Hello and Welcome to the weekly global digest. In this edition, read about the attack on UAE and the following attacks on Yemen by Saudi led alliance. We have also included the latest update on the Ukraine column that attempts to summarise the latest developments in the crisis. Also in the digest, Kishida- Biden talk and the military coup in Burkina Faso.
North Korea may resume its nuclear tests
The State News Agency KCNA has said that Pyongyang is considering resuming its “all temporarily-suspended activities” amidst the growing tension between the DPRK and The US in recent days arising out of back-to-back missile launches by North Korea. North Korea has imposed a self-moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles since 2017 as it started engaging with South Korea and the United States on the denuclearisation issue.
A politburo gathering in the aftermath of the new US sanctions ordered a reconsideration of trust-building measures and "promptly examining the issue of restarting all temporally-suspended activities," while calling for "immediately bolstering more powerful physical means," KCNA said.
North Korea's warning came hours before the United Nations Security Council was due to convene a closed-door meeting on Thursday to discuss the recent missile tests, at the request of the United States and several other countries.
The situation has quickly deteriorated on the Korean peninsula because of those tests while the west remains engaged on the Russia-Ukraine border. The present South Korean president Moon Jae In will be leaving his office this year and there is a strong probability that his party may not return to power. With the new political calculus in the South, it is highly likely that the new regime may not be interested in having progress on inter-Korean talks. Thus, the road ahead looks bleak and the world may expect more missile tests and if Pyongyang walks the talks then man be a new nuclear test.
"2022 Marine Security Belt" exercise
Amidst the ongoing Ukraine crises, Russia took part in a joint naval drill along with Iran and China in the northern Indian Ocean on Friday 21st January. The drill included tactical exercises such as vessel rescue, anti-piracy operations, and night shooting drills.
The three countries have been conducting such naval drills in the Sea of Oman since 2019. "The purpose of this drill is to strengthen security and its foundations in the region, and to expand multilateral cooperation between the three countries to jointly support world peace, maritime security and create a maritime community with a common future," said Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini, spokesperson for the drills.
The Houthi rebels who had claimed an attack on the UAE used not just drones but also ballistic and cruise missiles said the UAE Ambassador to the US. It was for the first time that the UAE has disclosed information on its national security and the first time that it claimed to have intercepted some of the weapons targeted at the Arab nation. This is not the first time that any terror outfit has used drones to attack oil fields in the Arab region. Saudi Arabia has too suffered this kind of attack.
Many analysts have now reason to believe that the attack which caused a fire on the Abu Dhabi airport and killed three people has exposed UAE’s vulnerability while also jeopardizing its reputation as a tourism and business hub. UAE has been part of the Saudi-led military coalition battling against the Houthis in Yemen. Saudi Arabi launched air raids on the next day of the attack killing as many as 20 rebels.
What was surprising for many analysts was the Houthis capability to launch the attack at a place which was geographically located far away from Yemen. Many on Twitter asked how did they manage to pull off the attack and from where a question remains to be answered.
Immediately after the attack, Israel offered security and intelligence support to the UAE. It is to be noted that the UAE along with Bahrain had signed the US-led Abraham Accord with Israel and since then these countries have normalised their relationship. It might be an opportunity for the two countries to work closer against the common concern Iran which has backed the Houthis and has been a constant source of trouble for the Israelis. Though Israel did not specifically mention the kind of security assistance that it was willing to provide the UAE, it is to be noted that Israel has developed sufficient capability to track and destroy incoming rockets.
Saudi led Airstrikes in Yemen
The world’s attention was drawn to the Yemen crisis by the Saudi-led strike in the northern part of the country which killed at least 70 people and knocked out the entire country’s internet. The precise locations of the Saudi target were a prison in the city of Saada and a telecommunication centre in the port city of Hodeidah. The attack on the prison at least killed sixty people and was one of the deadliest in the history of the seven years war. The Saudi-led coalition denied targeting the detention facility (prison). Such was the intensity of the counterattacks that the security council released a statement condemning the Saudi strikes. The council had criticised and condemned the attack on the UAE earlier.
The capital city of Yemen, Sanna, was also targeted by the Saudi-led coalition. The Houthis' Al-Masirah TV channel confirmed the raids by the coalition. One air strike killed about 14 people in a single building in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, residents said on Tuesday.
The Yemen civil war, like the Syrian crisis, has been a catastrophe for millions of its citizens. As per the United Nations, the crises have resulted in the death of approximately 377,000 people. Hunger and diseases have been also responsible for these deaths.
Partygate and the Future of Boris Johnson
Britain has hot its own gate now. Borris Johnson who got his party the largest majority in the last 30 years is now facing criticism and is being asked to resign for participating in lockdown parties during the pandemic. The revelation has divided the ruling conservative party and rattled the government. PM Johnson has denied being part of many of these parties and even apologized for the same in the House of Commons.
Johnson is already facing growing calls to resign and these fresh allegations will only intensify the anti-Johnson lobby within his own Conservative Party, besides providing the Opposition with more fodder for its attacks on the government. On top of the revelations about potentially Covid-breaching gatherings, he has faced pressure on other fronts too - including funding for a flat refurbishment and a row last year in which his government tried to save a Conservative MP who was embroiled in his own scandal. Complicating things further, there has been a barrage of criticism from Mr. Johnson's former top adviser, Dominic Cummings, who has said the prime minister was warned about a drinks party in the Downing Street garden prior to the event.
