LESSONS FROM THE CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY

Leonardo Manzari

 
There are some  considerations,  we Italians (and maybe not just Italians?) could draw (and not forget after the end of this nightmare) from the dramatic experience the country is living:

・ Solidarity, not just the financial one, is not a common EU value.

It is sad to discover, that the meaning of the EU construction process has not been fully perceived by all member countries/populations, including those ones who have mostly benefitted from this cohesion over decades.

European construction path was designed first of all to avoid another war in the continent, and the European institutions have been an extraordinary (and also expensive) tool to achieve such a goal.

The German re-unification would have become impossible, without the EU cohesion and the strong financial support of the EU institutions (not to remind the international treaty in 1953, for the reduction by 50% of war damages due by Germany to 21 countries, with Greece and Italy among those ones. Allowance further renewed – with Italy and Greece on top of the list – in 1990 to avoid another bankrupt to Germany…).

In the same way, the EU enlargement towards Eastern Europe, with its the generous inclusiveness has granted veto power to new EU member countries and national communities who do not feel the spirit of a real European Union.

The European public opinion has never started a debate over responibilities of EU institutions about the financial crisis in Greece and for the Brexit, preferring to consider both events as a result of national responibilities…

Some reforms in the whole EU architecture and adhesion process are urgent, if EU wants to recover its credibility and compete with the most powerful political and economic regional/global blocks.

The solidarity actions promoted by the Chinese leadership towards Italy cannot mitigate the proportion of the tragedy, that the whole world is living, for a virus whose knowledge, diffusion and figures have been hidden or minimized for months, by China.

The loss of a relative is something which remains in our lives forever. Up today, just in Italy more than 10,000 persons have died…

Plus the economic and financial immense damage… Is the EU, alone or together with other regional blocks, going to ask for refund to China for this gift?

Is the EU, alone or together with other regional blocks, going to ban imports from China, unless the Asian giant accepts to refund the economic and financial damages?

・In EU it is necessary the exclusion of healthcare, defense, civil protection, education from any measure of state budget reduction and fiscal discipline in the future.

Level of expenses (tresholds) in these fields should be regulated by country indicators, considering demography, distribution of wealth, level of income, etc.

Appropriate algorithm should be agreed among EU Member States;

・Re-calibration of the balance between competence of Italian regional and national governments, in favour of a higher centralized power for some topics;

・For students who have chosen dedicated study-paths, elimination of “State exams” after completion of the full university degree, to enable the exercise of a professional activity (medical, chartered accountant, lawyer, notary, magistrate, etc.).  Such abilitation should be included in the achievement of the university degree, with specific specialization, itself.

・Introduction of mandatory 2 to 3 years “civil service” for all citizens, to be employed according to their skills (in “moderate” payroll) in State or public institutions, ministries, bodies, authorities, organisations, activities. This experience, with subsequent certification, should be certified in a “national CV”.

CHRONICLES OF A LOCKDOWN

By Sumit Sharma

Mumbai, India (March 28) – “The virus may not get us, but hunger surely will” is the common sentiment expressed by workers joining the long walk exodus from large towns for their villages, some as far as 900 kilometers.

The decision to impose a national lockdown with just three-and-half-hour notice for three weeks beginning midnight March 24 not only caught citizens unawares and unprepared, but is also exposing the government’s weak preparation, planning and anticipation of the host of problems that could be waiting to explode.

Most critically the country stares at woeful inadequacy of medical facilities in case the pandemic spurts in a country of 1.38 billion people, with average density of 404 people per square kilometer with the National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi reaching a density of 11,300 people per square kilometer.

The national lockdown force shut the 70,000-kilometer railway network that moves 8.2 billion passengers each year, and all its 142,000 kilometer highways, and every human movement between each of the 720 districts, leaving no choice for hundreds of thousands of ordinary workers to pack themselves in the last few trains leaving larger cities.

