Month after month, Xi Jinping’s reform plan for China unveils its solid grounds. The recent move for unlimited presidential terms caused quite a stir, but the National People’s Congress has surprised analysts for the party’s cohesion around Xi’s leadership. Premier Li Keqiang reported on government activities and stressed China’s achievements in economic innovation, infrastructures, and responses to national and international challenges, such as last year’s flooding in the Yangtze area or the G20 Hangzhou Summit.
The anti-terrorism operation carried out today in Foggia, Southern Italy, marks an important moment for Italy’s counterterrorism. The raid comes as the culmination of a longer investigation initiated by Bari’s DIGOS (the national police’s special unit, which was monitoring a small, unauthorized place of worship named Al Dawa, located near Foggia’s railway station. Indeed, two recently arrested jihadists — including a former Chechen foreign fighter — were known to have regularly attended the mosque.
The military expansion of the Houthis and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh into Southern Yemen in February 2015, after the flight of president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to Aden, exacerbated the north-south division of the country, highlighting its fragmentation. This led to a strong military response in the South to what appeared to be a new invasion by Northern forces after the 1994 war: from that moment on, new military and political orientations have risen in the South, as well as increased popular support for separatism.
Yemen’s tribal army does not exist anymore, replaced by a plethora of militias, sometimes institutionalised: only a federal-based reform of the security sector could limit the rising territorial power of warlords. A survey conducted by the Yemen Polling Centre in 2017 sheds further light on this point: at the question “Who brings security in this area?”, only 16% of Yemenis all over the country answer “the police/security authorities”.
The Egyptians are going to vote in the presidential elections amid harsh press censorship. This is happening both to local and international media outlets working in Egypt. For this reason, on March 7, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, accused Egyptian authorities of creating a “pervasive climate of intimidation” after freedom of expression for local media was suppressed. In this report, the UN criticised several measures taken by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before the 2018 presidential elections.
Only months ago, expectations were high that the Syrian civil war was coming to an end. But today, it seems that the war for Syria is just beginning. New disturbing scenarios are opening up. Weeks ago, tensions between Iran and Israel over Syria reached an all-time high. Meanwhile, the Turkish military began the operation "Olive Branch" in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin district in the northern region of the country.
Madagascar rarely makes the headlines of international media, except perhaps recently due to a plague epidemic which was unfortunately not the first in the country. However, one year ahead of a delicate general election, the Big Island deserves full attention from the international community which should play its role in preventing a new crisis which could have a devastating impact on an already impoverished population.
As Lebanon seems inexorably dragged into the regional cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran – the bizarre saga of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation being the latest illustration – it is worth looking at the current state of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and questioning its ability to prevent any type of conflict escalation. Discussions on the LAF generally oppose two competing views.
The years preceding the Arab Spring were rather calm ones for the armed forces of the Arab world: two major conventional campaigns (Iraq 2003 and Lebanon 2006) barely involved the military, and terrorism was mostly under control in Algeria and Yemen. Elsewhere all was quiet on the Arab front. The Arab Spring changed this in more ways than one: to start with, it turned the militaries of Tunisia, Syria and Egypt into political actors, and split those of Yemen and Libya in two.
The Madrid Accords of 14 November 1975 ended the Spanish colonization of Western Sahara, sparkling a long conflict which, since then, opposes the Kingdom of Morocco to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front). 42 years later, Western Sahara remains, according to the international law, a non-self-governing territory whose de jure administering power is still Spain. De facto, around 80% of the territory has been annexed by Morocco, whereas the remaining 20% is under the control of the Polisario Front.