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CWA # 546, 8 September 2021
Conflict Weekly #87, 8 September 2021, Vol.2, No.23
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI & KAS-India Office
Conflict Weekly #87, 8 September 2021, Vol.2, No.23
Vaishnavi Iyer, Vibha Venugopal, Abigail Miriam Fernandez and Apoorva Sudhakar
Abortion Rights: Texas bans abortions, while Mexico decriminalizes abortions
In the news
On 1 September, a Texas law banning abortion at six weeks took effect. On 7 September, Mexico decriminalized abortion. The laws passed reflect a stark difference in securing the rights of women. The Texas law is based on the detection of a foetal heartbeat and provides incentives to people who prevent abortion through cash rewards of up to USD 10,000.
Governor Abbott signed the bill when the US Supreme court was hearing a case regarding Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. Abbott praised the legislature saying: "worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that I'm about to sign that ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion."
President Biden has promised a "whole-of-government effort" directed by his Gender Policy Council to protect the rights of women in Texas and the constitutional right to abortion.
Issues at large
First, the Legislation. The law categorizes abortion as a civil violation, allowing people to sue anyone getting an abortion, including abortion care advocates. The bill makes no exceptions for pregnancies out of rape or incest. Mexico has annulled several provisions of Coahuila laws that made abortion a criminal act. While this decision could empower the mass outcry in Texas; it may also lead to more border crossings into Mexico to buy pills that are prescribed for abortion.
Second, involvement of the state in abortion health care. In Texas, abortion advocates lack support from the governor and await hearing of the Mississippi abortion law. While, Mexico has the world's second-largest Catholic population; the law has complimented the rising women's rights movement.
Third, the role of the Judiciary. The legislation is designed to deter abortions. Case in point Roe v. Wade, the Mississippi law hearing presents the US Supreme court with the opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade and weakening and limiting abortion rights to 15 weeks as per the Mississippi legislation.
Fourth, the divide between the Senate and Supreme bench. Nancy Pelosi ensured taking up the Women's Health Protection Act on 20 September. It is, however, unlikely for the bill to pass given the Senate 50-50 party split. The Supreme Court is a solid conservative split in 6-3 with lawyers.
Fifth, the protests in Texas. A women's march is planned for every single state for 2 October, before Biden's next term begins. Uber and Lyft have pledged support to the protest movement and have promised to cover the legal fee of people sued under the law and donated USD one million to Planned Parenthood. Women took to the streets of Mexico to celebrate the realization of their historic struggle for equality, dignity, and rights.
First, filibuster discussion. The Senate split is extremely evident at this point and brings back the discussion of the need to abolish the filibuster. In a moderate approach, there needs to be at least a conversation about the reformation of the filibuster.
Second, packing the court. In 2021, more than 561 abortion restrictive laws have been passed and 97 enacted. Texas lawmakers have opened doors for other Red states like Florida and Arkansas to pass more restrictive laws.
Third, gender rights taking a back seat. The law has failed in protecting the constitutional right of women and/or any gender to avail of health services. While Biden promised a whole-of-government effort, there have been talks about how Biden could pass legislation enshrining Roe v. Wade in the federal law which could consequently pre-empt the Texas law. While Mexico was able to decriminalize abortion owing to the growing feminist movement, it now has to undergo another battle to legalize abortion. Thus, the coming week is a major determinant of how far feminist and civic movements could influence the verdict both across and within the borders of Texas.
Thailand: Protests return for the fourth time in the last nine months
In the news
On 2 September, thousands of protesters gathered at the capital of Thailand at the Asoke intersection in Central Bangkok, calling out for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha. Despite the warnings given by the police that protests were banned due to the coronavirus restrictions, the demonstration was one of the biggest such gatherings in the year. During recent protests, security officers used tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets against demonstrators who have thrown stones and firecrackers.
On 4 September, the prime minister and his five cabinet members won the no-confidence vote. This is the government's third censure motion, and it comes as pro-democracy demonstrators have been preparing for further rallies.
