Photo Source: PhilNoble/Reuters
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS)
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
For any further information or to subscribe to GP alerts send an email to email@example.com
The World This Week
The Coal compromise in COP 26, Xi’s power consolidation in China, and a Migrant Crisis in Europe
The World This Week #145, Vol. 3, No. 46
The World This Week #145, Vol. 3, No. 46
Rashmi BR, Avishka Ashok, and Joeana Cera Matthews
The Glasgow Compromise on Coal: Phasing down, instead of phasing out
On 13 November, COP-26 culminated with the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Around 197 countries signed the agreement, which provides for 'phase-down' of coal, rather than a 'phase-out.' The text of the pact now reads- "…including accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition." The last-minute change in the language hinted at a compromised deal, falling short of expectations.
The agreement also calls the big polluting countries to come back and submit more substantial pledges for reducing emissions by the end of 2022 and has addressed the long-standing issue of carbon trading that prevented the complete implementation of the Paris Agreement. However, there was no mention of setting up a 'loss and damage facility,' a formal body that would be at the helm of paying reparations for the poorest and climate-vulnerable countries. The wealthier nations led by the US and EU expressed their resistance, fearing an additional expenditure. Instead, the deal promises further negotiations on this issue and urged the richer nations to pay USD 100 billion that was promised a decade ago.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his disappointment at the outcome of the conference and said that "Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking at the door of climate catastrophe. The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, the conditions and contradictions and the state of political will in the world today. They take important steps. But unfortunately, the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions."
Talking about the pact and India and China's role in the change of language on coal, the US climate envoy John Kerry said that "if we had not done that, we would not have had an agreement." However, Switzerland, Mexico, and small island countries voiced strong opinions against the outcomes of the summit. The Swiss representative remarked: "…we do not need a phase down coal but to phase out coal. This will not bring us closer to 1.5C but make it more difficult to reach it." COP-26 President Alok Sharma "apologized for the way this process has unfolded." Climate activist Greta Thunberg dismissed the summit and the pact saying "The #COP26 is over. Here's a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah. But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever."
What is the background?
First, the expectations from Glasgow summit. Prior to the summit, the UN had stated the three-point criteria for assessing the outcome of the talks- pledges to cut the carbon emissions in half by 2030, USD 100 billion as financial aid to the poorer nations fighting climate change, and ensure the use of the fund for adaptation and coping with the worst effects of climate change. These key points, though discussed, did not see the light.
Second, the achievements in Glasgow. The COP-26 witnessed important deals and agreements being signed, including Global Methane Pledge, Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement, and Declaration on Forests and Land Use. The GFANZ, a grouping of private players committed to the provisions of the Paris Agreement. The conference was also marked by protests from the youth and citizen groups against the meek commitments to fight climate change.
Third, the dilution in Glasgow. In the final leg of the COP-26, while discussing the Pact, India and China proposed a significantly weaker wording in the clause talking about coal. The last-minute blitzkrieg by India and countries with similar thoughts forced a compromised agreement, much to the dismay of others.
Fourth, the resistance in Glasgow. Prime emitters like India, China, US and Australia, the major producer of coal was not amongst the 45 countries who signed the statement on clean energy. China, Japan and India were also not with the 20 countries which committed to halt funding for fossil fuel projects abroad. These countries did once again show strong resistance to climate action.
What does it mean?
First, the continuing narrative of CBDR. Much to the disappointment of other countries, India intervened and watered down the language in the draft concerning phasing out coal. While doing so, the main argument put across, was the historical errors by the developed world and the need for development in the developing world. Small island countries like Maldives and Tuvalu, who are the least contributors and the most affected due to climate change, demanded actions and funds for adaptation from the richer countries. The long-standing argument of common but differentiated responsibilities continues to dominate climate dialogues, often acting as an obstacle to reaching satisfactory agreements.
Second, a bold step towards coal. Glasgow Climate Pact is the first agreement that explicitly states the need to reduce coal to contain greenhouse gas emissions. The message from COP-26 was clear- the coal powered era will gradually come to an end. Glasgow talk is a positive step towards this target.
China: President Xi secures his position in party history with the "historical resolution"
On 8 November, the 19th Communist Party of China Central Committee initiated the four-day long plenary session in Beijing. On 11 November, the session released a communique during which President Xi Jinping made an important address that affixed his name in the country's history for the years to come.
