The World this Week

Photo Source: The Straits Times
   NIAS Course on Global Politics
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 subachandran@nias.res.in

The World this Week
Indonesian Elections, North Korea's New Weapon Test, Trump's Yemen Veto, Venezuela Crisis and Climate Change Protests

  GP Team

The general elections in Indonesia, resulting in President Joko Widodo’s victory for the second term as the President of Indonesia. North Korea back on the offensive by testing of a new tactical weapon leaving a number of players feeling threatened by it once again. Trump vetoes Bill to end US support for Yemen war. Venezuela opening up to foreign aid bringing relief to the people and the climate change protests organised by the Extinction Rebellion took to the streets of cities all over the world – from Auckland to Accra, Mexico City to Vancouver.

 

Aparupa Bhattacherjee, Sukanya Bali, Alka Yadav, Abigail Fernandez, Abishek RL

 

Indonesia: A confused electoral result

What happened?

The Indonesian general election was held on 17 May 2019. The preliminary result has declared incumbent President Joko Widodo’s victory for the second term as the President of Indonesia. But his challenger Prabowo Subianto has also claimed his victory while complaining of "widespread cheating". The unofficial results from private pollsters on the basis of this election vote samples indicated Widodo won about 55 per cent of the votes, which gives him lead of almost 10 per cent in comparison to his competitor General Subianto. Although the final result will be declared on 22 May, until then the confusion seems to persist and has the capability to give rise to violence especially by the hardline Alumni 212 movement, who are supporters of Subianto.

What is the background?

When Joko Widodo came to power after the 2014 Presidential election, he was a refreshing change from the political clout of the Jakarta based elites. Keeping to his promise of focus on economic development, his presidency has witnessed rapid development in the sector of infrastructures, such as the construction of new ports, airports, thousands of kilometres of new roads and other big-ticket items across the country in a span of five years. Hence, it was not surprising when his campaign for 2019 attributed his progress in poverty reduction and improving Indonesia’s inadequate infrastructure especially mass rapid transit which has started only in March in Indonesia. His propaganda had also highlighted that he will be focusing more on human development for this tenure.  In comparison to him, Subianto is known as a strident nationalist, and his highlight was his perceived notion of Indonesia’s weakness and also his fear of the rising risk of disintegration or exploitation by foreign powers especially hinting on China. This is pivotal because Widodo in his last tenure faced criticism for his alliance to China. Most of the infrastructural projects are attributed to Chinese funding. China has also invested a lot in Indonesia’s mining industry, such as in the joint venture for development a US$980-million industrial mining park in Morowali regency, Central Sulawesi. But it seems that voters have not been critical about this alliance and have appreciated the development in the country due to this alliance.

What does it mean?

Jokowi coming back to power will ensure economic growth and development in Indonesia. It will also ensure the strengthening of the countries equation with China especially its role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But as Jokowi who has been criticized for not doing more to address abuses of human and minority rights, as well as rising extremism, to prevent alienating hardliners, it seems will have an impact on this term also. He has, in fact, worked towards to raise the quota for Indonesians to perform the haj in the holy city of Mecca by 10,000. This was essential for his last term as his religious affiliation was questioned by many and otherwise, also, he is seen as a moderate Muslim, thus the above imitative required on his behalf to appease his Muslim voters (the majority in Indonesia). But this seems to haunt him this election also as his visit to Saudi Arabia to perform the umrah (pilgrimage) was published. Thus, any change in issues related to religion will be dealt with by Widodo with butter fingers. 

 

North Korea tests new tactical weapon

What happened?

North Korea, last week announced the testing of “a new type of tactical guided weapon” or what seems to be a short-range guided missile. Further, Kim Jong-un has resumed his visits to military units and weapons sites, which he had avoided during his diplomatic engagements with America. US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan told the reporters at the Pentagon, ‘that while there had been a test, it was “not a ballistic missile”.

What is the background?

The last major weapons test was conducted in November 2017, North Korea has since declared a moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests. This test comes after the second summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim, at Hanoi, in February where the leaders had failed to come to an agreement. At the summit, Kim’s recommendation to lift ‘harshest’ of US sanctions, in return for halting operations at North Korea’s largest nuclear facility was rejected.

What does it mean?

With the tests, Pyongyang has sent a strong message to Washington over its intentions to resume weapons development, in case of a deal in not made. Experts say that it is a sign of calibrated defiance over the stalemate in denuclearisation talks. It also indicates that North Korea is unwilling to compromise under American pressure but willing to engage in negotiations.

 

Trump vetoes Bill to end US support for Yemen war

What happened?

On 17 April 2019, US President Donald Trump invoked his veto power to obstruct congressional resolution to end US support for the war in Yemen which is led by the Saudis clearly. The President stalled the progress of the Bill saying that it was a dangerous attempt to weaken his constitutional power which he related to the endangering lives of American citizens both in present and in future. This was the second time when the President used his veto power to strike down such a resolution.

What is the background?

The Saudis are leading a brutal military campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Result of the same is Yemen reaching a stage of breaking point with 10 million people in the shackles of the famine. Yemenis are unsafe in their own land considering the fact that there are as many as 100 civilian casualties per week. The congress war resolution also came in the backdrop of the involvement of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, more popularly known as MBS in the killing of Washington Post’s journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. In fact, the resolution gained momentum in the aftermath of the journalist’s killing.

