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Europe: Targeted attacks on pride month celebration
In the news
On 25 June, a gunman opened fire near the London Pub in Oslo, Norway. Two people were killed and ten seriously injured. The gunman, a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen from Iran, targeted three locations: the London Pub, one of the most popular places for the LGBTQ community, the Herr Nilsen jazz club and a nearby takeaway outlet. Following the attacks, the Oslo pride parade, an annual pride festival of Norway, was cancelled.
On 26 June, prior to a pride march, police in Turkiye arrested activists, journalists, and photographers from bars in the Cihangir district of Istanbul. They detained people who had gathered for the march. Previously, the authorities had also issued a seven-day ban on gatherings from 20-26 June to prevent the march altogether. Earlier in June, Turkiye’s police arrested and reportedly tortured 11 LGBTQ activists who had gathered to celebrate the beginning of pride month.
Issues at large
First, targeted violence against LGBTQ community. Pride marches and protests have been primary targets of homophobic attacks, since they began. At Olso, the shooting is being termed as Islamist terrorism. However, the fact that he opened fire in a spot popular with the LGBTQ community indicates his hatred for sexual minorities. In 2021 in Georgia, a planned March for Dignity as a part of pride celebrations was cancelled after far-right protests violently attacked participants and journalists. In the same year, the organisers of Zagreb Pride in Croatia reported: “For the first time in ten years… there was an outbreak of homophobic fascist violence, in a series of attacks, arsons and insults, in different parts of the city.” The above are some examples of violence against the LGBTQ community during Pride Month.
Second, increasing LGBTQ space. In the last decade, pride-related events have multiplied in Europe, not only in metro cities but also in rural spaces. The increasing LGBTQ spaces stem from a need to deviate from the otherness created by traditionally heterosexual societies.
Third, the state's apprehension towards the LGBTQ community. In Turkiye, homosexuality is not criminalized. However, there is a distinct difference between what is enshrined in the constitution and what the state apparatus practices. Similarly other states in Europe promote this standpoint by arguing that gender theories endanger Christian values.
First, disparity in social awareness. There is a disparity in the growth in gender identity and gender expression, compared to the social awareness in countries across the globe. In traditionally conservative societies, where homosexuality is criminalised, it is likely that people are discriminatory towards the LGBTQ community, as in the shooter's case in Norway, originally from Iran where homosexuality is punishable by death.
Second, the rise of nationalist-conservative politicians. Scapegoating of LGBTQ minorities has been increasing, because of the rise of ultra-conservative and nationalist politicians. These politicians position themselves as the protectors and promoters of traditional values.
Third, shrinking liberal spaces across Europe. In Romania, Hungary and Russia, the countries have legislations that ban minors from being exposed to what they call “gay propaganda.” A report by ILGA-Europe showed that violence and hatred towards the community has been on the rise not only in countries with a history of exclusionary laws, like Poland and Hungary, but also in France and Germany, which are viewed as progressive.
Fourth, the LGBTQ community’s response to attacks. The LGBTQ community is not new to discrimination. Violent attacks definitely curb the vigour of a protest or celebration as these pride marches tend to be. However, crackdowns by either individuals, groups or even the state have not succeeded in cancelling a march for good.
Morocco-Spain: Mass cross leads to death of over 20 migrants
In the news
On 25 June, Morocco’s state news channel said at least 23 people had died while attempting to enter Spain’s enclave Melilla, from Morocco. Further, 170 security personnel and 76 migrants were wounded. The Guardian referred to a statement by the Spanish government’s local delegation which said around 2,000 people had approached Melilla; nearly 500 entered the a border control area and 133 reached Melilla. On the same day, Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez called the migration an attack on Spain’s “territorial integrity” and blamed human traffickers for the incident.
On 26 June, The Guardian referred to a Spanish newspaper quoting a person who attempted crossing into Melilla. The person said the people and the police threw stones at each other and also accused the Moroccan forces of being “very violent, more aggressive than other times,” leading to panic and a stampede.