Lawmakers accused his government of mishandling the pandemic. They chastised him for the devastating economic impact, blaming the government's slow vaccine rollout on a lack of advance vaccine orders and deciding not to join the international COVAX vaccine-supply scheme.
Issues at large
First, return of protests. Since the beginning of 2020, Thailand has seen a series of protests targeting Prayuth's regime. The collapse of the Future Forward Party in February 2020, a party that frequently attacked Prayuth, sparked earlier protests. Later, the protests grew to include demands for Thai monarchy reforms. However, when the pandemic struck, the protests came to a standstill for a short time before resuming in July of last year. The impact of COVID-19 and the implementation of the Emergency Decree put the country under lockdown, sparked the protests this time.
Second, different trigger points. The underlying reason for the protests remaining the same showcased different trigger points in terms of demonstrators calling for the prime minister to resign as a result of his bad handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as a partial reallocation of Thailand's monarchy and military budget to deal with the problem; emphasizing the inequity ingrained in Thailand's political system, pushing for a total overhaul of the country's administration, constitution, and monarchy. As both sides reject compromise and the ruling party clings to power, tensions rise, swiftly protests erupt.
Third, the four different waves experienced. From February 2020 until now, the protests only seemed to intensify and become a sign of widespread anger and desperation. The first wave demonstrated protests that were only restricted to individual institutions; the second wave emphasizing three major demands being put forth, namely: dissolution of the house, ending intimidation of the people and drafting a new constitution alongside anti-royal protests; the third wave bringing the country hit by the second wave of the pandemic along with the Coup d’état in Myanmar into shackles; the fourth wave which continues observing the pandemic worsening and increased violent protests against the Prime Minister.
Fourth, state responses. The junta inadvertently helped develop a new politically aware cohort free of the baggage of previous political parties by remaining in power for so long and preventing overt politicking. The government uses force and intimidation, arbitrary detention, arrests and changes, along with the Prime Minister criticizing the protests for worsening the country's economic situation.
First, since late June, protests against Prayuth have gathered traction, as groups that demanded his ouster last year have resurfaced with newfound support from citizens enraged by the growing coronavirus crisis. Second, the demonstrators hold Prayuth responsible for the pandemic's handling, specifically his failure to procure a timely and appropriate vaccine supply. Only 13% of Thailand's population of over 66 million people have received all of their vaccinations, the continuation of turmoil and chaotic protests seem to continue with a sense of newfound objectives.
Afghanistan: Taliban announces interim government, claims control of Panjshir but resistance forces to continue fighting
In the news
On 6 September, the Taliban claimed to have captured the Panjshir Valley, raising their flag over the last Afghan provincial capital which was not under their control. The Taliban's spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said: "Panjshir Province completely fell to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," adding, "with this victory and latest efforts our country has come out of the whirlpool of the war and our people will have a happy life in peace, liberty and freedom."
The opposition group, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), disputed that claim, stating that its forces were still positioned strategically across the Panjshir Valley and maintained that they would fight. NRFA commander Ahmad Massoud said: "We are in Panjshir and our Resistance will continue," he added, "the national resistance forces are ready to immediately stop the war to achieve a lasting peace if the Taliban cease their attacks and military operations in Panjshir and Andarab, and hope to hold a large meeting with scholars and reformers, and continue discussions and talks."
On 7 September, the Taliban announced an interim government declaring Afghanistan as an "Islamic Emirate." Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund was named to lead the council of ministers and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was named as the acting deputy leader of the council of ministers. Sirajuddin Haqqani was named as acting minister of the interior, while Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoob was named acting defence minister. Announcing the interim government, Mujahid said: "We're not a tribal force," adding, "We hope all countries in the world will recognize the legitimacy of our government and our Islamic regime."