Motivated by both the Yemen crisis and conflict and the Donald Trump administration’s incapability in holding the Saudi Arabian government accountable for the journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, the Congress decided to move the resolution which was approved by the Senate.

What does it mean?

Donald Trump using his veto has yet again proved that he valued good relations with the Saudi Crown Prince who has been accused in the killing of the journalist Khashoggi as well as torturing, mass arrests and killing of uncountable human right activists and this also means the US would give unconditional complicit support to the country in causing the so-called “world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.

Such an act from Trump is against the American public’s will, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The US feels supporting this conflict between Houthis backed by Iran and Saudi backed Yemeni government is important and necessary for the safety of nearly a million Americans who live in similar coalition countries which have faced attacks from Houthis from Yemen. But the veto certainly won’t serve the idea projected behind the obstruction of the resolution as it will keep the Americans involved in the conflict and making it more disastrous with time not just for the Yemenis but also for them as war certainly doesn’t bring victory to any side and loss of American lives would continue too and this veto contradicts Trump’s America first policy as well.

 

Venezuela receives the first delivery of Red Cross emergency aid

What happened?

The Red Cross made its first delivery of emergency humanitarian aid to Venezuela on 17 April 2019 after President Nicolás Maduro faced international pressure to accept the supplies. The Red Cross shipped from Panama 14 electricity generators, 5,000 litres of distilled water and equipment for life-saving surgery. The delivery came after Maduro socialist government had reached an agreement with the Red Cross to bring in aid. Maduro had blocked previous efforts to deliver assistance and has denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis.

What is the background?  

Venezuela plunged into a political deadlock in January, when Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly made the country’s constitution to presume an interim presidency, stating that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

Since then Guaido has been recognized as Venezuela’s rightful leader by most Western nations. Several countries, including the United States and Colombia, contributed to a February effort to deliver aid across Venezuela’s land borders, with the views that soldiers would reject Maduro’s orders to block it.

While that effort failed, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that it was prepared to start an aid operation. They also decided to triple the amount of aid to Venezuela, a day after the Maduro approved the delivery of humanitarian assistance. With the health system in collapse, food and electricity the Maduro government has been accused of consciously minimising the scale of the problems facing the country even as millions have fled across its borders.

What does it mean?

The arrival of the aid marks an end to the years of denial by Maduro and his view that his country does not require such foreign aid. Venezuela’s crisis has left millions malnourished while a number of others have fled the country. Yet it is only now that Maduro has admitted methods of controlling the aid by which the aid was not to be delivered to the people directly show his deep reluctances to the process.

This aid will help the quarter of Venezuela’s 30 million people who are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, it is estimated that 3.7 million Venezuelans are malnourished and 22% of children below the age of five suffer from chronic malnourishment. Thus, the aid coming in will help the people who are struggling the most.

However, the aid coming in may affect the situation in Venezuela because of the number of players in and outside the region that have an agenda in Venezuela.          

 

The climate change protests: an unprecedented global emergency?

What happened?

On 15 April 2019, Extinction Rebellion an international protest group took to the streets all over the world – from Auckland to Accra, Mexico City to Vancouver. What initiated the need for protests? Who is leading these protests? Have the governments failed to combat Climate change? What are the implications of the protest?

What is the background?

The protesters demanded that governments take necessary action on the global Climate and Ecological emergency. The protests were most prominent in London. The nature of protest led to over 570 arrests. The group - Extinction Rebellion called for the protests. They argue that life on earth is facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists have agreed that we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown. We might be in the midst of mass extinction of our own making. Hence there was a call for immediate action.

The Extinction Rebellion protest group uses non-violent civil disobedience to campaign on environmental issues. The group has called on the UK government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025. It suggests the establishment of a citizens’ assembly to devise:- an emergency plan of action to tackle climate breakdown and biodiversity loss.

The group believes that the conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed. This is due to powerful political and economic interests which prevent change. Their strategy is, therefore, one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion. Demonstrations have included blocking bridges to causing traffic problems in London. This has led to wide scale arrests.

What does it mean?

The movement emphasizes the need to act immediately. The failure of governments to take any strong meaningful measures has led to the question of whether democracies are Non- functioning. The repeated pleas by climate change activists, the United Nations Secretary Generals to take effective steps have been ignored by the governments. The short -term economic interests have dominated policy decisions.

This has led to a situation wherein Environmental activist groups such as the Extinction Rebellion: -have begun to believe that only the disruption of the economy and a mass disruptive civil disobedience movement can prompt the government to act.

This implies that despite the methods being disruptive, it seems like the only logical means to force governments to act. The long-term sustainability of the earth needs to be considered. Hence there is a need for effective measures to be enforced by all the governments, as this issue transcends borders.

  

 

Print Bookmark

PREVIOUS COMMENTS

March 2024 | CWA # 1251

NIAS Africa Team

Africa This Week
February 2024 | CWA # 1226

NIAS Africa Team

Africa This Week
December 2023 | CWA # 1189

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China and East Asia
October 2023 | CWA # 1091

Annem Naga Bindhu Madhuri

Issues for Europe
July 2023 | CWA # 1012

Bibhu Prasad Routray

Myanmar continues to burn
December 2022 | CWA # 879

Padmashree Anandhan

The Ukraine War
November 2022 | CWA # 838

Rishma Banerjee

Tracing Europe's droughts
March 2022 | CWA # 705

NIAS Africa Team

In Focus: Libya