Geopolitical Monitor

Which countries impose vaccination against Covid?
Geopolitics

Which countries impose vaccination against Covid?

The first category to which vaccination has been imposed, in many countries, are doctors and workers in hospitals, nursing, and retirement homes. In France, for example, they are obliged. In Australia, the obligation applies only to those who work in contact with the elderly, in retirement homes, and so in Greece, where, however, all health personnel must be vaccinated by September; from October, the staff of retirement homes in the United Kingdom will also have to be.

Some governments impose an obligation on those who work: those who do not get vaccinated cannot work. It happens in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, both in public and in the private sector. In Russia, only public workers have no choice: they can get vaccinated until August 15. The same in the Fiji Islands. In Canada, it is only required of some public officials in Kazakhstan to work in groups of more than 20 people. On the other hand, the Czech Republic has announced that vaccination will be mandatory for students from September.

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In France, from July 21, the health pass – proof of a double vaccination, or a negative molecular test is done in the previous 48 hours or a certificate of recovery from Covid – is essential to enter cinemas, theaters, museums, discos, festivals. And for any event involving more than 50 people. The same line in Greece: only vaccinated customers are allowed inside bars, cinemas, theaters, and other enclosed spaces.

From July 26, the decree requiring the pass for travel, restaurants, sports, and cinema should come into force in Italy. In the United Kingdom, from September, discos and crowded places will be open only to those with green passes. From September, it is estimated that all adults in the country will have had a chance to get vaccinated. In a speech addressed to the youngest, among whom hesitation is highest, Boris Johnson warned that “many of life’s most important pleasures and occasions will be open only to those who get vaccinated.” But a similar measure failed in Moscow: Mayor Sergei Sobyanin had imposed a green pass for all club patrons, but the lack of confidence in the vaccine of Muscovites has dramatically reduced the number. A blow to the exhibitors, who have obtained the withdrawal of the standard. In Russia, as in the United States, the local authorities can introduce the obligation. So, for example, in San Francisco, 35,000 public employees will have to get vaccinated, and more and more companies in the US, thanks to the freedom to do so, link their intake to the vaccine.

Mandatory and that’s it, for all adults: this has been the line since February in Indonesia, where the fine is five million rupees (375 euros); in Turkmenistan; in Tajikistan. A few days ago, Emmanuel Macron announced the introduction of the pass to the French. He also said that according to how the situation will evolve, France would consider obliging all adults to the vaccine. The opposite position was taken almost immediately afterward by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a speech at the Robert Koch Institut, in which she admitted that the quota of vaccinated people was “far” from the safety threshold, she added, however, that “there are no plans to make the vaccine mandatory,” and that doing so would undermine trust. of citizens. “Weprefer to earnit with good communication.”

Pegasus project: Amnesty backs off, the list of 50,000 numbers does not exist
Geopolitics

Pegasus project: Amnesty backs off, the list of 50,000 numbers does not exist

Amnesty International changed its allegations after they said they have a list of victims. Amnesty International has reportedly said that they have never claimed the list of phone numbers released recently were explicitly targeted by Israeli company NSO. Instead, the human rights organization stressed that the list released only suggests that they are the kind of people NSO’s clients might like to spy.

 Amnesty issued a new statement in response to false allegations on social media and inaccurate media stories about the Pegasus Project. It clarified that the Human Rights defenders “categorically stand by the findings of the Pegasus Project and that the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware.” 

It stressed that the false rumors being pushed on social media aim “to distract from the widespread unlawful targeting of journalists, activists, and others that the Pegasus Project has revealed.” The list of numbers is at the center of a controversy that erupted after an investigation conducted by Paris-based organization Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International found more than 50,000 phone numbers.

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They said the list includes the phone numbers of politicians, journalists, and activists, who have been potential surveillance targets through Pegasus software of Israeli surveillance company NSO Group

But the new statement highlights the misleading and false claims in the investigation about NSO. The numbers seem to be just an analyst or an opinion. There is nothing related to any technical shreds of evidence regarding NSO and its Pegasus Program.

The NSO Group has called the reports “fabricated.” “It is not an NSO list, and it never was – it is fabricated information. It is not a list of targets or potential targets of NSO’s customers. That is all baseless,” NSO spokesperson Ariella Ben replied. Amnesty published in its new statement requires a judiciary and a lawsuit against who is behind the false report in Forbidden stories and its media consortium.

