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The World This Week
Boris Johnson's resignation in UK, Shinzo Abe assassination in Japan, and the G-20 meeting in Bali
The World This Week #173, Vol. 4, No. 22 10 July 2022
The World This Week #173, Vol. 4, No. 22
10 July 2022
Sourina Bej and Avishka Ashok
The UK: After Boris Johnson’s resignation, a tight race for the next prime minister begins
On 9 July, former health secretary Sajid Javid launches his bid to replace Boris Johnson as the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. Alongside, former foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt was the second candidate to enter the race with his policy to lower business taxes. On 8 July, the leader of the Labour Party said they would call a national election using a vote of confidence unless the Conservatives removed Johnson from office.
On 7 July, after a series of cabinet resignations and with blame for disrespecting one’s code of political conduct, prime minister Boris Johnson stepped down as the party leader. He will however continue as the prime minister till a new leader is elected from within the conservative party. The outgoing leader said, “To you the British public… I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world. But them’s the breaks.”
On 5 July, 44 resignations had determined Johnson’s resignation. But on 7 June, the pushout of Johnson started after controversies over Downing Street parties breaking the COVID-19 protocol tainted the party’s public image. The Tory MPs called a confidence vote on the prime minister, which he won by 211 votes, yet 41 per cent of parliamentary Tories wanted him out.
What is the background?
First, the partygate scandal as the trigger. In courting scandals, Partygate provided a reason for the party to disassociate from Johnson. After Sue Gray’s report on the 10 Downing Street pandemic parties, the prime minister was fined, he lost a string of by-elections, and appointed an alleged sexual assaulter as his deputy chief whip which appalled his own ministers who backed him in 2019. During his three years in office, Johnson’s conduct of misleading the press, and lying to his own party members with an unapologetic hint, became a crucial violation of the party, political and public code of conduct.
Second, the conservative party’s losing political ground. Engaged in salvaging Johnson’s scandals, the party machinery was incapacitated from looking into crucial issues such as economic inequalities and retaining public mandate. Four prime ministers in six years: the speed with which the conservative party replaced and elected its leaders, raises questions about the stability of the party machinery itself. “Getting Brexit done” had figuratively impaired the Tory consensus and the political trust was further eroding when Boris Johnson took a hardline approach over Northern Ireland Protocol. A strong argument among Tory MPs for getting rid of Johnson is his unpopularity, yet it could also be argued that underneath a self-sabotaging leader, conservatives have also subterfuge their lack of a new vision for policy change.
Third, waning public support. Lack of policy vision and dwindling public opinion could be observed in the post-Brexit realities when inflation, food shortages, and healthcare crisis emerged much before the war pushed the energy prices throughout Europe. The only big economic measures from the party were in the last few months after former chancellor to the exchequer, Rishi Sunak committed £15bn. Some of the party’s ideas to cut the cost of living such as windfall tax had been proposed by the labour party before. The Brexit had brought back queues, and wastage of harvest leading voters to target their anger at the leader representing the party.
What does it mean?
First, the new leader of the conservative party will not only have to provide an alternative to the party but also to the people and the region itself. Starting with the introspection of the party pathways, conservatives will have to bring back the Number 10 operation with full political trust. For the new leader, the support of the backbencher committee, accountability in the PMQ sessions, and honest interaction with the press could probably salvage the inner rebellion and the Conservative’s fear of a rout in the local elections. Secondly, getting Brexit done just not in rhetoric will be a harder negotiating path yet to be foreseen. The Northern Ireland protocol bill could have sabotaged the Good Friday agreement, but the question that still remains is how to bring the electoral representation back in the province?
Japan: Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assassination and his legacy
On 8 July, the former Prime Minister of Japan and serving member of the House of Representatives Shinzo Abe was assassinated at a political rally in the Nara Prefecture. Abe was rallying for his party Liberal Democratic Party’s candidate when he was shot from behind. He was declared dead five and a half hours after being rushed to Nara Medical University Hospital.
The assassination was carried out by a former member of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force Tetsuya Yamagami who held Abe responsible for his family’s bankruptcy caused by the Unification Church. The accused used a homemade gun resembling a double-barreled shot gun. Other explosives and homemade weapons were found at the suspect’s house, who is now in police custody.
