The World This Week

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The World This Week
Biden's Middle East visit, and Elon Musk's backtracking on the Twitter deal

  GP Team

The World This Week #174, Vol. 4, No. 23

17 July 2022

Lavanya R and Harini Madhusudan

The Middle East: Biden's visit to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and West Bank 

What happened?
On 13 July, US President Joe Biden landed at the Tel Aviv airport on his historic tour of the Middle East. On 14 July, Biden held high-level diplomatic talks with Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid to form the Jerusalem US-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration. Investments in Israel’s security, Iran’s nuclear threat, the I2U2 summit, reaffirming the two-state solution and broadening Abraham accords were the key tenets of the declaration. 

He also stated: ‘the connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep’. To conclude Israel’s visit, Biden inaugurated the Meccabiah games or the’Jewish Olympics’, one of the world’s largest sporting events.

On 15 July, Biden traveled to West Bank and visited a hospital. Later, in a meeting with the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, Biden approved a total aid of USD 316 million going to hospital networks in Gaza and West Bank, Palestine’s refugees, and coping with grain shortage due to the Ukraine war. 

Addressing the killing of Palestine-American reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh Biden stated: ‘The United States will continue to insist on a full and transparent accounting of her death and will continue to stand up for media freedom everywhere in the world’. However, Palestine’s authorities are angry with the tour, calling it a ‘mere lip service’ since Biden failed to mention Israel’s attacks on Palestine and involvement in the killing of Abu Akleh. Protesters gathered in Gaza asking Biden to go home, and journalists showed up to the press conference wearing Abu Akleh t-shirts in solidarity.

On 15 July, Biden traveled to Saudi Arabia, the most tense part of the tour. Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia went cold after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a Saudi dissident. Eighteen Joint agreements were signed with King Mohammed Bin Salman in oil, clean energy, healthcare, and space. Biden discussed opening Saudi’s airspace to all states, including Israel. He also attended the Jeddah Security summit, which involved the GCC+3 grouping. 

What is the Background?
First, the motive for Biden’s tour. The reasons for Biden’s visit to the Middle East are manifold. Security and Economic partnerships have made Israel a key ally to US interests. Israel has received the largest US funding and support in defence since World War II. Oil interests pushed Biden to visit Saudi Arabia to bring down gasoline prices at a time when crude oil prices are high. Further, Biden, in his op-ed in the Washington Post, and a speech in the Jeddah Security Summit, stated the importance of American presence in the region in order not to let Russia or China takeover.

Second, Palestine’s anger over the US. Palestine was less enthusiastic about Biden’s visit since US-Israel enjoy close ties. Biden has not reversed Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and did not remove the PLO from the US terror list organization. Palestine also does not believe the two-state solution that Biden strongly advocated for which will become a reality soon. 

What does it mean?
The US has firmly declared its Israel-friendly positioning in the Middle East, with warm ties and Biden being described as a ‘Zionist’ by Lapid. Biden has reaffirmed his commitment to the region and has pushed for new agreements that will change the pattern of relations between states in the Middle East. The opening up of airspace by Saudi Arabia to Israel hints at the first step in normalizing ties between the two rival states. However, a possible Israel- Saudi relationship could prove volatile and unstable, given that Saudi does not recognize Israel. American presence and mediation remain necessary to foster any possible re-construction of diplomatic ties between the two states.

The Joint Declaration signed by the US and Israel presents statements aimed at Iran’s nuclear program. Biden has utilized this tour as a pressure tactic to force Iran into an agreement since the ongoing JCPoA talks have resulted in a stalemate. However, since Israel does not believe diplomatic talks alone are necessary, Biden may now push for stronger sanctions in the deal. A growing anti-Iran sentiment has angered Iran and accused the US of spreading ‘Iranophobia’ in the region. However, this is likely to impact Iran’s relations since states like the UAE are clear in their stance: ‘open to cooperation but not against any one nation’.

To conclude, a short tour of the Middle East will not change power balances in the region in the short term. However, it does open up possibilities for a potential shift in relations in the long term.