Those left back sensed there was little choice and decided to walk.

What could seem to be an act of a madman, workers wearing thin slippers, balancing belongings on the head, often with wife and little children following them… set off on an unchartered path, to a destination they have no clue when, and if at all, they’ll reach.

For India’s poor, this is a second knockout blow in three and half years. The demonetization of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, without alternatives and planning from mid-night November 6, 2016 rendered millions of workers jobless, shut small and medium sized factories, destroyed many families, left farmers holding produce they could not sell, for want of new currency notes. Some economists say Indian economy is still to fully recover from that blow.

Planners of the coronavirus lockdown probably couldn’t see beyond the densely crowded cities, and the need to control the virus there. They anticipated the lockdown could achieve the “social distancing” albeit with some inconvenience.

What the planners did not plan for was the effects of a three-week closure of factories, shops, malls, showrooms, eating joints and all other kinds of workplaces. This would render workers jobless and out of money, making it impossible for them to pay for food and shelter. For most, returning to villages seemed the only option.

Sadly, what gets missed out is that without these workers who are the oil to the machines of India’s metropolises, working as cooks, waiters, laundrymen, cabbies, deliverymen, shopkeepers, factory labor and thousands of other chores, a city could collapse.

Empty pocket and empty stomach seemed less of a bother in the face of aggressive cops enforcing the lockdown. Workers walking along highways were easy fodder for the cane-wielding cops. Social media was splashed with clips of workers made to crawl on their knees; or do frog jump in groups, or do murga (1) punishment, or simply get caned. To be fair, cops were in a Catch22 situation responding to tremendous pressure to control the virus.

As workers spilled out in every possible direction shattering the lockdown, state governments in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh sensed a bigger human tragedy waiting to explode. Tens of thousands of workers fled with little money, nothing to eat or drink, not that they would have gotten any along the way. Reports cite cases of workers trying to flee for home village dangerously packed in containers, some in empty water tankers at a time when summer heat has begun to soar.

On the fourth day of the lockdown governments had no choice but to put some buses on roads to transport the workers to safety. Delhi held out promises of free food, a dole and shelter where possible for those staying back.

Post exodus, India lives in another fear, that of the virus reaching the remotest corners of the country, where it could be impossible to test, quarantine, hospitalize, save lives, or control the spread of the virus.

Unlike many other developed countries such as the USA, Italy, Spain, Germany, the U.K., India has been reasonably lucky so far. It has less than a thousand infected persons, and less than 25 deaths, compared with more than 100,000 cases in the U.S., and deaths touching 10,000 in Italy, out of total 600,000 cases globally, and about 28,000 deaths.

Part of India’s luck also comes from the low number of tests. As of March 27, India had conducted an abysmally low number of 28,000 tests in a population of 1.38 billion people. That, some experts say, could mask the number of reported deaths, and potential “human-bombs” roaming freely and infecting many more people than the authorities could ever anticipate or track.

The prime objective of the lockdown was to slow the spread of the virus and prevent pressure on its fragile healthcare system. The government initially restricted tests at government hospitals, but relented later on sensing their limited capacity. Two-thirds of all hospital beds are in the private sector, so it made sense to rope in every resource it could lay its hands on, just like requisitioning during a war.

The original source of virus entering the country was travelers from China, Iran, Italy and the UK. Between Jan. 15 and March 23, about 1.5 million passengers arrived in India from overseas. While, the government conducted body temperature checks at overcrowded airports, many passengers with any symptom took anti-fever tablets before de-boarding to avoid having to get admitted in municipal hospitals, infamous for their lack of hygiene.

Fear of social stigma is also pushing many to hide their illness. Cases of even a doctor dying of coronavirus came from a top hospital in Mumbai. He had a relative who traveled back from the U.K. or Italy. Such instance of suppression of facts increases the difficulty of monitoring and restricting the spread of the virus.