Heads of States around the world responded to Abe’s death with great remorse and expressed their condolences. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, China’s President Xi Jinping, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol and many more leaders across the world expressed their shock and recounted Abe’s achievements and praiseworthy decisions during his tenure as the leader of Japan.
The Quad also issued a joint statement at the assassination and was signed by the US, Australia and India. The heads of states pledged to “honour Abe’s memory by redoubling our work towards a peaceful and prosperous region.”
What is the background?
First, Abe’s political career. Shinzo Abe was Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister. He served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary for a year in 2005. He held the office of the Prime Minister in 2006 for a year and came back in power in 2012 for eight years. Abe entered Japanese politics in 1993 and took the office of the Prime Minister for the second time when Japan was dealing with the impact of the Great Recession of 2008. His appointment as the 96th Prime Minister came after years of short-term leadership and rampant sudden resignations by the former leaders due to lack of support, dissolution of the house, and other controversies. At the peak of his career in 2020, he stepped down from his position citing his health issues.
Second, internal policies. While Japan’s economy was suffering setbacks from the state of the global economy, Abe introduced an economic policy which was later named after him, Abenomics. The policy was aimed at economic revitalization through monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms. The policy received wide support within and outside the country. Other than the structural reforms, Abe was able to revive the GDP growth rates and stabilized ratio of government debt for the first time in decades. The structural reforms brought in by Abe aimed to increase the proportion of women in the workforce, establishing inexpensive day-cares for children and initiate a robotic revolution to deal with the shrinking population.
Third, foreign affairs during Abe’s tenure. Abe was known as a conservative and a right-wing Japanese nationalist who aimed to change the country’s defence policies and amend the post-war constitution. The latter was heavily criticized by China who condemned the Imperialist era of Japan in the pre-war period. Abe was successful in bridging the gap between the neighbouring countries by meeting the Chinese President Xi Jinping at numerous occasions and discussing the challenges in bilateral issues. Abe maintained a close relationship with the US, further antagonizing the Chinese. Despite the hostility, Abe was firm on Japan’s control over the disputed Senkaku/ Diaoyu islands pushed for constitutional reforms to revive Japan’s defence until the end of his tenure. He pushed for a stronger defence in the Indo-Pacific region and pitched the idea of the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue”, now known as Quad, in 2007.
Fourth, gun-related violence in Japan. The gun laws in Japan are extremely strict and the individuals are required to pass a written test, psychiatric evaluation, drug test, criminal background check and a gun skills competency test. The guns per capita in Japan is 0.6 per cent while in the US is at 88.8 per cent. The use of ammunitions is entirely controlled by the government and it is highly rare to have gun-related violence in the country.
What does it mean?
The assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe comes as a shock because of the non-violent and practically rare gun related violence in the country. He was an asset to Japan who led the country during challenging political and economic times. His contributions to the economic revival have played a key role in Japan’s status and stature in the international order in the present times. He foresaw the threats of militarization in the region and rallied support to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. Abe efficiently managed Japan’s foreign relations between the US and China at a time when there was growing hostility and trade wars between the global superpowers. Abe’s assassination is an unfortunate event in the history of Japan.
TWTW Special Note
China and the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia
On 7 July, Indonesia hosted the Group of 20 (G20) foreign ministers’ meeting in Bali.
China and Russia at G20
On 7 July, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and noted that the countries had overcome obstacles and maintained normality in exchanges while pushing for cooperation in various fields. Wang said that the continuation of healthy ties portrayed the resilient relations between China and Russia. Wang referred to the challenges in the world order and said: “Facing the realities of the current international politics, will countries choose to pursue power politics and hegemony, or promote a multi-polar world? Wang asked. Will they truly uphold the international order with the UN at its core or follow the rules made by a handful of countries according to their standards?”
The Russian narrative sees the G20 summit as a farce. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, left the meeting before the end, and the US counterpart was seen delivering insults. The G20 is seen as something that achieved no results on issues vital to today's world. The conflict between Russia and the West has dampened the spirits of the meeting. Russian experts say that the organisation that helped overcome the 2008 financial crisis will not be able to address the energy and food challenges that the world currently faces.
