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Conflict Weekly
Biden's Gaza Proposal, New US Order on Migration, and a Guilty Verdict in Hong Kong

  IPRI Team

Conflict Weekly #231, 7 June 2024, Vol.5, No.23
An initiative by NIAS-IPRI
 

Ayan Datta, Akhil Ajith and Dhriti Mukherjee


The War in Haza: Biden's New Three-Phase Proposal for a Ceasefire, Release of Hostages and Reconstruction
Ayan Datta 

In the news 
On 31 May, US President Joe Biden proposed a new deal with three phases relating to releasing hostages and a ceasefire. Phase one would involve a ceasefire, hostage-prisoner swap, inflow of aid, and negotiations between Israel and Hamas. In phase two, Hamas would release all hostages, and Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza. Phase three would involve a reconstruction plan for Gaza. Hamas would return the remains of dead hostages. Biden stated: "As long as Hamas lives up to its commitments, the temporary ceasefire would become permanent." 

On 1 June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there would be no permanent ceasefire in Gaza until Israel's war aims were unfulfilled. He said: "Israel's conditions for ending the war have not changed: The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel." He added: "The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter."

On 4 June, Hamas stated that the group would not agree to any proposal that does not assure a "permanent ceasefire." Previously, on 31 May, Hamas said that the group viewed the proposal "positively and constructively". 

On 4 June, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Egypt urged Hamas to accept Biden's proposal. 

Issues at large 
First, a brief background to previous ceasefires. The US brokered the first and only successful ceasefire in November 2023. It was in place from 24 to 30 November 2023, during which Hamas released 105 hostages. Israel allowed humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and freed Palestinian prisoners. Ever since, there have been multiple proposals and efforts. In January 2024, the US, Qatar and Egypt proposed a deal which included a ceasefire and rule of the Palestinian Authority over Gaza. In February, the US suggested "humanitarian pauses" in Gaza for aid inflow. Israel rejected both these deals. On 6 May 2024, Hamas accepted a Qatar-and-Egypt-backed proposal that included a three-stage truce ending in a permanent ceasefire. However, Netanyahu rejected the deals again and began the land offensive in Rafah.

Second, conflicting endgames of Hamas and Israel. Hamas wants a complete and permanent ceasefire and subsequently return to the status quo. For that, it rejects any phased withdrawal or temporary cessation of hostilities. However, Israel has two war aims- destroying Hamas and bringing back hostages. Israel prefers a temporary ceasefire until all hostages are released. However, it seeks to continue fighting Hamas until its capabilities are destroyed.

Third, Israel's internal political divide on ceasefires and endgames. For Netanyahu and two far-right parties, Israel should reject Biden's ceasefire proposal and retain control of Gaza after the war. The parties say that they will topple Netanyahu's coalition government if he accepts Biden's deal. For Netanyahu's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and War Cabinet Benny Gantz, Israel should accept Biden's proposal and hand over Gaza's civilian affairs to the Palestinians (Gallant) or an international coalition (Gantz). The two ministers are threatening to resign if Netanyahu insists on Israeli control of Gaza as an endgame.

In perspective
First, Hamas' surprise attack and the disproportionate Israeli response have revitalized the former's support base. The group's public support in Gaza was declining before 7 October. However, the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of infrastructure as a result of Israel's military strikes has radicalized ordinary Gazans and increased their support for Hamas. After reaping these benefits, the group wants to re-establish the status quo ante. 

Second, Hamas wants a permanent end to Israel's military strikes. Israel is willing to take a temporary pause until all hostages are released but continue the military strikes until Hamas' capabilities are destroyed. 

Third, Biden's proposal is unlikely to succeed. The terms are similar to the 6 May proposal that Israel had rejected. Biden has marked Hamas as the only obstacle to peace, absolving Israel of responsibility to cooperate. Historically, the US rarely imposes costs on Israel for being a poor actor. Netanyahu knows from experience that he will face no costs if he backs down from the deal. For instance, in May 2024, Biden's administration said it would withhold arms from Israel for crossing the US' red lines on Rafah. Washington had to resume the shipments because of pro-Israeli sentiment from Congress. The US has historically given Israel a carte blanche. This time is no different. 