Foreign Aid to Ukraine
Amidst failed talks between Russia and the West, foreign military aid has been pouring into Ukraine. On Saturday some 90 tonnes of “lethal aid” from the US reached Ukraine. The US has approved a military aid package and the shipment was the first of many such shipments. A $200 Million security support was announced by Joe Biden in December and the shipment followed the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv. The United States has repeatedly warned of a tough response if Russia dared to invade Ukraine while it approved another $200 Million in security aid to Ukraine on January 19. It is also to be noted that the Biden administration had delivered $450 Million worth of military support last year before Russia has begun its massive troop deployment on its border with Ukraine.
The US is not the only one providing immediate military support to Ukraine. Britain, too, has provided, an anti-armor defensive weapon system along with a small group of training personnel to Ukraine. Canada had also dispatched a small contingent of its special forces to Kyiv. While Russia has criticized the move and said that the arms supply will not ease tensions in the region, Ukraine has asked for more such support from the West.
The European Union has drawn up an emergency 1.2-billion-euro aid package for Ukraine. EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen said “this package will help Ukraine now to address its financing needs due to the conflict,” and urged member states to approve the assistance “as soon as possible.”
Latest Updates on Ukraine Crises
Secretary of State to brief his EU counterparts on his talks with his Russian counterpart in Geneva before the United States submits a written response to Moscow’s demands.
NATO has put forces on standby in eastern Europe and has sent planes and ships to the region.
The U.S. State Department and the British Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office have ordered staff and families of U.S. and British diplomats in Kyiv to leave Ukraine. The move has been criticised by Ukraine.
Boris Johnson, who is suffering criticism and a demand for resignation for his alleged participation in lockdown parties, has warned Russia of risking “a new Chechnya” if it invades Ukraine.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he will move "a whole contingent of the Belarusian army" to the border with Ukraine since "Ukrainians have allegedly started to draw troops there."
US Secretary of State met with Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday the 21st in an attempt to find a solution to the ongoing Ukraine crisis and deescalate tensions.
Although neither side expected a breakthrough deal from the talks, both Blinken and Lavrov opened the door to further dialogue. Blinken described the discussions as "frank and substantive," calling it a "candid exchange of concerns and ideas."On the Russian side, Lavrov said following the meeting that Moscow will receive a written response to its "concrete" security demands "next week," a promise that was confirmed by Blinken. The US and Russia would also be open to further discussions in the coming days. Lavrov described the talks as "constructive and useful." The Russian envoy also said his country "never" threatened the Ukrainian people.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US side would respond in writing next week to a set of security proposals that Russia presented in December, including a demand to bar Ukraine from ever joining NATO. A formal US rejection could provide Russia with a pretext to move ahead with the unspecified military response it has threatened. Tatiana Stanovaya, head of political analysis firm R.Politik, said Moscow needed a written US reply "as cast-iron proof of a refusal to provide Russia with security guarantees. This is partly a trap, of course, because any such written response will be used to discredit the US negotiating position."
Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said they had agreed to further discussions after the US side delivers its response, with the possibility of a meeting later between presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.
Japanese PM Fumio Kishida hold his first substantial talk with US President Biden since he became Japan’s PM in October. The two sides agreed to boost cooperation on pressing economic and security issues, including China, North Korea's missiles, and Russia's threat to Ukraine.
Kishida said he and Biden had agreed to cooperate to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, to work closely on China and the North Korean missile issue, and also to cooperate on Ukraine.
He also said Japan would host a meeting of the Quad grouping of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India in the first half of this year with Biden visiting.
Kishida said he and Biden also agreed to set up an economic version of a "two-plus-two" ministerial to promote economic cooperation. The U.S. official said this would focus on supply chains, technology investments, standards-setting, and export controls.
"We agreed to work together to advance cooperation among like-minded countries to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific," Kishida told reporters. "We agreed to closely cooperate on China-related issues, including the East and South China Seas, Hong Kong, and the Xinjiang Uyghur (Autonomous Region), as well as North Korea's nuclear and missile issues."
Military Coup in Burkina Faso
The Army has deposed the Burkina Faso President Roch Kabore in what was the fourth military coup in the west and central Africa in the last year. The coup followed two days of unrest and was led by Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba. The group of soldiers who participated in the coup called themselves the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration.
A junior officer announced the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the government and parliament, and the closure of the country's borders from midnight Monday, reading from a statement signed by Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.
He said the new Patriotic Movement for Preservation and Restoration (MPSR) would re-establish "constitutional order" within a "reasonable time", adding that a nationwide nightly curfew would be enforced.
Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the military coup in Ouagadougou, welcoming soldiers, honking car horns, and waving the national flag.
The coup has come after the consistent failure of the government, led by the President who was re-elected in 2020, to stop the bloodshed in the country. The Army, too, has been critical of the President for his failure to support the Army against the militants linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
The poor African country has been under violence led by militants since 2015. The violence has seen at least 2000 deaths and has displaced at least 1.5 million citizens as per the UN estimates.
While the coup has drawn negative reactions and condemnation across the world, the Army found the local citizens in its support.