The longtime regime of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is on the verge of collapsing as his country is witnessing the most massive protests. As the opposition protestors seek a way to power by street rallies and strikes triggered by disputed elections, the President has stepped up to reestablish his control after ten days. Eighty percent of the votes went to Lukashenko as per official results, but the opposition claims the results to be fraudulent. The capital of Minsk saw tens of thousands of people coming together in defiance of the election victory.
On Sunday, hoards of protesters of around 2 lakh gathered on the streets of the former Soviet republic under Lukashenko’s reign since 1994, chanting anti-government slogans and waving the traditional red and white flag, a symbol of the opposition since the President assumed power and replaced it with a more Soviet-looking national flag. Lukashenko is striving to put an end to the unrest at Minsk.
At least three protesters have died, and police detained almost 7,000 people and injured hundreds during the four days of protest.
#Belarusprotests are unique in many ways: sustained, nonviolent, self-organized but also they take place not only in the capital, not only in #Minsk. The whole country raised up against #Lukaschenko. Here’s from today’s demonstration in Brest ⬇️
— inna shevchenko (@femeninna) August 16, 2020
The united opposition candidate against Lukashenko, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, is ready to serve as a temporary “national leader” and conduct a new set of elections within six months with international supervision any unfairness of Lukashenko. She has also given her word to set the political prisoners free and take the country back to the pre-Lukashenko constitution.
In contrast to the moderate Tikhanovskaya, many protestors have laid their lives on the line and vehemently oppose Lukashenko’s regime. Though they are not framing the movement as a pro-Russian or pro-western one, and wish to settle the matter on their own, they may seek foreign support if the President gains stability. In the meantime, there is no constituency in the country for a Russian intervention.
Have to be rooting for the courageous and long suffering people of Belarus right now.
They’ve never had protests anything like this before. pic.twitter.com/2HMgNdr9jO
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) August 16, 2020
— Kayla (@kaylapop_) August 16, 2020
Tikhanovskaya urged the European Union (EU) leaders on Wednesday to reject the election results, stating that the President had “lost all legitimacy in the eyes of our nation and the world” and asked the EU to join in the “awakening of Belarus.” After being detained for long after the voting, she left for Lithuania. She also raised her voice about the episodes of police brutality and torture against the imprisoned protestors.
Just as the EU leaders agreed to impose sanctions at a virtual summit and European Council President Charles Michel said that the election results were null and void for the EU and the President must release all detainees, Lukashenko told his security council that “There should no longer be any disorder in Minsk of any kind.” Apparently, for the peace of the people, he ordered the border controls to be tightened to prevent an influx of further unrest.
Furthermore, Lukashenko branded his opponents “Western puppets” as the country’s prosecutor general announced criminal charges against opposition leaders.
Many workers at state media had gone on strike following the rigged elections, and the President strictly warned that they would not get their jobs back. He is reportedly bringing in Russian replacements in their place. Police checking has been increased in the capital.
According to reports, Lukashenko has approved of a cabinet constituting of many key members of the previous government reappointed in their roles. Former Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko, Interior Minister Yuri Karayev, are likely to retain their positions. The lower house of parliament is yet to provide consent to the proposed government.
A day after Lukashenko warned the strike participants that they would face dismissal in a bid to stop the spreading of unrest, it was announced that opposition leaders were being investigated on charges of undermining national security.
Response of EU:
EU leaders unanimously decided that they would impose sanctions, including asset freezes for officials involved in the alleged rigging of votes, brutality, and imprisoning protesters. They have discarded the outcome of the elections and stand in solidarity with the protestors. However, they have not negated the President’s authority.
They are also interested in meditating between the government and the opposition to establish a peaceful way for the President to stand down and transfer power. Moreover, 53 million euros of financial support would be reassigned to NGOs from the state, with some money assigned to aid the victims of violence and set up alternative media houses free of government backing. Some EU states that have formerly been parts of the Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact want more robust action to be taken by Brussels.
The European Union stands in solidarity with the people of #Belarus. And we don't accept impunity.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) August 19, 2020
After Belarus’s Prosecutor General announced a launch of criminal cases against the Coordination Council, a new body formed by opposition leaders, Bruce Millar, Amnesty International’s Acting Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, stated: “Not content with arresting thousands of protesters, torturing detainees and beating up journalists and medics, the Belarusian authorities have now accused peaceful opposition leaders of being a threat to national security. This demonstrates just how far the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka is willing to go to cling to power. If anything is threatening peace and security in Belarus, it is the authorities’ violence against their people.”
He further based the Belarus authorities and said: “that there is no further question or illusion that the authorities are interested in respecting human rights and the rule of law. Adding to which, he said that they are trying to reach out to Belarusian authorities to end the abuse against peaceful protestors and remind them about their obligation towards international law to respect the right to freedom of expression. The Prosecutor’s announcement is likely to aggregate and appall protestors further, and the people of Belarus must be able to express their views without fear of reprisals.”