Elon Musk Versus: 'Twas a troll after all
What happened?
On 12 July 2022, Twitter Inc announced the initiation of a legal battle with Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, after he announced on 8 July, his intention to backtrack on the deal to buy twitter at $44 billion. Musk claims that the company violated the agreement by not responding to requests for information on the spam/fake accounts, citing it as a material breach. In their lawsuit, Twitter declares that Musk broke the terms of the deal, and was really backing out due to financial reasons. They also claim that he broke the US Securities rules when he failed to disclose his nine per cent holding in Twitter. In April 2022, Musk announced his interest in buying Twitter at a share price of $54, by 25 April, the value remained at $52. However, on 13 July, following the lawsuit news, the value stands at $37.

What is the background?
First, the relevance and interest towards Twitter. Twitter was hatched in 2006 and grew beyond the purpose it was envisioned. It has a base of 217 million daily active users and is popular for its posts with shorter word limit and interactions made by prominent figures. Twitter evolved into a tool for politicization and through the years struggled to remain neutral and strike a balance in the waves of misinformation, cancel culture, and upholding free speech. Twitter has revealed over time that five per cent of its users are fake accounts. When Twitter began to ban individuals, in the case of Trump, Elon Musk was critical of the same. Elon over the years amassed a 9.1 per cent share in the company as the highest shareholder, and he also has a follower base of 81.8 million followers on Twitter. Twitter in recent years has become a platform that promotes ‘free-speech,’ which also was the focus of Musk’s push to buy the company.

Second, the deal, and what went wrong. In March Elon tweeted, “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?” Musk has been an ardent user of his twitter platform to create a popular image of himself. “Twitter has extraordinary potential,” Musk said in a letter to Twitter’s board chairman, “I will unlock it,” he had said. In response to his bid in April, Twitter tried using the ‘poison pill’ strategy initially, but gave-in to the deal for $44 billion. With his claims in May, Musk set the public grounds for calling it off. However, Twitter alleges, that in the 13 May tweet, Musk misrepresented Twitter's sample size for estimating spam accounts as just 100, even though earlier that day Twitter had explained in a private meeting that it sampled a total set of approximately 9,000 accounts per quarter.

The other reason given by Musk is that, Twitter fired senior executives, a third of its talent acquisition team and announced a hiring freeze, which is a direct breach of Twitter’s obligation to “preserve substantially intact the material components of its current business organisation.” While signing the deal, Musk waived due diligence. It means his ability to walk away from the deal is legally constrained. Besides, the team representing Elon would have to demonstrate how the spambots matter to the business, even if there is evidence to prove the existence of spambots. “That’s the thing when you do some research on the company you’re acquiring before you agree to an acquisition. It is a tough position for a buyer to be in,” said Tom Redburn, the chair of Securities Litigation at a premier law firm.

Third, the financial fallouts. Tech stocks globally have seen a massive correction since the deal was announced. Twitter’s stock on the New York Stock Exchange has seen a decline of nearly 29 per cent. To the questions raised on how he would pay the $44 billion, Musk had told the US SEC in May, that the deal would include $33.5 billion in equity, he sold Tesla stock worth around $8.5 billion and lined up about $7 billion from investors including Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, Sequoia, Binance, a16z and others. However, there was a global cryptocurrency downfall and serious warnings of recessionary trends emerging, while Tesla’s stock price too saw a fall of more than 24 per cent since April.

What does it mean?
Elon Musk’s tweets are slated to be used as evidence in the case. Twitter mentioned that the losses faced by Elon Musk's Tesla in the past months is the real reason for backtracking on the deal along. They claim that Musk is faltering on the deal simply because he does not want to buy Twitter anymore. The value drop of Twitter is an unfortunate collateral that is the outcome of Musk using Twitter for altering the value. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has been observing the proceedings of the Twitter deal, one could expect their intervention in the case. The SEC has been critical of Elon’s similar behaviour in the past. Since the deal has already been signed, the case may be extremely difficult one for Elon Musk. Many of the cases of this kind, usually end up in parties re-negotiating the terms of the deal or with one party paying the settlement to walk away. The lawsuit is expected to be a showdown on Wall Street.

