The World This Week

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The World This Week
Russia’s CTBT de-ratification and the G7 meeting in Tokyo

  GP Team

The World This Week #238, Vol. 5, No.42
13 November 2023

Russia: De-ratifing the CTBT
Padmashree Anandhan

What happened?
On 02 November, Putin signed a law declaring Russia’s withdrawal from ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The US Department of State released a statement expressing concern over Russia’s withdrawal from its ratification of CTBT. In a statement: “Russian officials say Russia’s planned move to withdraw its ratification does not mean that it will resume testing…The United States remains committed to achieving the entry into force of the CTBT.”

On 01 November, Russia’s spokesperson to international organisations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov said: “Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law revoking Russia's ratification of the CTBT. This law puts Russia on an equal footing with the United States, which signed but did not ratify the treaty.”

On 18 October, Russia’s State of Duma adopted a bill declaring the withdrawal from the ratification of the CTBT. Chairman of the State of Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, criticized the US for ratifying and showcasing itself as the hegemon of a unipolar world. Therefore, in the interest of Russia’s security, justice and stability the bill was adopted.

What is the background?
First, a brief about Russia and the CTBT. In 1996, Russia ratified the treaty as a way to stop nuclear testing but was not enforced as eight states out of 44 were yet to ratify despite capabilities to create nuclear weapons. According to the treaty, any testing or explosions of nuclear weapons is banned across the world. It supports disarmament and non-proliferation through barring countries from producing advanced weapon systems. 187 states are signatories and 178 have ratified including Britain, France and Russia. The US, Israel and China signed but are yet to ratify whereas, India, Pakistan and North Korea neither signed nor ratified. The treaty was not enforced as 44 countries remained to sign and ratify. 

Second, de-ratification amidst war in Ukraine. Since the war in Ukraine began, the security landscape of Europe has been on the shift. The US, NATO and Eastern Europe are massing its military in terms of weapon systems and personnel. The prolonged nature of war has made Europe, Ukraine, and Russia invest in more air defence and advanced weapon systems. With Finland becoming a member and Sweden on track to join NATO, Russia furthered its security measures by adopting a new security doctrine to boost its maritime security. Withdrawing to ratify from CTBT pushes the threat to the next escalating level triggering other nuclear powers states to re-think their nuclear capacity and usage.

Third, Russia-US differences. Over the past two decades, Russia has consistently emphasized the CTBT as a pivotal element in its strategic discussions with the US. The commitment to this treaty was formalized when Putin signed the ratifying document in June 2000, in conjunction with a Joint Statement on Principles of Strategic Stability with then-US President Bill Clinton. This statement highlighted the condition of US ratification of the CTBT. Despite Russia’s persistent calls for US ratification, the latter has refrained from doing so, citing concerns about the potential impact on its domestic activities. In the strategic dialogues between the two countries in 2021, negotiations centred around limiting the deployment of nuclear weapons beyond specified territories, with a particular focus on the development of both offensive and defensive nuclear capabilities. Adding complexity to the situation, Russia’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty in 2021 and the US's exit from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019 have further strained the arms control landscape. The recent de-ratification of the CTBT by Russia serves as an additional obstacle, alongside existing geopolitical tensions, hindering the continuity of the strategic dialogue between the US and Russia.

What does it mean?
First, immediate effect on de-ratification. In the short term, Ukraine will be at the brunt of the nuclear level threat from Russia. The support from the West will be more crucial in terms of advanced weapons to counter attack. Russia’s nuclear testing might not take place immediately as Russia is still under its modernisation process, but usage of Soviet era nuclear weapons can be expected in the coming years resulting in escalation. 

Second, bonus for other revisionist states and increased fear over arms control. Russia’s move to de-ratify from CTBT gives confidence for North Korea and Iran to join hands in the usage of its tactical nuclear weapons. On de-ratification, Russia can be expected to continue with nuclear modernization data disclosure. Similar threats will trigger major powers to strengthen their readiness, but the US, France, and the UK will have to ensure the following of arms control.