The US: President Biden's executive immigration order for Mexico border
Dhriti Mukherjee

In the news
On 4 June, the White House announced new border measures after the administration of US President Joe Biden decided to impose fresh restrictions, claiming the US "must secure" its borders. Under this measure, if the average number of unauthorized daily crossings passes 2,500, other unauthorized migrants will not be allowed to cross the border. Migrants who arrive at the border but are not fearful of returning to their home countries will be removed from the US and could face a five-year bar from re-entering the US or even prosecution. 

On 5 June, the regulations came into effect and are scheduled to remain in place until the average number of unauthorized daily crossings drops below 1,500 for two weeks; however, they will be reimposed if the numbers increase. Unaccompanied minors and people thought to be human trafficking victims will be exempted from the decree. 

While announcing the executive order, Biden stated: "I will never demonize immigrants. I will never refer to immigrants as poisoning the blood of our country. And further, I'll never separate children from their families at the border. I will not ban people from this country because of their religious beliefs." 

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson stated: "It's window dressing. Everybody knows that if he were concerned about the border, he would have done this a long time ago." The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called the US to "reconsider restrictions that undermine the fundamental right to seek asylum."

Issues at large
First, the migrant crisis across the US-Mexico border. Since Biden entered office, more than 6.3 million migrants have been detained crossing into the US, a number higher than during the administration of previous presidents. As per government statistics, the majority of the encounters have historically involved individuals from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. However, in December 2023, 54 per cent of these encounters also included people from Venezuela (nearly 47,000) and China (nearly 6,000). A similar pattern was observed in 2021, with unauthorized immigrants from India (725,000), Canada, Brazil, and former Soviet Union countries.

Second, the US-Mexico border crisis. Under Biden's administration, the number of agents and officers on the border increased to over 24,000, while thousands of additional support personnel were added. Despite this, officials are unable to handle the influx of migrants. There is a surge management issue regarding maintaining a workforce to deal with the fluctuating situation. Between October 2021 and 2023, the number of land border encounters had more than tripled, while the number of border agents did not. 

Third, an overview of US strategies since Trump. Under the administration of former US President Donald Trump, the border policy was stricter. In March 2020, his administration invoked the controversial statute Title 42, which allowed US authorities to expel migrants and asylum seekers at the border swiftly. Under this, 400,000 were detained and expelled until Trump left office. In January 2019, his administration implemented Migrant Protection Protocols, which forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their immigration hearings. Under this policy, 70,000 were returned to Mexico, where many spent months and were often subject to gang violence. Additionally, his administration has a "zero-tolerance" policy, which empowered authorities to deport adults who crossed the border illegally. Between 2017 and 2021, at least 3,900 children were separated from their parents. 

Fourth, humanitarian law, migration and asylum. Human rights organizations looked at two issues while responding to the order- the right to asylum and the right to access safe territory. The UN highlighted how seeking asylum is a "fundamental human right and access to asylum for those in need is paramount." The UNHCR warned that a person with a "well-founded fear of being persecuted in their country of origin must have access to safe territory and have this claim assessed before being subject to deportation." The UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also acknowledged the "challenges posed by the increasing irregular crossings." Still, it underscored the need for measures to "respect the fundamental right to seek asylum." 

Fifth, a divided debate in the US over migration. According to a 2024 survey by the Pew Research Center, 80 per cent of Americans say the US government is handling the migrant influx poorly. Seventy per cent of Republicans consider the influx a 'crisis' while 44 per cent of Democrats see it as a 'major problem.' Democrats have proposed the creation of jobs in the US as a solution to the issue. However, 72 per cent of Republicans say expanding the wall along the southern border would help the issue. 


China: A Hong Kong trial finds 14 people guilty of subversion
Akhil Ajith

In the news
On 30 May, a Hong Kong court found 14 people guilty of subversion. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying defended the arrests, saying they were essential to stop "external forces and individuals (colluding) to undermine China's stability and security."