Also, in the news...
Regional round-ups

East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: President Xi Jinping visits Xinjiang
On 15 July, the Asahi Shimbun reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping travelled to the northwest province of Xinjiang amid worries over the country’s incarceration of one million or more people from predominantly Muslim ethnic local minorities. Xi described Xinjiang as a “core area and a hub” in China’s plan to create ports, trains, and power plants linking it to economies spanning from Central Asia to Eastern Europe. The Uighur and Kazakh communities living in the region have been subject to a broad crackdown by the government of Xi after a spate of violent separatist activity.

ASEAN: China’s Foreign Minister addresses the Secretariat, calls for open regionalism
On 11 July, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressed the ASEAN Secretariat and spoke about the country’s achievements in partnership with the regional organization and proposed for jointly upholding regionalism in Southeast Asia. Wang Yi also met with the ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi and expressed China’s priority in foreign policy while dealing with the organization. He further urged ASEAN to jointly initiate the idea of open regionalism and safeguard the peace in Southeast Asia. The Foreign Minister then highlighted the China-ASEAN security cooperation and the progress that was made between the two entities. On the issue of maritime issues in the South China Sea, Wang Yi said that positive progress was being made through the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. On Taiwan, Wang Yi said: “History and past experience prove that when the one-China principle is fully recognized and followed, there will be able to achieve peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait. And when the one-China principle is challenged or even undermined, there will be tension in the Taiwan Strait.”

Malaysia: China’s Foreign Minister meets top officials and agrees on five-point consensus
On 12 July, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Malaysia and held a discussion with the Malay Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on boosting strategic communication between the countries while safeguarding their legitimate rights and interests. Wang Yi stressed on injecting positive energy into world peace and stabilizing the world economy. Wang Yi also held a meeting with the Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and promised to strengthen coordination and connectivity between their countries. The Foreign Minister then met with the Malay King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah who agreed on increasing collaboration on major projects in the Belt and Road Initiative. The King appreciated China’s close relationship with the country and the COVID-19 assistance offered by China. He further encouraged heightened Chinese investments and combining efforts on completing the BRI projects in the country. The countries also reached a five-point consensus on further developing their bilateral relations.

Solomon Islands: Manasseh Sogavare meets the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum
On 13 July, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the first time since signing a security agreement with China that alarmed US allies due to the country’s military interests in the Pacific islands. The leaders will meet in separate bilateral meetings that took place on the side-lines of the four-day Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji, to discuss China’s ambition for stronger security ties in the region as well as how to raise more international financing and support to combat the effects of climate change and rising sea levels. 

The Pacific Islands: Naval exercises conducted in the South China Sea 
On 16 July, the US Navy stated that the USS Benfold, a US Navy destroyer, conducted a second “freedom of navigation” exercise in a week close to the disputed Spratly islands. The ship was “driven away” earlier on Wednesday from the disputed Paracel Islands by China’s military. The US regularly engages in such operations in the South China Sea to protest what it claims are obstruction to lawful passage set up by China and other claimants. The US Navy said: "On July 16, USS Benfold (DDG 65) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands, consistent with international law.”

Japan: Russia blacklists Japanese lawmakers in response to sanctions
On 16 July, the Strait Times reported that the Russian foreign ministry issued travel restrictions to 384 Japanese legislators in retaliation to Tokyo’s support of international sanctions against the country over Ukraine. The lawmakers were placed on a blacklist by the ministry, which listed their names on its website along with accusations that they had adopted “an unfriendly, anti-Russian position notably by expressing unfounded accusations against our country concerning the special military operation in Ukraine." 

South Asia This Week
Sri Lanka: Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigns and the appointment of Acting President
On 15 July, the speaker of the parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana announced that President Rajapaksa had officially resigned. He said: “I have accepted the resignation,” “I hope to complete the process of electing a new President within seven days,” After the President’s resignation, Ranil Wickremesinghe, former Prime Minister was sworn in as the Acting Prime Minister. According to BBC, Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives in a military airplane and then reached Singapore. On 14 July, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been allowed entry into Singapore. It said that he is on a private visit and has not asked for asylum and has not been granted asylum.