G7 meeting in Tokyo
Nuha Aamina

What happened?
On 07 November, in a G7 meeting held in Tokyo, member states addressed global issues, especially the Israel-Hamas conflict. In a joint statement issued by the member states, they spoke of “the release of hostages,” the need for “humanitarian pauses” and also supported “Israel’s right to defend itself and its people by international law.”

On 08 November, they discussed the Russia-Ukraine war, condemning Russia’s nuclear deployment in Belarus, expressing regret over its withdrawal from the CTBT, and planning economic sanctions.  On account of Russia’s withdrawal from the CTBT, they expressed that: “We deeply regret Russia’s decision to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.” The G7 called for unity in supporting Ukraine, extended partnership to China on global issues, and urged China to refrain from territorial claims in the South and East China Sea. Central Asian countries attended, discussing Iran and the Indo-Pacific.cForeign Minister of Japan, Yoko Kamikawa, said that amidst the rising tensions in the Middle East, “it is important for the G7 to be united in sending a clear message to the international community that our steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine will never waver.” 

What is the background?
First, the Israel-Hamas conflict in the background, and attempts to find a common ground. The G7 faces challenges in unifying their stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict. Japan has pursued cautious diplomacy, engaging with various countries in the region. Despite Japan’s efforts and two visits by Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa to promote de-escalation, consensus within the G7 remains elusive. At the UNSC, on 25 October, divisions were evident when France supported a resolution for a humanitarian truce, the US vetoed it, and Britain abstained. Similarly, on 29 October, at the UNGA, the US opposed a cease-fire resolution, while France supported it, and Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Japan abstained. G7 is struggling to find a collective negotiating position on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Second, a unified stance on the Russia-Ukraine war. The G7 countries have maintained a unified stance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This solidarity was evident during a three-day summit in Hiroshima on 19 May, where the participating countries issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s actions. The joint statement expressed collective opposition to “Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine.” This unified front persisted even on 02 November, as Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to withdraw from the CTBT. In response, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarked: “Russia’s action will only serve to set back confidence in the international arms control regime.”

Third, concern over China’s growing assertions. The G7 countries are growing concerned about China's expanding influence in the South China Sea region. China's territorial claims, particularly based on the controversial nine-dash line encompassing Scarborough Shoal, the Paracels, and the Spratlys, have fuelled disputes with neighbouring nations, disrupting the regional status quo. At the G7 summit in Tokyo, member states engaged in discussions about China’s perceived “economic coercion.” Examples cited include trade sanctions against South Korea for installing a US missile defence system and China’s decision to halt exports to Lithuania due to its support for a Taiwanese de facto embassy. G7 members expressed the view that such coercion undermines not only their foreign and domestic policies but also those of partners globally. A notable instance of this coercion was China’s suspension of seafood imports from Japan in response to the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima plant. This pattern of behaviour has heightened G7 concerns over China’s actions, prompting discussions on how to address and counteract these challenges.

What does it mean?
First, the internal divide. In addressing the Israel-Palestine conflict, G7 countries, including Japan, exhibit divided approaches. While there is a shared understanding on China and Russia, consensus falters on the Middle East due to differing national interests. Japan, dependent on Middle Eastern countries for energy resources and transit routes, maintains a neutral stance. It condemns Hamas, pledges humanitarian aid but expresses concern over Israeli actions. In contrast, the US plans substantial aid to Israel, and Germany approves a sizable defence equipment export to Israel.
 
Second, the shift in focus. The on-going conflicts, particularly the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Gaza conflict, have prompted a shift in focus for the G7 countries. It has diverted attention from China's growing influence. In response to these crises, the G7 has extended invitations to China to collaborate on addressing global issues. This shift in focus indicates a reorientation of G7 priorities amid the evolving geopolitical landscape.