Issues at large
First, a background to China's National Security Law in Hong Kong. It was introduced in Hong Kong on 30 June 2020 in response to the pro-democracy protests in 2019. The law criminalizes anything considered as secession or breaking away from China; subversion or undermining the authority of the central government; terrorism or violence and intimidation against people; and collusion with foreign or external forces. The legislation allows for closed-door trials and gives the police the right to detain suspects for up to 16 days without charge. It bans the operations of organizations and companies operating in Hong Kong from aiding "foreign forces." Article 23 expands on the Beijing-imposed National Security Law, which criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. The law introduces mainland China's definition of "state secrets," which covers economic, social, technological, and scientific developments.

Second, a brief background to new laws, protests and arrests in Hong Kong. In 2003, the Hong Kong government proposed national security legislation prohibiting treason, secession, and subversion against the Chinese government. However, it was repealed following widespread protests. In 2014, the Chinese government proposed a framework for universal suffrage, allowing Hong Kongers to vote for the city's chief executive. However, the vote included only a Beijing-approved short list of candidates. This led to massive movements known as the "Umbrella Movement." In June 2020, the protests intensified when the national security law was introduced. The protesters included the pro-democratic blocs comprising the Civic Party, Neo Democrats, Civic Passion, and Demosisto Party. In January 2021, 55 protesters, former legislators, and social workers were arrested by the Hong Kong Police Force under the National Security Law. The Hong Kong government revealed that they have arrested around 260 people, with 79 being charged until July 2023. 

Third, a brief background to the trial. It began in March 2021; the panel appointed by the Hong Kong administration charged the above for committing a national security offence of "conspiracy to subvert state power" by holding unofficial election primaries in 2020. The trial continued for ten months and ended on 4 December 2023. Among the guilty are former lawmakers and activists, including the politician Helena Wong, the veteran campaigner Leung Kwok-hung, the journalist Gwyneth Ho, and the Hong Kong-Australian dual national Gordon Ng. The trial was seen as politically motivated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Alan Leong, representing the defence, questioned the police for "rushing to press charges" before finishing the investigations. Hong Kong's common law system puts the onus on the prosecution to secure a bail. However, under national security law, the responsibility is on the defendant. Besides, the access to the live broadcasting of the court proceedings is being denied to the public and the media.

In perspective
First, the end of China's pledge to preserve Hong Kong's political and economic identity. Beijing said that it would give Hong Kong 50 years to keep its capitalist system and enjoy freedoms not present on the mainland. The introduction of NSL and crackdown on political dissents have reduced the vibrancy of one country and two systems. 

Second, implications for Hong Kong's financial status. Relatively low taxes, a highly developed financial system, light regulation, and other capitalist features have made Hong Kong one of the world's most attractive markets and set it apart from mainland financial hubs such as Shanghai and Shenzhen. Many multinational firms and banks have headquarters in Hong Kong, which acts as a gateway to mainland China. However, the introduction of national security law, Article 23, and other anti-espionage laws have led to voicing concerns by some companies on illegal arrests and detention without trial.


Issues in Peace and Conflict This Week:
Regional Roundups

Akriti Sharma, Rohini Reenum, Padmashree Anandhan, Femy Francis, Akhil Ajith, Shamini Velayutham, Dhriti Mukherjee, Vetriselvi Baskaran and Neha Tresa George

China, East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific
China: European Commission imposes provisional duties on Chinese EVs
On 3 June, the European Commission set to impose provisional duties on Chinese-made electric vehicles by June 2024. Following the EU investigation on subsidies in China's EV industry, the duties came. The Chinese Automobile Association met the EC's trade department in Brussels to discuss the probe. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned Europe against Chinese EVs flooding the continent and threatening its automotive industry. SCMP quoted free traders and environmentalists opposing duties that it will derail the bloc's efforts to wean away from combustion engine cars and decarbonization. The German lobbyists are opposing the duties as their brands face Chinese retaliation. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the country will safeguard businesses' lawful rights and interests. A Kiel Institute for the World Economy study noted that a 20 per cent tariff on Chinese EVs would result in a USD 3.8 billion decline in the EU's EV imports from China. Despite its lobbying efforts, Beijing has threatened the EU with retaliatory measures.

