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Aung San Suu Kyi, l’incongruenza di un simbolo

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Aung San Suu Kyi è il Consigliere di Stato e Ministra degli Esteri della Birmania. E’ famosa in tutto il mondo come “the Lady”, titolo anche di un film che la ritrae come paladina della democrazia e dei diritti umani. Allo stesso modo deve averla vista anche la commissione che le ha assegnato un premio Nobel nel 1991, e non a torto. Aung San Suu Kyi ha vissuto prigioniera in casa sua per venti anni, combattente non violenta per la democrazia. Battaglia che ha vinto con le elezioni del 2013, anno in cui il partito National League of Democracy viene eletto a guidare il passaggio del Paese alla democrazia. Il suo governo negli ultimi 18 mesi ha lavorato ad un progetto di pace e di sviluppo sostenibile che ha però incontrato molte critiche.

Tra le ultime voci che si sono levate contro la premio Nobel, ci sono i suoi colleghi premio Nobel, Malala e Desmond Tutu, nonché una partecipatissima petizione per revocarle il premio. Il motivo di queste critiche sta nel fatto che una regione del Myanmar, il Rakhine, è oggi occupata militarmente, chiuso ad ogni accesso sia da parte di missioni umanitarie che di media, e la popolazione che abita la regione, musulmani Rohingya, sta emigrando in massa verso il Bangladesh (mezzo milione di persone nelle ultime quattro settimane) 

Ora, la difficoltà di accesso alla regione rende di conseguenza difficile avere notizie certe su ciò che sta succedendo in Rakhine. Certe però, sono le testimonianze di chi è fuggito e di chi si sta rifugiando in Bangladesh. Sono notizie di persecuzioni, violenze, stupri e infanticidi commessi dall’esercito di Myanmar contro la popolazione musulmana Rohingya. L’ONU ha definito i recenti avvenimenti un esempio testuale di pulizia etnica. Di qui le accuse a Aung San Suu Kyi, leader di fatto di un paese sconvolto da una tragedia umanitaria, accuse mosse in relazione al suo status di premio Nobel per la Pace.  

Un aspetto da considerare è il fatto che Aung San Suu Kyi è una figura decisamente secondaria quando si parla di sicurezza e difesa dello stato. Il passaggio alla democrazia non è ancora ultimato, e per essere eletta, la leader è dovuta giungere ad un compromesso con l’esercito, lasciandolo a capo di tre ministeri fondamentali del Myanmar: Difesa, Frontiere e Interno. È perciò presumibile che quando si parli di una persecuzione interna, mossa dall’esercito, Aung San Suu Kyi non abbia i mezzi né i poteri per fermarli. Altro è esigere dalla leader quantomeno una dichiarazione, un riconoscimento della situazione. Ciò non è ancora avvenuto; nella sua ultima dichiarazione, la Lady ha parlato di attacchi terroristici contro la polizia, di una maggioranza di popolazione che non è emigrata e di una sostanziale ignoranza da parte del governo delle cause per cui quel mezzo di milione di persone sono oggi in Bangladesh come rifugiati. Nulla insomma, sui Rohingya, sulla persecuzione di questo gruppo etnico né sulla discriminazione sistemica che il governo ha portato avanti negli ultimi 50 anni nei confronti di questa minoranza musulmana. Non sembra perciò che le posizioni di Aung San Suu Kyi e dell’esercito siano discordi sull’argomento, o almeno fino ad ora la leader non si è pronunciata contro le azioni dell’esercito.  

Desmond Tutu, nella sua dichiarazione sull’operato della Lady, ha parlato di incongruenza di un simbolo, della discrepanza tra ciò che Aung San Suu Kyi dovrebbe rappresentare in quanto premio Nobel per la Pace e la realtà della Birmania oggi. Aung San Suu Kyi ha certamente rappresentato l’elemento fondamentale del passaggio alla democrazia per il suo paese, passaggio che come lei stessa afferma non è ancora perfezionato e richiede tempo. Detto ciò il problema che va oggi affrontato non si esaurisce con una dichiarazione di una leader che non ha potere sull’esercito, o con il ritiro del suo premio. Il problema rimane in quel campo profughi in Cox Bazar di mezzo milione di persone, che non diminuiranno nel prossimo futuro, e nei villaggi che continuano a bruciare in Rakhine ma sono inaccessibili ad aiuti umanitari.  