TWTW Regional Roundups
News from around the World 

Anu Maria Joseph, Dhriti Mukherjee, Femy Francis, Nuha Aamina, Padmashree Anandhan, Rishika Yadav, Rohini Reenum and Shamini Velayudham

China This Week
China: Meeting on climate change with the US
On 09 November, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment stated that the meeting between top officials from the US and China on Climate Change went well. The meeting was aimed at furthering the relationship between two of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. The ministry issued that they: “achieved positive results on developing bilateral climate change cooperation and action.” Both countries also agreed to push for limiting global emissions at the coming COP28 Summit later this month.

China: Australian Prime Minister visits Beijing
On 06 November, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with President Xi Jinping aiming to stabilize ties between both countries. Xi Jinping said that both countries should further their strategic partnership and increase mutual trust. Albanese reaffirmed this and said: “A strong relationship will be beneficial into the future.” The bilateral cooperation between the countries was strong until 2017 when Australia accused China of meddling in domestic politics and also banned technologies from the China-based company Huawei for the 5G network. The relationship soured when Australia demanded further investigation into the role of China in the origin of Covid-2019.

Taiwan: First collaboration with the Czech Republic on the reconstruction of Ukraine
On 10 November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued that Taiwan and the Czech Republic signed a MoU aiming to provide for the reconstruction of Ukraine. This MoU stands to be the first collaboration between the two countries as it focuses on increasing the quality of life in the war-torn country of Ukraine. A mobile water management system to filter water and a congregation facility would be built under this MoU. The MoU was signed between Taiwan’s representative Ke Liang-ruey, Czech Republic representative David Steinke and Czech Governmental Envoy for the Reconstruction of Ukraine Tomáš Kopečný.

East Asia and the Pacific This Week
South Korea: Visit by the US Secretary of State
On 09 November, in his first trip to South Korea in nearly three years, Blinken met with President Yoon Suk Yeol and discussed global challenges. The discussions included Russia’s Ukraine invasion and North Korea's ties with Moscow. Concerns arose over North Korea’s military support for Palestine, with a Hamas official acknowledging Kim Jong-un’s capability to strike the US. South Korea, also facing cyber security threats, is a key stop on Blinken’s weeklong diplomatic tour.

South Korea: Former North Korean diplomat advocates against China’s repatriation
On 07 November, former North Korean diplomat and South Korean lawmaker Representative Tae Yong-ho met with five US Congress members in Washington. They addressed concerns about China forcibly repatriating North Korean defectors. Tae urged them to prompt the Biden administration to press China on respecting international law principles, particularly non-refoulement. He proposed the US Congress to adopt a resolution against China’s forced repatriation and sought increased pressure in bilateral talks and at the UN. Congress members expressed willingness to campaign against China’s actions.

South Korea: Lawmakers join Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China
On 10 November, The Korea Herald reported that the National Assembly became the 32nd legislature in the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance of China. It is represented by lawmakers Ji Seong-ho and Oh Yeong-hwan. Ji, a North Korean defector, aims to garner international support against China’s forced repatriation of North Korean defectors. Oh emphasizes his participation to take a definitive stand for human rights. The lawmakers will co-chair the alliance until their tenure ends in April 2024.

Japan: Ties for ASEAN chairmanship with Laos
On 10 November, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aimed to elevate the “strategic partnership” during a meeting with Lao Deputy Prime Minister Saleumxay Kommasith in Tokyo. Both leaders committed to collaborative efforts in addressing regional and global challenges as Laos prepares to assume the ASEAN presidency in 2024. Both countries planned to capitalize on the upcoming Japan-ASEAN summit and the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2025. Kishida also pledged around JPY ten billion to the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia. He emphasized on economic growth in Asia and countering China’s influence in the region.

Japan: Joint naval exercise with the Philippines as an observer
On 11 November, the Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force announced that Japan begins its annual Annualex military exercise, featuring the Philippines as an observer. It signalled a push for closer maritime cooperation. The exercise involved the naval forces of the US, Australia, and Canada, emphasizing multilateral operations. According to Vice Admiral Akira Saito, Japan, the US, and the Philippines are aiming for enhanced security cooperation, not targeting a specific country. Recent clashes between the Philippines and China underscore the region's tensions. Japan's provision of radar systems to the Philippines and negotiations for a military access agreement demonstrates efforts to bolster security ties.