The practice of pasting a “Quarantine board” outside an affected person’s home, with name and other details, gets counter-productive with neighbors and others turning hostile.

Another area of challenge is the hutments. Here even in the best of times the less fortunate often have to pack themselves by the dozens in a single room. The danger is that even a single infection could spread the virus to millions in a matter of weeks. Half of Mumbai’s 18 million population lives in slums. Population percentage of slum dwellers in other top cities in the country may not vary significantly.

Any large scale spread of the virus would potentially be uncontrollable as India has a low 0.7 beds per population of one thousand compared with 3.4 for Italy, 8.3 for Germany and 6.5 for France, according to World Bank data. The information is not very recent and ground level facts could vary.

The situation looks even worse when we look at the numbers of ventilators required and those available.

According to a study by Brookings(2) in a worst-case scenario, according to one estimate at least, we may end up with 2.2 million cases in India by May 15, which implies that we will need 110,000 to 220,000 ventilators. We have no official figures on the number of ventilators available in the public sector, however, we arrive at an estimated figure using the number of hospital beds available — 713,986 total government beds, out of which 5% to 8% are ICU beds (35,699 to 57,119 ICU beds). Assuming that 50% of these ICU beds have ventilators, we arrive at an estimate of 17,850 to 25,556 ventilators in the country.

Three weeks of lockdown have challenges of its own for individuals and families. Besides drying up vegetable and fruits supplies, it is hugely problematic for any regular patient to get assistance, say of a dialysis, or sudden toothache.

Families are running out of fresh greens and end up paying a much higher price to any quality that comes at the street corner. Keeping children homebound and quiet is turning out to be another challenge, especially if life has to be balanced with elderly parents need for peace and space.

So, when life gets tough, turns to religion —

On Day 4, in order to lessen the burden of solitude, the government is replaying selective old religious epic serials such as Ramayana and Mahabharat on television to keep families from being restless. Hopefully the devout begin to see the virus an act of God, or maybe result of one’s karma, and not that of any government, anywhere in the world!

Astrologers unleashing themselves on social media predict changing stellar configurations would put an end to the virus soon.

The virus could face its doomsday on March 29, or April 2, or April 13, or April 23, among others…. depending on the astrologer one follows. The non-believers wouldn’t mind being proven wrong.

As of now there seems to be greater faith in the supernatural …

(1) Murga is the Hindi word for rooster. The punished assumes the position resembling a rooster, by half-squatting in the air, then lopping the arms behind the knees to firmly hold the ears.

(2) https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/03/24/is-indias-health-infrastructure-equipped-to-handle-an-epidemic/))

Sumit Sharma is a free-lance journalist based in Mumbai, India. He writes for several publications and has previously worked as a reporter at Bloomberg. 

U.S. CREDIBILITY AND THE MODEL OF MIDDLE EAST PREFERRED BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

by Leonardo Manzari

 

US choice to focus on Saudi Arabia and Israel, as its main allies in the Middle East, is clearly indicating their decision to exit from their direct presence in the region.

But it is also showing how little, they are interested in pursuing a sustainable solution for the peaceful stabilization of the area.

The chosen partners cannot guarantee any stability to the region, since Israel represents an “enclave” (a virtuous and democratic, but controversial one) and Saudi Arabia pursues an unsustainable model.

In Israel, while the solution of two ethnic states on one territory is not practicable for the high level of conflict it would bring, the unique bi-ethnic state has the perspective to see its Jewish share become minority for simple demographic reasons. Therefore it is difficult the segregation of Gaza Strip and the conflict with Palestinians will end in the close future, making impossible for Israel to become a stabilizing factor for the Middle East.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is pursuing a societal model, based on the gap between social classes, where Saudi families share the income from the immense fortune of mineral resources, while immigrants represent the middle and working classes with much lower incomes and limited civil rights.

Keeping “locked” the potential of middle and working classes, also means to limit the development capacity of the country.