On 27 June, the African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed shock and called for an investigation. Mahamat tweeted: “I express my deep shock and concern at the violent and degrading treatment of African migrants attempting to cross an international border from #Morocco into #Spain, with the ensuing violence leading to the deaths of at least 23 people and injuries to many more.”
Issues at large
First, migration from Morocco. Moroccans have migrated to European countries in search of better jobs and opportunities. However, Morocco also acts as a destination and transit point to Europe for several people migrants from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Most people migrate from Africa to escape conflict, violence, impacts of climate change, lack of opportunities, economic difficulties or poverty. Due to its geographical proximity, Morocco acts as a gateway to Europe, given that two autonomous cities under Spain - Ceuta and Melilla are in North Africa.
Second, North Africa as a transit point and Europe’s receiving countries. Apart from Morocco, Libya and Tunisia also act as transit points where people take the Mediterranean route to reach Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Spain. However, the above four are entry points to Europe and not necessarily destinations for the migrants; destinations include France, Germany and the like.
Third, Spain-Morocco relations. The incident took place after the two countries resolved diplomatic tensions prevailing since 2021. In March 2022, Spain extended support to Morocco’s claims to the Western Sahara. BBC explains that Spain expected that supporting Morocco would ensure cooperation from the latter on the migration issue. Previously, In 2021, Morocco broke ties with Spain after the latter offered treatment to a pro-independence leader of Western Sahara in a Spanish hospital. Further, when around 10,000 migrants crossed into another autonomous Spanish enclave, Ceuta, in May 2021, Morocco turned a blind eye, further deteriorating the ties.
Fourth, the humanitarian cost. The routes taken by migrants to enter Europe are dangerous and often lead to loss of lives. In 2015, when the migration crisis gained global attention, Amnesty International’s data said since 2000, around 22,000 people had died trying to reach Europe. The International Organization of Migration recorded 1,903 deaths in the Mediterranean and the Western Africa/Atlantic region, so far in 2022. The figures recorded over the years are 3157 (2021); 2326 (2020); 2087 (2019); 2380 (2018); 3140 (2017) and 5305 (2016).
First, the number of deaths over the years has not reduced except after 2016 which witnessed over 5000 deaths. Since 2017, the deaths have reduced or increased by a few hundreds without displaying any improvement. This indicates the continuation of the migration issue without any solution.
Second, impact on Spain and Morocco relations. The incident may urge Spain and Morocco to fasten talks to address the crisis, especially after the former supported Morocco’s territorial claim over the Western Sahara. However, another possibility could be the dampening of the spirits with which both countries restarted diplomatic ties.
Russia-Ukraine: War intensifies as Russia launches surprise attacks on Kyiv
In the news
On 26 and 27 June, Russia launched a range of missiles across parts of Ukraine including Yavoriv, Zhytomyr, Mykolaiv, Lysychansk, and Desna. The Russian forces were observed to have carried out the airstrikes from bombers in Belarusian airspace, through warships in the Black Sea, and via flying aircraft from the Caspian Sea.
On 27 June, Ukrainian intelligence reported that Russia had used six Tu-22M3s to bomb to launch the attacks in the northern part of Ukraine.
On 29 June, the Russian defence ministry claimed that the strikes took place in Ukraine but denied accepting the death of the civilians, as it viewed it as a “military target.”
Issues at large
First, attacks in Kyiv. The attacks are observed to be coordinated by massive missile strikes which also coincides with the G7 summit. Russia had previously attacked Kyiv in April and this renewed attempt of attacks can be either part of Moscow’s new strategy to capture Kyiv again or as a diversion to carry out its evacuation and proceed with capturing Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donbas regions.
Second, Russia’s strategies versus its objective. Till now there has been no clarity on Russia’s objective toward the Ukraine war. Through its on-ground developments, the UK ministry of defence and the US intelligence has traced it to be encircling Luhansk and Donbas upon failure to gain ground in the West. As far as the objectives, one of Russia’s key demands was to keep Ukraine away from NATO. However, with war escalations leading to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, NATO is closer than ever for Russia. Its key objective has backfired. Hence Russia has been trying to role-play by cutting its energy supplies to Europe, tightening its economy.
