rethink to their position and walk along a credible path in the world.
Eu’s calculation on the libic international crisis. Fayez al Serraj and Khalifa Haftar should have meet each other in Rome, during a meeting with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. He could have played the role of the mediator between the two enemies that are fighting in Libya and defining a cease fire. Subsequently they should have managed a diplomatic table for a longer peace in the north African country. In reality only Haftar have respected the programed meeting in Rome. In this complicated situation, Josep Borrell, Eu’s High Representative insists that only with a mediation and diplomacy it will be possible to find a solution. At the same time Borrell claims that the Eu’s operation Sophia, in the Mediterranean Sea should restart; In this way the EU is trying to regain his position in this crisis. In the same way, Luigi di Maio, italian Foreing Minister is attemptig to affirm the Italian role in Libya, being mediator in the conflict.
Spain, beginning of the new government. In the end Pedro Sanchez has been able to have green light from the Spanish Parliament in order to form a new government. This will be the first coalition government of the country’s history. Socialists and Unidad Podemos, party of the far left guided by Pablo Iglesias will be the majority forces, but they will have to face the opposition of the Populars guided by Pablo Casado. Nonetheless the most important issue for the new government will be the independentism movement in Catalogna and the negative relations between Madrid and Barcelona. Sanchez will lead a very strict majority, so there will be difficulty in order to carry out new and crucial changes fundamental in a country politically fragmented. The reform of the labour market, the remodulation of the fiscal system will be the greatest political challenges for the new Prime Minister.
Leonardo Cherici and Dario Pone
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
Russia, the government resigns. The Russian government resigned, after Prime Minister Medvedev handed in his resignation on 15 January. In his place, Mikhail Mishustin was appointed, with the favour of the Duma, the new Prime Minister. The new executive will now have to focus on bringing Russia out of the long economic stagnation. However, there are already many voices supporting the assumption that this move was devised by Vladimir Putin to ensure that he remains in power. However, not to the Presidency, as Putin is concluding his second consecutive term. In all this, the Russian people will be called upon to vote in a constitutional referendum, which will give Parliament and the government greater powers. The attempt to legitimise a stronger chief executive may suggest that, after 2024, Putin will try to remain on the political scene as Prime Minister, without giving up broad powers.
Ukraine, the Prime Minister hands over his resignation. The Ukrainian Prime Minister handed in his resignation after an audio recording aroused suspicions about his confidence in President Zelensky. This is a step backwards that Oleksiy Honcharuk wanted to take in order not to question the President's actions; Mr. Honcharuk has in fact defined him as the man who can really change Ukraine, renewing his support for the leadership of Zelensky. The resignation of the Prime Minister will be considered by Zelensky himself, who will have to decide whether to accept it or reject it. In the meantime, Mr. Honcharuk said that the Ukrainian Government has already planned an important development plan for 2020, focusing particularly on reviving the economy of the country.
Summit at the Kremlin between Putin and Angela Merkel. After almost 5 years Angela Merkel returns in Russia, for a meeting with his counterpart Vladimir Putin, in order to discuss some of the most important issue of the international scenario. First of all, the Nord Stream 2, stricken by the American sanctions; Putin was in seek of the European support for the completion of the pipeline. Secondly the Russian-Turks initiative in order to establish a cease fire in Libya between the fighters Fayez al-Serraj and Khalifa Haftarù. Thirdly the crisis in Iran that exploded after the killing of the general Soleimani; Here, both Germany and Russia have strongly affirmed the importance of the Iranian nuclear dealand the commitment to it. Finally, the Syrian war, where Russia is fighting with the forces of Bashar Assad, in this case Putin wants of reaffirm his position in the international checkerboard in which the power relationships are consolidated.
Unlock of the enlargement process? Oliver Varhely, European Commissioner for the enlargement it has seemed trustful on enlargement process situation. In October 2019 France and Netherlands have blocked the beginning of the negotiations for the adhesion to the EU for Albania and North Macedonia. In the first days of the new year, the Commissioner has met the Stef Blok, Holland Foreign Minister and before he has had a meeting in France with Amelie de Montchalin (European affairs Minister of France), with Edouard Philippe (Prime Minister), discussing of the widening’s issue. He’s working on a reform of the European enlargement path that could convince both France and Netherlands to approve the beginning of the negotiations. On the 15/16 of January Varhely will has his first mission in Skopje and Tirana, in order to discuss the issue.
Strong declaration of the High Representative of the EU. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU has strongly criticized the meddling of Russia and Turkey in libic conflict. As previously avowed, for the EU there is only one solution for this conflict: diplomacy. Actually, everyone in the Union have been able to realize the failure of the European diplomatic effort. Nonetheless, Borrell claims that with the deployment of soldiers would be impossible to find a common solution. According to his words, both Russia and Turkey have sent in the country mercenaries and weapons in order to support one of the conflict’s part. On the 19th of January in Berlin there has been a conference in order to find a stable and enduring cease fire.