Global geopolitical has many times cast an overshadow on the Olympics
Geopolitics

Global geopolitical has many times cast an overshadow on the Olympics

Aside from domestic politics, global geopolitics has also consistently cast an over shadow on the Olympics. After Japan’s defeat in World War II, for the first time, Japan had hosted the Olympic Games in 1964, announcing its return to the world stage.

This time Japan takes the Games back to Asia 13 years after China organizing it in 2008. Given the competition for impact in the Asia-Pacific region, excellent organizing of the Games is vital for Japanese confidence and uplifting of its deteriorating economy. 

As the world spindles under the second and third waves of the pandemic, public opinion in the survey also was divided over the postponement of the 2021 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. However, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has taken the final decision to host the Olympics.

The Tokyo 2020 Games are being played in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. This was PM Shinzo Abe’s wild card as he played a crucial role in bringing the Olympics to Tokyo. He also hoped to circumvent recession and fight the early signs of economic fatigue due to the pandemic.

The Olympics were hindered by two World Wars, pushed through Cold War, tossed in a Spanish Flu and coronavirus that deferred the games in 2020. 

However, the IOC and Abe had to listen to the World Health Organization and postpone Olympics from 2020 to 2021. Yoshihide Suga became Japan’s new PM as Abe resigned from office.

Facilitating the Olympics has been about countries national pride. Two public surveys were completed in Tokyo by national broadcaster NHK, and the conservative broadsheet Yomiuri Shimbun revealed that PM Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet remained at a record lowest in their administration. 

Both the public opinion polls were divided over the arrival of spectators at the Olympic Games. Four out of 10 expressed their desire to scrap the Olympics.

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Around three out of 10 revealed to NHK that they were opposed to holding the Games. 17% favored spectators coming to enjoy the games, and approximately 74% said they would prefer watching the Olympics on TV.

Pegasus project and the alarm for free information
Geopolitics

Pegasus project and the alarm for free information

The scenario emerging from the Pegasus Project investigation arouses clamor and concern in international public opinion; there are fears that new control tools are available to illiberal regimes and have already been widely used to spy on and crackdown on dissidents and opponents. On the other hand, it is worthy of attention that a partially distinctive form of collaboration between different subjects has been developed to protect freedom of information.

 Over 80 journalists from 17 media outlets (including The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde) actively participated in the Pegasus Project, operating in 10 different countries and coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a non-profit organization based in Paris. The Pegasus Project was born four years ago to support journalists persecuted by authoritarian regimes. Amnesty International also made a decisive contribution to the investigation by identifying traces of spyware in mobile phones.

The survey-based was on 50,000 telephone numbers, including those of journalists, activists, politicians. From the analysis of this large sample of users, it would appear that the Pegasus spyware, produced and marketed by the Israeli company NSO Group was used to facilitate violations of human rights and to control free information. Before providing its services to a particular country, the company must receive authorization from the Israeli government. Still, it would appear that, once the software is delivered, the NSO has limited control over its actual use.

According to the ongoing investigation, possible customers of the NSO Group would result in 11 states, some of which were already considered countries where there were restrictions on freedom of expression: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, India, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Mexico, Rwanda, Togo, and Hungary. In the list of victims subjected to international espionage, there would also be people linked to the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, killed in 2018 in circumstances that suggest the involvement of the Saudi regime.

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The NSO rejects the accusations and claims to carry out the checks required to avoid improper use of its products to combat crime and terrorism. Among those suspected of having improperly used Pegasus, a country like Hungary also involves the European Union. Ursula von der Leyen expressed her concern: “What we have been able to read so far has yet to be verified, but if it were confirmed, it would be unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the Paris Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation in France to ascertain whether there have been violations against French citizens using the Pegasus spyware produced by the Israeli NSO Group and sold to governments and armies in different world areas. Verifications also by the EU, while the Hungarian press is attacking the government of Viktor Orban: “He had 300 people spied in the country”. The Paris prosecutor’s investigation investigates ten offenses, including violation of privacy, interception of correspondence, fraudulent access to a computer system, and criminal association. The Mediapart website made the complaint, the famous investigation platform of which two journalists, Edwy Plenel and LénaigBredoux, were allegedly spied on by the Moroccan secret services. That should be followed by a similar denunciation by the weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, in defense of former collaborator Dominique Simmonnot.

Biden all set to host Jordan’s King
Geopolitics

Biden all set to host Jordan’s King

Biden all set to host Jordan’s King

US President Joe Biden is all set to host Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday – what is said to be the first of his three meetings with leaders from the Middle East.