Richiamando le parole di Francesco Rocca, presidente della Croce Rossa Italiana, attualmente in missione in Cox Bazar, serve uno sforzo consistente da parte della comunità internazionale, aiuti concreti al campo profughi e una strategia di risoluzione della crisi in Rakhine, che affronti l’origine dell’emigrazione. Queste devono essere le direttrici dello sforzo internazionale, queste le priorità.

Qeshm Island becomes UNESCO Global Geopark

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Morteza Sheikhzadeh, Director of Public Relations and International Affairs at Qeshm Free Zone Organization, said a 10-day session of UNESCO Global Geoparks Council was held in France and, on the final day of the event on May 05, UNESCO’s Executive Board endorsed the decision to assign UNESCO Global Geopark label to eight sites in Asia, Europe and Latin America including Iran’s Qeshm Island. Sheikhzadeh noted that Qeshm Island has received the label for a four-year period. The official recalled that the Qeshm Island’s application to become a UNESCO Global Geopark had been rejected in 2013 and some thought that its globalization was a mere slogan. However, infrastructure projects, including the road to salt cave, received necessary funds and the government made investments for locals to have their own sustainable income. Theses measured paved the path to globalization of the Iranian geopark. Qeshm Island UNESCO Global Geopark is an island shaped like a dolphin in the Strait of Hormuz, off the southern coast of Iran. Its exposed geological formations have been shaped by erosion generating a range of spectacular landscapes and beautiful rock deserts. Its preservation is supported by green tourism activities managed by local communities.

South Korea says U.S. reaffirms it will pay THAAD costs; Trump calls Asia allies.

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South Korea said the United States had reaffirmed it would shoulder the cost of deploying the THAAD anti-missile system, days after President Donald Trump said Seoul should pay for the $1-billion battery designed to defend against North Korea. In a telephone call on Sunday, Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, reassured his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, that the U.S. alliance with South Korea was its top priority in the Asia-Pacific region, the South’s presidential office said. The conversation followed another North Korean missile test-launch on Saturday which Washington and Seoul said was unsuccessful, but which drew widespread international condemnation.

Iranian FM: No military solution to crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underlined that no military solution is envisaged for the crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, and said the West Asia region is paying a heavy price for the world powers’ hegemonic policies. “The conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain don’t have a military solution”, Zarif wrote in the Kuwaiti al-Rai al-Youm newspaper on Sunday. He said that the regional crises need political solutions based on the views of all the major parties, excluding the extremist and terrorist groups. Noting that the West Asia region has paid a heavy price for the world powers’ hegemonic policies, Zarif expressed the hope that other regional powers would accompany Iran to avoid domination or beind dominated. In relevant remarks earlier this month, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini rejected a military solution to the Syria crisis following a US missile strike against the country. “As for Syria, it was reaffirmed during the Brussels conference organized last week that there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria”, Mogherini said at a news conference in Algiers. “For this issue, the European Union is very clear and very firm, there is no possibility for a military solution to the crisis”, she added. Mogherini said the United States is a friend of the EU, adding the bloc hopes the US can agree with the EU on a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Tillerson ends China trip with warm words from President Xi

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The warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues. China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the US decision to base an advanced missile defence system in South Korea.

US Secretary of State Tillerson calls for “new approach” to North Korea

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday the escalating threat from North Korea’s nuclear program showed a clear need for a “new approach”, although he stopped short of detailing what steps the Trump administration would pursue. Tillerson was speaking at a news conference following talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, the start of his first trip to Asia as secretary of state. It was the first time Tillerson, a former oil executive with no prior diplomatic experience, had taken questions from the media since coming into office in early February.

New chapter in Iran’s Isfahan and South Korea’s Gwangju

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Mayor of this central Iranian city says that a new chapter has been opened in relations between Isfahan and Gwangju, the sixth largest city in South Korea. On the sidelines of the ceremony, the Silk Road cultural festival was held here that Isfahan mayor described it as a reminiscent of historical ties between Iran and South Korea. The Silk Road or Silk Route is an ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of Asia connecting the West and East.

32 combats killed in western Yemen

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As loyalist forces of President Hadi advanced into neighborhood of Mokha 32 combats were killed on Wednesday in a battle for a key coastal town in western Yemen. 24 Houthis were killed and 12 of that were taken to an hospital in Mokha, while 12 others were militias and were buried after they were found by advancing troops. Between the soldiers 8 were killed and more than 400 combatants have been killed since the government forces launched their offensive in the Red Sea coastline. So 32 combats is just the bill of today.