This model cannot be replicated to other Middle Eastern countries, whose aim is to achieve a better distribution of higher standard of life, education and wealth for their resident populations.

On the other hand, President Trump is fighting the Iranian regime in all ways to avoid the entrance of Iran, an industrial country with high scientific skills, engineering and manufacturing know-how, in the international system of trade and exchanges.

The role of such an oil&gas rich country, with its important industrial system and export capabilities, is seen as a threat by the US, because Iran (as an ethnic and religious minority) could become a real stabilizing factor for the region.

Iranian regime is well aware of the short timing ahead, to keep such an autocratic system, and will not prevent the gradual progress of the country towards a kind of democracy (not necessarily a western model). Simply because 30-40 years old people (by far the largest share of population) cannot accept any more to live their whole life in such a “segregative status”, experiencing the dramatic consequences of the Iran-Iraq war, and the embargo provoked by the irresponsible leadership of President Ahmadinejad.

For those generations, who have not lived the complete experience of the Islamic revolution (with the chances of social and economic emancipation of the poorest classes of Iranian society), the perception of the risk of weakening the country, face to US and its allies in the region, may be lower than their legitimate aspiration for full freedom and civil rights. Unless they leave the country.

 

The Iranian moderate leadership will try to drive the country towards a path of better distributed development.  How slow, how fragile this transition will be, it is not easy to say.

But President Trump’s approach towards Iran is surely consolidating the conservative and most hawkish side of the regime in Tehran. At the same time, the encouragement of the US President for the young protesters is only “calling” for a reaction of the regime, increasing social divisions, the instability of the country, the reason to keep locked Iran, again and again.

This “game” is even more risky, if we see the “in progress” alliances that the discovery of the most recent oil&gas reserves in the Mediterranean basin (Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, Greece) is fostering.

Excluding Turkey from the big game of drilling & exploitation, means a more active role of Ankara (both military and political) in the region, based upon time-by-time agreements with Russia and Iran.

Now the question is: how long can the confidence of traditional western allies of US still resist, face to this irresponsible behaviours of Mr Trump?

Striving to be objective about Turkey

By Leonardo Manzari

 

The representation (currently “on air” on most part of Western medias) of the Turkish military campaign, as targeting the Kurdish minority, is a misrepresentation of a security operation aimed at stopping the terrorist activities of PKK and other related organizations, who want to destabilize south-eastern Turkey.

Knowing Turkey means being aware of its multi-ethnic composition and that almost 18-20% of its population is Kurdish or Kurdish related.

How could the Turkish leadership undertake such an unpopular move, in its interior politics?

It is evident that the situation has nothing to do with the “ethnic factor” at all.

Indeed this operation is supported by internal public opinion, in almost all its ethnic composition, just like in Israel same operations are supported, when aimed at securing local communities living not far from Gaza.

map-of-turkey

Turkey, which cannot count on EU understanding of the situation in the region (otherwise we would not have seen the escalation of the latest 30 years), has tackled until now the risk of loosing part of its south-eastern territories (in favour of a Kurdish ethnic state). This risk was fostered by the many goals and interests active during the Syrian war, not always under control of their same actors.

Notwithstanding its strategic and political mistakes in these recent years, the Turkish leadership has been able till now to minimize such risk, but not yet to avoid this eventuality.

International public opinion, and more dangerously many political leaders across the world, seem to forget the nightmare that the artificial constitution of ethnic states has till now represented, bringing instability and crime-related States in entire regions (see the Balkans after the civil war in Yugoslavia).

And Turkey is exactly afraid that the superficiality of the international public opinion, just like the misrepresentation shown by medias, could pave the way towards such an unacceptable scenario.

Italy looks at different approach to BRI

By Francesco Alberti

The signing on March 22 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Italy to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been surrounded by controversy.

While Italy is not the first EU country to join the BRI, it is the first G7 country and the EU largest economy so far to do so raising concerns among its allies.