Jordan is a key US ally in the somewhat volatile region.

It is termed as a turn of fortune for the 59-year-old monarch – Jordan’s King Abdullah II – as he has been dealing with a series of external and domestic crises.

Abdullah faced down a challenge to his authority in April from his cousin, Prince Hamza. He will have his first Oval Office talks with President Biden since the latter took power in January.

The king has ruled Jordan for the past 21 years but he shared a difficult relationship with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who he believed was leaving his country out from regional developments.

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Abdullah, on Tuesday, will have a working breakfast with Vice President Kamala Harris at the vice president’s residence. He will also meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department.

Abdullah enjoys a unique role in the Middle East – seen by US officials as a moderate and pragmatic administrator who can play a mediating role.

His visit to the White House is to be followed on July 26 by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi. On the other hand, the US and Israeli officials are at work on scheduling a meeting between Biden and new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett soon.

In 2017, the Monarch told Trump that his decision to recognise Israel as the capital of Israel is going to have “dangerous consequences on the stability and security of the region” – according to a palace statement.

That was, however, dismissed by Trump.

Although Jordan has full relations with Israel since 1994, the king opposed the deals that the Trump administration brokered in 2020.

Europe needs urgent action on climate change
Geopolitics

Europe needs urgent action on climate change

It has already been stated by several members of the German government, the most recent by the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer. Furthermore, the European Union again sounds the alarm on the emergency linked to climate change, after the devastating floods that have already caused over 100 victims and thousands missing in northern Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

The president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference in Dublin, said that science tells us that we see more extreme weather phenomena with climate change, which last longer. The intensity and duration of these events are a clear indication “of the fact that they are favored by global warming.

Words that want to highlight again what should be the way forward for all European states, that of a massive energy transition that limits pollution and, consequently, global warming at the root of the current climate crisis. These “horrific events show that action is urgent,” said the head of the Berlaymont Building, adding that she had “activated the mechanisms to help the Member States” affected by the floods.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter that “my thoughts go out to the victims of the rains that hit Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands hard. France stands in solidarity in this test. Our support is already deployed in Belgium. It will be sent wherever it is useful”.

The toll of the disaster in Germany is dramatic, first of all in human lives: at least 141 victims and a thousand injured. In Belgium, too, there are 28 deaths and 103 people, of whom there is no news after the catastrophe caused by the rain. Bulletins constantly updated: these numbers, it is warned, will rise again. In the landscape devastated by the unstoppable force of water and mud, the material damage, priceless for now, is enormous.

Floods destroyed houses, shops, cars, and entire communities shocked, in their villages transfigured within hours. “Your fate rips our hearts out of our chests,” said the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, interpreting the country’s general dismay for too many fellow citizens who, in this flood of unprecedented magnitude, did not survive. In Germany, 23,000 people mobilized in the flood regions and firefighters, police, and the TechnischeHilfswerk. In addition, the army intervened with 900 soldiers and their tanks to face the disaster. All the rescuers engaged in the operations are struggling tirelessly to help the population.

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US to sanction Chinese officials over Hong Kong
Geopolitics

US to sanction Chinese officials over Hong Kong

The United States is planning to impose sanctions on a number of Chinese officials due to the Chinese crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.

The US has also issued a warning to international businesses operating there about the progressively worsening conditions over there.

As per media reports, the financial sanctions would target about seven officials from China’s Hong Kong liaison office – the platform which projects Beijing’s influence into the Chinese territory.

US government has voiced concerns about the repercussions on international companies of Hong Kong’s national security law.

Critics say Beijing brought in that law last year to expedite a crackdown on pro-democracy activists and free press.

US President Joe Biden, at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said,

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“The situation in Hong Kong is continually deteriorating. And the Chinese government is not keeping the commitment that it made to how it would administer Hong Kong, and so it is more of an advisory as to what can happen in Hong Kong. It’s as simple as that and as complicated as that.”

The statement, certain to anger Beijing, marks the Biden administration’s latest effort to show the Chinese government of being accountable for what the US calls an erosion of rule of law in Hong Kong – the former British colony that reverted to Chinese control in 1997.

The White House is also reviewing a possible executive order on immigration from Hong Kong. This, however, as per Reuters, is still not certain to be implemented.