Issues at large
First, the fall of Panjshir. Unlike in the 1990s, the Taliban had captured the provinces to the north of Panjshir, thus restricting the Northern Alliance to control of its supply line of arms, ammunition, fighters, food, and fuel to the resistance. Additionally, with the lack of support from the US and its allies, the resistance lost key assistance in its battle against the Taliban.
Second, resistance to continue. Although Panjshir remained the only holdout for the resistance forces, both Massoud and former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh have vowed to continue the resistance. Massoud previously stated: "The Taliban is not a problem for the Afghan people alone. Under Taliban control, Afghanistan will without doubt become ground zero of radical Islamist terrorism; plots against democracies will be hatched here once again." This comes after the failed talks were held between the Taliban and the resistance forces, seeking devolution of power to the provinces and inclusion of all ethnic groups in the new government. Meanwhile, peaceful protests by women, unconnected to the armed resistance in Panjshir, have taken place across the province.
Third, the Taliban's caretaker government. The formation of the new government comes after it was postponed twice because the group struggled to shape an inclusive administration acceptable both internally and externally. The initial names of the interim government did not include any non-Taliban, non-Haqqani Network stakeholders. Thus, though appearing to be a monolith while fighting the war, in the end, the most serious challenge for the Afghan Taliban will be to maintain unity within their ranks.
First, the last pocket of the resistance. The Panjshir fighting has been the most prominent resistance to the Taliban, with the fall of Panjshir there remains no organized resistance in Afghanistan. If the Taliban manages to keep Panjshir under control, it would be a representation of the group's offensive and return to power. However, although the odds are against the resistance fighters, the battle has not been lost yet. Massoud along with the resistance forces will continue to fight back against the Taliban.
Second, the Taliban retreats to its old system. The Taliban's interim government highlights the fact that the group believes in a 'Taliban-led- Taliban-owned government.' Thus, proving that the group is still undecided on the idea of 'inclusion.' Additionally, the Taliban's path ahead is a challenging one as it grapples with a growing humanitarian and economic crisis following the takeover of Kabul.
Guinea: Another coup in Africa
In the news
On 5 September, an elite unit of soldiers ousted and arrested President Alpha Condé, followed by the suspension of the constitution, sealing of national borders, dissolution of the government and parliament, and replacement of regional governors with military commanders. Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, who led the coup, justified the move citing "poverty and endemic corruption" under Condé's governance. Al Jazeera quoted Doumbouya: "The personalization of political life is over. We will no longer entrust politics to one man, we will entrust it to the people." Meanwhile BBC quoted the opposition coalition's founder: "I will say that I'm sadly happy with what happened. We don't want to be happy with a coup, but in certain circumstances like [the ones] in Guinea now, we will say we are really happy with what is happening because without that, the country will be stuck in [the] endless power of one person who wants to stay in power forever."
On the same day, the UN Secretary-General tweeted: "I am personally following the situation in Guinea very closely. I strongly condemn any takeover of the government by force of the gun and call for the immediate release of President Alpha Conde." Similarly, the African Union, European Union, United States, Russia, France condemned the move. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) threatened sanctions in the absence of constitutional order.
On 6 September, the military leaders met with Condé's cabinet; according to news reports, government officials have been asked to surrender their passports and return their official vehicles. Hundreds of Guineans were shown celebrating along with soldiers.
Issues at large
First, the political landscape in Guinea. Guinea gained independence from France in 1958. From 1958 to 1984, Ahmed Sekou Toure served as the president of the country. Following Toure's death, Lansana Conté took over the leadership through a military coup, and introduced a multiparty system in the 1990s but restrained from giving up his power. Following Conté's death in 2008, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara seized power through a coup. In 2010, the military government however agreed to a democratic transition.
Second, Condé's controversial third term as President. Condé was the first leader in Guinea to be elected to power in a democratic transition in 2010 after serving as an opposition figure for decades. His election, on the promise of promoting and protecting human rights, was seen as a new beginning for the country, and he was re-elected in 2015. However, in 2020, Condé moved a referendum amending the two-term limit, thereby allowing him to run for a third term. The move sparked protests and violence in Guinea, and also resulted in nearly 30 casualties. Following this, several opposition leaders were arrested for their alleged role in the electoral violence that ensued.