The congregation focused on revisiting the country's history and its achievements and passing the new resolution on the basis of its findings. President Xi who is also the General Secretary of the CCP presented the work report to the 348 members of the 19th Central Committee. The communique put emphasis on five areas to reach the goal of national rejuvenation: "upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era; strengthening our consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity and keep in alignment with the central Party leadership; enhancing socialism with Chinese characteristics; resolutely upholding Xi leadership to ensure that all Party members act in unison; advancing the Party's and strengthen its capacity to respond to risks and challenges; uniting and leading the citizen Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation."
The third resolution is primarily focused on continuing with the current status of the country and on the path to development that the country has adopted in the last century.
What is the background?
First, the grand resolution. The communique passed a "historical resolution" on the last day of the session. In the 100-year history of the CCP, only two other such resolutions have been passed. The first resolution was passed by Mao Zedong which cemented his authority over the party and as the country's leader in 1945 and the second by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 which established China's economic reforms and reintroduced China on the world map. Although the latest resolution did not introduce new dimensions in the CCP's politics or the country's economic sectors, it reinforced the major development and its position as a global financial and political powerhouse.
Second, the rise of Xi Jinping. With the passing of the rare resolution, Xi Jinping has entered himself in the league of CCP's most powerful and influential elites. Historically, the resolutions were passed to either remove other competition or to establish a leader's ideology in the party. However, President Xi does not face either of the challenges since he has the privilege of being the President endlessly and possesses the confidence of the party entirely. Thus the latest resolution reiterates his role as the leader of the "new, modernized and developed" China.
Third, Xi's philosophy taking roots. In the previous months, the CCP released a series of reports that showcased China's progress with respect to reducing emissions, achieving common prosperity, ameliorating the people's standard of living, protecting human rights in Xinjiang, amongst many others. The CCP has indirectly adopted Xi's ideology and acknowledged his efforts and policies since 2012 in building China to its current stature. The party and the Chinese ideologue now reflect Xi's ideology.
What does this mean?
The third resolution does not bring about massive changes within the country. However, it re-emphasizes the role of Xi Jinping in Chinese politics and provides him with a legitimate position of being a super leader in the country's history. From this point on, Xi's hold on power in China has tightened much more than it already was, and this will make the upcoming Presidential elections easier. With an assured and rare third term as the President, Xi has established himself and his ideology with practically no resistance.
Belarus: The migrant crisis and the state of political affairs
On 9 November, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the migrant crisis at the border. He said: "This is the latest attack of Lukashenko, who is an executor, but has an enabler, and this enabler is in Moscow, this enabler is President Putin."
On 11 November, in an emergency meeting with top ministers, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko extended a threat, saying: "We heat Europe, and they are still threatening us that they'll shut the borders. And what if we cut off (the transit of) natural gas to them? So I would recommend that the leadership of Poland, Lithuanian and other brainless people to think before they speak." On 13 November, Russian President Vladimir Putin disapproved of the threat. He said: "This would be a violation of our transit contract and I hope it will not come to that."
What is the background?
First, Poland's complaints and threats. Poland, taking a strong stand, declared a state of emergency along its borders with Belarus. This enables them to push back migrants, ignore asylum requests, as well as deny access to NGOs and journalists. They believe militarizing the borders will force Belarus to stop the migrant inflow. The government intends to single-handedly manage the crisis and has repeatedly refused the EU's assistance. Although eclipsed by the ongoing crisis, the bloc's internal differences with Poland on the rule of law can be attributed to this refusal.
Second, the EU's options and strategies. The EU regards the border standoff as a 'hybrid attack'. Refuting assumptions of Belarus not being affected by sanctions, the European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano claimed Lukashenko had retorted to "(behaving) like a gangster regime," as sanctions were "biting". Economic sanctions remain the primary retaliatory measure under consideration. An 'extended sanctions regime', building on the earlier four rounds, is predicted to affect 30 individuals and entities along with Belarus' national carrier Belavia. Besides, third-country airlines and those beyond the regime may also be targeted.
