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India and China for a news Leadership on the Climate?

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The world is changing rapidly. Until not long ago, the United States of Barack Obama, in the role of the virtuoses, pressed on India and China, the “big polluters”, to renew their environmental policies and join the ranks of countries engaged in combating climate change. The Paris COP 21 agreement, which was signed in 2015 by all the major players in the game, had, despite the many downward compromises, represented a favorable outcome for environmental issues and a success of the American democratic administration.

Less than two years later, Trump is ready to get out of the agreement, and India and China are willing to lead the fight against pollution, without saving sharp criticism to the new presidency’ choices.

None of the two countries, however, seems to be ready to assume a real leadership in the fight against global warming and fill the void that will inevitably be left by USA discharge.

The two Asian governments are gradually taking on more strong positions, on the public level as well, against fossil fuels, as their respective populations are going to directly suffer, more and more, from the adverse effects of climate change and poisoning of natural resources. Beyond reassuring positions, China and India are, at least for now, unable to offset the strong weakening of the economic incentive system the US offered to developing countries in exchange for a greater control over their levels of pollution.

The change of route in Asia is, however, evident and should not be underestimated. For decades, the governments of India and China had looked with suspicion and annoyance at the appeals of the first world countries for a reduction in polluting emissions. The countries which have based their development on wild industrialization without posing too much doubts about the climatic consequences, asked the poorer countries to limit their growth capabilities to preserve the health of the planet. What pulp came from the sermon?

Today, however, both Indian President Modi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping seem to have adopted a different vision of the world. Modi called a “morally criminal act” to not stick to the commitments assumed on the climate front. Jinping addressed all signatories to the COP 21, recalling that it represents “a responsibility we must assume for future generations”.

Trump’s choice could have dramatic consequences for that same future. In addition to the reduction in economic incentives and technological equipment supplies (the US alone would have to contribute for about 20% of the total), American withdrawal could entice other countries to do the same. The Paris agreement, moreover, had been considered by many to be a downward result, unable to effectively contain global warming in the coming years. There would be much more substantial emissions cutbacks in order to reverse the route, but the American turnaround may also weaken the current deal, encouraging more hesitant states to loosen the ties of their engagement.

The United States is also the second most polluting country in the world, and with the Paris agreement they pledged to reduce 26 to 28% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Without their contribution, experts are asking, will it be possible to meet the objective of limiting the rise in temperature, compared to the pre-industrial era, below the two degrees, as established by the Paris Agreement?

It’s hard to say, but things are neverthless moving. If India is committed to meeting its objectives, despite the fact that 240 million people in the sub-continent still have no access to electricity, China seems to have rapidly traveled to its commitments and started a financing project on the renewable energies ($ 360 million by 2020) that makes the Asian giant the new industry leader, globally.

New environmental policies, according to scholars, have already begun to have some tangible consequences in the two countries. China has slowed down its consumption of carbon and India is about to reduce its construction projects for new coal-fired power plants. New Deli then accelerated investments in wind and solar energy, moving to the target set for 2022: to bring its capacity from renewable sources to 175 gigawatts.

The words of Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goya sound clear and strong: “We are not addressing climate change because somebody told us to do it, it is an article of faith for this government .”

The jibe for the most industrialized countries is also a paradigm shift: “Sadly the developed world does not show the same commitment to fulfill their promises, which could help speed up the clean energy revolution .”

Will the Asian powers therefore be able to fill in the American shortages and load this revolution on their shoulders? The commitment is evident but the economic problem remains. American leadership on the environmental front, in the Obama era, was expressed through a $ 3 billion loan in favor of the poorest countries to support them in the development of alternative energies. This fund has been reduced by two-thirds by Trump and neither Beijing nor New Delhi intend to put all this money on the table. Rather, the two giants seem willing to play a coordinating and addressing role, strengthening the sharing of technology-based knowledge among the nations involved.

Using the words of Varad Pande, an ex-consultant at the Indian Ministry of Energy, the one that is being built todaywill be a different flavor of leadership“.

Intense and spicy, hopefully, like curry.

