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Cyber Security, Digital Transition, Technology Geopolitics & Worlds In-Defense In-Security Pensiero Strategico

Open newsletter – march 16, 2022 p.m.

AFGHANISTAN

  • As the Taliban took Kabul last August and completed their spectacular return to power, international media attention drove a frenzy of global interest in Afghanistan. While Afghanistan is no longer headline news, the country is facing a perfect storm of worsening humanitarian, economic, health and governance crises. The United Nations projects that at least 24 million Afghans, more than half the population, will need humanitarian assistance in 2022. With almost 9 million people on the edge of starvation, Afghanistan is fast becoming the most food insecure country in the world. Hameed Hakimi, Oli Brown – Climate change must become part of the global agenda on Afghanistan

BANGLADESH – ROHINGYA

CHAD

  • A first round of negotiations between Chad’s ruling transitional military council (TMC) and representatives of armed groups set to kick off in Doha, the Qatari capital, has been delayed by 48 hours. The talks, which were expected to start on Wednesday, could mark a critical passage in the country’s transition towards elections. Virginia Pietromarchi – Al Jazeera – Chad military gov’t, armed groups peace talks in Doha on hold

GLOBAL 

INDIA

  • Hindu supremacist groups are demanding restrictions on Muslim girls wearing hijab in classrooms in more Indian states after a court upheld a ban on the traditional headscarf in Karnataka state, worrying students who had protested against the ban. The Karnataka High Court’s decision on Tuesday, backing the southern state’s February ban on the hijab, has also been welcomed by top federal ministers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who say students should avoid wearing religious clothing in class. Al Jazeera – India’s Hindu groups want wider ban on hijab after court verdict
  • During the last decade and a half, there has been growing global concern about the quality of democracy in countries that were considered to be embracing democratic principles and running democratic governments. Surprisingly, the opposite was in evidence, preceding these years. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Together, they brought the Cold War to an end and sounded the death knell of dictatorial regimes in Eastern Europe. The impact of these events was dramatic. They hastened a wave of democratisation, not merely in Eastern Europe, but across continents—in the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. The share of free countries grew from 36 to 46 percent between 1988–2005.  Ramanath Jha – ORF – Reinforcing global and Indian democracy
  • In the recently concluded assembly elections for five states, while much of the attention has been on the BJP’s spectacular victory in politically significant Uttar Pradesh, the real surprise is the Punjab outcome. The Aam Aadmi Party’s historic victory in a state with no reliable voting base and a weak and invisible party organisation is a fairy tale story almost similar to what the newbie party achieved in the Delhi elections in 2015. Ambar Kumar Ghosh – ORF – How ‘Delhi model’ facilitated AAP’s historic Punjab sweep

KAZAKHSTAN

  • Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has proposed constitutional reforms to limit the powers of his office, saying the country needed to switch from “superpresidential” rule to a presidential republic with a strong parliament. Tokayev was elected president in 2019 with the backing of his predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had resigned after running the oil-rich nation for 30 years, but retained sweeping powers until recently. Al Jazeera – Kazakhstan president proposes reforms to limit his powers

PAKISTAN

  • Pakistan’s economy has been battered by rising inflation, COVID, supply chain shocks and high energy prices over the last few years. But in that world of constant shocks, its booming startup sector is turning out to be a silver lining for the country. In 2021, 83 startups raised $350m according to Invest2Innovate, a Pakistani consultancy firm. And so far this year, the sector has already raised $136m.
  • Political power in Pakistan is not so much about the arithmetic in assemblies, as it is about the algebra of politics. Prime Minister Imran Khan forgot this iron law of Pakistani politics when he assumed that the support of the Pakistan Army to his regime was a constant. Sushant Sareen – ORF – Imran in his labyrinth

RUSSIA – UKRAINE (impact, reactions, consequences)