But protests are only growing and strikes spreading.
— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) August 17, 2020
Belarus is of great importance to Vladimir Putin, whose ambition remains to integrate the country into Russia as a part of a “union state.” On Wednesday, Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, said Russia had no plans to help Belarus militarily or otherwise for the time being.
If reports are true that Putin's "green men" are on their way to Belarus, then the playbook is this: They will stage incidents of violence against ethnic Russians; Lukashenka will plead for "help," Russian forces will crack down on *all* protests as "humanitarian assistance."
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) August 19, 2020
Moscow has left Lukashenko to deal with his crisis single-handedly as it does not wish to turn the protest movement against him into one against Putin. However, Russia would most likely ensure that it remains involved in discussions related to Belarus’ future and try to cultivate pro-Russian politicians in the country. It would also ensure that Belarus maintains its agreements with Moscow and does not indulge in any integration with the EU or NATO.
Further developments in the matter are much awaited.
Escalation Of COVID-19 Cases Across The Globe
The United States, India, and Brazil have the most confirmed cases, followed by France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. There are very few locations that have remained undisturbed.
Since the middle of last year, confirmed cases have been increasing. Although the actual scope of the first outbreaks in 2020 is unknown because testing was not generally available at the time. The 100 million COVID-19 cases were discovered at the end of January, over a year after it was first diagnosed. As of 6:30 p.m. CEST on July 30, 2021, WHO has received reports of 196,553,009 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 4,200,412 fatalities. A total of 3,839,816,037 vaccination doses has been delivered as of July 28, 2021.
After reaching a record high of over 0.9 million cases on April 28, 2021, new daily instances of the coronavirus continued to decline, reaching a low point on June 21, when over 0.3 million cases were reported. Since then yet, there has been a global increase in cases. On July 15, 0.53 million daily cases were reported, and over three million new cases were reported in the second week of the month. As of July 15, 188.9 million patients have been recorded worldwide. The transmissive Delta form accounting for most infections in 111 countries. Most instances were recorded in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and Colombia in the last week. With the steepest increases in Zimbabwe (72%), Indonesia (44%), the United States (38%), Bangladesh (35%), and the United Kingdom (30%). Many Asian nations, including Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan, have reported many daily cases. However, the spread was under control.
The number of new cases in Indonesia has been on the rise, with each day seeing a significant increase over the previous day. Indonesia is now the new Asian epicentre, with 56,757 cases recorded on July 15; India reported 39,000 patients on the same day. COVID-19 fatalities are high, according to WHO. After decreasing for nine weeks, with the highest increases in Africa and Southeast Asia. COVID-19 fatalities worldwide surpassed four million on July 7. The last million deaths occurred in under 90 days, the lowest time interval for every one million deaths ever recorded.
High vaccination coverage has been shown in the United States and much of Europe to lower fatalities and even hospitalizations. For example, United Kingdom rises in incidence. There has been fewer hospitalizations and deaths over 87% of the adult population, as they are vaccinated with one dose and over 67% with two doses. In the United States, the increase in cases is concentrated in states with low vaccination coverage, with unvaccinated people accounting for most deaths. Over 55% of Americans have received one dosage, and 48% are completely immunized. It shifts the focus back to improving vaccination coverage and achieving global vaccine equality to avoid fatalities and the spread of dangerous strains. Some nations debate a booster dosage. Even though many African countries’ healthcare professionals have not been completely vaccinated, booster injections have begun to be given to patients with weakened immune systems in Israel.
In comparison, booster shots have been ruled out in the United States for the time being. With vaccine shortages reported in many Indian states. Even among the vaccinated, rigorous adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour is the only option to postpone and mitigate the consequences of a third wave.
This spring, India and Latin America have seen a significant drop in new cases in the hardest-hit areas of the world. But the global numbers continue to grow. The Delta variety leads them to well-vaccinated regions such as Western Europe and the United States, low but rising infections. This spring, India and Latin America have seen a significant drop in new cases in the hardest-hit areas of the world. Vaccine doses have been given to over 4 billion individuals globally (52 for every 100 people), yet the discrepancy is striking. More than 80% of the population had at least one shot in some wealthy nations. In contrast, the proportion is as low as 1% in many of the poorest.
Why Taliban Could Not Control Panjshir Valley In Afghanistan Yet?
Taliban took over Afghanistan last week, and Panjshir valley in the north is the last hope for the people of Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban.
As it was 25 years ago, there is still a part of Afghanistan that tries to oppose the Taliban; it is the Panjshir valley. The villages that rebelled against the Soviets and Taliban’s, it is now that they’re fighting against the spread of the Islamic Emirate.