IF PYONGYANG PUTS BEIJING NEAR WASHINGTON

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1280px-The_statues_of_Kim_Il_Sung_and_Kim_Jong_Il_on_Mansu_Hill_in_Pyongyang_(april_2012)

The tone escalation in Northeast Asia is alarming the chancelleries of the region and beyond. The fragile equilibrium on which the peace lies in the Korean peninsula is put to the test on both sides. Trump threatened to send a naval “armada”, putting Pyongyang under pressure during the celebrations for the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-Sung, founder of the country. Kim Jong-Un, on the opposite side, renewed its threats to the United States and its South Korean and Japanese allies, claiming to be ready to use all of its offensive potential in the event of a conflict. The North Korean nuclear dossier, therefore, is again on the top of the agenda, raising the alarm level of the international community.

The nuclear project is for Pyongyang absolutely strategic in terms of detriment of external threats and for this purpose it funds the program with $ 700 million annually, to advance on the technological ground and equip medium- and long-range ballistic vectors  on which, one day, install atomic warheads. The six nuclear tests so far conducted and the progressive technical improvements have allowed the regime to strengthen its position in the chain of regional relations and in the confrontation with the great American enemy, with whom, it should be remembered, a peace treaty was never signed after the end of the Korean War in 1951.

It is not possible to verify Pyongyang’s proclamations and no one knows for sure when Kim will be able to rely on the hydrogen bomb or on a ballistic missile capable of reaching the American West Coast. This uncertainty, however, plays in favor of the regime, which shows the muscles without the enemy being able to understand with certainty whether they are made of flesh or fake.

Nuclear rhetoric is an important instrument of control and affirmation also on the domestic front, as it allows Kim to consolidate its authority both in the eyes of the population and the bureaucratic-military establishment that plays a central role in the country. When he succeeded his father in 2011, Kim was almost unknown at home. Therefore, he immediately had to  exacerbate his rhetoric to build the image of an authoritative and determined leader, relying on the powerful propaganda machine and the systematic cleanup of internal opponents. Paradigmatic example was the physical elimination of Jang Song-taek, uncle of the young leader who had climbed the military hierarchies during the reign of Kim Jong-il and who, in the first months after the succession, played the role of de facto regent of the Regime.

Jang had also become the principal referent of Beijing, the main, if not unique, North Korean ally. And, on the Chinese model, Jang wanted to bring Pyongyang on the road to economic reforms and greater openness . Jang’s specific weight in the power system and his plan to transform the country, moving away from the dynastic and personalistic model in favor of a more collegial conception inspired by the Beijing example, have been probably the origin of its end. Progressively marginalized by the new leader after 2011, he was arrested in 2013 and killed along with other members of his circle.

This demonstration of strength, while serving as an example to other possible internal opponents, marked the beginning of a new phase of isolation of  the country from the rest of the international community. Subsequent nuclear tests and the aggressive rhetoric of Kim have provoked a strong exasperation towards the Pyongyang regime, even in the Chinese ally, traditionally available for patience. After Jang’s execution, Beijing lost its reference man and no longer found trusted interlocutors north of the 38th parallel, losing part of his role as protector and regime controller.

If for a long time North Korea has been a pressure instrument on the international community and a buffered state between Beijing and the Asian allies of the United States, it is now likely to be a risk factor for Chinese interests in the region. North Korean intimidations has had the effect of releasing the arming race in neighboring countries, thus altering the traditional balance in the Pacific and putting Beijing in a situation of unprecedented difficulty. Pyongyang’s defense may therefore be counterproductive for China, which could ultimately opt for pragmatic convergence with the United States, South Korea and Japan.

In 2016, for the first time, China joined the sanctions system against the North Korean government, marking a major breakthrough. Beijing is in fact the first trading partner for Pyongyang and hosts a large number of bank accounts, companies and firms that manage the regime’s legal and illegal activities. In 2017 coal imports from North Korea will drop by about 50%, with estimated economic damage of about $ 700 million, equal to the entire budget for the nuclear research program.