Third, Belarus' threat and counterthreat. Lukashenko, as a retaliatory measure to the sanctions, had warned of "drowning" the bloc in "migrants and drugs". The latest threat of cutting gas transit to the EU, though empty-sounding, has fallen right into the laps of all the Nord Stream 2 critics. Belarus continues washing its hands off the blame and accuses the EU and Poland of being the real culprits since they refuse to aid the asylum-seekers. The crisis also created a diversion by overshadowing Belarus' growing human rights violations.
Fourth, the Russia factor. Alleging Russian involvement, Morawiecki accused the Kremlin of "rebuilding the Russian empire" by using "a new kind of war" whose "ammunition is civilians". Against this backdrop, German Chancellor Angela Merkel conversed with Russian President Vladimir Putin via telephone, asking him to resolve the ongoing conflict. However, Putin strategically refused this request and suggested such negotiations to be done directly with Minsk. If the EU heeds to this, it would imply legitimizing Lukashenko's illegitimate regime. Notwithstanding the allegations, Russia does not seem to have manoeuvred the crisis, although it has definitely capitalized on it.
Fifth, the humanitarian crisis. The political crises apart, the humanitarian one is of the utmost consequence. With winter approaching, migrants are struggling; nine deaths have been reported so far. Betraying their trust by giving them false hope of a 'promised land' and leaving them to die, all to prove a point, is simply cruel. To be used and abused for political gain will scar the already uncertain migrant lives.
What does this mean?
First, a shrewd Belarus. Cashing in on the bloc's evidently vulnerable migrant policy, Belarus has created absolute chaos. Lukashenko has managed to play it nasty and sly at the cost of innocent migrant lives.
Second, the EU at an impasse. The EU is at a crossroads where both action and inaction seem troublesome. Considering further sanctions when the genesis of the present crisis was rooted in them, might prove detrimental for the EU, especially when it still lacks an efficient migrant policy. This may be a war that cannot be won, yet the EU cannot afford to lose.
Also, in the news ..
By Sukanya Bali & Avishka Ashok
East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: Strengthen relations with Mongolia
On 13 November, the Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry, Liu Jinsong, met the Mongolian Ambassador to China, Tuvshin Badral to strengthen cooperation between the two neighbors. Global Times reported: Liu said, "It is expected that China and Mongolia will strengthen cooperation, meet each other halfway, earnestly implement prevention and control measures and resolutely block the cross-border spread of the virus."
China: Foreign Ministry spokesperson on the US-China joint statement
On 11 November, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin commented on the joint statement issued by the US-China on vowing to work together to combat climate change. According to Global Times, Wang said: "The declaration is the product of candid exchanges, mutual understanding and efforts to expand consensus, which once again showed China and the US can work together on major international issues and accomplish great things that benefit the people of both countries and the world." He further stressed on "win-win cooperation" on climate change.
South Korea: Industry Minister on a four-day visit to the US
On 11 November, Seoul Industry Minister Moon Sung-wook, during his four-day visit to the US said: "South Korea and the United States will launch new bilateral talks next month on enhancing their cooperation on the semiconductor supply chain." He further added the meeting would have director-level officials as well as officials and representatives from businesses and other related organizations. The Korea Herald reported: Moon said, "With regard to semiconductors, (the sides) agreed to create a new semiconductor partnership dialogue and hold its first meeting on 8 December." According to a press release, US counterpart Raimondo said: "Today, we reaffirm our commitment to collaborate through the US-Korea Commercial Forum. We celebrate our early progress and look forward to holding discussions on semiconductor supply chains with US and Korean firms in the future as the first step in this engagement." He also said, "The US and South Korea will continue to work through their joint commerce forum to tackle supply chain issues and others." During the visit Moon also met the US Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm.
Japan: Foreign Minister hopes for better ties with Seoul
On 11 November, the Korean Herald reported: Japan's Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi in his first press conference said: "After recovering South Korea-Japan ties to healthy relations, (I) hope to accelerate consultations and dialogue between diplomatic channels to cooperate in various areas." The Foreign minister expressed interest in resolving the historical issues that have strained ties with Seoul. He further added, "I will strongly urge (South Korea) to come up with a solution that Japan can accept at the earliest." During the conference, he highlighted "trilateral ties among Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo" as a key to maintaining and "tackling North Korea for regional stability."