Third, the military intervention. The coup was led by the Groupement des Forces Speciales (GPS). Condé had formed the GPS for his own protection. Doumbouya maintained that the coup was carried out in the interest of 12.7 million people. He said that in light of the lack of development, it was "time to wake up," adding, "The duty of a soldier is to save the country."
Fourth, the popular sentiments. People were seen celebrating the coup on 5 September draped in the national flag and enjoying themselves with soldiers. Dissatisfaction with Condé reached new heights with the referendum. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic unravelled inefficient governance and gaps within the healthcare system which has aggravated the general public's grievances. Other concerns include corruption, unemployment, and shrinking space for dissent.
Given the history of coups and the history of the leadership in Guinea, it is unlikely that there will be a democratic transition in the near future. The coup was the aftermath of the slow burn within Guinea, fuelled by the above-mentioned reasons. Further, the opposition leader's happiness over the coup also indicates a flawed democratic system.
Guinea has now entered the list of countries undergoing political instability in Africa. Several African leaders have previously bypassed the two-term limit through measures like those adopted by Condé; for example, in 2020, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast won his third term through similar amendments. Likewise, leaders from Burkina Faso, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have also attempted to amend the constitution or have continued to hold on to power despite the two-term limits. Similarly, political instabilities have also become frequent in Africa, the Guinean coup being the third in just a year, after Mali witnessed two coups in August 2020 and May 2021.
Also from around the World
By Apoorva Sudhakar and Abigail Miriam Fernandez
Peace and Conflict from East and Southeast Asia
Hong Kong: Police arrest four from pro-democracy group
On 8 September, the Hong Kong police arrested four members - three men and one woman - of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements which organizes the Tiananmen vigil annually on 4 June. Reuters quoted one arrested activist: "I want to tell Hong Kongers that we need to continue to resist, don't surrender to the unreasonable power quickly and easily." The development comes after the police had sent a letter to the alliance seeking information on its finances and membership. The alliance, which the letter had termed "an agent of foreign forces," was expected to answer the queries by 7 September. The letter warned of a HKD 100,000 fine and six months jail if the queries were not addressed.
China: PLA conducts a joint drill in Tibet
On 6 September, the PLA Daily released a video of a joint military drill conducted by the Tibet Military District. South China Morning Post reported that the exercise was conducted to assess the "high-altitude joint operation capabilities and integration with new weapons systems." The drill has also been reported to be a warning to India, in light of China's recent border conflicts with India; the PLA air defence artillery troops were shown intercepting drones with a similarity with the Indian reconnaissance devices.
Japan: Minister raises reservations against Russian proposal to establish SEZ in Northern Territories
On 7 September, the Japanese Foreign Minister expressed displeasure over Russia's proposal to establish a special economic zone in the Northern Territories. The Minister maintained that the establishment of the SEZ would pave the way for foreign countries to operate and receive tax benefits. The development comes after the Russian President, on 3 September, proposed the plan during the Eastern Economic Forum session. There have been long standing differences between the two countries on the legal framework on economic cooperation; Japan maintains that the territory belongs to them and Japanese companies should therefore be excluded from Russian jurisdiction whereas Russia is firm on its decision to enforce Russian law regarding economic cooperation in the disputed territory.
Indonesia: Activists criticize latest draft of sexual violence eradication bill
On 8 September, The Jakarta Post reported on the backlash against the latest draft of the sexual violence eradication bill (RUU PKS), after acitivists maintained that the draft did not protect the rights of victims of sexual violence; 85 provisions and two sections on victims' rights have been removed in the latest draft. Further, the draft also narrowed the the scope sexual violence; sexual harassment, forced contraception and sexual exploitation can be prosecuted but elements of the previous draft which include forced marriage, forced prostitution, sexual torture, forced abortion and sexual slavery have been omitted.