This change of route does not, however, result in a Chinese flattening on American positions. Beijing did not appreciate at all the explicit threats put forth by Trump against North Korea and, at the March bilateral summit in Florida, Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated the need to find a diplomatic solution and avoid a dangerous escalation in the region. Beijing could not afford to remain a passive spectator in the face of any US military action that would have a direct impact on its national security.

The economic and commercial leverage could allow China to re-enforce its influence on the North Korean military and bureaucratic elites, who base their prosperity on the ability to do business with the powerful neighbor. However, it will be necessary to locate new contact persons in Pyongyang so that it can return to influence the regime’s policy and best manage, in the event of a fall of current leadership, the transition phase. A recaptured influence would also allow China to get a new exchange currency in the relationship with Trump administration, in a delicate historical stage for the relations between the two global giants.

The need to limit the unpredictability of Kim Jong-Un’s regime could be the common ground on which to redefine the boundaries of the relationship between China and the United States. A more assertive role of Beijing towards the regime could therefore be the result of an agreement between the two sides of the Pacific, with a possible marginalization of the role played by Japan and South Korea in determining a new strategy.

Tokyo and Seoul would be on the front line in a possible armed conflict with Pyongyang. If, however, Japan appears ready to support the Trump administration’s muscular approach, Seoul continues to push for the search of peaceful and diplomatic solutions. In the midst of a political crisis that led to the resignation of former President Park, South Korea is likely to find itself without a strong government when crucial decisions are taken, with direct consequences on its national security.

 

Image: Wikimedia

North Korea launches a warning to Trump and Xi Jinping

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A few hours before the summit between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese equivalent Xi Jinping, in Florida, the North Korean leader has ordered the launch of a KN-15 medium-range which missile which concluded its trajectory in the Sea of ​​Japan waters, after a short flight of about 60 kilometers.

South Korea strongly condemned the new provocation of Pyongyang, and the US Defense Secretary, Rex Tillerson, coldly addressed the episode: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” The most decisive response came instead from Tokyo, speaking through Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga: “Japan can never tolerate North Korea’s repeated provocative actions. The government strictly protested and strongly condemned it. “

After five nuclear tests, two of which were conducted in 2016, today’s launch has renewed fears of the international community on the North Korean missile program. Pyongynag is still far from the objective of realizing a long-range warhead that can deliver a nuclear weapon on American soil , but analysts have speculated that the KN-15 missile was propelled by a solid propellant, easy to handle and transport, which would increase the striking capacity of the Asian regime.

The show of force occurs in the aftermath of two events that Pyongyang interpreted as serious threats. In recent days, Trump launched its warning: if China decides not to cooperate in containing the inconvenient regional ally, the US is ready to act alone against the enemy. At the same time, a joint military drill between the US, Japan and South Korea, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for a possible invasion, just came to an end.

According to a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry, the actions of enemy powers are bringing the Asian Peninsula on “brink of war”.

The current crisis, which undoubtedly will be the focus of talks between Trump and Jinping, was preceded, in February, by the launch of four ballistic missiles by North Koreans who have fallen close to the Japanese coast, and from an SLBM ( Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) launch system test that would allow Pyongyang to bring its warheads into enemy waters and have an unprecedented second-strike capability, in case of destruction of its terrestrial arsenal. However, this hypothesis, according to analysts, is currently only theoretical and years will occour before Kim Jong Un will be able to rely on such an offensive capability.

In an increasingly overheated scenario, the Chinese government try to throw water on the fire. On the eve of Jinping and Trump summit, at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, owned by the US president, a spokesman for the Beijing Foreign Ministry has denied any link between the North Korean missile launch and the meeting between the two powers, urging all actors involved to avoid any further escalation.

China, at this moment, seems to be the only force able to put a stop to the conflict between Pyongyang and its many enemies.

Iraqi Forces Reach Vicinity Of Mosul Airport

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The Iraqi military said in a statement that U.S.-backed Iraqi forces reached the vicinity of Mosul airport on Monday (February 21) after dislodging Islamic State fighters from a nearby hill which is close to Albu Saif, a village two miles from the airport. “We are in Albu Saif and we started to clear houses from bombs, and we are conducting house-to-house search”, said Police Lieutenant Colonel Hussein. The Iraqi forces aim to take the airport, just south of Mosul, and turn it into a close support base for the offensive into the city itself.