Japan: Prime Minister meets US Indo-Pacific command chief in Japan
On 12 November, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met the US Indo-Pacific Command, Adm John C Aquilino, in Tokyo. Aquilino reaffirmed Washington's commitment to "achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific despite rising tensions amid China's increasingly assertive military actions." Japan Today reported: Aquilino said, "U.S.-Japan alliance is strong thanks to Japan and other allies and partners in the region." During the visit, Aquilino also met Tokyo's Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and discussed "the recent developments related to North Korea's missile and nuclear development."
South Korea: Government demonstrates its first UAM
On 12 November, Seoul demonstrated "a system for controlling urban air mobility vehicles (UAM)." Transport Minister Noh Hyeong-ouk said: "As UAM is expected to become one of the common means of transportation that citizens use in daily life, it is absolutely imperative that we test and try out UAM services in various environments." The Transport ministry estimates such vehicles will cut travel time for distances between 30-50 km from an hour by car to 20 minutes by air. The Hindu reported: the ministry said, "the existing air traffic operations can be conducted in harmony with UAM operations."
Australia: Sets up funds to develop low emission technology
On 10 November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, Australia will set up a USD 990 million fund to invest in companies to develop low-emissions technology, as the country aims to cut carbon emission and reach net-zero target by 2050. Morrison said: "Our plan to reach net-zero by 2050 is an Australian one that's focused on technology, not taxes and this fund backs Australian companies to find new solutions." The Strait Times reported: The Opposition Labour party said, "it would check the details of the fund before supporting the legislation."
APEC: Ministers call to recover economy, travel, and climate commitment
On 10 November, 21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ministers said in a communique: "We need to sustain our economic recovery through continued policy support measures while preserving financial stability and long-term fiscal sustainability," the meeting was hosted online by New Zealand. Reuters reported: the ministers pledged to sustain the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and also "to curb subsidies for fisheries and agriculture at a forthcoming World Trade Organization meeting." APEC ministers also focused on strengthening safe travel in the region, with "tangible outcomes in 2022." The ministers also highlighted a need to accelerate efforts to rationalize and phase out "inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption."
Cambodia: States the US sanction as politically motivated
On 11 November, Cambodia dismissed sanctions imposed on two senior defense officials, Chau Phirun and Tea Vinh by the US. Government spokesperson, Phay Siphan said: "Cambodia had not been told in advance about the sanctions, which are related to construction financing at the Ream Naval Base." He further added, "The sanctions imposed by the US government were made unilaterally and their decision was not based on the rule of law — it is an injustice for Cambodia." He described sanctions as "politically motivated." The US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price said: "Chau and Tea were involved in corrupt acts that undermined the rule of law and the Cambodian public's faith in their government institutions and public processes, including by using their political influence and official power for personal benefit."
Singapore: Central bank disapproves cryptocurrencies as investment assets for retail investors
On 10 November, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) disapproved cryptocurrencies or tokens as an investment asset for retail investors. The central bank and financial regulator said: "As the prices of crypto tokens are not anchored on any economic fundamentals, they are subject to sharp speculative swings. Investors in these tokens are at risk of suffering significant losses."
Indonesia: Religious leaders declare crypto as illegal
On 10 November, Indonesia's council of religious leaders declared, "Muslims are forbidden from using crypto." The National Ulema Council (MUI) announced: "Crypto is forbidden due to the elements of uncertainty and wagering." Head of religious decrees added crypto could be traded as a commodity if it abides by Shariah law and demonstrates a clear benefit for the Muslim people.
Myanmar: Mandalay Chief under NLD to testify as a defense witness
On 10 November, Mandalay's Chief Minister under the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, Zaw Myint Maung was given permission to testify as a defense witness on behalf of Aung San Suu Ki on 23 November. The Irrawaddy reported: "Both sides will make their closing arguments on 7 December and the court will deliver its verdict on 14 December."
South Asia This Week
Sri Lanka: President appoints three new Tamil members in "one country one law" task force
On 10 November, Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed three new members from the Tamil community to the 'One Country One Law' presidential task force. The new members are Ramalingam Chakrawarthy Karunakaran, Yogeswari Patgunarajah and Iyyampillai Dayanandaraja who will represent women and the minority Tamil community. Earlier this month President appointed the task force to come up with proposals for a "one law" system to be followed by all Sri Lankans and abolish all other personal laws including "Muslim marriage law and some other regional laws that had existed for centuries in Sri Lanka."