Myanmar: NUG declares war; military denies reports of accepting ceasefire proposal
On 7 September, the acting President of the National Unity Government declared war on the military regime. Terming the regime as one led by "military terrorists," the acting President called on citizens to join the revolt. He also expressed confidence that the UN, ASEAN and other countries would understand the call for a revolt. In response to the NUG's call, the People's Defense Forces, Chinland Defense Force, Karenni Nationalities Defense Force, have expressed support to the declaration of war and claimed to have increased attacks against the junta. Meanwhile, on 4 September, the ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar said the junta had agreed to a proposal for a four-month ceasefire aimed at ensuring humanitarian aid. Following this, the NUG said the ASEAN should have gotten the military to stop arresting civilians, and should have asked for a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. However, on 6 September, the junta spokesperson denied the acceptance of a ceasefire proposal.
Peace and Conflict from South Asia
India: The government's main concern is Afghan-origin terror
On 2 September, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) states that the "primary and immediate" concern of the Government of India was to curb any terrorist threat to India originating from Afghanistan under the Taliban's rule. Meanwhile, on the nature of the Indian Ambassador to Qatar's meeting with the Taliban political office chief in Doha, MEA spokesperson said "Let us just treat the Doha meeting for what it is... it's just a meeting. These are very early days," adding, "We used the opportunity to convey our concerns, whether it was on getting people out [from Afghanistan], or on anti-Indian terror-related activities. We received a positive response."
India: Second round of talks with Karnal farmers fail
On 8 September, farmer leaders stated that the second round of talks between the Karnal administration and them has also failed. They said that the talks failed over the issue of former SDM Ayush Sinha's suspension and other demands which could not be raised. Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said that the administration was refusing to take any action against "officials who are responsible" for the 28 August lathi charge. He warned that they may stage a permanent protest along the lines of the Singhu and Tikri border in Haryana, however, stating that they do not want the ongoing protests at the Delhi border to be "disturbed" because of this incident.
Sri Lanka: Parliament approves state of emergency to control food prices
On 6 September, Sri Lanka's parliament has approved a state of emergency declared by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Previously, on 30 August, President Rajapaksa said that the emergency was needed to control food prices and prevent hoarding of essentials by a "food mafia" amid shortages of some staples. Conversely, the Opposition legislators argue that the emergency declaration is not required because other laws can be used to maintain essential supplies, and the tough emergency rules can be misused to stifle critics.
Sri Lanka: Authorities pledge to help with New Zealand knife attack probe
On 4 September, Sri Lankan authorities stated that they will cooperate with New Zealand's investigation into a knife rampage by the Islamic State-inspired assailant from the country. This comes after police shot dead the 32-year-old Sri Lankan man after he attacked seven people in an Auckland supermarket. Sri Lanka's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson stated, "Sri Lanka condemns this senseless violence, and stands ready to cooperate with New Zealand authorities in any way necessary."
Pakistan: Four killed and 19 injured in a TTP suicide attack in Balochistan
On 5 September, four security personnel were killed and 19 people were injured when a suicide bomb blast took place at a Frontier Constabulary (FC) check-post located on the Mastung Road. The Balochistan Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) confirmed that the suicide attack stating that the suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into the LEA vehicle near the check-post. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan via Twitter condemned the TTP for the suicide attack.
Peace and Conflict from Central Asia, Middle East and Africa
Uzbekistan: Girls allowed to wear headressing to schools
On 3 September, the Education Minister announced that girls will be allowed to wear Islamic headscarves and skullcaps to schools, in effect reversing the secular rules of dressing in state-owned premises. The Minister said the decision was made taking into account several petitions from parents. However, he reportedly said: "We are a secular state. Education and religion are separate from one another...Girls in headscarves should not put pressure on any other girls." In July, the President signed a legislation which prohibited anybody who is not registered as a cleric from wearing religious clothing.