Global Food Security
Wang Yi addressed the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and proposed a cooperative initiative on global food security. Wang Yi stressed the importance of food and energy in the healthy performance of the world economy and in the journey towards achieving the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Wang Yi made eight proposals to achieve the goal. First, strengthening and supporting the role of the United Nations and its supporting institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Second, removing restrictions on humanitarian purchases made by the WFP. Third, including agricultural products from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Fourth, revealing and expanding the export potential of capable countries, reducing trade barriers and bringing efficiency to producing food. Fifth, emergency measures for food trade should adhere to the rules of the World Trade Organization while ensuring short-term plans, transparent deals, target and appropriate sale. Sixth, restrictions on high-tech exchanges must be reduced, and countries must share agricultural innovation and expand cooperation on related technologies. Seventh, reduce food waste and implement the consensus reached the International Conference on Food Loss and Waste. Eighth, extending a helping hand to developing countries in increasing their production capabilities, and storage facilities and assisting in agricultural processes.
China on Ukraine at G20
Wang Yi also spoke about the Ukraine crisis and highlighted China’s concerns. On behalf of the country, Wang Yi opposed instigating the cold war mentality, comparing the crisis in Ukraine with the status of Taiwan and opposed the imposition of sanctions against China and other countries. He called for increased solidarity and dialogue rather than division and confrontation. Taking a stand against double standards, Wang Yi opposed countries for raising the question of China’s sovereignty over Taiwan and urged all countries to adhere to the one-China principle. He said: “China's three points of concern clearly show that hegemony is not welcome in handling global affairs, and hegemony is also the essential reason for the prolonged conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”
China and the EU at G20
Wang Yi also met with the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and encouraged the European countries to uphold the multilateral practices and the basic orientation of their comprehensive strategic partnership. He further urged the EU to maintain the positive momentum of dialogue while keeping away from issues that widen the differences with China. He said: “China and the EU should adhere to the mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, uphold true multilateralism and oppose any acts that trumpet decoupling and violate the law of the economy. Both sides should reject zero-sum games, instigation of bloc confrontation and attempts to stoke a new Cold War.”
China and Argentina at G20
The Foreign Minister also met with the Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and reassured support for strengthening coordination and increasing cooperation along the Belt and Road Initiative. Wang stressed the close relationship between the two countries' leaders and appreciated Argentina’s friendly policies towards China. He said: “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, and China is willing to work with Argentina to advance the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road, helping accelerate their respective development and revitalization.”
China and South Korea at G20
Wang Yi also held a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and agreed to expand bilateral cooperation and deepen exchanges between the countries. The countries are celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations this year. Wang noted the abundance of opportunities but also the existence of practical challenges that face the countries in the coming years. He said: “As close neighbors and inseparable partners with closely-related security environment and an industrial cycle of converging interests, China and South Korea should uphold the already reached consensus and understanding, and maintain the stability and continuity of their policies towards each other.”
China and Canada at G20
Wang Yi met with Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and promised to work towards bringing the bilateral relations back on track. During the meeting, Wang Yi reiterated that China never viewed Canada as a rival or a threat but only as a partner. He said: “A sound and stable China-Canada relationship is the common aspiration of the two peoples and serves the common interests of both sides. China hopes that Canada will respect facts, be cautious in words and deeds on China-related issues, and work with China to meet each other halfway to build mutual trust to bring China-Canada relations back on track.” He further stressed the countries’ support for similar ideals and common interests, such as advocating for multilateralism, democratizing international relations and safeguarding globalization.
China and France at G20
Wang Yi held a meeting with the French Foreign Minister Matherine Colonna in Bali on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The countries agreed to enhance strategic cooperation and deepen pragmatic collaboration while appreciating the stable development of the bilateral ties under the heads of the states. At the meeting, Wang Yi said: “China cherishes the mutual trust and friendship between the two sides, and highly appreciates and firmly supports France for upholding strategic autonomy.” The Foreign Ministers promised to strengthen cooperation on climate change and biodiversity conservation and also discussed China’s relations with the European Union, the Ukraine war, the Korean Peninsula and other issues of mutual interest. Wang Yi expressed that China expects France to play a constructive role in building and maintaining the country’s relations with the EU.