Australia: Signs comprehensive pact with Tuvalu
On 10 November, Australia and Tuvalu entered a significant security and migration pact, addressing military threats, climate change impacts, and migration. In a move aimed at countering China’s influence in the Pacific, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Kausea Natano announced the comprehensive treaty. Australia committed to offer military assistance upon Tuvalu’s request, vetting its security arrangements, and permitting 280 migrants annually to boost remittances. The pact strengthened Australia’s role as Tuvalu’s primary security partner, amid China’s growing Pacific influence. Funds will support land reclamation in Tuvalu, addressing climate-induced challenges in the low-lying island country.

Australia: The US delegation for AUKUS review
On 10 November, The Herald Sun reported that the Biden administration dispatched a high-level delegation to Australia. The delegation is for comprehensive discussions on the AUKUS defence technology partnership’s progress. Led by the acting deputy undersecretary of defence for policy, Mara Karlin, the delegation included representatives from the State Department, National Security Council, and the Energy Department. AUKUS, a response to China's growing influence, involves the sale of US nuclear-powered submarines and collaboration on high-tech weaponry. The review will assess advancements in nuclear submarines and cooperation in artificial intelligence, quantum, cyber, and electronic warfare.

New Zealand: Caretaker government extended amid transition
On 10 November, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon agreed to extend the current caretaker government arrangements. It is until the formation of a new administration. This collaborative resolution addressed a constitutional quirk, ensuring continued cooperation during the transition. Luxon’s National Party, a center-right group, seeks support from ACT New Zealand and New Zealand First parties to form a government following the 14 October election. Ongoing discussions are aimed to solidify alliances for the new leadership.

Southeast Asia This Week
The Philippines: China accused of “dangerous harassment” in South China Sea
On 10 November, the Philippines’ National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea accused the Chinese coastguard of "dangerous harassment" in the South China Sea. It cited the firing of water cannons near Second Thomas Shoal and also claimed it as reckless actions. The move followed recent collisions during a resupply mission to the disputed area. The Philippines claimed Chinese vessels obstructed a routine resupply mission, while China alleged Philippine actions infringe on its territorial sovereignty.

The Philippines: Continuing supply missions despite increase in Chinese vessels
On 11 November, the Philippine coast guard affirmed it will proceed with regular supply missions to troops stationed on a disputed atoll in the South China Sea, anticipating more Chinese vessels in the area. The coast guard vowed to navigate challenges, including smaller Chinese vessels attempting to disrupt missions. Recent condemnation of Chinese coast guard actions prompts support from the US, emphasizing the defence treaty.

The Philippines: Japan, South Korea and India to fund railway project 
On 06 November, Reuters reported that the Philippines garnered interest from other countries after discontinuing China’s investment. Transportation Secretary of the Philippines, Jaime Bautista, has confirmed that Japan, South Korea and India have shown a keen interest in investing in three railway projects. The three projects - the Subic-Clark Railway Project, the Philippine National Railways South Long-Haul Project and the Davao-Digos segment of the Mindanao Railway Project - have a total worth of USD 4.95 billion. The government plans to fund a portion of the project or seek private investment.

South Asia This Week
Afghanistan: Indira Ratwatte as the new UN Deputy Special Representative
On 07 November, the UN Secretary- General Antonio Gueterres announced the appointment of Indrika Ratwatte who belongs to Sri Lanka as his new Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and Resident Coordinator in Afghanistan. A press release concerned with the matter by the UN stated that Ratwatte has over 14 years of experience of working on Afghanistan and regional issues. The Secretary-General also extended his gratitude to Ramiz Alakbarov of Azerbaijan who preceded Ratwatte for his dedicated service.

Pakistan: Imran Khan files an appeal in the Supreme Court against indictment
On 09 November, Dawn reported that the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Imran Khan, filed an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging his indictment in the cipher case. Khan has requested the court to set aside the indictment and has stated he was being politically victimized. It is to be noted that on 23 October a special court established under the Official Secrets Act had indicted Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the Cipher case.