Third, operation tactics. Russia faces challenges on the ground such as mobilizing resources, recouping new weapons, and ensuring the availability of equipment at the right time for the forces. It has recently concentrated on using various new tactics such as covert mobilization, and Frankenstein forces, who are the remaining soldiers from diverse areas, called to form a combat group. Apart from the two, the Tupolev Tu-22M, a long-range bomber that was produced in mass numbers during the 1970s and has now gained a comeback in the Ukraine war.
First, Russia’s strategy towards Europe. With NATO allies increasing on one hand and the EU granting candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, Russia can turn more aggressive towards Europe. It had earlier warned about the possibility of using nuclear weapons if needed. The involvement of NATO in northern Europe and the Baltic, will lead to an advanced war involving more powerful weapon systems. Russia also can crunch Europe economically as it is more costly and logistically challenging for the latter to import gas and oil from alternate sources.
Second, Russia’s strategy towards Ukraine. Russian forces will continue to succeed in territorial gains slowly and are expected to launch more attacks from the west of Izyum to cut down the Ukrainian offensives. This is to ensure the inverted “c” regions, Donbas and Luhansk, are fully brought under Russia’s control. In the coming months, Russia might draw a new boundary dividing the western and eastern Ukraine.
Also from around the World
By Avishka Ashok, Arshiya Banu, Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan, Akriti Sharma, Abigail Miriam Fernandez, Rashmi BR, Apoorva Sudhakar, Harini Madhusudan, Rishma Banerjee and Padmashree Anandhan
East and Southeast Asia
China: Commerce ministry spokesperson responds to ban on products from Xinjiang
On 21 June, the US Customs and Border Protection implemented the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and imposed a ban on products imported from the Xinjiang region. China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson accused the US of economic coercion for imposing the ban. The statement by the spokesperson said: “The move will seriously damage the interests of Chinese and U.S. consumers and enterprises, and will do no good for the stabilization of global industrial and supply chains, global inflation easing, or the promotion of global economic recovery.” The ministry further accused the US of practicing unilateralism, protectionism, and bullying China in the name of human rights. The Xinjiang regional spokesperson Xu Guixiang opposed the US ban for causing economic losses to Chinese and US consumers and companies. He further stressed the 28 international labour treaties approved and implemented by China and defended the country’s human rights track record.
China: Taiwan concludes annual high-level security talks with the US
On 25 June, the Strait Times reported the US and Taiwan had concluded the three-day annual high-level security talks in Washington. The talks took place in the background of China’s recent incursion into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone and China’s insistence on the Taiwan Strait not being an international waterway. China’s Eastern Theatre Command’s spokesperson announced that the fly-through by the US Military aircraft had endangered the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and informed that China was monitoring the US aircraft’s operation and opposed the deliberate US actions.
China: Hong Kong Police arrests five individuals as city preps for 25th handover anniversary
On 24 June, the Guardian reported the Hong Kong Police had arrested five people for sedition before the 25th anniversary celebration of the British Handover of the city. The police arrested two men on the suspicion of sharing posts with ill will and inciting violence. On 22 June, the police arrested three more individuals for running an armed separatist movement. The authorities in the city are on a high alert as President Xi Jinping confirmed his visit to the city on the occasion.
North Korea: Foreign ministry accuses the US of forcing the country to develop stronger defences
On 27 June, the Strait Times reported North Korea’s foreign ministry had criticised the US for trying to create a military alliance in Asia akin to NATO, and that the US ambition to topple North Korea's leadership has compelled the regime to fortify its defences. The accusation follows a recent agreement between US president Joe Biden and South Korea’s president Yoon-Suk Yeol to deploy more American weapons if necessary to deter the North and comes amid concerns that the North may be ready to conduct its first nuclear test in five years. The ministry said: "While blatantly holding joint military exercises with Japan and South Korea, the United States is making a full-fledged move to establish an Asia-style NATO."