Attacks in Jerusalem: three injured people

Three people were lightly injured in two rock-throwing attacks in East Jerusalem on Tuesday. In one incident, two people were lightly hurt when stones were thrown at an Israeli car in the A-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, police said. The two were treated at the scene by Magen David Adom rescue personnel. Security forces later arrested a 15-year-old East Jerusalem resident suspected to be behind the attack. In a separate incident, one person was lightly hurt after he was hit by stones near the Lions’ Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.

South China Sea: what scenarios after The Hague ruling

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The forecasts have been met: The Permanent Court of Arbitration based at The Hague, called by the Philippines in defense of their fishing areas, has expressed yesterday in a ruling that meets Manila requests and disregards the Beijing claims on the islands of the South China Sea. The Court ruled that the Chinese expansion violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international agreement that regulates the right of the states on the oceans, signed by 166 nations, including China.

How was equally predictable, given the statements of Chinese leaders before the verdict, the Asian giant does not intend to respect the ruling of the Court, to which it never wanted to recognize any jurisdiction over the maritime dispute involving the major countries of Southeast Asia, as well in Japan, the US and, to a lesser extent, Australia.

The so-called “Nine-dash line” claimed by Beijing covers 90% of the South China Sea and finds its shaky historical justification in the control of the archipelago of Paracelsus Islands, militarily withdrawn from Vietnam in 1974. China, over the past three years, has strengthened unilaterally its position by building artificial island along the coral reefs, where then installed civilian and military outposts and asphalt airstrips for the landing of its aircrafts.

In fact, the judgment further stirs the waters in a geopolitical theater already subject to frequent storms. China is convinced that no act of the court will ever questioning its national interests in the area. Moreover, the Hague International Court has no binding instrument to force Beijing to respect its judgment. The Chinese government, however, is concerned that the judgment favorable to the Philippines may trigger a domino of appeals from other countries whose coasts are on the disputed stretch of sea, among the most strategic globally by fishing and commercial point of view. The US, meanwhile, could use the ruling to reaffirm the  freedom of navigation principle, the banner that Washington carries out to safeguard their own economic and military interests in the area.

Beijing’s response is likely to be more important than the ruling itself and could point the way for future relations between the hegemonic power of the area and the bloc of nations that attempts to contain its expansion. The question is: what will China do? It will try to direct the development of events in his favor, or try other unilateral actions, even at the cost of exacerbating tensions?

Beijing could decide to be accommodating and, without publicly accept the principles of the judgment, could mitigate its positions, stopping the construction of artificial islands and recognizing the right of fishing in the disputed waters for its neighbors. In the long run, a conciliatory attitude could benefit the growth of the country, ensuring peace and contributing to the emergence of an international legal system more sensitive to its interests.

The events may, however, take the opposite direction. China may reject the ruling and, with it, reject UNCLOS principles, accelerate the construction of artificial islands and strengthen the military outposts, showing muscles to the Philippines and other ASEAN countries.

Beijing could also opt for a third way: do nothing and ignore the ruling. But to cement his leadership China needs to produce rules, not to ignore them, offering an image of reliability in terms of international law. A proactive approach is the only one that would convince other Asian countries to recognize to China a leading role in the medium and long term.

All actors involved should, therefore, openly or tacitly accept the principles underlying the judgment without pushing for a rapid implementation. China would take time to gradually adapt its initiatives to the new standards, in the name of political stability and for the affirmation of an international law which build its supremacy within.

At the moment, it is not easy to imagine such reasonableness, because the Asian giant also feeds itself with nationalism and revanchism against the western and pro-Western powers, which in the past have used the gauntlet to impose their interests to China. An official statement released just before the verdict came by the Minister of Defense, and wasn’t too conciliatory: “Chinese armed forces will firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and maritime interests and rights, firmly uphold regional peace and stability, and deal with all kinds of threats and challenges.”

Today Beijing feels as strong as ever and could decide to challenge the common rules to force opponents to accept its own. In this case even peace itself would be at risk, because an increase in the construction of civil and military infrastructure in the South China Sea would strengthen deterrence but would multiply the chances of accidents with the US and its allies. The escalation, at that point, may be rapid and uncontrollable.

Luca Marchesini
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