Middle East and Africa This Week
Iran: Ebrahim Raisi attends OIC summit in Riyadh
On 11 November, President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh to attend an emergency meeting of the OIC to discuss the on-going Israel-Gaza conflict. Raisi interacted with reporters before leaving for the summit and stated that this meeting should not be about declaring individual stances on the conflict but should rather lead to concrete efforts and actions in Gaza. His visit is the first by an Iranian president to Saudi Arabia since the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in last March, a rapprochement that was brokered by the Chinese. This makes Raisi’s current trip to Saudi Arabia the first visit by an Iranian president in 11 years.

Iran: Ebrahim Raisi attends 16th Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) summit
On 08 November, Raisi arrived in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, to attend the ECO summit which was to be held on 8-9 November. In an interaction with reporters before his departure, Raisi highlighted the importance of relations with the countries in the region, outlined their significant capacities and stated that strengthening ties with these countries is on foreign policy agenda of Iran. He further stated that though “the economic ties between ECO members will be the main topic of discussion”, the heads of the state will also discuss the Gaza issue. Some of the important areas in which documents were signed are trade, economy, fighting drug trafficking, transportation, culture, art, shared free zones, education and technology.

Saudi Arabia: GCC countries to implement a single travel permit
On 09 November, the implementation of a single Gulf tourist visa received unanimous approval from the interior ministries of the GCC states. The 40th meeting of the ministers was held in Muscat, the capital of Oman, where they approved the introduction of an electronic system that links traffic infractions. According to GCC secretary-general Jasem Albudaiwi, the unified tourist visa program is to be implemented within “a specific timetable.” It is another indication of the Gulf States’ growing collaboration. The ministers also oversaw security awareness programs and gave instructions for developing a council drug-fighting plan. Along with reviewing security awareness efforts, the ministers oversaw the development of a council strategy to combat drugs. Albudaiwi pointed out that the GCC countries had gained respect for their advancements in security on a regional and global scale.

Israel: Military to assist in evacuating infants amidst Gaza hospital crisis
On 12 November, Reuters reported that the Israeli military has pledged assistance in evacuating infants stranded at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital. Operations at Al Shifa came to a halt resulting in one newborn’s death in an incubator. Chief Israeli military spokesperson Admiral Daniel Hagari stated that the military will facilitate the safe transfer of children from the pediatric department on 19 November. Tragically, three infants have already lost their lives in the neonatal unit of Al-Shifa Hospital due to the facility going “out of service” amid continuous Israeli fire. The Palestinian health ministry warned that 39 babies at Al-Shifa are at risk of death due to electricity cuts, oxygen shortages, and a lack of medicine.

Israel: Prime Minister responds to Emmanuel Macron on Gaza attacks
On 12 November, Times of Israel reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countered French President Emmanuel Macron’s call to cease Gaza attacks, asserting Hamas responsibility. Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian harm, accusing Hamas-ISIS of hindering evacuations and using civilians as shields. He said: “While Israel is doing everything to refrain from harming civilians and calling on them to leave areas of fighting, Hamas-ISIS is doing everything to prevent them from leaving for safe areas and is using them as human shields.”

Africa: Petr Fiala visits Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana and Ivory Coast
On 05 November, Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Petr Fiala began his eight-day visit to Africa. His visit began with the inauguration of the Czech-Ethiopian Business Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosting 14 Czech and 40 Ethiopian entrepreneurs. In Ethiopia, he emphasised the potential for cooperation in the health and defence sectors. Besides Ethiopia, he visited Kenya, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Fiala’s visit aims to encourage the development of commercial and trade ties between the Czech Republic and African countries. He stated: “The visit to Africa will follow the same format as my visit to Asia, which brought a number of concrete [positive] results for Czech companies. We must change our [out-dated] approach to [cooperation with states in] Africa. Africa has great potential for our companies.”