Australia at G20
The Foreign Minister of Australia, Penny Wong announced that the country would attempt to end the trade blockages and seek to defrost the icy relations with China. Wong said: “We all know we have our differences. There are challenges in the relationship. We believe engagement is necessary to stabilise the relationship. We won't be making any concessions regarding Australia's interests. We don't believe those blockages are in our interests. We would say to China, they are not in China's interests.”
India at G20
On 7 July, Indian External Affairs Ministers met the Chinese Foreign Minister and Russian Foreign Minister on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Bali. Indian Minister tweeted: “Met FM Sergey Lavrov of Russia on the sidelines of the Bali #G20FMM. Discussed bilateral matters of mutual interest. Also exchanged views on contemporary regional and international issues including the Ukraine conflict and Afghanistan.” He tweeted the same day: “Began my day in Bali by meeting FM Wang Yi of China. The discussion lasted one hour. Focused on specific outstanding issues in our bilateral relationship pertaining to the border situation. Also spoke about other matters including students and flights.”
Wang Yi appreciated the neighbouring country for maintaining communication and exchanges, effectively managing differences and encouraging the momentum of recovery in the overall bilateral relations. Wang said that China and India would not follow the West in their ideologies as they had common interests and similar claims. According to Wang, the countries were destined to uphold strategic persistence and achieve their own goals in the international order. He said: “We need to take concrete actions to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, being each other's partner, not posing a threat to each other and being a mutual development opportunity, bringing bilateral relations back on the right track as early as possible.”
Also, in the news...
East and Southeast Asia This Week
Taiwan: China responds to US Senator’s visit and meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen
On 8 July, the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army announced that the military had held joint combat readiness exercises, patrols and drills near Taiwan’s sea and airspace. China’s Ministry of Defence Spokesperson Wu Qian further reasoned that the exercises were held as a response to the provocations by the US and Taiwan. The Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line of the Taiwan Straits in response to US Senator Rick Scott’s visit to Taiwan and his meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen. Wu responded to a question on Scott’s visit during a press briefing and said: “The US side's move seriously violates the one-China principle and the provisions of the three Sino-US joint communiqués, seriously damages the political foundation of Sino-US relations, seriously undermines the relationship between the two countries and the two militaries, and escalates tensions in the Taiwan Strait region.”
Taiwan: New jet trainer showed off by Air Force
On 6 July, the new AT-5 Brave Eagle was unveiled by Taiwan's air force, which was created and manufactured domestically, and was showcased for its superior combat capabilities in place of the current fleet's outdated and accident-prone older models. Even though the majority of Taiwan's armed forces' equipment comes from the United States, President Tsai Ing-wen has prioritised the growth of sophisticated domestic defence industry, particularly as China, which claims Taiwan as its own, intensifies military modernization activities and drills close to Taiwan. With a US$2.3 billion budget, the state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp built the jet trainer, which had its first test flight in 2020.
Philippines: China’s Foreign Minister holds meeting with top officials; enhances bilateral relations
On 6 July, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the Philippines and met with the top political leaders and officials. Wang Yi met the National Security Advisor Clarita Carlos and appreciated the joint efforts from the two sides to improve bilateral relations over the past six years. Wang Yi’s visit portrayed the emphasis of the Chinese government on maintaining healthy relations with the new Philippine government. Wang Yi also met with Foreign Secretary Luis Enrique Manalo and concurred to enhance further the friendship and mutual trust between China and the Philippines. Manalo promised to adhere to the one-China policy and hoped to increase the mutual friendship between the states. Wang also appreciated the proper handling of the maritime issues and said that the countries had undertaken a strategic and overarching perspective in the dispute; thereby providing a proper position on the issue. Wang Yi also met the Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos and spoke about the challenges to bilateral trade and the issues in the South China Sea. President Marcos noted that China is the largest trading partner and is an important development partner for the country.