India: Delhi tops the list of IQAir list
On 13 November, IQAir, a Switzerland-based climate group, listed three cities from India on the list of ten cities with the worst air quality indices. IQAir listed Delhi with an average AQI of 556 at the top, Kolkata ranked fourth (177) and Mumbai sixth (169) in the entire chart. The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology's (IITM) decision support system (DSS) analysis reported, "paddy stubble fires contributed to 15 percent of Delhi's PM 2.5 (ultrafine particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers), local vehicular emissions had a share of 25 percent, emissions from households contributed to 7 percent of the particulate levels and industries and its peripheries made up 9-10 percent of the city's pollution profile."
India: Mizoram governor say, the India-Myanmar road project nears completion
On 12 November, Mizoram Governor Hari Babu Kambhampati said, "the construction of the 87-km stretch of a cross border road between the state's Lawngtlai town and neighboring Myanmar's Sittwe port is nearing completion." He further added, "This project is seen as an alternative route to reach West Bengal and will further strengthen connectivity between the North East region and the rest of the country." The project was started in 2010. Governor pointed out, "Despite several challenges due to the pandemic, the Mizoram government allocated Rs 99 crore to various departments in the 2020-21 fiscal for achieving goals of the state's flagship programme, Socio-Economic Development Policy."
India: Hosts third NSA meeting
On 10 November, India hosted a regional NSA-level summit in order to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. The conference was chaired by India's National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and his counterparts from Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. India also extended an invitation to Pakistan and China, both declined to attend the dialogue. Pakistani NSA Moeed Yusuf said: "a spoiler cannot try to be a peacemaker." This was the Third Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan. Participating countries also agreed to hold the next round in 2022. The first two editions were hosted by Iran in 2018 and 2019. The MEA reported: "The participants discussed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, especially the security situation and its regional and global ramifications. The sides paid special attention to the current political situation in Afghanistan and threats arising from terrorism, radicalization and drug trafficking as well as the need for humanitarian assistance."
Nepal: Integrity of SC in jeopardy, justices demand for the resignation of Chief Justice Cholendra
On 13 November, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International (AI) said: "The independence and integrity of the judiciary in Nepal is being jeopardized by the crisis at its Supreme Court." Human Rights Watch reported: "In an unprecedented move, 18 out of 19 justices have refused to sit on Supreme Court benches unless Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana steps down." In July, a committee led by Justice Hari Krishna Karki submitted a report highlighting a number of problems in the judiciary. Although, the Supreme Court is yet to present a plan to carry out its recommendations. Director of Amnesty International Nepal said: "As envisioned by the constitution, the parliament should ensure a robust, transparent, and effective investigation on the allegations faced by the chief justice to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court and to ensure public trust in the judiciary."
Pakistan: Host Troika Plus meeting
On 11 November 2021, Islamabad hosted a Troika plus meeting to discuss the latest situation in Afghanistan. The meeting was attended by representatives from Pakistan, China, Russia, and the US. A joint communiqué after the meeting, "Called on the Taliban to work with fellow Afghans to take steps to form an inclusive and representative government that respects the rights of all Afghans and provides for the equal rights of women and girls to participate in all aspects of Afghan society." Dawn reported: "The forum agreed to continue practical engagement with the Taliban to encourage the implementation of moderate and prudent policies that could help achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan as soon as possible."
Afghanistan: Interim Foreign Minister on a three-day visit to Islamabad
On 10 November, Afghan Interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi arrived in Pakistan for a three-day visit with a 20 member delegation. According to the Pakistan's Foreign Office, "In view of the prevalent situation, Pakistan has been urging the international community to urgently provide humanitarian assistance and economic support to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people. For its part, Pakistan is extending humanitarian and economic assistance to the brotherly people of Afghanistan." On 12 November, Muttaqi denied any presence of anti-Pakistan elements in his country and assured that, "Taliban-led government was making all-out efforts to ensure that Afghan soil was not used against any country."
Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Yemen: The US calls upon Houthi rebels to release Yemenis working at the US Embassy
On 11 November, the US State Department spokesperson announced that the government had called upon the Houthi rebels to release a number of Yemeni citizens who were working at the US Embassy in Sanaa. The statement made by the State Department said: "The compound that previously served as the embassy – operations were moved to Saudi Arabia years ago because of Yemen's war – has been breached. Most of the detainees have been released but the rebels continue to hold Yemeni employees of the embassy."