Uzbekistan: Talks about the Trans-Afghan railway with Pakistan
On 09 November, at a meeting with the Pakistani delegation, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev addressed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in a number of areas. Amidst the summit proceedings of the Economic Cooperation Organization, Mirziyoyev held a meeting with the delegation of Pakistan. The delegation was headed by Pakistani Prime Minister Anwaar ul-Haq Kakar. The discussion centred on current concerns related to expanding bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of trade and economics, investment, and transportation and communications. During the conference, it was stressed how important it is to implement an industrial cooperation program, remove trade obstacles, and create an environment that is conducive to the growth of business relationships. A special focus was placed on the Trans-Afghan Railway.

Europe This Week
France: Conference in Paris gathers support from 50 countries for Gaza aid
On 09 November, in a humanitarian conference held in Paris, leaders from 50 countries and international organizations met to discuss giving humanitarian aid for Gaza. France’s President Emmanuel Macron called for a swift humanitarian pause and emphasized the need to protect civilians. In the conference, the given proposals include a humanitarian maritime corridor and floating field hospitals. The conference involved aid in terms of covering goods, financial support, and humanitarian access. Although Israel did not attend, major European countries, and the US took part in the conference. 

Europe: EU Cyber Resilience Act advances despite reporting challenges
On 08 November, the EU’s Cyber Resilience Act, aiming to establish security standards for connected devices, progressed despite disagreements on reporting obligations. In trilogue negotiations, the EU Commission and Parliament favoured ENISA handling incident reports, while EU governments preferred their national CSIRTs. ENISA, the EU cybersecurity agency, while CSIRTs is the national computer security incident response team. A possible compromise may involve CSIRTs with an enhanced ENISA role. Meanwhile, the Act defined “actively exploited vulnerability” as successfully exploited ones, omitting unsuccessful attempts. The Act also differentiated critical product categories and secured a five-year support period for updates. The next trilogue on 30 November is expected to finalize the political agreement.

Europe: EU reaches deal on key biodiversity law to restore habitats by 2030
On 09 November, the European Parliament and EU member states agreed on a biodiversity bill to restore 20 per cent of the EU’s land and seas by 2030. Environmental groups praised the deal but noted watered-down elements. The law is aimed to rejuvenate ecosystems by boosting forested areas, marine habitats, and river connectivity. Spain’s Third Deputy Prime Minister, Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, called it the “first of its kind” for rebuilding biodiversity and combating climate change. The law is aligned with COP15 biodiversity targets, requiring EU states to restore 30 per cent of degraded habitats by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040, and 90 per cent by 2050. Environmentalists see it as a crucial but insufficient step.

The Americas This Week
Nicaragua: OAS promises to “monitor” human rights situation after withdrawal
On 08 November, the Organisation of American States (OAS) emphasised that it would continue to monitor Nicaragua’s democracy and human rights record, after President Daniel Ortega withdrew from the organisation. Nicaragua, which has been a part of the OAS since 1950, has seen the Ortega-led government suppressing voices and institutions that have condemned and opposed the government. The OAS said that it would still “continue paying special attention to the situation in Nicaragua,” as the council’s President, Ronald Sanders, said that they wanted the Nicaraguans to know “they are not alone.” This move has also been criticised by Nicaragua’s representative at the OAS, Arturo McFields, who described Ortega’s decision as “heavy blow to the fight for democracy and defence of human rights.” Brazil and Uruguay have also criticised the withdrawal.

El Salvador: Multiple voices urge Supreme Court to annul Bukele’s 2024 candidacy
On 07 November, two lawyers and a political party joined multiple voices in the country demanding electoral authorities to reverse their acceptance of current President Nayib Bukele’s bid for re-election. Their argument is based on the premise that it is “unconstitutional,” as an El Salvadorian lawyer explained that “at least seven provisions prohibit the immediate re-election of a President.” However, a Supreme Electoral Tribunal vote last week decided 4-0 (with one abstention) that Bukele could contest for the 2024 elections. Critics and international watchdog groups have said that his successful crackdown on gang violence has come at the cost of human rights and democratic values. The Supreme Court is yet to respond to these calls, though it has so far shown no signs of reversing its decision.