China: 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown
On 4 June, the Associated Press reported on the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident. Ahead of the day, the Chinese government heightened security and systematically quashed all memories of the massacre across the country. On 3-4 June 1989, the Chinese government ordered an army of 180,000 troops armed with tanks and vehicles to open fire on the crowds protesting at Tiananmen Square. The protesters demanded political and economic reforms, ending corruption, censorship, and limitations on basic rights. While marking the anniversary, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning commented: "The Chinese government has long since come to a clear conclusion on the political disturbance that took place in the late 1980s." Tiananmen Mothers, a group formed by the grieving families, made a public appeal to the government to publish names and the number of people who died and compensate the victim's families. The group posted: "The June 4 tragedy is a historical tragedy that the Chinese government must face and explain to its people, and some people in the Government at that time should be held legally responsible for the indiscriminate killing of innocents."

China: Taiwan "core of core issues," says Defence Minister 
On 2 June, at the Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore, Chinese Minister of Defence Dong Jun said that Taiwan remains China's "core of core issues." Dong stated: "The Chinese People's Liberation Army has always been an indestructible and powerful force in defence of the unification of the motherland, and it will act resolutely and forcefully at all times to curb the independence of Taiwan and to ensure that it never succeeds in its attempts." He added: "China has maintained sufficient restraint in the face of rights infringements and provocation, but there are limits to this." The comments came after he accused Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of pursuing separatism to eradicate Chinese identity. Dong's remarks came after he held an in-person meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin during the forum. Dong emphasized the need for more dialogue on the differences between the two militaries. 

China: Pakistan to ramp up security for Chinese workers
On 3 June, Nikkei Asia reported that Pakistan is raising security in two cities, Dasu and Chila, hubs for Chinese workers. The development came after a series of attacks by militants on Chinese workers, putting investments and ties with Beijing at risk. Pakistan is under increased pressure from China over attacks on its citizens. Pakistan faces increased militant activity near the Balochistan province, where the Gwadar port is located. The port is part of the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In March, five Chinese engineers were killed by a suicide bomber near the Dasu hydropower project. Pakistan paid around 2.5 million in compensation to the victims' families and arrested 11 suspected militants suspected. Pakistan's government plans to erect a barbed wire fence around Gwadar towns to protect Chinese workers. 

China: Filipino soldiers pointed guns at Chinese Coast Guard, reports CCTV
On 2 June, Chinese state media CCTV reported that the two Filipino soldiers stationed on the grounded Philippine warship on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal pointed guns at a Chinese Coast Guard ship in May. On 19 May, CCTV claimed that the incident occurred during a Philippine mission to supply troops "illegally grounded" at Sierra Madre. The Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and National Security Council did not immediately respond to the comments. However, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, during a speech on 31 May, attended by China's Minister of Defence Dong Jun, denounced illegal, coercive and aggressive actions in the South China Sea, which, according to him, are undermining Southeast Asian countries' vision for "peace, stability and prosperity," without referring to China.

South Korea: Activities resume along the North Korean border
On 4 June, South Korea formally suspended the 2018 agreement with North Korea. The suspension was announced after North Korea sent 1,000 air balloons carrying waste. It was also a response to the launch of spy satellites. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo announced at the morning cabinet meeting: "North Korea's continuous provocations not only greatly threaten the lives and safety of our people but also seriously undermine peace on the Korean Peninsula." Following the announcement, the military said it would resume all activities at the border. Deputy Defence Minister of South Korea Cho Chang-rea stated: "The North Korean regime is wholly responsible for creating this situation, and if North Korea conducts further provocations, our military will sternly punish it under our principles of 'immediately, strongly, and to the end based on our firm joint defence posture with the US." 