 

 

Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan are a West-East ‘bridge’ located in the center of the world energy

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Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan must use potential and advantages for the expansion of economic integration, Faruk Ozlu, Turkish minister of science, industry and technology, said. Ozlu made remarks at the fifth Turkey-Azerbaijan-Georgia business forum in Istanbul Feb. 17. The minister added that Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan are located in the center of the world energy and transport corridor and are a ‘bridge’ between West and East due to the favorable geographical location and Ankara is ready to take any actions to strengthen trade and economic ties with Georgia and Azerbaijan.

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs do not accept the results of the February 20 referendum, undermining the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh

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The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group met Feb. 16 with the Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian and the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov, separately and then jointly, said a statement of the OSCE MG co-chairs Feb. 17. The OSCE MG co-chairs underscored again that no countries, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent and sovereign state, according to the statement. “Accordingly, the co-chairs do not accept the results of the referendum on Feb. 20 as affecting the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The co-chairs also stress that the results in no way prejudge the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh or the outcome of the ongoing negotiations to bring a lasting and peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”, said the statement. “The co-chairs plan to travel to the region in March”.

Qassemi: Trump and Netanyahu unworthy allegations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program

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Bahram Qassemi said on Thursday that the recent anti-Iran remarks by US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu contain nothing except a repetition of bogus and unworthy allegations against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. The accusations against Iran are in contradiction to multiple reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which have confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities. His comments came after Trump and Netanyahu at a joint press conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday hammered Iran for its nuclear program.

30 dead, over 100 injured in a suicide attack in Jamshoro

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JAMSHORO (Pakistan)– A strong blast ripped through Lal Shehbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan Sharif on Thursday, killing at least 30 people and injuring more than 100 others. A stampede followed the blast occurred in the premises of the shrine where a large number of devotee, including women and children, were present. Rescuers are shifting the bodies and injured to nearby hospitals Contingents of police have reached the shrine that is situated slightly off the Pakistan Super Highway in Sindh province. Hundreds of people gather at the Sufi saint’s shrine every Thursday for religious rituals.

Nasrallah: must dismantle the Dimona nuclear reactor that poses a threat to Israel's existence

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Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday called on Israel to “dismantle the Dimona nuclear reactor” warning that it poses a threat to Israel’s existence if hit by Hezbollah’s missiles in any confrontation.“Israel is continuing to launch threats against Lebanon and speak of the third Lebanon war and of what it will do during this third war. This intimidation is not new and it seems that there is a permanent Israeli objective to pressure the resistance community in Lebanon, and after (Donald) Trump was elected U.S. president, this intimidation has returned” said Nasrallah in a televised speech commemorating Hezbollah’s slain leaders. Trump’s election does not scare us, even if claims that he will give (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu the green light to wage a war on Lebanon turn out to be true, seeing as the issue of war on Lebanon is not hinging on the American permission, Hezbollah’s chief noted. Commenting on an Israeli court’s order that an ammonia container in the northern city of Haifa be emptied of its toxic content, Nasrallah also advised Israel to “dismantle the Dimona nuclear reactor” warning that it poses a threat to Israel’s very existence if hit by his group’s missiles. Nasrallah added: “The resistance must remain prepared and ready and the enemy understands this because this is what’s deterring it”.

Meeting Trump-Netanyahu: the administration will not impose a "two states" solution to Israel

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President Trump has hosted yesterday the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House, the two have a busy work program that includes political and economic discussions. The most interesting thing is the line change that Trump has decided to do in relation to Israel, in fact, the President during the campaign he had said very close to the ideas of Netanyahu regarding the fight against terrorism, the iniquity of nuclear deal with Iran and the displacement of  US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Excluding this last point, however, still without a concrete action, on the remaining issues Trump has not impressed the breakthrough announced remaining more or less in continuity with the line of Obama. Also regarding the resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine it seems that the administration has decided to return to support the solution of “two states” unwelcome by Netanyahu, however, the Chief of Staff of the White House said that the administration will not impose to Israel “two states” solution.

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