The most vocal critics are the Unites States that sees the BRI as a means for China to expand its economic, political and military influence in regions that previously were exclusive domain of the North-American power and the European Union that fears that such bilateral agreements may undermine the unity of the bloc.

Italian politicians have been assuring its allies that Italy is looking at the BRI as a way to gain greater access to the Chinese market and that it does not mean a shift in foreign policy and that it is strongly anchored to the EU-NATO axis.

Few days before the MoU was signed and ever since, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stressed that the initiative is a way to improve bilateral economic relationship and help reduce the Italian trade deficit with China that run at €17.6 billion with trade between the two countries worth €44 billion in 2018.

Similar comments were made by Luigi Di Maio, deputy prime minister, minister for economic development and leader of the Five Star Movement, who said that the new Silk Road initiative will not turn into a political alliance and that NATO is Italy’s natural home.

However, the signing may be seen under a different light. Western powers have been wary of the rising economic prowess of China. In recent years, the country’s economic strength has been accompanied by an increasing assertiveness in the international geo-political arena.

China has also been criticized for not being too concerned when it comes to environmental protection, human rights respect, trade practices and for the opacity of many of the agreements related to BRI, especially in South Asia and Africa. China has always rebuffed such criticism.

Anyways, while some of the concerns of the West have a solid basis, others, such as the strong US opposition to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have proven unfounded.

The issue, however, is not “if” China needs to be contained but “how.”

In my opinion, there are three ways to contain China.

One is to invite it to join multilateral international bodies such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the Asia Development Bank, etc. so that it plays by the same rules as everybody else.

The second is to create a network of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements (such as the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership) among the parties that interact with China. Even though the agreements would not be bounding for China, they would be for the counterparties and this would ensure adherence to stricter rules for all parties dealing with China. It would also make the signatories less dependent on trade with China and strengthen their ties to the US. This effort was wiped out by the short-sighted policies of the United States under President Donald J. Trump who refused to sign the TPP, whose adoption hinged on the US participation. Also, the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord handed China the leadership in environmental protection on a silver plate, and the opportunity to steer policies in a way that would benefit China.

The third is to join China-sponsored projects, such as the BRI and the AIIB, and try to put in place a check-and-balance mechanism from within. Italy, as a G7 member, has involuntary found itself at the forefront of this effort having also joined the AIIB as a founding member when the multilateral lending institution was launched in June 2016.

As I said in a recent editorial I co-wrote for the Global Timesin occasion of President Xi state visit to Italy, BRI is not necessarily bad. It is a massive investment in infrastructures that with the due safeguards in place can give a sizable contribution to the world’s economic growth. The involvement of AIIB to finance projects is the key. AIIB’s governance and lending practices have been recognized to be compliant with international best practices that satisfy EU requirements, such as competitive tender, environmental-impact studies and sustainable infrastructure projects.

While I am not fully convinced that there was a well-thought containment strategy behind the MoU, but rather the fear of missing the BRI train, it does not mean Italy cannot seize the chance and take the lead in the effort to make China play on a level field with the rest of the world.

Italy should spearhead a coordinated effort by the EU as a bloc to sign a framework agreement with China. This would allow the EU to create a master-plan for all EU members to follow on specific BRI-related projects reducing the possibilities of bilateral deals that may weaken the unity of the EU.

The words of Prime Minister Conte at the Second Belt and Road Initiative Forum, held in Beijing April 25-27, seem to point in the right direction. He said that in order to maximize benefits for all countries involved, it is necessary for the BRI to exist in a framework of shared principles, rules and criteria that define the scope of action. Conte added that for Italy this framework is clearly stated in the Euro-Asian connectivity strategy, which remains the country’s reference policy paper for Asia.

