Weekly Newsletter

Myanmar: Military Coup

A protester holds a placard with an image of Myanmar military Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and Justice For Myanmar as fellow protesters march around Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. A protest against Myanmar’s one-week-old military government swelled rapidly Monday morning as opposition to the coup grew increasingly bold. (AP Photo)

The military in Myanmar toppled the Aung San Suu Kyi’s frail democracy on February 1st, 2021. Myanmar military has arrested many civil leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, along with cabinet ministers, the chief ministers of several regions, opposition politicians, writers and activists under the impression, without any evidence, that the elections won by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party are scam and fraud. Myanmar’s leading Democratic Party, National League for Democracy, won the elections by 83%. Military refused to accept the elections. Aung San Suu Kyi has been Myanmar’s de facto leader since the elections of 2015. The military argued that elections were fraudulent and threatened to take action. Not long after the threat was made, Myanmar’s houses of parliament were surrounded by the military soldiers. Military has also accused Aung San Suu Kyi of violating an obscure import law, many are viewing this accusation as a ploy to keep her incarcerated.

Military had been in power in Myanmar since 1962. In 2011, quasi-democracy began when military implemented parliamentary elections and other reforms. Unfortunately, the recent coup has brought back the full military rule just after nine years of quasi-democracy. The military coup in Myanmar was effectively declared on the military owned Myawaddy TV station. The presenter quoted the constitution of 2008 and described that it allows military to take control and declare national emergency. It was further added that the national emergency will stay in place for one year. Power has been handed over to Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. According to reports, two days from February 1st, military took control of the parliament and other State institutions and operations including country’s infrastructure, suspended most television broadcasts and cancelled all domestic and international flights. Telephone and internet access was suspended in major cities. The stock market and commercial banks were closed. The full military takeover has caused protests against the military regime. The protestors include teachers, lawyers, students, bank officers and government workers. It has also been reported that soldiers have used water cannon against the protestors. Strict restrictions have been imposed including curfew and gatherings. Many international States have condemned the military takeover including EU, Australia, UK and the U.S. Whereas, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines called it an internal matter. China urged all sides to resolve the differences.

Glacier collapse in India

A piece of Himalayan glacier in the Indian state of Uttarakhand broke off and fell into a river Sunday, causing flood that have killed at least 20 people so far, while nearly 200 remain missing. The wall of water barreled down a valley in the northern state of Uttarakhand on Sunday morning, destroying bridges, roads and two hydroelectric power plants this is not a small incident, it’s more alarming that the glaciers are melting more rapidly as compare to previous years. Environment protectionists are worried and call it a climate change event and the glaciers are melting due to global warming, however they also warned people to get ready for more disasters.

Asia is home to some of the world’s biggest waterways, from the Ganges and the Indus in India to the Yangtze and Mekong originating in China, that snake for thousands of kilometers. They support the livelihoods of vast numbers of farmers and fishermen, and supply drinking water to billions of people, but have come under unprecedented pressure in recent years.

Higher temperatures are causing glaciers that feed the rivers to shrink, threatening water supplies and also increasing the chances of landslides and floods, while critics blame dam building and pollution for damaging fragile ecosystems.

Rivers are really at risk from development projects, dumping of solid waste and liquid waste, sand mining and stone mining,   Himanshu Thakkar, from the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People are very much dependent on these rivers. In regions like the Himalaya, the problem of rising temperatures is three-fold:

  • It leads to the melting of mountain glaciers, which can spark floods.
  • It also decreases glacial coverage, which leads to a reduction in the long-term availability of water for people, agriculture, and hydropower.
  • As glacier cover reduces and the area is replaced by water or land and hence the land Corrosion started.

Glaciers are often referred to as the “water towers” of the world, with half of humanity depending on mountains for their water needs. The Tibetan Plateau alone is the source of 10 of Asia’s biggest rivers and provides water to 1.35 billion people, or 20 per cent of the world’s population.

The incident raises questions about developing a region that is vulnerable to climate change. The IPPC’s Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere warned that glacier retreat could increase the risk of landslides, floods and cascading events in regions where these disasters were previously unheard.

In the Paris Agreement, Member States committed to limit global temperature increases to well below 2°C, and preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. Slowing global warming would help save glaciers, but countries must also prepare mountain ecosystems for an unavoidable increase in temperatures. Steps need to be taken otherwise there will be a regret at the end.

Weekly Newsletter

The EU has been receiving denigration from member States for the slothful pace of COVID vaccinations. It has been reported that U.S. and UK are far ahead from EU in terms of ratio of population that is being vaccinated. The EU’s vaccination scheme includes co-ordination purchase of COVID vaccines for all 27 member States.  As per European Commission, buying vaccines for all member States kills the urge of competition between Sates and they all receive the vaccines irrespective of their power of buying. EC further explains that buying vaccines in large bulks is also cost effective because then one has the power and space to negotiate. After receiving the multiple batches of vaccines, EU distributes them among the member State as per their population. EU approved the purchase of about 300 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in December but the company could not deliver 12.5 million doses by the end of December 2020 due to supply chain issues. The head of BioNTech, Uğur Şahin, explained that the cause of delay, despite company’s fast manufacturing capacity, in delivering the vaccine is because EU erroneously presumed that many vaccines will be ready at once. This has caused many States to approve Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for their population. EU has also ordered 400 million doses from Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca, 300 million doses from Sanofi-GSK, 400 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, 405 million doses from CureVac along with doubling the doses of vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech to 600 million.

Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca is also falling behind is producing and delivering the vaccine on time. It is also noteworthy that The AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved by the EU’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) but is expecting to get approval by the end of January 2021. Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca said that due to production problems EU will be receiving initial doses of the vaccine lower than expected, about a cut of 60%. EU is receiving great criticism over the slow rollout of the vaccines because only 0.29% of the population in France has received vaccine jabs, whereas, Israel has successfully vaccinated 22% of its population out of nine million. Amid this, EU has issued a warning that it will constrict the rules on exporting the COVID vaccines. The health commissioner also said that ant of the companies preparing vaccines against COVID will have to issue an early warning before exporting it to any third world countries.

International Assessment Report

Artificial Intelligence vs National Security

Artificial Intelligence, or commonly known as AI, is a briskly emerging field of technology. The rapid growth of AI has substantial implications on national security. The potential international competitors include the USA, China, and Russia. Artificial intelligence is highly used in developing applications to cater to a range of military functions. Artificial intelligence has gained its place in the world of research on the grounds of intelligence collection and analysis, logistics, cyber operations, information operations, command and control, and in a variety of semiautonomous and autonomous vehicles. China is the most leading competitor against the USA in developing AI and aims to capture the worldwide leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. China is primarily focused on using AI to make fast and well-informed decisions along with developing various autonomous military vehicles. Russia is more invested in using AI in the field of robotics. AI can acquaint the world with various challenges along with many advantages militarily. AI is capable of carrying out and facilitating autonomous military and combat operations which can introduce a unique form of influence, unpredictability, vulnerability, and manipulation. AI is also expected to bring social transformations of an extraordinary scale. AI’s capabilities may affect, directly or indirectly, the preconditions for peace, nature of conflicts, and insecurities that are often perceived by people and States.

Global Climate Change:

In a comprehensive report released by the “National Security, Military and Intelligence Panel (NSMIP)” of the Center for Climate and Security, experts warn of High-to-Catastrophic threats to security from plausible climate change trajectories – the avoidance of which will require “quickly reducing and phasing out global greenhouse gas emissions.” A near-term scenario of climate change, in which the world warms 1-2°C/1.8-3.6°F over pre-industrial levels by mid-century, would pose ‘High’ to ‘Very High’ security threats. To alleviate the threats posed by global climate change scenarios, a quick reduction of net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions is required. To avoid future disasters and calamities, resilient and climate-proof infrastructure is needed. A warm climate will encourage wildfires and prolonged summers which will have a direct effect on people’s day-to-day life and economic activities. The developed and rapidly emerging countries are likely to suffer less because of their greater coping capacity in comparison to poorer States. The economic activities of poorer States will likely experience setbacks leading to political disruptions.

Indian Homegrown Covid-19 Vaccination Shots:

A nurse displays a vial of AstraZeneca’s COVISHIELD vaccine, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination campaign, at a medical centre in Mumbai, India, January 16, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

India gave the nod for emergency use of two vaccines, one developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another by Indian company Bharat Biotech. It is the world’s largest vaccination campaigns, as part of efforts by the populous nation to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control starting with two locally-manufactured shots in the 1st phase more than 300 million people will be vaccinated. Doctors, nurses, and old citizens will receive vaccines firstly. Recently on 4th January, Indian authorities sent 16.5 million vaccines to different parts of the country. Over a 35million doses of various Covid-19 vaccines have been administered around the world and the majority of the COVID-19 vaccines have been snapped by the wealthy states so India is totally dependent on its homegrown vaccine. Ministry of Health claims that Vaccine is safe and no-after effects have been recorded, but according to few news channels some people are allergic to the vaccine. Indian doctors are demanding Oxford-AstraZeneca “Covishield” vaccine to be supplied instead of Covaxin. The residents are dependent on Covishield and demanding to complete the Covaxin trail before injecting it. Around 69% of Indians are in no hurry to get vaccinated, they are waiting for the result on those who got the vaccine shots. People are hoping that homegrown vaccine will help to counter COVID-19 and save lives as India has the world’s second-largest known caseload with more than 10.5m coronavirus infections and over 152,000 deaths so far. Covaxin could be the game-changer for India if the results are satisfying.

Weekly Newsletter

The youth has now been protesting for weeks in Tunisia, the North African country that historically speaking triggered the 2011 Arab Spring. The agitation of youth that is causing unrest in the country is a direct consequence of the accumulated frustration, the dying beacon of optimism in the future, and the economic hardships that exacerbated due to the COVID-19. As a measure to stop the spread of the virus, the government imposed a strict lockdown throughout the country. But on the 10th anniversary of overthrowing Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former President, the measure backfired. The nightly curfew in Tunisia since October for containing the spread of Coronavirus exacerbated the tensions between government and the youth. Tourism is a key economic sector of Tunisia, which was intensely affected by the pandemic travel restrictions.