Daily Briefs

Photo : PID/The Daily Star

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #28, 3 July 2023, Monday

Bangladesh willing to join BRICS

Afghanistan ranks last in the Global Peace Index

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #28, 3 July 2023, Monday
By Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George, Ryan Marcus and Lakshmi Parimala H

No cut in prices despite profits, says Nepal Oil Corporation
The Nepal Oil Corporation has reported significant profits but stated that they are unable to lower fuel prices due to pending liabilities. The state-owned oil monopoly makes a profit of around Rs1.60 billion every fortnight but is burdened with debts amounting to Rs33 billion. The corporation has also used funds from reserves, collateral money, and employees' residential funds to import fuel. Despite consumer demands and falling international crude oil prices, the corporation has not reduced prices, leading to accusations of inflating inflation and a lack of public accountability. (Krishana Prasain, "Nepal Oil not to cut prices despite profits," The Kathmandu Post, 2 July 2023)

Bangladesh willing to join BRICS
On 3 July, The Daily Star reported that Bangladesh is in the process of applying for membership in the BRICS alliance, which currently consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The formal request for membership is underway, and Bangladesh has expressed its willingness to join if formally invited. The BRICS bloc has seen interest from several countries, with 13 nations expressing their desire to join, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina, the UAE, Bangladesh, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Indonesia, Syria, and two nations from East Africa and one from West Africa. Joining BRICS could bring economic benefits, foreign investments, and opportunities for diversifying foreign relations and currency. However, it is important for Bangladesh to assess its readiness to negotiate and effectively utilize membership benefits. (Eresh Omar Jamal, "How Bangladesh can benefit by joining BRICS," The Daily Star, 3 July 2023)

Foreign Ministry condemns the burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden
On 30 June, the Sri Lankan government issued a statement condemning the burning of the Holy Quran outside a mosque in Sweden. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, "In the interest of national and international peace and harmony, all countries, and individuals, have an obligation to prevent acts of religious intolerance and hatred which lead to polarization among communities." ("Sri Lanka condemns burning of Holy Quran in Sweden," The Island, 3 July 2023)

Presidential election: PPM, The Democrats to contest separately in the first round
On 2 July, The Democrats and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) announced that they would run individually in the first round of the Presidential election. Ibrahim Shujau, the Vice President of the People's National Congress (PNC), stated that no discussion on fielding a common candidate took place as they hold different agenda. However, he mentioned that they would consider fielding a common candidate if the situation demands it. ("PPM, Democrats contesting separately in first round," Sun.mv, 2 July 2023)

UK and EU countries to refuse to lift sanctions
On 2 July, the Guardian reported that the UK and European countries are expected to confirm their plans to not lift sanctions owing to Tehran's use of missiles this October as required by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. EU and British diplomats justified that Iran breached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), sale of Iranian drones to Russia and speculated transfers of Iranian ballistic missiles with Russia. UN nuclear weapon inspectorate head Grossi admitted that monitoring the Iranian nuclear programme has become limited and fragmented. ("UK to breach Iran nuclear deal with refusal to lift sanctions,The Guardian, 2 July 2023)

Tehran refuses to send an ambassador to Sweden 
On 2 July, BBC reported that the Iranian government has withheld a new ambassador to Sweden owing to a protester burning a Quran at a mosque in Stockholm. The protester, an Iraqi refugee, was booked for agitation against ethnic groups by Swedish police. Iranian foreign minister Amirabdollahian has blamed the Swedish government for permitting him to protest. ("Sweden Quran burning: Iran won't send ambassador to Stockholm over incident," BBC, 2 July 2023)

US officials seek US' Iran envoy probe details
On 2 July, Reuters reported that US officials from the US House of Representatives had sought Secretary of State Blinken's clarification on a probe into the clearance of the US envoy for Iran. Special envoy for Iran Rob Malley was under security clearance following his mishandling of classified documents. Rob Malley had failed to revive the Iranian nuclear deal. Michael McCail, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, asked for Acting Special Envoy Abram Paley to testify and provide classified briefings. ("US lawmaker asks Blinken for details on probe of US' Iran envoy," Reuters, 2 July 2023)

Afghanistan ranks last in the Global Peace Index
On 3 July, Mint reported that Afghanistan had been ranked the least peaceful country by the Global Peace Index 2022 report released by the Institute of Economics and Peace. It stated that Afghanistan had additionally recorded the largest reduction of conflict deaths from 43,000 (2021) to more than 4,000 (2022), and terrorist incidents have reduced by 75 per cent. Taliban has termed the report as unjust. ("Afghanistan least peaceful country in world for 5th consecutive year: Report,Mint, 3 July 2023)

Taliban calls for positive engagement with the US
On 3 July, ANI News reported that Taliban Acting Foreign Minister Muttaqi has called on the US to engage with the Taliban positively. Muttaqi stated that Biden's remarks on al-Qaeda indicate an understanding of realities and rejection of the UN report. Additionally, he stated that the Taliban would not use the Afghan territory against other countries. Political analyst Aziz Maarij stated that the denial of the Taliban by the US is comparable to the denial of al-Qaeda. ("Taliban pledges to prevent use of Afghan soil against others,ANI News, 3 July 2023)

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