Valley Of the Five Lions, also known as Panjshir Valley, is in Northern Afghanistan, 150 kilometers north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush Mountain Range. Due to its location in the Hindu Kush Mountain range, the Panjshir Valley is only accessible through the narrow Panjshir River; this makes it easy for forces defending. Panjshir is also famously known for emeralds. It has been the base of operations for the Taliban since the 1990s. Since it was never under their control, the area has become a key target for the US-led forces.
Around 150,000 people live in the valley, and the majority are Pashtuns. The valley’s ethnic majority is Tajik. The area’s history has made it the base of operations for the Taliban. Panjshir has never been captured by the Taliban during their earlier rule, nor by the soviets. The resistance, therefore, chose to base its operations in the area due to its history.
After the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, a civil war broke out in the country. Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was the most notable anti-Taliban fighter, led a group of militants to fight against the separatists. He was eventually killed by al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001, just two days before the 9/11 attacks.
Following the father’s footsteps, Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud, declared the start of armed resistance against the Taliban forming in the Panjshir. The Northern Alliance flag has been raised in Panjshir province, confirming the legitimacy of this movement, officially back since 2001. The National Resistance Front (NRF), based out of the Panjshir Valley, led by Ahmad Massoud and the former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, leading an anti-Taliban Movement.
The Panjshir Valley stands tall against the Taliban under the leadership of Ahmad Masood. Resistance movements have begun with the formation of the Northern Alliance. Bernard Henri Levy, the French philosopher, spoke to Ahmad Massoud on a phone call and quoted saying, “I am the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, and surrender is not part of my vocabulary.” The Resistance has just begun; this is just the beginning.
The Washington Post published an op-ed on Wednesday in which Massoud reiterated his plea for help, asking the United States to supply his military with arms and ammunition. “The United States can still be a great arsenal of democracy” by supporting his fighters, he wrote.
Since President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan, Saleh has declared himself as the interim president. The Taliban has been massing its forces near Panjshir. The Salang highway has been closed. He further tweeted that the militants are avoiding any confrontations with the enemy forces.
India Takes Rein Of UNSC For August
As per procedure, India received the Presidency of the UN Security Council for August this year. The three major points that the Indian Presidency aims to focus on are maritime security, peacekeeping, and counter-terrorism policies.
What is the UN Security Council?
The security council is a body of the United Nations responsible for international security and peacekeeping. The body settles disputes and identifies unwanted threats and aggressions against member States.
There are 15 Members as a part of the council. They are obligated to abide by the decisions made by the Security Council. Out of these, there are five permanent and ten non-permanent members, India being a part of the newly elected non-permanent contingent.
India is currently serving as President of the UNSC for August and is expected to do so again in 2022. They succeed France who previously presided in July this year. The order of Presidency succession is decided alphabetically. Each member gets a fair chance to preside over the peacekeeping body.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first Indian PM to chair a meeting of the UNSC.
India in UNSC
India has joined the UNSC for the eighth time as a non-permanent member, serving a term of two years. The last time India was on the council as a member was in the year 2011-12, during the Middle East Crisis.
In the August meetings this year, the primary concern is said to be that of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy and mortality. India also aims to bid for a permanent seat on the UNSC and hence a high level of involvement is expected.
India plays an important role in the UNSC as it along with other members of the G-4 (Brazil, Japan, and Germany) are insisting on an expansion in permanent membership for countries. They want the permanent seats to be offered to countries other than the current five that hold the veto power, giving India a chance to display its potential at a global level.
India has previously chaired the counter-terrorism committee at the UNSC and introduced the concept of ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism globally. They also successfully establish the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF).
This time around, India aims at improving maritime security and peacekeeping while returning to the counter-terrorism policies establish worldwide.
India’s efforts as President in August 2021
India is expected to organise three high-level meetings for the three topics that they have decided to focus on (maritime security, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism). A traditional breakfast of PRs was held by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, T S Tirumurti. Along with the normal breakfast, Tirumurti put a display of Indian grains with items exquisitely prepared with those ingredients. A treat of Alphonso mangoes was also included in the breakfast. Tirumurti also presided over all meetings of the UNSC on day one.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of the UN Council virtually, while external affairs minister, Jaishankar will chair the meetings in person.
S Jaishankar expressed opinions on the opportunity to preside over the UNSC for August via his Tweet, saying that India looks forward to taking over the Presidency of the Global Organisation for the month.
As we take over UNSC Presidency for August, look forward to working productively with other members.
India will always be a voice of moderation, an advocate of dialogue and a proponent of international law. pic.twitter.com/kPRGnFOz87
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) August 1, 2021
Indian PR Tirumurti also thanked their predecessor France and announced the takeover via his Tweets while expressing his elation on the occasion.
— PR/Amb T S Tirumurti (@ambtstirumurti) August 1, 2021
India began their eighth term on January 1 this year. This non-permanent arrangement will span for two years, giving the possibility of another Presidency in late 2022. India has been grateful for its turn in chairing the UNSC and hopes to make decisions and resolutions that will be beneficial to the Indian Foreign Policy and countries around the Globe.
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