Chile: Boric calls for national plebiscite to deliberate on new constitutional draft
On 07 November, President Gabriel Boric, called for a national plebiscite in December 2023 for citizens to decide whether they wanted a new constitution draft to replace the current dictatorship-era constitution. Boric said that the “The definitive time for citizens has begun, and now it is their voice and their decision that truly matter.” This draft, written by conservative councillors, follows a one previously submitted in September 2023 by a left-leaning convention, which was rejected by most Chileans. The introduction of an article in the draft says “the law protects the life of the unborn,” meaning abortion would be fully illegal. It also grants house arrest to criminals who are not considered dangerous, and scraps tax on primary residences, which is a vital source of tax revenue. The government has said that it would remain neutral; with Boric adding that if the citizens decide that this proposal that “unites” the country, the government would focus on “continuing to work and govern for the well-being of the people.” However, polls suggest that it is unlikely to pass, meaning the Pinochet-era constitution would continue remaining in order.

The US: House censures Rashida Tlaib for her comments on Gaza conflict
On 07 November, a Grand Old Party (GOP)-led resolution to censure the only Palestinian-American member of the US Congress, Rashida Tlaib, was passed by 234-188 votes in the House. The resolution condemned Tlaib for “calling for the destruction of the state of Israel,” and posting a video accusing President Joe Biden of supporting genocide in the Gaza Strip. Further, it called for a ceasefire while defending popular pro-Palestine slogans which Jewish groups claim calls for Israel’s destruction. In response, Tlaib defended herself by saying “no government is beyond criticism,” and that her stance did not mean she was anti-Semitic, a precedent that has been “used to silence diverse” pro-Palestine voices. She also advocated for the people of Palestine, saying that they “are not disposable,” adding that her work is “centered in justice and dignity for all people no matter faith or ethnicity.”

The US: Ohio successfully adds abortion rights to state constitution
On 07 November, roughly 57 per cent of voters in Ohio voted to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution of an otherwise conservative state. The fight to add abortion rights in the constitution was especially difficult for Ohio, and it has made it the first Republican-led state to consider adding the right. It established “an individual right to one’s own reproductive medical treatment,” which came into force on 07 December. It also prohibited state action of “directly or indirectly burdening, penalising or prohibiting abortion” before viability, also allowing it to make exceptions in cases where the mother needs to be protected. The speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Jason Stephens, asserted that they would continue to explore “multiple paths” that would “protect innocent life.” Many people celebrated this decision, saying that it has achieved “reproductive rights and freedoms in Ohio.” However, there was significant opposition, who emphasised that despite the outcome, they are “ready” to “advocate for women and the unborn.” Abortion rights is a topic that is shaping up to be an integral part of the path to elections, as Biden and other Democrats hope that this issue will gain momentum in election debates.

The US: Turkey expresses frustration with US’ support to Israel
On 06 November, Blinken met Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Ankara, for talks to try and reduce regional tensions over the Israel-Hamas war. This is part of his larger Middle East tour, following his visits to Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan. He held strained meetings, during the visits, with Arab leaders who have condemned the US for backing Israeli-aggression. Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, explained that meetings have been strained, because “Blinken’s main mission was to buy more time [for Israel].” After the meeting, Blinken said that “efforts” to “expand humanitarian assistance” and “prevent the conflict expanding to other parts of the region were discussed.” He pointed out that they were “working very aggressively” to achieve this, to secure a “durable, sustainable, lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians.” However, as per Al Jazeera reporter Resul Serdar, there were very few points of mutual agreement, as the US tried to convince Turkey to “put more pressure on Hamas” to release the captives, to which Turkey firmly said that “prisoner release should be mutual.” Further, the Turks said that Blinken’s call for a “humanitarian pause” is “not enough,” and an “unconditional ceasefire” is the only solution. Turkey, a strategic US ally, also saw mass public discontent ahead of Blinken’s visit, as hundreds rallied outside an airbase that hosts US troops in Turkey.