Sri Lanka: Basil and Mahinda Rajapaksa barred  from leaving the country
On 15 July, the  Supreme Court of Sri Lanka barred former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa from leaving the country till July 28. The order was passed during the hearing of a petition filed by Transparency International, a global civil society organisation. The petitioner claimed that these people were directly responsible for the economic crisis in the country. The petition also sought to bar former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal and former treasury secretary S.R. Attygalle to leave the country.

India: I2U2 Summit
On 14 July, I2U2 members the US, UAE, India, and Israel held a summit. India agreed to provide land for food parks across the country that will be jointly developed by the US, UAE, and Israel. The members agreed to bring in private investments in different sectors including water, energy, transportation, health, space, and food security. A joint statement issued said: “U.S. and Israeli private sectors will be invited to lend their expertise and offer innovative solutions that contribute to the overall sustainability of the project. These investments will help maximise crop yields which, in turn, will help tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.”

Pakistan: IMF reaches staff-level agreement for release of USD 1.17 billion loan tranche
On 14 July, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that it has reached a staff-level agreement with Pakistan on the combined seventh and eighth reviews for a USD six billion loan facility. In a statement the IMF said: “Subject to Board approval, about $1,177 million (SDR 894m) will become available, bringing total disbursements under the programme to about $4.2bn.” Additionally, a team led by IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan Nathan Porter finalised the discussions with Pakistan and that it had also agreed to consider extending its extended funded facility (EFF) which is currently worth USD six billion until the end of June 2023, as well as augmenting it by USD 720 million to expand the fund to USD seven billion.

Pakistan: China initiates four-day joint military drill in Shanghai port
On 10 July, China and Pakistan began their four-day joint military exercise at a port in Shanghai. The People’s Liberation Army Navy Spokesperson Liu Wensheng referred to the drill and said: “The drill, codenamed Sea Guardians-2, is a normal arrangement as per a yearly plan between the two militaries. It is not related to any regional situations and does not target any third party.” The joint drill is aimed at enhancing defense cooperation, exchanging expertise and experiences on military practices, deepening strategic and traditional friendship between countries and militaries and promoting the development of China-Pakistan cooperative partnership.

Afghanistan: Taliban to sign security agreement with Qatar
On 11 July, Tolo News reported that Acting Minister of Defense Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid said: “Qatar is interested in an agreement to be signed between the defense ministries of Qatar and Afghanistan. There will be a security pact, based on which the two countries will cooperate with each other. I look at it as a good step and we will consult on this agreement,” adding, “We call for their cooperation in providing salaries for the army because Qatar is an Islamic country and it has helped Afghanistan in the past. And also to help us provide uniforms for the forces to secure the borders.” Further, he said that agreement would be evaluated by the Taliban after which a decision would be made.

Afghanistan: UNDP and World Bank sign agreement worth USD 20 million for Afghan assistance
On 15 July, Tolo News reported that a USD 20 billion partnership agreement was signed between the UN Development Program (UNDP) and World Bank to support humanitarian, economic, and social development initiatives in Afghanistan. In a statement the UNDP said that the new partnership will provide “tailored capacity building to NGO/CSOs within their work environment and support their Quick Impact Projects (QIPs).” The QIPs are initiatives taken to enhance access to health, education, agriculture and increase food security and livelihood activities for vulnerable people including persons with disabilities.

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
JCPOA: Iran says it is committed to the nuclear talks
On 13 July, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the country is committed to the talks to restore JCPOA, and will announce a time and place to continue the indirect talks with the United States. He added that Iran's Foreign Minister and chief negotiator are in talks with the European parties to the deal. Iran however, has been accused of using delaying tactics and continuing uranium enrichment simultaneously, at the Fordow nuclear plant, clearly violating the terms of the deal.

Iran: A new naval fleet unveiled
On 15 July, the Iranian Navy unveiled a new fleet of ships and submarines that have the capability to carry armed drones. Defence officials stated that “the first drone-carrier division of the Iranian navy consisting of ships and submarine units carrying all types of drones for combat, detection and destruction has been unveiled.” The announcement follows the joint US-Israel statement and the security pact that isolates Iran further in the region.

