Daily Briefs

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The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #45, 22 July 2023, Saturday

Myanmar’s political instability could disrupt trilateral highway construction, says Jaishankar

Sri Lankan President propose for land connectivity with India

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #45, 22 July 2023, Saturday
Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George, Ryan Marcus and Lakshmi Parimala H

41st BP Memorial Day celebrated
On 21 July, the 41st BP Memorial Day was celebrated across the country, remembering the first prime minister of Nepal, BP Koirala. BP Koirala, born in 1914, played a significant role in the establishment of democracy in Nepal. He was elected as the prime minister in 1959, after the first ever parliamentary elections. However, the then King, with the help of the Royal Nepali Army, overthrew him, following which he, along with several other leaders, was imprisoned for nine years in the Sundarijal prison, which is now the ‘BP Museum.’ Apart from being a politician, Koirala was also a litterateur. A few of his works include ‘Tin Ghumti,’ ‘Modi Aain,’ ‘Hitler ra Jew,’ ‘Sumnima’ and ‘Narendradai.’ (“41st BP Memorial Day being observed today,” The Kathmandu Post, 22 July 2023)

Nearly 100 kg of gold smuggled through Tribhuvan International Airport
On 18 July, the Department of Revenue Investigation seized gold weighing nearly 100 kg, which was smuggled through the Tribhuvan International Airport. Ten individuals were arrested for the same, including a Chinese national. The gold was passed undetected through the airport and was seized from a taxi at Sinamangal. The negligent security at the airport was criticized by many during a discussion in the National Assembly. According to the police, nearly 665 kg of gold being smuggled into Nepal was confiscated in the past nine years. (Anup Ojha, “Ten arrested in one of biggest gold hauls out of Tribhuvan International Airport,” The Kathmandu Post, 21 July 2023)

Seventeen missing after flash floods
On 22 July, Kuensel reported that a sudden flash flood in Ungar village resulted in significant loss of lives and property. The disaster struck during heavy rainfall, sweeping away camps, vehicles, and homes of workers and families of Druk Hydro Energy Limited. As of now, six bodies have been recovered, but 17 people are still missing. The cause of the flash flood remains unknown. Rescue efforts, involving various personnel and hydropower plant workers, are underway. (Neten Dorji, “Seventeen still missing in Ungar flash flood,” Kuensel, 22 July 2023)

Fighting between Rohingya militants and Arakan Army
On 22 July, The Irrawaddy reported a fierce fight between Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) in the Buthidaung Township of Rakhine state, resulting in casualties for both sides. According to Rakhine media, the conflict began when ARSA troops entered Mayu Mountains, which falls under the AA territory. An AA source said: “Five ARSA fighters were killed and an outpost was seized. The AA seized weapons. I heard one AA member was killed and two injured.” Both sides have not commented on the incident. (“Rakhine State Clash Reported Between AA and Rohingya Militants,” The Irrawaddy, 22 July 2023)

Myanmar’s political instability could disrupt trilateral highway construction: S Jaishankar 
On 22 July, The Irrawaddy reported that despite the international condemnation of the junta regime’s atrocities against civilians, the ties between the regime and India deepens. On 22 July, foreign minister Than Swe met Indian counterpart Dr. S. Jaishankar in the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation meeting in Bangkok. They held talks on the speedy completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. Dr. Jaishankar expressed concerns about the instability in Myanmar, which could disrupt the construction of the highway via Twitter. (“Junta Watch: India Ramps Up Ties With Pariah Neighbor; China Woos Law Minister for Belt and Road; and More,” The Irrawaddy, 22 July 2023)

Pheu Thai meets opposition parties for support
On July 22, the Pheu Thai party met opposition parties’ representatives in its headquarters in Bangkok, to ensure support for the formation of the government on 27 July. Bhumjaithai party leader Anutin Charnvirakul repeated that his party would not join hands with Pheu Thai if it remained with the Move Forward Party (MFP) led coalition. Dr. Cholnan Srikaew said: “This means that an eight-party coalition of 311 plus 71 (from Bhumjaithai) is impossible. I will report those limitations to a meeting of the eight coalition parties.” He opposed any assumptions of abandoning the MFP. Chartpattanaka Party Chairman Suwat Liptapanlop said it would support a majority government for political stability and should keep Section 112 untouched. UTN opposed any coalition with MFP. (“Bhumjaithai: MFP in coalition still a deal-breaker,” Bangkok Post, 22 July 2023)

Police monitoring on gatherings following protests against EC and senators 
On July 22, National Police Chief Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas said the political gatherings on 27 July for PM voting would be closely monitored by the police. He said that the safety measures as per the Public Safety Act would be enforced to thwart any attempts from a “third hand” to stir up violence.” On 20 July, there were attacks in front of the Election Commission office, opposing the suspension of Pita Limjaroenrat’s MP status. There were security requests filed by some senators and EC members because of the threats from the netizens.(“Police to monitor political gatherings for 3rd PM vote,” Bangkok Post, 22 July 2023)

President pitches proposal for land connectivity with India
On 21 July, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that the Sri Lankan President proposed for land connectivity between the two countries. He said that both the leaders showed optimism in taking this proposal forward by initiating a feasibility study. He added that this would bring about mutual economic prosperity and cohesion between the two. It is also notable that the president came up with the same proposal when he was the prime minister between 2002 and 2004. (“Land connectivity proposal came from SL President- Indian Foreign Secretary,Daily Mirror, 22 July 2023)

US sends more warships to counter Iran
On 21 July, Arab News reported that the US had sent additional warships to the Middle East to ensure security against Iranian attempts to seize ships. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that USS Bataan amphibious readiness group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to be deployed to the Gulf region. Additionally, he stated that the unit is expected to consist of more than 2500 marines. The group includes warships USS Mesa Verda and USS Carter Hall. ("US sending more warships, marines to Gulf to counter Iran’s efforts to seize commercial ships," Arab News, 21 July 2023

Iran rejects new Swedish ambassador
On 22 July, Arab News reported that Iran would not permit the new Swedish Ambassador into the country over the Quran desecration. Additionally, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian stated that the Iranian ambassador would not be sent to Sweden. Demonstrations were held in the cities of Tabriz, Mashhad, and Isfahan against the Swedish ambassador. Abdollahian stated that he held talks with the Swedish counterpart on 21 July. ("Iran says will not accept new Swedish envoy in Qur’an row," Arab News, 22 July 2023)

Afghanistan assures security to Pakistan
On 20 July 2023, Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi expressed his government’s committment to security and stability during a meeting with Pakistan’s envoy for Afghanistan, Asif Durrani. Asif Durrani expressed concerns over Afghanistan's stability under Taliban rule. The relations had been hampered following the attacks carried out by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan. Muttaqi assured that Afghanistan did not support such attacks on the Pakistani state. ("Afghanistan assures Pakistan on regional security, stability as Islamabad envoy visits Kabul," Arab News, 20 July 2023)

Daesh leaders pose a challenge to Taliban 
On 21 July, Tolo News reported that the Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian stated that the Daesh leaders and fighters had moved to Afghanistan. Abdollahian claimed that the Daesh moved from Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Kabul governor Qassim Khalid alleged that the Daesh were funded by the US. Additionally, he urged the former Afghan officials to return to the country. ("Kabul Governor Says Daesh is 'US Phenomenon', Tolo News, 21 July 2023)

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