Turchia come ago della bilancia nel futuro della Siria

Di Valeria Giannotta

È un periodo di traffico diplomatico per i principali attori politici coinvolti nel conflitto siriano. Dopo l’annuncio del presidente Donald Trump del ritiro delle truppe americane, si è creata una nuova incertezza, quella relativa al riempimento del vacuum territoriale e del nuovo equilibrio di potenza. Le truppe di terra americane sono in Siria sin dall’autunno 2015, a seguito della decisione dell’amministrazione Obama di inviare delle forze speciali per addestrare i combattenti curdi locali contro Daesh. Nel tempo i soldati sono aumentati e con essi il numero delle basi militari nel nord est del Paese. Sebbene nel corso del conflitto Ankara abbia esortato più volte Washington a consegnare le proprie basi e a cessare di armare le milizie curde del YPG (Unità di protezione del popolo curdo), nessuna mossa concreta è stata intrapresa. Anzi, mentre le ambizioni curde pongono profondi grattacapi ai funzionari turchi, Gran Bretagna e Francia hanno intensificato l’impegno con le forze YPG nella lotta contro il Califatto.

Come riflesso delle ultime dinamiche interne alla Siria e degli eventuali scenari postbellici, i maggiori players hanno avviato nuove negoziazioni sul piano bilaterale a garanzia dei rispettivi interessi. Le potenze militari in campo – dagli Stati Uniti alla Turchia e dalla Russia al regime di Assad- stanno lottando per obiettivi politici diversi. In questo mosaico è soprattutto la Turchia ad essere impegnata nel bilanciare la propria posizione sia come alleato degli Stati Uniti che come membro promotore del gruppo di Astana insieme a Russia e Iran, che come stato direttamente esposto alle minacce provenienti oltre confine.

Da quando il regime di Assad è riuscito a riconquistare gran parte dei territori con l’aiuto di Iran e Russia, la Siria settentrionale è diventata uno dei campi di battaglia più pericolosi dove gli schieramenti stanno diventando più netti. Dalla provincia di Idlib ai cantoni controllati dalle milizie curde del YPG, diversi gruppi armati stanno ancora combattendo l’un l’altro per rivendicare il controllo del territorio. Nelle ultime settimane da più parti è stata avvallata l’ipotesi di una buffer zoneper contenere l’espandersi delle minacce e salvaguardare la lunga linea di confine con la Turchia. Anche sulla scia del recente attacco terroristico a firma Daesh, che ha coinvolto alcuni soldati americani a Manbij, città controllata dall’YPG a ovest del fiume Eufrate, area in cui Stati Uniti, Russia, regime di Assad e Turchia vantano la propria presenza militare in diverse località, la creazione di un’eventuale zona di sicurezza assume un’importanza strategica cruciale per tutti gli attori politici. Data la porosità del confine, la maggiore preoccupazione di Ankara è rappresentata dalla presenza in diverse parti della Siria settentrionale delle forze curde dello YPG, considerata come la costola siriana del PKK (Partito dei lavoratori del Kurdistan), a sua volta riconosciuto anche da Washington e parte della comunità internazionale come organizzazione terroristica. Da parte loro, invece, gli Stati Uniti, hanno scommesso da tempo sullo YPG nella lotta contro Daesh e nel contenimento delle milizie iraniane.

Map del conflitto siriano

Per accedere ad una mappa interattiva del conflitto siriano con aggiornamenti costanti cliccate qui