Middle East: Belavia rejects passengers from Iraq, Syria and Yemen
On 12 November, the Belarusian airlines company Belavia announced that flights flying from Turkey will not allow citizens from Iraq, Syria and Yemen to board the flights. The statement by Belavaia said: "In line with a decision by the … Turkish authorities, citizens of Iraq, Syria, Yemen will not be accepted for transportation on flights from Turkey to Belarus from 12.11.2021." The Turkish Civil Aviation Authority also confirmed the announcement and said that the three nationalities will not be allowed to purchase tickets from Turkey.
Qatar: Foreign Minister reveals no plans to normalize ties with Syria
On 12 November, the Foreign Minister of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani revealed that the country will not consider normalizing ties with Syria and urged other countries to do the same as well. He said: "It will be wishful thinking to have all the countries in the region united when it comes to the issue of Syria, and we hope that countries will be discouraged from taking further steps with the Syrian regime in order not to worsen the misery of the Syrian people." He justified the decision of the country by questioning the steps taken by the Assad regime to ameliorate the standard of living of the Syrians after years of war.
Israel: The US, Bahrain and the UAE come together for joint naval training
On 11 November, the US Navy's 5th Fleet referred to the joint naval exercise in the Red Sea with Bahrain, Israel and the UAE and revealed that the training is focused on maritime "visit, board, search and seizure tactics" to ameliorate the interoperability between the four countries. The Vice Admiral of the US Naval Forces said: "It is exciting to see US forces training with regional partners to enhance our collective maritime security capabilities. Maritime collaboration helps safeguard freedom of navigation and the free flow of trade, which are essential to regional security and stability"
Ethiopia: Government presents conditions for ceasefire
On 11 November, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced that the government would agree to a ceasefire but after the TPLF agrees to certain conditions. The conditions put forth by the government demand the TPLF to withdraw from the Amhara and Afar regions, stop the attacks and recognize the legitimacy of the government. The conditions have not been agreed with by the TPLF. Meanwhile, on 12 November, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that Tigray was under a "systemic blockade" and caused a dire lack of supplies. The blockade also prevents the organization and others from sending aid and supplies to the region.
Eritrea: The US places sanctions on Eritrean Defence Forces and other individuals
On 12 November, the US Treasury Department announced that it would sanction the Eritrean Defence Forces and the People's Front for Democracy and Justice along with Eritrean individuals and organizations for their role in the Ethiopian conflict. The statement made by the US official said: "We condemn the continued role played by Eritrean actors who are contributing to the violence in northern Ethiopia, which has undermined the stability and integrity of the state and resulted in a humanitarian disaster." The decision to sanction came soon after the UN political chief addressed the situation and issued a warning of Ethiopia descending into a widening civil war.
Libya: France hosts conference
On 12 November, the French President Emannuel Macron conducted a conference on the Libyan elections in December which was attended by international leaders and diplomats. The country has been battling war and a political crisis since 2011 but is finally heading for a presidential vote and legislative elections. The conference focused on ensuring the election in December takes place without any fraud or other obstacles.
Europe and the Americas This Week
Belarus: President Lukashenko threatens to cut off gas to EU
On 11 November, the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said that if the threats of sanctions continue, he will be forced to respond with dire measures such as cutting off the gas supplies to the EU in the advent of a harsh winter. The EU officials have accused Belarus of triggering the refugee crisis to create obstacles to the security in the region. Lukashenko said: "We are heating Europe, and they are threatening us. And what if we halt natural gas supplies? Therefore, I would recommend the leadership of Poland, Lithuanians and other empty-headed people to think before speaking."
Russia: Court jails Navalny's Regional head on extremist charges
On 10 November, a court in Central Russia arrested Liliya Chanysheva on retroactive charges of extremism. She was the head of Navalny's organization in Ufa city and is the first in the Navalny network to be arrested under the retroactive law. She has been arrested for creating an extremist organization and faces six to 10 years in prison if found guilty. Many others of their network have also been charged with the same crime but have fled the country.
The EU: Historians restore data about the contribution from Punjabi troops during the Great War
On 11 November, historians in the UK discovered records of Punjabi troops fighting in the Great War. The details of their participation was digitized and made public after the files were found in a museum in Lahore, Pakistan. The records can be accessed online and showcase the family background, regiment and the rank of the soldiers and their role in the war. According to the database, the soldiers in the regiment came from numerous villages in undivided Punjab.