Ivory Coast: President meets predecessors Gbago and Bédié
On 14 July, President Alassane Ouattara met with former presidents Laurent Gbagbo and Henri Konan Bédié, marking the first meeting between the three political rivals since 2010. Gbagbo termed the meeting "a reunion meeting to renew contact and exchange in truth their views." A government spokesperson said the meeting was in line with recommendations for political dialogue involving the government, opposition and civil society. In 2010, Gbagbo's refusal to concede his presidential position to Ouattara had sparked violence leading to the death of over 3000 people.

Morocco: One casualty recorded as wildfires rage across northern mountain forests
On 15 July, Larache regional officials said one person had died in the wildfires sparked on 13 July. At least 1,600 hectares of woodland has been destroyed in Larache, Taza, Tetouan and Ouezzane provinces and 1,100 families have fled. The wildfires were preceded by a heatwave with temperature reaching 45 degree Celsius.

United Nations: Global population expected to reach eight billion in November 2022
On 11 July, the United Nations released the World Population Prospect report which predicts that world population would reach eight billion on 15 November 2022, 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and peak at 10.4 billion in the 2080s. The report noted that the population growth rate had been the slowest since the 1950s, after dropping to less than one per cent in 2020. According to the report, eight countries, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Tanzania would lead the increase in global population until 2050.

Europe and The Americas This Week
Russia: ROSCOSMOS Chief to be given a new role 'in due time.'
On 16 July, the head of Russia's Space Agency was relieved of his duties, according to a statement from the Kremlin. Dimitry Rogozin was known for making the headlines with his bombastic statements and support for Moscow's Ukraine offensive. A statement from a Russian media outlet Meduza is that he could now be made in charge of the occupied regions in Ukraine citing three sources close to the Kremlin. At Roscosmos, Rogozin will be replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov with a military background. Rogozin was appointed to the then-struggling space agency in 2018. When the US introduced sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, Rogozin had said that the US astronauts should use trampolines instead of Russian rockets to get to the International Space Station, and has similarly made statements that would raise eyebrows. 

Italy: President refuses to accept Draghi’s resignation amid political and economic crisis
On 15 July, the prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation due to a political crisis. However, president Sergio Mattarella said he would not accept Draghi's resignation. The president’s office stated that Mattarella "did not accept the resignation and invited the prime minister to appear before Parliament to give a speech." Draghi won a no-confidence vote in the Senate, but the future of his administration remained in doubt as a result of the populist 5-Star Movement (5SM), a significant coalition ally, abstaining from the vote. Draghi won the vote 172-39, but the 5SM boycott represented a clear threat to his government. Draghi had clearly stated that 5SM was a coalition partner in his unity government and that he had no intention of governing without them. Mattarella has avoided a catastrophic political disaster by rejecting Draghi's resignation while Italy battles significant debt issues, a terrible drought, and rising energy costs as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The UK: Rishi Sunak leads the conservative party’s contest for prime ministership
On 14 July, in the second round of the Tory leadership contest the attorney general, Suella Braverman was eliminated, leaving five candidates standing. Rishi Sunak received 101 votes, Penny Mordaunt gained support by receiving 83 votes, and Liz Truss received 64 votes to finish third. Former Brexit minister Steve Baker has also endorsed Truss, and the majority of the 27 Conservative members of parliament who supported Braverman are reportedly planning to follow suit. Both Tom Tugendhat, head of the foreign affairs committee, who finished sixth with 32 votes, and Kemi Badenoch, a former equalities minister, say they are committed to continuing the race. On 18 July, the contender with the fewest votes will be eliminated in the next round of voting.

Estonia: Prime minister Kallas agrees for a coalition government
On 09 July, Estonia's incumbent center-right Reform Party, led by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, tentatively agreed to form a coalition government with two other parties. The left-leaning Center Party was expelled from the two-party coalition on 03 June as a result of disagreements over spending and welfare policies amid rising household costs due to high inflation. The opposition Social Democrats and the conservative Fatherland (or "Isamaa") party have joined the politically liberal Reform Party, which supports conservative budgetary policy. The 101-seat Riigikogu legislature is controlled by the three parties, who can manage 56 seats in all. The agreement, which will be formalized in the coming days, allows Kallas, Estonia's first female prime minister, to avoid leading a minority one-party administration. 