Dopo sempre più assidui braccio di ferro riguardo il sostegno accordato ai gruppi armati curdi, avallata di recente da un controverso commento di John Bolton, consigliere americano per la sicurezza nazionale, a cui è seguito un duro tweet di Donald Trump, che minacciava di colpire economicamente la Turchia in caso di mancata protezione dei curdi, Washington ed Ankara si sono trovati concordi sulla creazione di una safe zone profonda 30 km al confine tra Turchia e Siria.  Ciò nonostante, Ankara non è persuasa dalla strategia statunitense che legittimerebbe la presenza del YPG, ponendo una minaccia diretta all’integrità territoriale della Turchia. Per il presidente Erdoğan la condizione sine qua nonper la messa in sicurezza dei confini è il pieno controllo da parte turca dell’area occupata dai curdi sulla scia di quanto già compiuto nella zona tra Jarablus ad Al Bab, dove nel 2016 con il lancio della missione Scudo Eufrate a sostegno dell’Esercito Libero Siriano (FSA) la Turchia è riuscita ad ottenere il controllo. Nella stessa logica rientra l’operazione Ramo d’ulivo lanciata ad Afrin nel 2018 e la più recente messa in opera – insieme a russi e iraniani-  di una de-escalation zonenella provincia di Idlib.

A onore del vero, già nel 2012 Erdoğan aveva suggerito la creazione di una zona sicura di 30-40 km tra le città siriane del nord di Jarablus e al-Rai, ma il piano non si è mai concretizzato.  Oggi l’urgenza sarebbe la completa pulizia dell’area dai gruppi terroristici sotto l’egida della Turchia senza l’interferenza degli Stati Uniti. Con il partner oltreoceano, infatti, permangono serie discrepanze per quanto concerne la zona di Manbij, cittadina siriana a circa 100 km da Afrin dove stazionano truppe americane, obiettivo di Ankara nella sua lotta contro i curdi del PYG. Le richieste della Turchia agli Stati Uniti sono chiare: in primo luogo, il ritiro immediato dei militanti curdi da Manbij ad est dell’Eufrate, condizione imprescindibile per Ankara affinché si possano poi intraprendere passi concreti con gli Stati Uniti, a cui è stato più volte chiesto di cessare ogni cooperazione militare e politica con il PYG. Malgrado un anno fa si sia trovato l’accordo per una roadmapdi uscita, ad oggi la situazione rimane sostanzialmente invariata e la Turchia insiste sull’implementazione dell’accordo anche alla luce di un suo nuovo prossimo intervento transfrontaliero. Ciò presupporrebbe la consegna di alcune basi militari americane alle forze turche e la ritirata dello YPG delle zone che attualmente controllano.

In realtà, se da una parte l’attuale campagna americana protegge lo YPG, prevenendo il suo sradicamento, dall’altra mira a proteggere gli interessi di Israele nei confronti dell’Iran. Allo stesso tempo Israele difende l’idea di un’area curda indipendente non solo per contrastare definitivamente Daesh, ma soprattutto per contenere l’influenza iraniana in Siria.

