Country sovereignty newsitems last week

November 27

FT Why a state for Palestine is the best security guarantee for Israel

The foreign chef of the EU in an op-ed argues that the world must stop paying lip service to the two state solution. Despite the horrors displaced in the current conflict “the central obstacle to solutions is the occupation of Israel of the west bank”. The author maintains that “there will be a tomorrow that neither side is yet able to envisage”. He claims the central path to the future is in a state for the Palestinians. “To move forward, we must aim for a solution based on justice and equal rights for both peoples.”

FT Ruling party in India leans on popularity PM in state elections

Five state elections are due in November, three of them in powerbases of the ruling party. The party has sought to turn the state elections into a referendum on the federal government. Polls give the ruling party an edge in Rajasthan and the opposition in Madhya Pradesh. If materialized this would change the previous preference in those states. The opposition has in recent months sought to regroup, winning power in the southern state of Karnataka and forming a national opposition alliance to put up a united front against the party of the popular federal PM.

TT Thailand pushes for land bridge to alter world economic dynamics

This project looks similar to the plans in Mexico for the Americas, see October 18. Shipping could avoid the very busy and lengthy stretch through the Malacca Strait by docking on one side of the Peninsula and using land transport to the other side, a 93 km stretch. The Thai government promotes it as “cheaper, faster and safer”. The projection is to handle 20 million cargo containers a year by 2040. By the Thai government’s reckoning, it would create 300,000 jobs and help propel the country to annual growth of 5.5 per cent.

November 28

FT How China is tearing down Islamic life

The newspaper in a “Big Read” documents the spread of the government’s crackdown on Islam from Xinjiang to almost every region of the country. The newspaper shows the effects of the policy on mosques, using satellite images to document how three quarters of 2.312 investigated buildings have since 2018 been ripped of their outwardly visual religious imagery, replacing them with traditional Chinese designs. Some have even been torn down. China is home to an estimated 20 Mn Muslims. The outward changing of mosques is part of a full-scale rearticulation of the relationship between Party and religion, also affecting other religions. The government sees it as “promoting the healthy development of Islamic culture”.

FT Ecuador arrests alleged leader of powerful drugs gang

This reflects a security pledge of the just sworn-in president. The murder rate in the once relatively peaceful country has jumped almost 500 percent since 2016. Following the arrest gang members set up roadblocks and fired at the police. The gang is estimated to have more than 8,000 members and operates on the streets and in prisons.

FT City in Mexico reaps the benefits of near-shoring

The city of Pesquería has been nicknamed “Pes-Korea” as it hosts industrial activity for a Korean carmaker that otherwise would depend on factories in Asia. The region welcomes executives of companies from Asia weekly in search of opportunities to produce efficiently nearer to the served markets. While the government is perceived as anti-private sector, it surprised the markets with tax incentives for export production.

FT India fights back against digital fraud

Financial literacy education is the key to protecting Indians from scams in the era of superfast payments. Many Indians use smartphones and digital banking for the first time and enthusiastically embrace online banking. The lack of awareness of the people is being exploited by criminals. Education and tightening financial regulation is a central topic for the authorities.

FT In the Netherlands post-election coalition negotiator steps down over fraud accusation

His former employer announced the case in March but the name of the negotiator has been revealed now by a newspaper. He was appointed at the advice of his party, the election winner (see November 24). Some 15 parties have been elected in the 150 member parliament as there is no minimum threshold to enter parliament.

TT PM of Britain avoids meeting counterpart of Greece for reclaimed colonial treasures

The treasures have been in Britain for more than 200 years. At the time the acquisition was already criticized. Lord Byron used poetry to denounce the arrival: “Come then ye classic Thieves of each degree … Come pilfer all that pilgrims love to see.” Ahead of the meeting with the British PM the Greek PM said the 2.500 years old treasures belong in his country. This offended the British.

November 29

FT Debt brake crisis in Germany ruins reputation of chancellor

The government created unprecedented crisis-fighting spending programs that allowed coalition partners to fulfill campaign promises. Now an accounting trick made the German top court struck down the budget as illegal as it broke the law by transferring €60bn of unused borrowing capacity from the pandemic budget to a “climate and transformation fund” (KTF) (see also November 23) and used the money beyond the budget year. The chancellor takes the brunt. He was originally seen as a quiet professional but now as lacking the communicative skills of his predecessor.

NYT Malawi plans to send 5000 farm workers to Israel

Israel loses some of its 30.000 foreign farm workers from other countries, mostly from Thailand. Hundreds of Malawians have already travelled to Israel. Opposition politicians and civil society organizations have criticized the move as putting young Malawians at risk. They connect the deal to a recent aid package from Israel. A decade ago the government was embarrassed by a similar deal with South Korea, that did not materialize.