Japan: Russia vows to hit Japan with countermeasures for imposing sanctions
On 27 June, Russia pledged to strike Japan with retaliatory measures in response to Tokyo’s sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. In the four months since Russia started its war on Ukraine, Japan has joined the West in imposing an unprecedented set of sanctions on Russia. Tokyo's newest actions, including a ban on Russian gold imports, new asset freezes, and export bans on a number of Russian individuals and firms, were announced by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The move was denounced by the Russian ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin, who also accused Tokyo of severing ties between the two countries. He stated that sanctions are “short-sighted and harm Japan itself, especially the business community," and added: “such an increase in a hostile policy towards Russia will be taken into account by us in our future approach towards Japan and will not go unanswered.”
Myanmar: Journalists report on the regime, using unconventional methods
On 25 June, a Voice of America report mentioned how the journalists under the military regime were using ways of reporting the day-to-day activities in Myanmar. This comes as the space of media within the country has shrunk after the military took over in February 2021. Myanmar’s journalists have also established several safety measures and have resorted to frequently moving to avoid being caught. The journalists mentioned that they have had to use burner phones and fake businesses as fronts to dodge crackdowns.
Myanmar: UN’s representative urges ASEAN to increase pressure on the regime
On 23 June, UN’s special rapporteur Tom Andrews stated that ASEAN had to increase their efforts in the country; else, there would be more death and suffering. Andrews added: “The longer we wait, the more inaction that there is, the more people are going to die, the more people are going to suffer.” He stated that ASEAN had to act, or the people in Myanmar would not be able to survive another year under the regime. Andrews further suggested implementing the five-point consensus program for meaningful actions by the bloc.
Indonesia: President Widodo urges Russia and Ukraine to open room for dialogue
On 26 June, Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo said he would call on Russia and Ukraine to act towards an immediate ceasefire. He expressed his concerns as the war disrupted the global food supply. Indonesia’s foreign minister also highlighted the food and fertiliser crisis in the global market. Widodo has condemned the war in Ukraine but has declined an arms
request supply from Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Sri Lanka: Fuel sales suspended due to economic crisis
On 28 June, Sri Lanka suspended fuel sales for two weeks except for essential services. The halt in the sales was announced when the fuel reserves ran out. Member of Parliament, Bandula Gunawardana said: “From midnight today, no fuel will be sold except for essential services like the health sector, because we want to conserve the little reserves we have,” He added: “We regret the inconvenience caused to the people.” He also said that steps will be taken to ensure fuel supply after 10 July.
Pakistan: Eleventh case of polio reported in North Waziristan
On 24 June, another polio case was detected in North Waziristan. The victim is an eight-month-old boy who has been paralysed by the wild poliovirus (WPV). This takes the country’s tally of the virus to 11 just in 2022. Additionally, all the cases in Pakistan reported in 2022, so far, have been from North Waziristan, with eight of them reported from the Mir Ali area alone. To address the issue, the government launched the second Sub-National Immunisation Days (SNIDs) campaign on 27 June to vaccinate 12.6 million children, covering 25 very high-risk districts for polio across Pakistan.
Pakistan: Seven terrorists killed in an exchange of fire in North Waziristan
On 27 June, The Express Tribune reported that seven terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire in the North Waziristan district. Additionally, weapons and ammunition were recovered from the killed terrorists in the Ghulam Khan Kalle area. Meanwhile, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif argued that terrorism increased in the country because the role of the provinces in the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) had been ignored during the last four years. He promised to restore the role of provinces in the NAP.
Afghanistan: Earthquake leaves 1100 killed and several injured
On 22 June, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Paktika and Khost provinces killing 1100 and injuring 1600 people. The earthquake caused the destruction of homes and landslides in several areas leaving people trapped in the debris. Following the disaster, a Taliban spokesperson called for the unfreezing of Afghan assets saying: “The Islamic Emirate is asking the world to give the Afghans their most basic right, which is their right to life and that is through lifting the sanctions and unfreezing our assets and also giving assistance.” Meanwhile, several countries have sent aid and assistance to help the earthquake affect people.
Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa
Yemen: World Food Program cuts food aid to Yemen
On 27 June, the World Food Program (WFP) announced another drastic reduction in food aid to war-torn Yemen, due to lack of sufficient funds. With the cuts, WFP will be able to cater 50 per cent of daily food requirements to five million people and 25 per cent of requirements to the remaining eight million people. It stated that it was forced to resort to rationing mainly due to the economic crisis that is affecting the flow of funds and the focus on the war in Ukraine.
Jordan: Poisonous gas leak kills 13, injures more than 250 people
On 27 June, a chlorine gas leak in Jordan’s port city Aqaba, killed thirteen and harmed more than 250 people. The Public Security Directorate said that a tank with 25 tonnes of chlorine, scheduled to be exported to Djibouti, fell while being transported. Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh reached Aqaba and visited the hospital where the injured are being treated.
Syria: US military targets the leader of the al-Qaeda-aligned group
On 28 June, the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) said that it conducted a raid on 27 June in Idlib, Syria, targeting Abu Hamzah al Yemeni, a senior leader of the Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda aligned group. It ruled out any civilian casualties or major collateral damage, during an initial review of the operation. The statement noted that “the removal of this senior leader will disrupt al-Qaeda’s ability to carry out attacks against US citizens, our partners and innocent civilians around the world.”
Iraq: Rockets target the Khor Mor gas field
On 26 June, a rocket struck near an UAE-owned gas complex in Iraq’s Kurdish region. This is reported to be the third attack in a span of 72 hours. The Counter-Terrorism Group, a security body in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, said that six rockets in total, had hit the Khor Mor gas field, which lies between the cities of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah. The attack failed to cause much damage or casualties.
Libya: UN official calls for facilitation of return to electoral process
On 27 June, the UN political affairs chief called on the UN “to facilitate a return to the electoral process, based on a sound and consensual constitutional basis for elections,” adding, “This is what the Libyan people have asked for.” Referring to the rivalry between the government appointed by the House of Representatives and the UN-backed government, the UN official warned of an escalation of clashes between the rival groups if maximum restraint and dialogue are not maintained.
Sudan-Ethiopia: Khartoum recalls ambassador from Addis Ababa
On 26 June, Sudan’s foreign ministry said it would recall its ambassador to Ethiopia and also summon Addis Ababa’s ambassador over the alleged killing of seven Sudanese soldiers by the latter’s military. On 25 June, Sudan claimed that seven soldiers had been captured by Ethiopia on Sudan’s territory on 22 June, killed and their bodies hung in Ethiopia’s public. However, on 27 June, Ethiopia denied Sudan’s claims and alleged that Sudanese soldiers entered Ethiopian territory, thus leading to skirmishes between the two sides.
Burkina Faso: Civilians asked to evacuate for military operation against rebels
On 24 June, an army spokesperson said civilians living in northern and southeastern parts of Burkina Faso were notified to evacuate the region within 14 days, ahead of proposed military operations against rebels in the area. However, the spokesperson did not specify how long the civilians had to stay away and where they had to go. The development comes after nearly 100 people were killed and thousands displaced in a rebel attack on 11 June.
Europe and the Americas
G7 Summit: Four members announce a Gold-ban on Russia
On 26 June, four members of the Group of Seven (G7) nations announced the imposition of a gold ban on Russia. Britain, the US, Canada, and Japan banned the import of Russian gold as a measure for tightening sanctions, and against the Russian war efforts in Ukraine. So far, the Western sanctions have targeted the Russian banks, energy companies, airlines, and high-tech and consumer goods. Further choking off the gold market is expected to have a significant impact on their economy. The move would also impact the Russian oligarchs who resorted to buying gold in the face of economic sanctions.
Russia: Strong responses against the transit blockade by Lithuania
On 27 June, following the Lithuanian announcement of banning the transit of goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, Vilnius faced a DDoS cyberattack. The hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility. Over 1000 websites were attacked which included both state and private institutions. On the same day, Medvedev, the former Russian President and the vice-chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, in an interview announced the possibility of cutting off oxygen supplies to the EU Baltic states in response to the Lithuanian decision.