Lancang-Mekong Cooperation: China meets with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar on the sidelines of the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
On 3 July, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Myanmar’s Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin and agreed to increase cooperation in diverse fields. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Seventh Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Myanmar. The leaders agreed to speed up the construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the implementation of the cross-border power grid agreement. On the same day, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn held a meeting. They discussed ways to enhance relations and cooperation between China and Cambodia. Wang Yi appreciated the overall development of cooperation between the two countries and expressed China’s willingness to continue working with Cambodia to solidify the idea of a joint community with a shared future. Wang Yi also met with Lao Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith and stressed expanding their cooperation along the logistics chain, value chain and production chain while using the China-Laos Railway line. The countries also agreed to fight against the cold-war mentality in the international order and reject the interference in internal affairs.
South Asia This Week
Afghanistan: the US to rescind Kabul’s designation as a major non-Nato ally
On 6 July, President Joe Biden's letter to Congress expressed his intent to rescind Afghanistan’s designation as a major non-Nato ally. He said, “In accordance with section 517 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (22 U.S.C. 2321k), I am providing notice of my intent to rescind the designation of Afghanistan as a Major Non-NATO Ally.” Following this announcement, the Taliban-led interim administration welcomed the decision. A Taliban spokesperson said, “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is not worried,” adding, “What benefit did this title have for Afghanistan?” The United States designated Afghanistan as a major non-NATO ally in July 2012.
Afghanistan: Acting defence minister meets with Qatari officials in Doha
On 5 July, the Taliban’s Acting Afghan Defence Minister Mohammad Mujahid met with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha. During the meeting, matters related to national reconciliation, ensuring rights to citizens, and several other topics were discussed. Following the meeting, the Taliban’s Defense Ministry said, “In this meeting, both sides discussed bilateral cooperation in security and defence sectors. Acting Minister of Defense welcomed the cooperation of Qatar and asked for more cooperation.” Similarly, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said, “Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs underscored the significance of working to achieve national reconciliation in Afghanistan, in addition to making sure that the Afghan people obtain their entire rights and secure a dignified life that includes the prosperity for all its segments, emphasising the State of Qatar’s continued support for the Afghan people.”
Pakistan: Bilawal and Blinken reaffirm the mutual desire to strengthen bilateral ties
On 6 July, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari held a telephone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The two sides reiterated the mutual commitment to deepen Pakistan-US ties by expanding cooperation in various sectors. FM Bilawal via Twitter, said, "We agreed to expand our engagement in trade, energy, health & security, marking 75 years of our relationship. We must increase people-to-people & business-to-business contacts." Similarly, Secretary Blinken said, “We want to focus on the work we’re doing to strengthen our economic and commercial ties between the United States and Pakistan; of course, focus on regional security.” On the same day, US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome called on State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar today and discussed "matters of mutual interest."
Pakistan: Gwadar rights leader threatens to close Gwadar port
On 4 July, Dawn reported that Maulana Hidayatur Rehman Baloch, the leader of the Gwadar rights movement, threatened to close the Gwadar port on 21 July if the demands were agreed by the provincial government earlier in April were not fulfilled. He said that the demands of the Gwadar rights movement included freeing the coast of Balochistan from the trawler mafia, opening border points in Gwadar, eliminating drug trafficking, and removing unnecessary check-posts.
Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Syria: Russia vetoes the UN Resolution allowing cross-border aid
On 8 July, Russia vetoed the UN Security Council Resolution to extend the cross-border aid to Syria by one year without the need for Syrian government’s backing. The authorization for the aid across the Syria-Turkey border at Bab-al-Hawa, in place since 2014, is a lifeline to the war-ravaged Idlib’s population, which is in dire need of food and humanitarian aid. The veto comes as no surprise, as Russia is a close ally of the Assad regime and had previously stated its decision to veto when called for voting. Louis Charbonneau, the UN representative at the Human Rights Watch, said that “millions of people depend on the aid that is coming through Bab al-Hawa… there is no plan B that is anywhere near as good as Plan A.”
Israel and Palestine: Joe-Biden’s scheduled visit and cooperative measures taking shape
On 8 July, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East, Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz visited Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah and held talks with the PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Gantz remarked that the meeting “was held for the purpose of security and civil coordination in preparation for the US President's visit… it involved an agreement to continue security coordination between PA and Israel.” On 7 July, Israel Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Freij said that the country has been in talks with Saudi Arabia for admitting direct flights from Tel Aviv for Muslim pilgrims performing Hajj.