The US: Blinken underscores US’ lack of support of Israeli reoccupation of Gaza post the ongoing conflict
On 08 November, Blinken re-emphasised US’ stance on Gaza at a G7 meeting in Japan, where he pointed out “key elements” in creating “durable peace and security” in the Gaza Strip. Blinked said that there should be “no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza,” both now and after the war, adding that there should also not be a “reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends.” These statements are also in accordance with Biden’s stance, according to which he does not support Israel’s reoccupation of Gaza. Blinken pointed out those Israeli leaders “have no intent to reoccupy Gaza,” as this would invite “repetition of October 7.” In response, Hamas spokesperson Abdul-Latif al-Qanou said “no force will be able to change reality” of the governance of Gaza, which he described as a “Palestinian affair.” He also highlighted that the “liberation movement” has “the right to resist the occupation in accordance with all laws and customs.”

The US: Calls arise for banning TikTok arise due to “anti-Israel” narratives
On 10 November, Al Jazeera reported that in the past week, high-ranking politicians have raised calls for a ban on TikTok. They are citing its alleged bias towards anti-Israel and anti-Jewish content. They claim that the app pushes its younger users to take on a pro-Palestine stance. The claim is followed by a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll in which 51 per cent of Americans aged 18-24 justified Hamas’ 07 October attack. Senator Josh Hawley said that this disparity is related to “anti-Israel content on TikTok, where most young internet users get their information about the world.” Similar concerns were voiced by Senator Marco Rubio, who described TikTok as a “brainwashing” app that had become one among the “cesspools of [pro-Hamas] misinformation and indoctrination.” TikTok has been under the White House spotlight multiple times, with bills directed at banning and restricting the app failing over free speech concerns. American venture capitalist Jeff Morris Jr brought into light the app’s algorithm for its users’ feed, which became “aggressively anti-Israel” after engaging with just one similar post. Though there has been no proper response by TikTok, it has said that it “stands against terrorism,” and in accordance with this has removed more than 925,000 videos that violated “policies around violence, hate speech, misinformation, and terrorism.”


About the Authors
Anu Maria, Padmashree Anandhan, Femy Francis and Rishika Yadav, Dhriti Mukherjeee and Shamini Velayutham are Research Associates at NIAS. Nuha Aamina is a undergraduate scholar from St. Joseph's College, Bangalore. Rohini Reenum is a PhD scholar at NIAS. 

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Hoimi Mukherjee | Hoimi Mukherjee is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science in Bankura Zilla Saradamani Mahila Mahavidyapith.

Chile in 2023: Crises of Constitutionality
December 2023 | CWA # 1187

Aprajita Kashyap | Aprajita Kashyap is a faculty of Latin American Studies, School of International Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi.

Haiti in 2023: The Humanitarian Crisis
December 2023 | CWA # 1185

Binod Khanal | Binod Khanal is a Doctoral candidate at the Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi.

The Baltic: Energy, Russia, NATO and China
December 2023 | CWA # 1183

Padmashree Anandhan | Padmashree Anandhan is a Research Associate at the School of Conflict and Security Studies, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangaluru.

Germany in 2023: Defence, Economy and Energy Triangle
December 2023 | CWA # 1178

​​​​​​​Ashok Alex Luke | Ashok Alex Luke is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at CMS College, Kottayam.

China and South Asia in 2023: Advantage Beijing?
December 2023 | CWA # 1177

Annem Naga Bindhu Madhuri | Annem Naga Bindhu Madhuri is a postgraduate student at the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at the University of Madras, Chennai.

China and East Asia
October 2023 | CWA # 1091

Annem Naga Bindhu Madhuri

Issues for Europe
July 2023 | CWA # 1012

Bibhu Prasad Routray

Myanmar continues to burn
December 2022 | CWA # 879

Padmashree Anandhan

The Ukraine War
November 2022 | CWA # 838

Rishma Banerjee

Tracing Europe's droughts
March 2022 | CWA # 705

NIAS Africa Team

In Focus: Libya
December 2021 | CWA # 630

GP Team

Europe in 2021
October 2021 | CWA # 588

Abigail Miriam Fernandez

TLP is back again
October 2021 | CWA # 571

IPRI Team