Yemen: At least 80 reported dead during clashes in Marib
On 8 September, sources told AFP that at least 80 people, including rebels and pro-government forces, had died in the ongoing clashes in Marib; 64 Houthis and 18 pro-government troops were killed. Meanwhile, on 5 September, Al Jazeera reported that Saudi Arabian authorities had claimed to have intercepted three ballistic missiles targeting its eastern and southern regions, including the Najran and Jazan cities. Saudi Arabia blamed Houthis for the attacks.
Iraq: 12 police officers killed in suspected ISIL attacks
On 5 September, at least 12 Iraqi police officers lost their lives in a twin attack in the country's al-Rashad region. Of the 12, three were killed in a confrontation between the attackers and several officers, who were part of a reinforcement team, were killed in an ambush. Meanwhile, three soldiers were killed in a separate attack on an army checkpoint, southeast of Mosul. The ISIL is suspected to have carried out the attacks.
Israel-Palestine: Six Palestinians escape from high-security prison
On 6 September, six Palestinians escaped from Israel's Gilboa prison, considered one of the most secure prisons in the country. The escaped prisoners comprise of a former Fatah party leader and five members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Meanwhile, search operations have been launched as the prisoners are believed to have escaped to Jenin. However, other members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad vowed to fight Israeli forces entering the Jenin refugee camp.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 30 killed in suspected ADF attack
On 4 September, at least 30 people were killed in the DRC's Ituri area. Al Jazeera quoted local and UN sources who said that the attack is suspected to be carried out by the rebel group, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Most victims were reportedly killed with machetes or were shot dead. The US has designated the ADF as a terrorist group. The latest attack comes a week after the ADF killed 19 civilians in a territory in North Kivu in late August.
Ethiopia: 120 people massacred in Amhara; Tigray forces deny involvement
On 8 September, local officials told Reuters that 120 people, including women, children, and elderly, had been massacred in Amhara earlier in the month. A local administrator of the Dabat town said the bodies recovered so far were that of farmers and said the actual number of people killed could be higher. Meanwhile, the head of a hospital said that 125 were killed and that he had seen a mass grave. Tigrayan forces have been accused of the massacre; however, on 8 September, the spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces rejected these claims.
Ethiopia: 150 people died of starvation in August, says TPLF
On 6 September, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) said 150 people had died of starvation in August in Tigray's central, southern and eastern regions. The TPLF said that the Tigray region faced a "complete depletion of food stocks" and warned that nearly a million people would be on the brink of a famine if they are deprived of aid within a few days. Meanwhile, on 7 September, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said that it had summoned the Ethiopian envoy on 30 August, after 29 bodies, whom the country identified to be from the Tigray ethnic group, were found floating in the Setit river.
Egypt: HRW report outlines severity of extrajudicial killings by Interior Ministry
On 7 September, Human Rights Watch released a report outlining suspicious and extrajudicial killings reportedly carried out by the Egyptian Interior Ministry. The report says that from 2015 to 2020, the Ministry had named only 141 people who were killed in exchange of fire, though it had publicly said 755 people were killed. In a few interviews with family members of those who had been killed, the family maintained that the accused was in police custody before any alleged exchange of fire or shootout took place. HRW said: "Under the pretext of combating terrorism, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's government has effectively given the interior ministry's police and national security agency free rein to suppress all opposition, including peaceful dissent, with near-absolute impunity for grave abuses."
Peace and Conflict from Europe and the Americas
France: Main suspect in Paris attacks trial says he is "an Islamic State soldier"
On 8 September, the trial of 20 men accused of involvement in the 2015 wave of terrorist attacks in Paris which killed 130 and left hundreds injured began. The trial is scheduled to last nine months, that is until May 2022. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the series of coordinated attacks. During the hearing, the main suspect of the attacks described himself defiantly as "an Islamic State soldier," offending some of the survivors who saw it as a threat at the start of the trial.
