Maybe not the only explosion
The Beirut explosion is a bitter example of state failure. How could one come up with the idea of simply storing such a quantity of explosives in a port without security? The anger and aggression of the Lebanese people against their political elites are understandable. What good is a government if it isn’t doing its job? Beirut is now not only a hotspot for international aid, it could also become, more than before, a place of political unrest. The coming weeks will show whether an explosive Arab autumn will follow the Arab Spring.
Warm greetings from
– Editor Defensio Briefing –
Explosion in Beirut: Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced his cabinet’s resignation, responding to outrage over the catastrophic explosions in Beirut. In a televised speech on Monday, Diab blamed his predecessors for last week’s deadly blast in the capital. “Their corruption created this tragedy,” said Diab. “Between us and change stands a thick wall protected by their dirty tactics,” he added. The explosions had killed at least 160 people, wounded more than 6,000 and left many homeless. Protesters have blamed corruption and poor leadership at the heart of Lebanon’s government for the explosion. Violent protests erupted outside the prime minister’s office on Monday evening.
npr.org, dw.com, cnn.com
US elections this November – secret services fear foreign influence: The presidential election in the United States will take place on Tuesday, November 3rd. The director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina, has warned that Russia is trying to undermine presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s candidacy, while China and Iran are against President Donald Trump’s reelection. While many foreign actors have views on who should hold the White House, “We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia, and Iran,” Evanina said. He warned that foreign states would continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway US voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift US policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in the democratic process ahead of the election.
Commemoration in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Hiroshima and Nagasaki have marked the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings. In remarks at a ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan delivered a cautious statement in which he vowed to gradually work toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. The mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, warned the world about the rise of self-centered nationalism and appealed for greater international cooperation to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. He renewed a “Peace Declaration” on behalf of the city and appealed to Japan’s government to ratify a 2017 United Nations treaty proposing the elimination of nuclear weapons.
EU condemns state violence in Belarus: Belarusian police clashed with protesters on Monday after the opposition accused President Alexander Lukashenko of rigging his re-election victory. The human rights group Viasna said at least one person had been killed in clashes between protesters and police. Belarus’s interior ministry denied reports of the death. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi said the election in Belarus had been marred by disproportionate and unacceptable state violence against peaceful protesters. They condemned the violence and called for the immediate release of all those detained the previous night. Poland wants a special EU summit on Belarus. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for Belarus to publish accurate election results.
reuters.com, dpa-international.com, ft.com, eeas.europa.eu, dw.com
EU urges respect for human rights in Hong Kong: The EU Commission has urged respect for human rights and freedom of expression in Hong Kong on Monday, after the arrest of pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai. A Commission spokesman said the recent arrests of Lai, members of his family and other individuals further stoked fears that the new security law imposed by China was being used to stifle freedom of expression and the media in Hong Kong. The EU recalled that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms was a central element of the Basic Law and the “one country, two systems” principle. Meanwhile, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow was also arrested under the security law. China has announced that it will impose sanctions on eleven US citizens including senators and other high-profile officials, in response to a decision by the US to sanction Chinese officials for curtailing political freedoms.
eeas.europa.eu, nytimes.com (Lai); reuters.com (Chow); bbc.com (US sanctions)
Bulgaria: PM Borissov offers to step down to save government apnews.com
Turkey: Convention on combating violence against women must be implemented not abandoned, says Amnesty International amnesty.org
EU Council Presidency: Advancing reforms zeit.de
Israel: Thousands protest against Netanyahu over Covid-19 and alleged corruption reuters.com
Hong Kong rallies around Apple Daily after arrest of founder Jimmy Lai theguardian.com
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
More than 140,000 people lost their lives 75 years ago in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Former Catalan minister Puig will not be sent back to Spain: A Brussels court has ruled that a European arrest warrant issued against former Catalan minister Lluis Puig, a Belgian resident since 2017, should not be carried out. The Brussels prosecutor said the court considered that the Spanish authority that issued the warrant was not competent to do so. Spain had issued European arrest warrants against Puig, along with former Catalan minister-president Carles Puigdemont and former Catalan minister Toni Comin for their role in an illegal referendum and declaration of independence for Catalonia in 2017.
From the Eifel to Northern Italy – withdrawal of US troops from Spangdahlem: US President Donald Trump has announced that the United States will partially withdraw troops from Germany. People who live near Nato’s Spangdahlem Air Base in the western Eifel region are concerned about their community’s economic future. About 800 German civilians work on the air base, and there are approximately 2,400 rental agreements connected to the presence of US troops at the base. Joachim Streit, a regional administrator, said the cost of withdrawing the troops would not only be felt in the United States. US citizens spend about Є100 million per year on rent, restaurants and other goods and services in the vicinity of Spangdahlem. “Construction firms and other businesses in the region live with and off the Americans,” he said. Still, he added, the region could recover. In 1994, the United States closed down the Bitburg Air Base and many soldiers and their families left. Streit said regional companies had moved onto the site and the “Bitburg model” of creating small and medium-sized enterprises had proved itself in other times of crisis.
France as a former protecting power and new savior of Lebanon? Representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, China, the EU and the World Bank, among others, raised pledges worth nearly 253 million euros for immediate humanitarian relief for Lebanon at a donor conference hosted by France. The French government itself pledged 30 million euros while Germany pledged another 20 million euros. The EU Commission will contribute an additional 30 million euros to help address the immediate needs of those affected by the disaster. International donors said after the conference that aid would need to come with reforms called for by protesters. The offer of assistance also included support for an independent inquiry into the explosions. French President Emmanuel Macron called on the Lebanese government to act responsibly to safeguard the country’s future: “It is up to the authorities of the country to act so that the country does not sink, and to respond to the aspirations that the Lebanese people are expressing right now, legitimately, in the streets of Beirut,” he said.
reuters.com, politico.com, euronews.com, france24.com
“If France did not play its role in the interests of the Lebanese people, its role as a power that believes in multilateralism, then other powers – Russia, Turkey, Iran or Saudi Arabia – would enforce their geopolitical interests, to the detriment of the Lebanese people.”
After the explosion in Beirut, French President Emmanuel Macron wants to live up to France’s historical responsibility and come to the aid of the people of Lebanon.
German army generals to work longer: Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer has decided that there will be no early retirement of Bundeswehr generals in the future. In making this decision, she has refused to allow several generals to retire early. Many generals retire early if just for health reasons. The ministry has always allowed this to make room for young officers in leadership positions.