Australia: Announcement on recruiting permanent residents to fulfil the troop shortage 
On 5 June, the Australian government announced that it would allow permanent residents to join the army to meet the shortage of personnel. The federal government stated: "Foreigners who receive security clearances and have been living in the country for at least 12 months will be able to enlist." Initially, the scheme will be limited to people from New Zealand, the US, the UK, and Canada, as they are Australia's intelligence allies. The government is targeting to increase the troop numbers to 80,000 by 2040. The scheme will come into effect in July, and New Zealanders will be able to join the first round. Entries for other countries will be opened from January 2025. 

Australia: Student protests in support of Gaza
On 3 June, students at Sydney University began protests in support of the Palestinians with "Free Gaza" slogans. Such a protest is the first in Australia and has motivated several students in other parts of the country to follow. The students have demanded the Universities to end all ties with Israeli institutions in light of the ongoing war. Unlike the US protests, Australia's protests have been peaceful. 

South Asia
Pakistan: Northern Sindh's dacoits move to Hyderabad's katcha areas to avoid law enforcement operations
 On 3 June, The Express Tribune reported that the residents of Hyderabad's katcha areas revealed that dacoits from northern Sindh are relocating to the city to avoid law enforcement operations. The gangs, known for kidnapping and murders, have been hiding in riverine forests. The residents argued that the situation would worsen and be hard for the people to move around if the Hyderabadi police failed to take action. The gangs are posing a threat to the city's safety,  disguising themselves as farmers and cattle traders. The residents urged the authorities to carry out operations and arrest the criminals.

Pakistan: Chaman protestors attack anti-polio campaign team
On 3 June, Chaman protestors attacked an anti-polio campaign team to restrict their entry into the region. The anti-polio campaign was launched nationwide to vaccinate more than 16.5 million children under the age of five. Chaman Deputy Commissioner (DC) Raja Athar Abbas revealed that there were attempts to steal weapons from the police and security officers. He added that two security personnel, one police officer and two female workers were injured. He said that the accused would be charged under anti-terrorism provisions, arguing that "protesting is a constitutional right, but if violence is resorted to, the state will take action as per the law." Balochistan government spokesperson Shahid Rind also condemned the act and noted that the district administration would take appropriate action. Separately, Chaman protest committee leader Sadiq Achakzai asserted that entry would be denied to all government campaigns until the protestors' demands were met. He said: "We have boycotted the anti-polio campaign and campaign officials, and we do not wish to cause harm to any polio worker or security personnel who is not a part of the door-to-door campaign."

Pakistan: Seven arrested after Chaman protestors ransack DC office
On 5 June, after local authorities uprooted protestors' camps and reopened the Quetta-Chaman highway, several sit-in participants ransacked the Deputy Commissioner's office. Later, seven protesters were arrested, and the highway was blocked again. The highway reopening allowed hundreds of trucks and vehicles, loaded with Afghan transit and goods stuck in Shela Bagh, to cross. However, the protestors blocked the highway again and pelted trucks after the police officers left. Although the police used tear gas to control the situation, tensions escalated. Protesters gathered in front of the DC office in Chaman against the operation. They entered the office and ransacked it. The district administration responded: "The protesters have crossed the red line, and now FIR would be registered against them on terror charges." A spokesperson for the Balochistan government criticized the protests that "provoking the people for revolt against the state in the name of the sit-in is no longer accepted."

India: Violence in Manipur
On 7 June, The Hindu reported that 200 people from the Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities in Manipur were evacuated after the violence broke out in the Jiribam district. They were moved to a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after discovering the body of a Meitei man who had gone missing for the past few weeks. Following the incident, the Jiribam District Magistrate imposed Section 144. On 6 June,  Kuki-Zo villages in the Jiribam district were attacked, a church was burnt down and a few homes were vandalised. The Hindu quoted the Security personnel: “After the violent incidents took place, around 80 persons were rescued, of whom about 60-odd were taken to an Assam Rifles camp. On Friday, in coordination with civilians, security forces moved about 137 civilians to an IDP camp in Jiribam. No violent incident has been reported since.” 