NYT Sierra Leone arrest 13 military officials and a civilian in an “attempted coup”

This happened after attacks in the capital on Sunday that left 20 people dead and more than 2,000 prisoners on the loose. The result of the presidential election in June (see June 24) has been rejected by the challenger, contributing to a tense political atmosphere, and the election was considered to be not transparent by many international observers. The government has been praised for its education push, but the president has been criticized for his lavish lifestyle.

November 30

FT Government in Ireland vows to heed social concern after anti-immigrant riots

A government minister denied that Ireland will follow Italy and the Netherlands where 20 percent of voters turned to anti-immigration parties. He said a handful of people peddling a “warped agenda built on hate and anger and dividing society” had stirred anti-immigration sentiment, adding that most Irish are comfortable with immigrants.

FT Justice minister of France cleared by special court of corruption charges

The former celebrity defense lawyer turned justice minister refused to step down during the procedure (see November 6), contrary to the promise of transparency of the government. The decision triggered criticism about the special court for being “overly politicized and ineffective”. The institution is the only one that can judge ministers for alleged wrongdoing committed while in office. Currently the labor minister is on trial on charges of favoritism in awarding a contract.

FT Vietnam raises multinational corporate tax rate

It brings the country in line with a global agreement to crack down on corporate tax avoidance. It could hit foreign direct investment to the country. Some international companies voiced concerns but an analyst said that other facts are more important like “low input costs including electricity and wages [as well as] access to large markets”.

FT Sri Lanka strikes debt deal with national lenders to clear way out of bankruptcy

The restructuring deal includes India, Japan and France, paving the way for the country to revive a stalled IMF loan program after it secured a similar pact with China last month. The country has foreign debts of 40 Bn.

NYT President of Kenya internationally in the forefront but criticized at home

Criticism is growing in the country “that has long been an economic powerhouse and a pillar of stability in a tumultuous region.” The president got elected on an entrepreneurial image but made life more difficult through higher taxes, removal of fuel subsidies and raising electricity prices. He claims that he deals with the debt pile of his predecessor. In his first state of the union he said: “The new direction may not be easy, but it is ethical, responsible, prudent, and most importantly, necessary.” Some of his tax plans, for affordable housing and universal health care respectively, have been declared unconstitutional in court.

December 1

FT Ruling party in South Africa will eventually fall apart

As a liberation movement it has staying power and it is unlikely to lose outright. A book predicting its demise was written a decade ago, at the height of the party presiding over the looting of the state. In an op-ed the FT Africa editor concludes that South Africa’s economy has not grown in per capita terms since 2007. Nearly two in three young South Africans have no job. Small new parties are placing their chips on the electoral table and there are three mid-size opposition parties. The ruling party may well score below 50 percent in next year’s election, in which case it needs a coalition party. Or the opposition parties pull their act together and join forces to create an alternative.

FT Supreme Court in Russia bans LGBT movement as extremist

This means a complete ban of any public support for the movement and puts it in the same position as the anti-corruption movement of the jailed opposition leader. This comes at the time the government declared 2024 the Year of the Family amid fears concerning the country’s falling birth rate and its implications for Russia’s demographics. Elections are due next year and observers see the moves as the beginning of the campaign.

FT Youth in Palestine experience a brutal rite of passage

According to Israeli and foreign human rights groups they are held for offences from attempted murder to throwing stones. According to Israel as of September about 146 Palestinian minors were jailed for “security offences”, the youngest was 14. Israel has arrested many more since. As Palestinians arrested in occupied territory, the teenagers are sent to military courts. They are kept separate in prisons, but conditions have deteriorated since the war with Hamas started.

FT Regime in Afghanistan carries out more than 400 floggings to tighten grip

Corporal punishment is frequently imposed for crimes such as adultery and robbery. Last year the regime, after internal discussion, declared it would impose a strict version of sharia law. It claims to punish only “after a rigorous Islamic legal process”. Many of the punishments were carried out in public places, some of them in front of large audiences. The country is not alone with corporal punishments. Countries including Singapore practice caning, while others such as Saudi Arabia and Iran also enforce strict sharia punishments.

December 2

FT Union in Sweden takes on multinational company

The conflict pits the boss of carmaker Tesla with his antipathy to organized labor against the Swedish view of trade unions at the heart of the economic model. It escalates every day. The carmaker branded the actions of the unions “insane” and the union argues the need for collective bargaining for good wages. Other businesses lament that the union should not shy business away from the country. Also the government has criticized the union but cannot intervene as labor is jointly organized by employers and employees.

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

Latin American Evangelical Alliance celebrates first decade:

FT = Financial Times, TT = The Times, NYT = New York Times. Nearly all Africa related items in the FT and all religious life oriented items are included. Original articles may be editorials, news reports or blogs. The focus is on (potentially) enduring trends in statehood, valuable for SDG16.