JCPOA: Qatar’s Foreign Minister in Tehran
On 6 July, Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani travelled to Tehran and met Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian regarding the JCPOA. He also met Iran’s security chief Ali Shamkhani. The visit comes soon after the indirect talks between Iran, the US and European Union, hosted by Doha, ended inconclusively.
Syria: President Assad visits Aleppo
On 8 July, President Bashar al Assad and his family visited the ancient city of Aleppo and inaugurated a power plant previously controlled by the rebels and destroyed in the country’s 11-year-long war. His visit was his first after the pro-government forces re-captured the rebel-held province in 2016 and the power plant following a battle. He also visited the historical sites in Aleppo, which are undergoing renovation after being partially destroyed in the war.
Africa: First Kiswahili Language Day celebrated
On 7 July, Africa celebrated its first Kiswahili Language Day. Celebrations were held across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, where the language is widely used. Kenya's tourism minister said: " This is our pride because the United Nations have acknowledged our African language." With this, Kiswahili is now included in the official languages of the African Union. The other languages are English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese. In November 2021, UNESCO declared 7 July as Kiswahili Day. Across Africa and the Middle East, an estimated 200 million people speak Kiswahili which ranks among the ten most spoken languages globally.
Tunisia: Opposition parties call for a boycott of the referendum on the constitution
On 7 July, hundreds of protesters attempted to gather at the electoral commission office to demonstrate against the upcoming referendum on a new constitution proposed by president Kais Saied. The protests were led by the Free Constitutional Party; however, police and security forces pushed back the protesters. On 8 July, BBC reported that the Ennahda Party had also called on its members to boycott the referendum and the party spokesperson said the vote was not in Tunisians’ interests.
Burkina Faso: Compaore returns for reconciliation summit
On 7 July, former president Blaise Compaore returned to Burkina Faso from exile in Ivory Coast. Compaore returned after he was invited by the current president Paul Henri Damiba for a reconciliation summit. Compaore fled to Ivory Coast amid an uprising in 2014. In April 2022, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for complicity in Thomas Sankara, his predecessor’s murder in 1987. Compaore's return was met with celebrations and indignation where several Burkinabes gathered at the airport to welcome him. On the other hand, a group of lawyers called for an arrest warrant against Compaore.
Sudan: Military to make way for the civilian government, says Gen Burhan
On 4 July, military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the military would not involve itself in any national talks and would pave the way for a civilian government. Burhan said political parties and revolutionary groups should lead the installation of civilian rule. Burhan announced that the current Sovereign Council, consisting of military and civilian leaders, will be dissolved once an executive government is formed. Instead, a Supreme Council of armed forces will be installed. The development comes after thousands of Sudanese held protests across the country; as of 1 July, nine protesters had lost their lives. However, the protesters refused to believe Burhan’s announcement.0
Mali: ECOWAS lifts economic sanctions
On 3 July, the heads of state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced an immediate lifting of the economic and financial sanctions on Mali. The decision came after Mali released an election timetable to hold presidential elections in February 2023, against the initial plan to conduct the polls in 2026. The presidential elections will be preceded by a referendum on a revised constitution in June 2023, followed by local and legislative elections in October and November 2023. However, sanctions on individuals will remain in place.
Europe and The Americas This Week
France: President Macron reshuffled his cabinet after June’s election loss
On 4 July, President Emmanuel Macron of France reshuffled his cabinet following the loss of getting a majority in last month's elections. He retained a few prominent ministers while changing the rest. Ministers for defence, finance, and foreign affairs are the same, while the portfolios of the rest were shuffled. Ministers who lost their seats in June's election have been replaced by people selected by Macron so that they can rebalance his alliance after the loss. The reshuffling came into fruition because of French political tradition that the ministers who lost their seats should resign from the cabinet. The significant change was the removal of the solidarity minister Damien Abad due to him facing rape charges which he denied.