Bangladesh: Two Rohingya refugees killed in Cox Bazar
On 1 June, gunmen killed a teacher and a student in the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox Bazar for refusing to return to Myanmar. According to the UN, Rohingya militants working with the Myanmar junta are recruiting refugees in the camps. Security forces are investigating whether it was a forced recruitment. The Hindu quoted a report by the UN refugee agency that at least 1,870 refugees including children and young population, were recruited into the armed groups between March and May.

Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa
Iran: Military advisor killed in Israeli airstrikes in Syria
On 3 May, several people were killed in the city of Aleppo in Syria following Israeli airstrikes. The Associated Press quoted Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency that Iranian military advisor Saeed Abyar was killed in the Israeli attack. Iran has dispatched several military advisors to Syria since 2011 to support Syria's President Bashar Assad in the Civil War. Israel has not acknowledged the attack. Syria's state-run SANA news agency did not confirm the number of casualties; however, it revealed that the strikes resulted in "a number of martyrs and some material losses."

Iran: Acting foreign minister warns Israel against starting a war with Lebanon
On 3 June, the Associated Press reported on Iran's acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani's first official foreign visit to Lebanon after assuming office. During his visit, he rejected the Gaza cease-fire deal that US President Joe Biden had proposed. He warned Israel against starting an "all-out war" in Lebanon. Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel have attacked each other several times since the 7 October attack. 

Israel: Airstrikes in refugee camps
On 5 June, Israeli air attacks and shelling killed 15 people in Rafah. On 4 June, the Israeli military shot and killed two Palestinians near Tulkarem region of the West Bank. On 3 June, according to Al Jazeera, an Israeli airstrike killed four people in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Another six women and children were killed in the nearby Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. Similarly, 12 people, including three children, were killed in overnight attacks on residential areas of Khan Younis. Separately, on 2 June, the Israeli forces targeted Palestinians in the north of Ramallah in the West Bank. However, no casualties were reported.

Lebanon: Netanyahu pledges an intense operation 
On 5 June, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his country is "prepared for a very intense operation" on the Lebanese border, where its troops have been exchanging fires with the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah since October 2023. Hezbollah stated that it launched several attacks against the Israeli forces, including a missile attack on Israel's Iron Dome platforms in the Ramot Naftali barracks. Separately, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that Israel's use of "white phosphorus" in southern Lebanon has caused detrimental effects on civilians. The group asserted that "white phosphorous munitions" hit 17 municipalities across southern Lebanon. On 4 June, Hezbollah stated that it is "not seeking to widen its conflict with Israel but is ready to fight any war imposed on it."

Lebanon: Attack on the US embassy
On 5 June, according to the Lebanese army, a gunman struck the US embassy in Lebanon. The army reported that the gunman was seized and taken to hospital for treatment. Meanwhile, the US embassy said a small arms fire was recorded on the premises. The US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller asserted that a local guard was "seriously injured."

Yemen: Houthi rebel conducts military operation
On 5 June, the Iran-backed Houthi group's spokesperson, Yahya Saree, asserted that the group had carried out military operations targeting three vessels in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. The two vessels, Roza and Vantagge Dream were targeted in the Red Sea, and the US vessel Maerk Seletar was targeted in the Arabian Sea with missiles and drones.

South Sudan: UNSC votes to extend arms embargo
On 31 May, Africanews reported that the UN Security Council voted on 30 May to extend an arms embargo and other sanctions on South Sudan. Alternate Representative of the US for Special Political Affairs in the UN, Robert Wood, said that the embargo "remains necessary to stem the unfettered flow of weapons into a region awash with guns." Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative (Political Affairs) to the UN, Anna Evstigneeva, accused the US of focusing on sanctions "which they present as a sort of panacea for all of the country's problems." South Sudan's Ambassador to the UN, Cecilia Adeng, said that sanctions "impede our progress" and that removing the embargo would "enable us to build robust security institutions."

