Week #11 (19-25/08/2019)

Rohingya refugees camp in Bangladesh. | Credit:  Captain Raju

Rohingya refugees camp in Bangladesh. | Credit: Captain Raju


Turkey is attempting to gain more impact (25/08) in the Arab world. With its television dramas and seaside resorts, Turkey is winning over the Saudis as they are unable to resist Turkey’s cultural invasion. South Africa’s Exxaro Resources, a large coal and heavy minerals mining company, said they were working (22/08) on an eco-friendly approach amid investors and government’s concerns about climate change. The firm said it was planning “structural modifications” to make the business viable in the long run, including clean-power projects. Kenya is set to start a population census (22/08) in the midst of rising budget pressure. The count, costing an estimated KES 18.5 billion (USD 179 million), arises as Kenya seeks to expand its infrastructure and increase service delivery including accommodation and health care.


Foreign ministers from five central Asian nations, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, met with a top United States (U.S.) diplomat, known as C5+1, on Wednesday (21/08) to discuss issues related to economic security and partnership; peace promotion in Afghanistan; and security in Central Asia. The meeting held in Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan also reviewed planning for the next ministerial meeting of the C5+1 and noted ongoing engagements in the C5+1’s Security, Economic Connectivity, and Environment Working Groups. After previously Facebook and Twitter dismantled a state-backed effort by China to undermine the protests in Hong Kong, YouTube also announced on Thursday (22/08) that they discovered similar, coordinated campaigns originating in Mainland China. YouTube told Reuters that it would soon be expanding its labeling to also include more state-backed media in China. In Bangladesh, thousands of Rohingyas still refused (22/08) to return to Myanmar’s Rakhine as they still cannot put their trust on the Myanmar government. Knut Ostby, the head of U.N. in Myanmar, said that the Rohingyas would not return unless the Myanmar government could guarantee their access to livelihoods and social services, the freedom to move around, and a predictable path toward citizenship.


Next year’s Pacific Islands Forum will keep on stressing the call for actions against climate change. Vanuatu, the hosting country, has a clear message for Australia (19/08): “We ask that Australia prepares well ahead of the next forum meeting in 2020 and comes to the table ready to make real, tangible commitments on climate change.” Meanwhile, Solomon Islands is considering of changing their allegiance from Taiwan to China, as the latter is extending its influence in the region. In a visit to Palau, Taiwan warned (22/08) the Pacific Island nations against China’s “empty promises”, putting Nauru as an example of which dumped Taipei for Beijing in 2002 but reversed its decision three years later. 


Iceland held funeral (19/08) for its first-ever loss of a glacier due to climate change. The funeral was attended by at least 100 people, including the Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir and the former United Nations (U.N.) human rights commissioner Mary Robinson. A bronze plaque with the inscription “A letter to the future” was planted on a bare rock in western Iceland, where the huge Okjökull glacier once located. The plaque was meant to raise people’s awareness on the decline of glaciers and the effect of climate change.

Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, has resigned from his position (20/08) and put an end to the coalition between two populist parties: the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and the nationalist Northern League. Conte’s departure leaves an uncertain future for both the country and the League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, who wishes to take Conte’s position. It is now up to the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to either form a new parliamentary or call an election.


As a record-breaking number of fires break through Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the local government is pushing back (22/08) against increasing domestic and global pressure over its environmental policies. French president Emmanuel Macron calls G7 countries to address the incident as a top agenda in the summit, which will be held on August 24-26. Meanwhile, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s statement alludes (23/08) to Macron of having “colonial mentality” by not involving countries in the region in the G7 discussion. Bolsonaro described the Amazon burning, which has been at the lowest point since 2013, as a consequence of warmer weather. Some of the participating countries in the G7 summit have said (24/08) that they will block a trade deal between the European Union and Brazil’s economic and political bloc unless the nation takes action.


The U.S. President Donald Trump has postponed (21/08) his visit to Copenhagen less than two weeks before it was supposed to take place after Denmark’s prime minister Mette Frederiksen opposed his interest in purchasing Greenland, calling it “absurd”.  More from the U.S., talk radio host and former congressman Joe Walsh has challenged (25/08) Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. He argued that Trump was “unfit” and always lied. Walsh, who has served one term as an Illinois’ Republican representative stated that it was time to consider the 25th amendment which can remove a president deemed unfit for office.