Italy: Government declares a state of emergency after the north faces severe drought
On 4 July, Italy declared a state of emergency for the region around the Po river. The country is facing severe drought in the area surrounding the river Po, which holds roughly a third of the country's agricultural production. This might lead to enforcing water rationing for homes and businesses. Many waterways in North Italy have dried up, and the flow is weaker, leading to seawater seeping inland, ruining the crops. The regions that fell under the state of emergency were Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto. To overcome the water shortages, funds of EUR 36.5 million were designated for these regions. The state of emergency took care of people's assistance and relief. Further measures could be taken to prevent the same from happening in the future in central Italy. Prime minister Mario Draghi is contemplating appointing a commissioner to take care of the drought response.
Estonia: PM Kallas steps down among efforts to put together a new coalition
On 7 July, Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s first female Prime Minister, submitted her resignation to the President. The resignation comes amid a month-long effort to put together a new coalition government after Kallas lost the support of her former junior partner, losing the parliamentary majority with it. The new cabinet is expected to include three parties, and once that is done, the President will approve her leadership again. Kallas stated that she submitted the resignation independently to avoid “noise and discontent.” Her announcement came after the Reform party reached a power-sharing agreement with two smaller parties, the Social Democrats and Isamaa.
United Nations: Agencies warn of hunger catastrophe and food crisis
On 06 July, the 2022 edition of the U.N. food security and nutrition report was released. UN agencies like Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) said that nearly 10% of the world's population were affected by hunger in 2021. However, more concerning was the report’s forecast for 2022, where the food crisis is bound to be exacerbated due to the Ukraine war. WFP executive director David Beasley said: “The result will be global destabilization, starvation, and mass migration on an unprecedented scale. We have to act today to avert this looming catastrophe.”
Morocco and the EU: Governments release joint statement on border control
On 09 July, the EU and Morocco issued a joint statement on anti-trafficking efforts. The agreement comes after thousands of migrants crossing from Morocco to Spain's Melilla rushed to the border, where 23 died in the chaos. Spain's interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Morocco's interior minister Abdelouafi Laftit and the EU commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, met in Rabat to discuss the issue. According to the statement, the new agreement will include border management support and strengthening police cooperation. Cooperation between Moroccan and EU agencies working with the issues will also be strengthened.
Ukraine: Fall of Luhansk region
On 3 July, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu reported that the Russian Armed Forces and the People's Militia of the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) had entirely established control over the city of Lysychansk. Ukraine’s general staff after the withdrawal of troops from Lysychansk. On 4 July, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declared victory in Luhansk: “The units that took part in active combat operations and achieved success and victories in the Lugansk direction, of course, should rest and build up their combat capabilities."
The US: Government implements ban on chip production to prevent China’s domination
On 6 July, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian criticised US efforts to prevent ASML Holding and Nikon from supplying the country with significant chipmaking technology and called it "technological terrorism." To block China's plans to overtake the rest of the world in chip production, Washington has proposed imposing additional limitations on ASML that would go beyond the current ban on selling the most cutting-edge systems to China. The range and type of chipmaking equipment currently prohibited from entering China will be significantly expanded if the Netherlands agrees, potentially dealing a devastating blow to Chinese chipmakers like Semiconductor Manufacturing International and Hua Hong Semiconductor.
Space: CAPSTONE communications issues and restoration
On 6 July, NASA and Advanced Space revealed that the CAPSTONE had resumed its communications and was in good condition to perform the correction manoeuvre on 7 July. The spacecraft lost contact with the ground stations for about 11 hours after it was deployed on 4 July. After troubleshooting the system, the controllers received a signal from the spacecraft, and the reason for the malfunction is said to be under investigation. CAPSTONE is a lunar cubist who plans to demonstrate the lunar halo orbit used for the later Artemis missions. Funded by NASA, it is operated by Advanced Space, a Colorado-based startup. CAPSTONE is flying a low-energy trajectory that will take it more than 1.2 million kilometres from Earth, eventually going into a near-rectilinear halo orbit around the moon in November.
About the Authors
Akriti Sharma, Harini Madhusudan, Rashmi Ramesh and Ankit Singh are PhD Scholars in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Avishka Ashok, Abigail Miriam Fernandes, Apoorva Sudhakar, Padmashree Anandhan and Rishma Banerjee are Research Associates at NIAS. Arshiya Banu is a research intern at NIAS.
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