The UK: Increasing number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats
On 6 September, the UK's Home Office stated that 785 people arrived in 27 boats while French authorities stopped 378 people from crossing the English Channel. In 2021 alone, more than 12,600 migrants have made the crossing on more than 500 boats, with crossings increasing in the recent past with the weather conditions becoming more favourable. Meanwhile, the home secretary of the UK is expected to hold talks with the French counterpart on the number of migrants crossing the English Channel to the UK.
Poland: Authorities uphold the state of emergency on the Belarus border
On 6 September, Poland's parliament uphold the state of emergency along the border with Belarus. According to the measure, large gatherings and limits movement will be banned for 30 days in areas along Poland's border with Belarus. Previously, on 2 September, Poland declared an emergency in two regions bordering Belarus following an increase in illegal migration, which they have blamed on Minsk and the Russia-Belarus "Zapad-2021" military drills.
Venezuela: Government and opposition reached an agreement on few issues
On 6 September, the Venezuelan government and opposition representatives announced that they have reached a partial agreement during talks in Mexico City. In a joint statement, Venezuela's government and the opposition said they agreed to "establish mechanisms for the restoration and achievement of resources to meet the social needs of the population with special emphasis on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic." Additionally, they also reached common ground on a border dispute with neighbouring Guyana. President of the Venezuelan Congress and leader of Maduro's negotiating team said: "We have a long way to go, we have a lot of work to do, we have many issues to discuss, but today we have shown ... that we can say the hardest things to ourselves."
Mexico: Earthquake and floods leave several dead
On 7 September, a powerful earthquake struck southwestern Mexico killing one person. The quake of magnitude 7.0, which hit 11 miles (17.7 km) northeast of Acapulco, shook the hillsides around the city. On the same day, 17 people died after a hospital in Mexico's central Hidalgo state, flooded when torrential rain caused a river to burst its banks. Meanwhile, heavy rainfall has sparked flash floods in Ecatepec and Nezahualcóyotl municipalities, with reports that at least two people have died.
El Salvador: Protest erupt against Bitcoin adoption
On 7 September, people took to the streets in protests against the adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador, the first country to do so. The rollout of bitcoin in El Salvador is unlike what President Nayib Bukele envisaged as technological glitches and a plummet in value marked the day. The price of Bitcoin on 7 September plunged to about 17 per cent, its lowest level in a month, falling from USD 52,000 to under USD 43,000 at one point.
The US: Virginia Removes statue of Robert E. Lee from the capital
On 8 September, the statue of Robert E. Lee, the South's Civil War general was taken off its pedestal in downtown Richmond, Virginia. The statue which is one of the US's largest Confederate monuments is the last of six Confederate monuments to be removed from the city's main boulevard. This comes after the governor's plans to remove the statue in 2020 were delayed by two separate lawsuits, however, Virginia's Supreme Court rejected the lawsuits, allowing for the statue to be removed.
Environment: Over 900 species of animals become extinct according to IUCN Red List
On 4 September, the Red List brought out by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France stated that 902 species have officially been extinct. The Red List shows that 30 per cent of the species face the threat of extinction. The head of the IUCN's Red List Unit said: "If we look at extinctions every 100 years since 1500, there is a marked inflection starting in the 1900s. The trend is showing that we are 100 to 1,000 times higher than the 'background', or normal, extinction rates. I would certainly say that the red list status shows that we're on the cusp of the sixth extinction event [in the last 500 million years]."
About the authors
Vibha Venugopal is a postgraduate scholar from the Department of International Studies, CHRIST (Deemed to be University) currently enrolled at the NIAS Online Certificate Course on Contemporary Peace Processes. Vaishnavi Iyer is a Research Intern at NIAS. Apoorva Sudhakar and Abigail Miriam Fernandez are Research Associates at the School of Conflict and Security Studies in NIAS.
Chetna Vinay Bhora
Vineeth Daniel Vinoy