Beijing has, on the other hand, snubbed the US by refusing to grant Wendy Sherman – deputy secretary of state – a chance to meet her counterpart during a proposed visit to China. This would have been the first top-level engagement since bitter talks in Alaska.

The US has now halted plans for Sherman to travel to Tianjin following China’s refusal.

US-China Cold War triggers divergent regional response
Geopolitics

US-China Cold War triggers divergent regional response

The US-China rivalry has resulted in multidimensional paradigm shifts in international relations. The ongoing tussle between the two major powers has intensified across trade, technology, scientific, culture, defence and global diplomacy among other horizons. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic from China’s Wuhan city in late 2019 further changed the dynamics of strategic competition and geopolitical trends to further define a new global order.

It is important to note that the cold war has resulted in the rise of China across several regions. While Southeast Asia has been the hotbed for the US-China rivalry, other regions including Russia and Europe have also felt the vibrations of the policy shift.

Beijing has been expanding its influence on other regions to tackle American allies. In response, Washington has been closely monitoring the dynamics and risks related to the expansion of China’s influence across spheres.

For Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the mistrust on China’s assertive regional strategy. With its own stakes in the rivalry, the European Union and its member states appear to be developing strategies to ensure the continuity of multilateral partnership with China as well as competition.

On the other hand, Russia has shown a more neutral and indifferent approach towards the cold war between the two countries. Considering Washington’s tough stance on Russia in the wake of human rights violations in Crimea among other factors, Moscow’s rapprochement with Beijing has grown stronger in recent years. The two countries have expressed cooperation in key areas including economy and security issues. With rising tensions between the US and China, Russian experts have also pointed out that ties between Moscow and Beijing are likely to strengthen.

Meanwhile, Moscow is working on becoming a third “power balancer” with the aim of leading those countries which have shown a pragmatic approach towards the US-China rivalry. Even if the two power decides to bring an end to their cold war, the rivalry is expected to continue to influence geopolitics and international relations among regions. Since the Sino-American competition is far from over, the need of the hour is for world governments to manage the competition to promote peaceful coexistence amid prevailing mutual challenges.

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Economic and geopolitical issues in the South China Sea
Geopolitics

Economic and geopolitical issues in the South China Sea

A powder keg that could explode at any moment: this is how the experts see the South China Sea, one of the hottest theatres of the 21st century. On whose waters a fundamental part of the geostrategic competition between the United States and China is played, and the will to power of various rising Nations insist.

Trade routes to be conquered, alliances to be safeguarded, and old historical issues to solve are intertwined in a single thorny knot. There are many actors involved in this dispute, starting with the ASEAN countries (Association of Southeast Asian Nations): Brunei, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. To these, we must then add, as mentioned, China and the United States, with Beijing trying to expand its influence on what it considers its “backyard” and Washington, on the contrary, trying to block the rise of the Dragon while maintaining its Asian outposts. Impossible to please everyone. Also, because, as anticipated, when we talk about the South China Sea, at least three different aspects overlap each other. The first issue concerns the historical disputes between the regional countries.

The root of the ongoing territorial disputes dates back to 1947. At the time, the Chinese nationalists of the Kuomintang made a map of the South China Sea, drawing 11 dashed lines, that is, the claims of China. Too bad that these also included the waters located between Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. A few years later, Mao’s Communists came to power. In the 1970s, then Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai erased two dashed lines, reducing them to nine. Small problem: those traits were too vague, not to mention that China’s neighbors disagreed. However, as long as the Dragon was in a weak state, the matter remained open. Since the Asian giant has tightened its muscles, Beijing has returned to claim its territorial area.

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In 2013, the Philippines filed an appeal with the Permanent Tribunal of Arbitration in The Hague, which, in 2016, declared the infamous nine-stroke line a violation of international rights. Last but not least, China has signed the Convention on the Law of the Sea, which sets the exclusive economic zone of a country in the delimited space within 200 miles from its coasts. Therefore, the islands claimed by China would not belong to Beijing. Which, for its part, considers the Hague verdict to be waste paper.

The second question regarding the South China Sea is geopolitical. Each country involved in the dispute has a thousand reasons to exploit local waters fully. In addition, it is necessary to consider the essential balance required of ASEAN members, in part rivals of China and part very close trading partners.

It is no coincidence that in November 2020, a mega trade agreement was signed, which, alone, is worth 30% of world GDP. That is the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP). This partnership includes members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. That is the most significant free trade agreement globally, and every actor involved is looking to capitalize on exclusive benefits.