Ethiopia: US-based institute reports Ethiopia committed genocide in Tigray war
On 4 June, Al Jazeera reported that the New Lines Institute found evidence that Ethiopia's military committed "acts constituting the crime of genocide." The authors claim that Ethiopia violated the Genocide Convention because it engaged in mass killings and starvation tactics. It adds that the Ethiopian forces "possessed the intent to destroy Tigrayans as an ethnic group." They called for Ethiopia to be tried before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

South Africa: ANC's electoral dilemma
On 3 June, BBC's opinion discussed the African National Congress's (ANC's) critical dilemma following the elections. The ANC secured 40 per cent of the vote. It requires a coalition partner to secure a parliamentary majority. The partner has to support the ANC's choice of President. Its first option for a coalition partner is the Democratic Alliance (DA). However, the public perceives the DA as pro-White. The DA opposes the ANC's welfare state policies and "black empowerment" efforts. For the ANC, these policies are non-negotiable. The ANC's second option is to ally with Jacob Zuma's MK party and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). However, there is personal animosity between Zuma and the ANC's leader Cyril Ramaphosa. Meanwhile, the EFF considers the seizure and redistribution of white-owned land without compensation as its "cardinal principle." The ANC opposes this policy.

Nigeria: 11 killed by separatists
On 31 May, Al Jazeera quoted Nigeria's military that separatists killed around 11 people in an assault. The attack occurred in Abia state. Six civilians and five soldiers lost their lives. Defence spokesperson Major-General Edward Buba said: "The military will be fierce in its response. We will bring overwhelming military pressure on the group to ensure their total defeat." The army blamed the attack on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement. However, the IPOB denied responsibility and blamed politically motivated criminals. 

Morocco: US military defends Africa strategy amidst coups and Russian involvement
On 31 May, Africanews reported that General Michael Langley, Commander of the US Africa Command, stated that Russian disinformation was responsible for anti-US and anti-French sentiment in Africa. He added that the US intends to "redouble its efforts and re-engage with these countries," emphasizing good governance and institution-building. He questioned military regimes' ability to fight terrorism and ensure stability. However, he added: "What the United States wants is what countries are asking for. We don't prescribe anything." 

Europe and the Americas
Russia: Assault teams capture seven Ukrainian army commandos
On 31 May, TASS reported that assault teams of Russia's Battlegroup North captured seven army commandos from Ukraine near Volchansk, Kharkiv. According to the report, Russian troops captured "Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Department, four fighters of the Sonechko battalion, and also seven border guards." On the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defence intercepted the Ukrainian army's attempt to regroup its forces in Kharkiv. Russia's Ministry of Defence stated: "An army aviation strike group of the Aerospace Forces consisting of an attack helicopter, a combat helicopter and a multirole helicopter successfully disrupted the rotation of Ukrainian troops within the area of operation of the Battlegroup North." On 2 June, the ministry said that Russian forces captured Umanskoye, a village in Donbas. According to a report in RT, Russian troops captured the village in May and deployed its motorized brigade. An advisor to the head of the republic, Igor Kimakovsky, stated that the Ukrainian military used the area to target the Russian-captured zone in Donetsk. He added that Russia's hold would grant control to the highway, which leads to Pokrovsk in the west of Donbas. This move is considered significant as Ukraine's supply routes and troop lines would be disrupted.

US and Germany: Extends military support to Ukraine
On 31 May, Deutsche Welle reported that US President Joe Biden approved Ukraine to use US-made weapons to counter Russia. The move came after Ukraine requested to use US-supplied weapons to strike inside Russian territory. It includes weapon usage to counter Russian forces prepared to attack Kharkiv. However, the prohibition on the usage of long-range strikes will remain. Russia's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, responded: "It will ultimately be very damaging to the interests of those countries that have chosen the path of escalating tensions." Separately, on 31 May, Deutsche Welle reported on German Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius announcing a new arms package worth EUR 500 million to Ukraine. One of the key demands from Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was more ammunition to support the air defence systems. The approved package includes ammunition for the IRIS-T-SLM medium-range air defence system and short-range SLS missiles. Pistorius stated: "We will continue to support you in this defensive campaign."