Czech Republic: New government comes into effect after signing a power sharing deal
On 8 November, the Czech Republic welcomed a new government after the conclusion of the parliamentary elections. The two major parties with a significant number of seats signed a power-sharing deal to finally form the government. The Civic Democratic Party, Christian Democrats and the TOP 09 party were leading the elections with a shared vote of 27.8 per cent. The parties have agreed upon an 18-member government.
Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega wins another term as President
On 8 November, President Daniel Ortega and Vice-President Rosario Murillo secured another term as the ruling government after the election results were announced. The election however has been condemned by the US for rampant fraud and arbitrary arrests of over 40 opposition leaders in the last year. The US President Joe Biden extended his support to the Nicaraguan people and said: "Long unpopular and now without a democratic mandate, the Ortega and Murillo family now rule Nicaragua as autocrats, no different from the Somoza family that Ortega and the Sandinistas fought four decades ago." Costa Rica, Spain, and the EU have also rejected the election results. However, Russia and Venezuela have extended their congratulations and support to Ortega on the win.
Haiti: The US embassy cautions citizens against travelling to the country
On 10 November, the US Embassy warned its citizens in Haiti to consider the risks and said that it may be unable to provide protection or any kind of help in the coming days. The officials are concerned regarding the shortage of fuel that may lead to restrictions in accessing the most basic and necessary essentials such as access to banks, ATMs, medical care, internet, telecommunication and many other services. The State Department said: "US citizens should carefully consider the risks of traveling to or remaining in Haiti in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges."
Chile: Lower house impeaches President over Pandora papers
On 9 November, the Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was impeached by the lower house of the Nicaraguan Congress after allegations of his involvement in the Pandora papers. 78 members of the lower house voted in favour of the impeachment while 76 voted against. However, it is unlikely for Pinera to be removed by the upper house since the opposition falls short of five votes to make the required majority.
The US: Treasury Department imposes sanctions on Cambodian officials
On 10 November, the US Treasury Department announced the decision of the US to impose sanction on the Director-General of the Defence Ministry's material and technical services department Chau Phirun and the commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy Tea Vinh and the brother of the Defence Minister Tea Banh. The spokesperson of the US embassy in Cambodia said: "US officials have regularly raised concerns with Cambodia's officials about systemic corruption, transnational organized crime and human rights abuses." The Cambodian government spokesperson has dismissed the sanctions as "politically motivated" and said that it was not informed in advance.
The US: Steve Bannon indicted for criminal contempt of Congress
On 12 November, the advisor to former President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon was indicted for criminal contempt of Congress. The decision came after he refused a subpoena from the House that was investigating the events of 6 January 2021 and rejected the call to appear for a deposition last month. Bannon is expected to appear in court on 15 November after his surrender. It is also unusual to have a criminal contempt case.
About the Authors
Rashmi BR is a doctoral scholar at NIAS. Joeana Cera Matthews is a Visiting Research Scholar at NIAS, she is currently pursuing her post-graduation in International Relations from the University of Mysore. Sukanya Bali is a Doctoral candidate at OP Jindal Global University. Avishka Ashok is a Research Associate in the School of Conflict and Peace Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies.
Harini Madhusudan, Rishika Yada, Sneha Surendran, Prerana P, Sreeja JS and Padmashree Anandhan
Rishika Yadav | Research Assistant, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
Rishika Yadav and Nityashree RB | Research Assistant and Research Intern, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
Padmashree Anandhan | Research Associate National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
Harini Madhusudan, Rishma Banerjee, Padmashree Anandhan, Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan, and Avishka Ashok
Padmashree Anandhan and Rishma Banerjee
Emmanuel Selva Royan
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Angelin Archana | Assistant Professor, Women’s Christian College, Chennai
Shreya Upadhyay | Assistant Professor, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore
Uma Purushothaman | Assistant Professor, Central University of Kerala, Kerala
Debangana Chatterjee | Assistant Professor, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University), Bangalore
Himani Pant | Research Fellow, ICWA, Delhi
Emmanuel Selva Royan
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Chetna Vinay Bhora
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Keerthana Rajesh Nambiar
Chetna Vinay Bhora