Andrea Maria Vassallo, Mario Ghioldi e Dario Pone
MIDDLE-EAST AND NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
Libya, the complex peace talks. Last week, Russia and Turkey proposed a ceasefire for Libya. While Serraj immediately joined in, Haftar continued with his offensives and endorsed the proposal at a later date. Subsequently, Moscow proposed a more comprehensive agreement for a ceasefire in Libya, which was, however, rejected by the General of Cyrenaica. In the last few days, European diplomacy has been active in the organization of the Berlin Conference (Sunday, January 19). The list of guests at the table is extensive, with the participation also of US Secretary of State Pompey and EU leaders (including Von der Leyen). Both Haftar and Serraj are present at the Conference, but it is highly unlikely that the two leaders will have direct talks.
Oman, Sultan Qabus bin Said is dead. On 11 January, one of the longest-lived sovereigns of the Middle East died: Sultan Qabus, on the throne since 1970. His reign has been characterized by peace and stability in a region where these elements are struggling to establish themselves. On the political front, Qabus' Oman has always held an equidistant position between Saudi Arabia and Iran and has sometimes acted as a mediator between Tehran and the Western powers. Since the sultan had no children, he was succeeded by Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, former Minister of Culture.
Iran: the (un)foreseeable consequences of the killing of Soleimani. Iranian revenge was not long in coming; in fact, on the night of 8 January, several missiles were launched against the US bases of Ayn al-Asad and Ebril in Iraq. According to the CNN, the Pentagon was warned in advance of the attack by the Iraqi authorities, in turn informed by Iran. In addition, if initially there were no recorded injuries among the American soldiers, days later there is talk of 11 soldiers hospitalized for brain trauma. In any case, Supreme Leader Khamenei has labeled the mission "Soleimani martyr" as a success, an effective signal to show the United States that they have an adversary to fear. At the same time the attack was perpetrated, a Ukrainian jet crashed right after takeoff from Tehran; coincidence? So they had the Iranian authorities believe for a good 48 hours, before admitting that they brought down Ukraine International Airlines' 737 by human error. This error caused the death of 176 people (of various nationalities) and damaged the credibility of the country in the eyes of the international community. There followed several protests by the Iranian population, so much so that Khamenei felt it necessary - after 8 years - to officiate the great Muslim Friday prayer in Tehran. This gesture in the past has been used as a method to face crises with a call to unity; it is not by chance that the country is deeply affected by internal and international tensions.
Lebanon, demonstrations continue. The popular protests in the Land of the Cedars have been going on for months now. The backward step of former Prime Minister Hariri was not enough to calm tensions. In fact, on Saturday 18 January the Lebanese took to the streets again and there were several clashes in the centre of Beirut (in the Parliament area). Officers used tear gas and hydrants to disperse the crowd. As we have already pointed out in several editions, the demonstrations are directed against the political system, the life and corruption in the country.
Federica Sulpizio and Vincenzo Battaglia
TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
Afghanistan, two American soldiers killed by a bomb. While the negotiations for peace in Afghanistan are still stalled, the violence continues to manifest itself. On 11 January, two American soldiers were killed by an IED explosion in southern Afghanistan, in Kandahar, an area deeply influenced by the Taliban. In fact, it was the Taliban who claimed responsibility for the attack.
‘Italy is at risk of attacks!': is what the United States has been saying in recent days. The U.S. Department of State declares a type 2 level and, for this reason, advises its citizens to be cautious in case of short or long stays in the Italian territory. According to the US Government, terrorist groups have been planning for several months now various possible attacks that could hit any place at any time. The second level indicates the possibility of a terrorist attack and is assigned, again according to the US State Department, to Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
This is certainly not the first time that there has been talk of a possible attack on Italian soil, but at present there has never been one. Only in the coming months will it be possible to say whether the American theory is reliable or whether it was a false alarm.
(Laura Vaccaro Senna)
Laura Vaccaro Senna e Vincenzo Battaglia
NATO, Stoltenberg meets the King of Jordan to discuss the situation in the Middle East. On January 14, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met King Abdullah II of Jordan in Brussels to celebrate the partnership between his kingdom and the Alliance and to discuss the main security challenges in the Middle East. In particular, Stoltenberg thanked King Abdullah II for the cooperation between his kingdom and the Alliance and recalled the important joint counter-terrorism operations carried out in the Middle East.
UNICEF, more than ten thousand children suffer from the conflict in Libya. According to the UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, over ten thousand children in Libya suffer from the violence and chaos brought about by the civil war in the country. In fact, since hostilities resumed in April 2019, civilians have increasingly been victims of armed attacks and many children have lost their lives or have been injured in the clashes. In addition, over 90,000 children have been forced to flee and are now internally displaced. Finally, several children have been recruited as soldiers into armed groups.
United Nations, the 2019 was the second hottest year ever. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in 2019 temperatures were 1.1° C above the average - only 2016 was warmer. In addition, according to the WMO, 2019 was characterized by retreating ice, record sea levels, increasing ocean heat and acidification, which have had a frightening impact on the environment.
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
Dario Pone: West Europe and European Union
Domenico Barbato: South America
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 and International Organisations
Marta Annalisa Savino: North America
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
Translated by: Andrea Maria Vassallo, Dario Pone, Federica Sulpizio, Laura Vaccaro Senna, Leonardo Aldeghi, Leonardo Chierici, Marcello Alberizzi, Mario Ghioldi, Marta Stroppa, Marta Annalisa Savino, Michele Pavan, Stefano Sartorio, Vincenzo Battaglia, Simona Maria Vallefuoco.