Mexico: Female mayor shot hours after first woman wins presidential election
On 3 June, the Mayor of the Mexican town of Cotija, Yolanda Sánchez, was shot hours after the country celebrated the victory of Claudia Sheinbaum as the country's first woman president. Sánchez was the town's first female mayor, in office since September 2021. As per local media, she was ambushed by gunmen in the centre of the town and was shot 19 times. Her bodyguard was also killed. While arrests are yet to be made, it is believed that the gunmen were part of an organized crime group. Since taking office in 2021, Sánchez repeatedly received death threats. In 2023, she was held fugitive for three days by armed men who made "demands" and inflicted "psychological terror." They demanded her hand over the town's security to police officers who were bribed by organized crime groups. However, she refused and ordered the military to reinforce the town.

Haiti: Interim prime minister says council members have put "aside their differences"
On 3 June, Haiti's new interim Prime Minister, Garry Conille, said that the new administration members were working for the betterment of the country and had put their differences aside. During a swearing-in event at the capital, Port-au-Prince, he said that Haiti is currently "going through an interesting moment," in which "political groups" are consciously "putting aside their differences for the interest of the nation." He added: "The first instruction the transition council members gave was that we have no time to lose." Previously, political divides had stopped the council from progressing despite members' "encouraging" disposition. Conille acknowledged that the members have "no illusions about the difficulties ahead, no illusions that things will be easy." The council's next task is choosing a new cabinet and enabling the deployment of a delayed Kenyan multinational police force.

Chile: President expresses support for the case against Israel in ICJ
On 1 June, Chile's President Gabriel Boric spoke to lawmakers that he was appalled by the humanitarian devastation in Gaza and expressed support for the genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He asserted that the "indiscriminate and disproportional" use of force by the Israeli army alongside other acts "demand a firm and permanent response of the international community." In 2023, South Africa filed a case against Israel at the ICJ for violating the Genocide Convention, a claim that Israel strongly rejected. Chile houses the largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East, with around 500,000 individuals. 

Canada: Report claims Canadian officials wittingly or semi-wittingly aided foreign meddling
On 3 June, Canada's National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) released a report alleging that several Canadian members of parliament are "witting or semi-witting" participants in foreign meddling. It cited "particularly concerning examples of behaviour by a few parliamentarians," such as "knowingly or through wilful blindness" accepting funds or benefits from foreign governments. These officials have allegedly worked to "improperly influence parliamentary colleagues or parliamentary business" based on orders from foreign actors. The report claimed that China and India are the "most active perpetrators." 2017 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formed the 11-person NSICOP to examine foreign interference efforts. It included "two specific instances where PRC (People's Republic of China) officials allegedly interfered in the leadership races of the Conservative Party of Canada." Additionally, it claimed that "Indian officials developed and built a network of contacts through whom India conducts interference activities." The NSICOP warned that such activities "continue to pose a significant threat to national security and the overall integrity of Canada's democracy."

The US: Mass shooting in Ohio kills one, injures 24
On 2 June, one person was killed, and at least 24 were injured in a mass shooting in the city of Akron, Ohio. Akron Mayor Shammas Malik condemned the "tragic incident" in which the "sheer number of victims is shocking and disconcerting." He emphasized that anyone involved in the shooting "will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law." He added that officials are offering a USD 22,500 reward for information leading to an arrest. As per local media, gunfire occurred at a birthday party attended by 200 people. 


About the authors
Akriti Sharma and Rohini Reenum are PhD Scholars at NIAS. Padmashree Anandhan and Anu Maria Joseph are Research Associates at NIAS. Femy Francis, Dhriti Mukherjee, Shamini Velayutham, Akhil Ajith and Vetriselvi Baskaran are Research Assistants at NIAS. Shilpa Joseph, Ayan Datta, Ken B, Neha, and Mugdha are Research Interns at NIAS.

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