  • Someone has posted a list of Russian technology players and their public stances on Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine. Is it a blacklist? A public accounting? And who’s behind it? The list, from an anonymous group called Stopwar22, is a series of links to public Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media posts from some key players in Russian tech development expressing either their support for Russia’s invasion, their opposition to it, or some muddled position in between. (You can access the list here, but note that the hosting company, Notion, has flagged the post as possibly containing “illegal, or inappropriate content.” The posts from inside Russia are now blocked in keeping with the government’s new censorship practices, making it difficult to view either in Russia or outside of it.). Patrick Tucker – Nextgov – A Civil War is Brewing In Russian Tech Circles
  • “Where the enemy advances, we retreat. Where the enemy retreats, we pursue,” Mao Zedong, the founding father of communist China, once said to highlight the importance of strategic dynamism at times of crisis. After embarking on an all-out invasion of Ukraine, which has triggered a crippling wave of Western sanctions and left its economy in need of an urgent lifeline, Russia is now expected to follow Mao’s playbook and seek new opportunities in the East. The problem, however, is that Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Europe may have ruined its once sky-high chances of making a successful pivot towards the lucrative markets of Asia. Richard Javad Heydarian – Al Jazeera – Asian powers are unlikely to ease Russia’s economic woes
  • Stocks rallied after reports that talks among Russia and Ukraine are progressing. Treasuries and the dollar retreated before the Federal Reserve policy decision. Bloomberg, Al Jazeera – US stocks rally on Ukraine talks ahead of Fed rate decision
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the United States Congress for a no-fly zone and more sanctions in his latest public appeal for help as Russians continue their invasion that has killed thousands and pushed more than three million refugees into Eastern Europe. “We need you right now. I call on you to do more,” Zelenskyy said Wednesday, addressing the US Congress by video from Kyiv. Al Jazeera – ‘Close the sky over Ukraine’: Zelenskyy pleads to US Congress
  • Russia has said that some parts of a possible peace deal with Ukraine are close to being agreed after Kyiv hinted at a possible route for a compromise, raising hopes of an end to the three-week war. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the talks were becoming “more realistic”, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said there was “some hope for compromise”, with neutral status for Ukraine – a major Russian demand – now on the table. Al Jazeera – Talk of ‘compromise’ as Russia-Ukraine peace talks set to resume

  • Russia is using the territory of Belarus in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Ryhor Astapenia and Anaïs Marin analyze the role Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s regime plays in the war, and what this means for Belarusian sovereignty.
  • Experts analyse Russia’s tactics and Ukraine’s readiness in the attempted assault on Kyiv. Chatham House – Briefing: Attacking and defending Kyiv
  • The war against Ukraine by Russia has entered a perilous phase on multiple fronts, as a thaw between Kyiv and Moscow seems unlikely in the coming weeks with Europe, backed by the United States (US) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), applying hard sanctions and decoupling political and economic relations with President Vladimir Putin. In midst of this chaos, private citizens or “foreign fighters” have been both courted by Ukraine and promoted by some Western leaders to take up arms. This trend is problematic. Kabir Taneja – ORF – The risks and dangers of foreign fighters taking up arms to fight in Ukraine
  • The new stage of the Ukrainian crisis will have global consequences. For some, it will bring short and medium-term costs, and very significant ones. For many, however, it will create opportunities to increase their influence over the long term, writes Valdai Club Programme Director Ivan Timofeev. Valdai Discussion Club – Ukrainian Crisis. Who Has the Upper Hand?
  • Recent nuclear saber rattling by Russian President Vladimir Putin is forcing the West to confront a question that even many national security professionals have been able to ignore for decades: Would Putin actually use tactical nuclear weapons? More specifically, would he order a tactical nuclear strike on Ukrainian military forces out of frustration that his military forces have failed to achieve their objectives? Assessing that possibility requires a reevaluation of certain assumptions that is long overdue. – Modern War Institute – Would Russia Use a Tactical Nuclear Weapon in Ukraine?

RWANDA

  • Opposition leaders and commentators in Rwanda are being persecuted by the authorities for “their speech and opinions”, intensifying a culture of intolerance towards dissent, a human rights group has said. In a damning report published on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said it had monitored court documents, verdicts and judges’ arguments against several Rwandans who have ended up behind bars due to the country’s “abusive legal framework”. Virginia Pietromarchi – Al Jazeera – HRW: Rwanda silencing YouTubers with ‘abusive’ legal framework

SRI LANKA

UK – GULF COUNTRIES

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in Riyadh during a trip to the Gulf for talks aimed at moving away from reliance on Russian oil and gas supplies amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The Saudi press agency SPA said Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman also attended the meeting on Wednesday, adding that Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a strategic partnership council. Al Jazeera – Johnson meets Saudi, UAE leaders as Ukraine war roils oil prices

USA

  • Verizon landed three Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions or EIS task order awards with the Defense Department—worth a combined $966.5 million—to supply enhanced technical support and network modernization services at the Pentagon and elsewhere, officials confirmed. Brandi Vincent – Nextgov – DOD Awards Verizon Almost $1 Billion to Modernize its Networks
  • While other countries invest in people by building welfare systems that provide security, enhance well-being and health, and keep people from falling into poverty, the United States (US) has maintained a poorly coordinated patchwork of programmes. Social assistance and insurance help people and families get through tough times and improve people’s well-being. As such, they lead to better social and economic outcomes both in the short and long term. Terri Chapman – ORF – Gaps in social protection: The US is failing to make needed investments in people

YEMEN