Turkiye: Huge rare earth elements reserve discovered in the western region
On 13 July it was reported that Turkiye has uncovered a massive rare earth element field in central Anatolia. While decades of research and excavation had been done for the same, none had yielded concrete results till now. However, with the recent discovery, Turkiye will become the second largest reserve for rare earth metals after china. An estimated 570000 tins of rare metals will be mined. It is expected that 10 out of the 17 rare earth elements will be found in this reserve, which includes barite, fluorite and Thorium, which are used in the nuclear industry.

The EU:  Executive body orders Lithuania to partly lift transit ban to Kaliningrad
On 13 July, the EU raised an executive order regarding Lithuania's transit ban to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. They have said that the EU trade sanctions should not apply to transport between Russia and its exclave. However, the transit will be allowed as long as its volume does not exceed the average of the last three years. This is to ascertain that whatever is transported is essential in nature. Lithuania's foreign ministry has said that they will adhere to the order.

The EU: Croatia finally enters into the Eurozone
The EU finance ministers have finally approved Croatia's bid to enter the eurozone and that adoption of the euro single currency. The move will come into effect from 01 January 2023 and will replace the Croatian currency Kuna. The European Central Bank has said that the conversion rate has been set at 7.53 Kuna per Euro. Croatia becomes the 20th member of the euro area nearly 10 years after they became EU members. This also marks the first expansion of the Eurozone in nearly 8 years, where the last country was Lithuania in 2015.

The US: Embassy asks China to comply to 2016 arbitration ruling on South China Sea claims
On 12 July, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged China once more to abide by a 2016 arbitration decision that invalidated Beijing's claims in the South China Sea and issued a warning that the US would be bound to defend Philippines if its forces, vessels, or aircraft were attacked in the disputed waters. The US embassy released Blinken’s statement on Tuesday, which was the sixth anniversary of the arbitral tribunal established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea after the Philippine government filed a complaint about China's increasingly hostile behaviour in the disputed sea in 2013. In recent years, China has engaged in territorial disputes with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian claimant nations after refusing to take part in the arbitration, rejecting its verdict as a sham, and continuing to do so. Blinken said: “We call again on the PRC to abide by its obligations under international law and cease its provocative behaviour.”

The US: Crucial CAATSA amendment paves way for India to buy Russian equipment
On 14 July, a legislative amendment authored by US Congressman Ro Khanna was passed in the US House of Representative. The amendment allows the president to use his/her authority to waiver certain countries like India to buy Russian weapon under the floor consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Ro Khanna said: “The United States must stand with India in the face of escalating aggression from China. As Vice Chair of the India Caucus, I have been working to strengthen the partnership between our countries and ensure that India can defend itself along the Indian Chinese border.” 

World Economic Forum: World to take more 132 years to achieve gender parity
On 13 July, the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2022 was released and states that the gender gap closed at 68.1 per cent worldwide in 2022, which means it will further take 132 years to achieve gender parity. Iceland has received the title of most gender equal country for the 12th consecutive year after closing its gender gap by more than 90 per cent. Different regions are making progress at varying rates. At the current rate of change, it will take North America 59 more years to reach parity. Europe takes 60 years, Latin America takes 67 years, Africa takes 98 years, the Middle East and North Africa takes 115 years, Central Asia takes 152 years, East Asia takes 168 years, and South Asia takes approximately 200 years. While the disparity in educational attainment and health and survival has been reduced by more than 90 per cent, the gap in political empowerment has decreased by just 22 per cent, remaining constant from 2021. The report also highlights the persistent gender inequalities in industry leadership. Although there has been a continuous rise in the proportion of women hired for leadership positions, this has not been true across all industries.

About the Authors
Lavanya R is a Postgraduate scholar at Christ (Deemed to be University). 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, Rishma Banerjee and Emmanuel are Research Associates at NIAS. Arshiya Banu is a research intern at NIAS.

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