Ukraine: Sievierodonetsk falls to Russia
On 25 June, the mayor of Sievierodonetsk confirmed that Russia's forces had full control over Sievierodonetsk. With this, Russia now controls the entire Donbas region, except Lysychansk. Kyrlo Budanov, the head of Defence Intelligence at Ukraine’s defence ministry said: “Russia is using the tactic it used in Mariupol: wiping the city from the face of the earth… Given the conditions, holding the defence in the ruins and open fields is no longer possible.” Expecting an increase in Russia’s offensive in Lysychansk, Ukraine’s forces have been ordered to retreat from Sievierodonetsk, regroup and prepare to protect Lysychansk.
Europe: NATO reveals the new strategic concept
On 29 June, NATO released details about their new strategic concept and identified Russia as the most significant threat to Western security. The organization said that they will assist in modernizing Kyiv’s armed forces. It also decided on a seven-fold increase in combat forces along its eastern flanks to pre-empt any future Russian attacks. Reportedly, the number of troops will be raised from 40,000 to 300,000.
Europe: NATO prepares for a cyber defense project
On 29 June, the NATO members agreed to establish a program called “virtual rapid response cyber capability,” for defense against cyber attacks from Russia. The initiative was taken following multiple cyberattacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure and increasing concern that Moscow may target the US and other NATO countries. The US has volunteered to offer “robust national capabilities,” to this program. Furthermore, during the summit NATO reiterated that the North Atlantic Treaty's Article five might also be triggered by a cyberattack, making it an attack against the alliance as a whole.
Portugal: General Secretary Anotonio Guterres declares “Ocean emergency”
On 27 June, the UN General Secretary António Guterres spoke at the opening of the organisation's ocean conference that took place in Lisbon. He spoke about how the ocean needs to be saved. He raised concerns over the rising sea level, ocean heating, acidification, and plastic pollution in the largest water bodies. He further went on to say that the oceans are being exploited and that the member nations should concern themselves with the protection of the high seas. The harm done to oceans may have adverse effects on small nations and coastal cities and may even cause flooding. Increased fishing and marine pollution have led to a reduction in the population of marine life forms. He also talked about dumping wastewater and plastic in the ocean and how it degrades marine ecology. He called for global awareness of marine pollution and to raise global health. The draft declaration focuses on ways to achieve SDG 14 and improve the health of the ocean. The final draft of the political declaration is expected to be adopted by the end of the conference.
Germany: Parliament revokes a law that punishes doctors who advertise abortion services
On 24 June, the coalition government voted to scrap the Nazi-era law in paragraph 219a of the German criminal code that criminalizes doctors who advertise their abortion services. According to paragraph 219a of the German Criminal Code, a doctor might be fined or imprisoned for up to two years for publicly "offering, announcing, or advertising" abortion services. Abortion remains to be legally banned in Germany. However, if the pregnancy poses a health risk, as in the case of rape, or if the abortion is performed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy following mandated counselling, women and doctors do not face the punishments. Minister of family affairs, Lisa Paus stated that the result was a triumph that strengthens women’s right to self-determination in Germany.
The US: Private equity investor set to takeover UK defence supplier
On 23 June, the aerospace manufacturing company Cobham was permitted to acquire a UK defence supplier called Ultra Electronics. Cobham, based in Bournemouth, England, was taken over by a US private equity investor, Advent, in 2019. Therefore, the firm will be further controlling a significant supplier of nuclear submarine technologies. Under the terms of accession, Cobham will have to establish two “SecureCos” to host “sensitive capabilities.” The government will approve the articles of association for these firms, and it will have a seat on their boards. The government will also have “step-in rights,” which will enable it to seize control of the SecureCos for national security reasons.
Texas: 50 found dead in San Antonio
On 28 June, 50 people were found dead inside a truck in San Antonio, Texas.
Mexico’s foreign minister reported out of the 50, close to 22 were Mexican, seven from Guatemala and two from Honduras. Later the San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said that the people found were transferred to the hospital due to heat stroke and exhaustion. The investigation by the Department of Homeland Security found that smugglers and human traffickers were the reason behind the tragedy. US president Joe Biden called the event “horrifying and heartbreaking.”