The RCEP covers an area that is worth a third of global economic activity. The agreement unites pro-Western Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea in a single system, with Western Pacific countries such as Australia and New Zealand, with the 10 ASEAN countries of Southeast Asia, with China. Of course, each of them also has other affiliations from previous trials, including the CPTPP, which crowned a prosecution initiated by Obama (TPP), later quashed by Trump, but ultimately completed by all others except the US. Or like the New Supply Chain Pact that unites others. But it remains to be seen whether these systems will stay now that the general systemic framework has been formed.

At the same time, it is also likely that if commercial interest tends to unite these regional players, the geopolitical balance will lead many of them to counter-insure with closer military defensive collaboration with the US. For this reason, it isn’t easy to imagine that there will be a substantial integration between the RCEP and the New Silk Road with Chinese traction. Given that the two projects travel on a parallel track but on which convergences of various kinds are difficult, thanks to the more excellent geostrategic posture of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Nord Stream 2, the geopolitics of gas pipelines
Geopolitics

Nord Stream 2, the geopolitics of gas pipelines

The Biden-Putin summit in Geneva was an epochal event, capable of marking the turning point with the Trump era and re-establishing relations between the U.S. and Russia. There have been talking of many issues, from cybersecurity to nuclear. “A positive encounter,” according to Joe Biden. Vladimir Putin called it “productive.” During the summit, at least to see the official press releases. However, there was no mention of what happened a few days ago: Biden decided to spare Nord Stream AG from sanctions, the leading company involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2, a company with headquarters in Switzerland but owned by the Russian company Gazprom, which builds the second arm of the pipeline that crosses the Baltic. Just under 60 kilometers to complete the doubling of the Nord Stream, which from the Russian terminal of Vyborg, on the border with Finland, goes to the German one of Greifswald, in the country’s north-east. The doubling of the trans-Baltic gas pipeline will bring about 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia to Germany, bypassing the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary – V4).

That gas supplies Germany and Eastern Europe directly, continuing down, potentially as far as Italy. That is yet another energy dominance project. Together with the Turk Stream, operational since the beginning of the year, the Nord Stream 2 will flood the Old Continent with Russian gas, in line with the current objectives of the “energy transition.”

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According to the American news site Axios, Biden’s brake is precisely due to the desire not to clash with Berlin over its energy policy, trying to safeguard the space for mediation. Germany has strategically linked itself to Russia, unlike France, which has never given up on atomic energy. For Berlin, natural gas is now indispensable. The decision to decommission all coal-fired plants by 2038 has focused entirely on a mix of renewables and gas. But Nord Stream 2 said the new head of U.S. foreign policy Antony Blinken represents “a bad agreement for Germany, Ukraine, and all our partners in Central and Eastern Europe.” Therefore, it would be a Russian geopolitical project destined to split Europe and weaken the energy security of the Old Continent.

The two heads of state also discussed the situation in Ukraine. In a note, the association committee of E.U. and Ukrainian parliamentarians, at the end of an informal discussion, said: “We are deeply concerned about the resumption of construction work on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, we consider it a geopolitical project, not commercial, aimed at expanding the geostrategic influence of Russia on Europe ». The text continues by asking the E.U. leadership to review its cooperation with Russia, immediately stopping the pipeline’s construction. But now, it is only a question of diplomacy. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandr Novak, said that the pipeline’s structure would be completed by the end of 2021. That was also stated by Rainer Seele, CEO of the Austrian oil and gas company Omv, on the sidelines of the works of the International Economic Forum of St. Petersburg. On June 3, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met Jan Hecker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign policy adviser in Washington, to discuss Nord Stream 2 and what it would imply for Germany. Ukraine. On June 12, during the works of the G7 in Cornwall in the United Kingdom, Merkel herself had an interview with Joe Biden, and the two also talked about Nord Stream and Ukraine. The German Chancellor believes that the two countries are “on the right track” and reiterated the importance of Ukraine in the transit of gas from Russia to Europe.

At the end of the project, Vladimir Putin’s Russia will have an increasing weight on the international stage. If Nord Stream 2 sees the light, in a few months, Moscow will have collected its third success after the start of Turk Stream and the start of supplies to China of the pipeline called Power of Siberia. The American president has preferred, for now, to take the path of forgiveness or somewhat of prudence. But the message is clear, especially for the G7 partners: U.S. diplomacy is back.

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