Appare chiaro che la creazione di zone sicure e stabili per una Siria indipendente e unificata è un obiettivo strategico condiviso, anche se le modalità per contenere la minaccia jihadista e difendere i rispettivi interessi ad oggi rimangono divergenti. In tale scacchiere rientrano gioco-forza gli intensi colloqui tra Turchia e Russia, il cui consenso è inevitabile per i piani di Ankara. In passato la Turchia ha potuto organizzare due principali operazioni antiterrorismo in Siria per eliminare la presenza di Daesh e YPG lungo i suoi confini proprio grazie all’assenso della Russia che ha permesso anche di stabilire punti di osservazione a Idlib. Come co-fondatori del processo di Astana e intermediari di un accordo bilaterale chiave su Idlib, Erdoğan e Putin sono sempre stati molto cauti a non interferire negli interessi reciproci, anzi hanno cooperato per ridurre la violenza in tutto il paese e per trovare una soluzione politica in conformità con le pertinenti risoluzioni del Consiglio di sicurezza ONU. Insomma, in una logica di potenza discende che qualsiasi azione turca in Siria deve ricevere il beneplacito russo.  Tuttavia, nonostante abbia svolto un ruolo chiave nella creazione di zone di de-escalationa Idlib, Mosca non prevede alcuna zona sicura nei territori controllati dallo YPG. Invece, caldeggia fortemente il pieno controllo del regime di Assad sulla Siria e il trasferimento dei territori curdi sotto il controllo del governo siriano. In altre parole, con l’obiettivo strategico di ripristinare lo status quo ante bellum, la Russia si ergerebbe a mediatore tra il regime di Assad e il YPG. Sottolineando la validità dell’accordo di Adana che nel 1998 non solo ha garantito la resa alla Turchia del leader del PKK Abdullah Öcalan, ma ha soprattutto vietato la presenza del PKK e dei suoi affiliati sul territorio siriano, il Cremlino ha ventilato ai turchi la garanzia dei propri confini nella lotta al terrorismo con l’obiettivo di incoraggiarli a collaborare con il regime siriano. In effetti, il Protocollo di Adana era stato uno strumento importante nel rinsaldare l’amicizia tra Turchia e Siria all’inizio degli anni 2000 e a rafforzare i rapporti tra i due Paesi al punto da considerarsi ‘partner privilegiati’. Dopo che la crisi degli anni ‘90 aveva portato i due paesi sull’orlo della guerra, anche grazie a questo protocollo, i rapporti con Damasco sono migliorati al punto di essere un esempio di confidence-building. Con l’inizio della guerra civile siriana nel 2011 e il congelamento delle relazioni diplomatiche con il regime di Assad l’accordo è stato sospeso. Riattivare questo meccanismo costituirebbe una nuova base per futuri colloqui diplomatici, specialmente in vista del prossimo summit trilaterale che prevede anche la partecipazione dell’Iran. E non è un caso che nei giorni scorsi il regime di Damasco abbia affermato che sin dal 2011 la Turchia ha violato il patto, sostenendo il ‘terrorismo’ contro la Repubblica araba siriana e occupando parte del suo territorio.

Per quanto Putin non abbia mai espresso un’aperta contrarietà alla creazione di una zona di sicurezza all’interno della Siria, una nuova campagna turca potrebbe comunque stridere con l’intento russo di condurre i curdi siriani sotto il controllo di Damasco, tanto più che anche la Francia avrebbe esercitato con un certo successo pressioni su Mosca per proteggere i curdi.  In quella che sembra una meticolosa strategia della pazienza, la Russia calibrerà le proprie mosse in base a come Turchia e Stati Uniti saranno in grado di affrontare così tante questioni in sospeso.  Davanti a negoziati complicati, però, il presidente turco sembra non voler transigere oltre: sempre più frequenti sono le dichiarazioni contro l’America, che enfatizzano una nuova imminente operazione militare a est dell’Eufrate, strumentale anche a rafforzare la propria base elettorale in vista delle elezioni amministrative del prossimo 31 marzo.

IL CONFINE MARITTIMO ISRAELO-LIBANESE NEL QUADRO DELLE RISORSE ENERGETICHE DEL MEDITERRANEO ORIENTALE

Fonte di nuove tensioni o di nuove opportunità? Occasioni mancate e possibili sviluppi

Paolo Sandalli foto

Di Paolo Sandalli

Ammiraglio di Squadra (in ausiliaria) della Marina Militare Italiana e già Comandante dal 27 Novembre 2009 al 2 Settembte 2010 della Forza Marittima delle Nazioni Unite in Libano (Unifil Maritime Task Force)

Quando il premier libanese Fouad Siniora, chiese il 6 settembre 2006 al Segretario Generale delle N.U. Kofi Annan che la risoluzione n. 1701, intesa a stabilizzare la situazione al termine di quella che viene chiamata Seconda Guerra Israelo-Libanese, fosse irrobustita con la previsione di una componente marittima internazionale che, susseguentemente al rilascio del blocco navale israeliano posto per 58 giorni ai porti libanesi, presidiasse gli spazi e gli accessi marittimi del paese e preparasse al contempo la sua Marina a svolgere in autonomia tale compito, prese una decisione di portata storica e di altissima lungimiranza che pochi colsero a quel tempo e che avrebbe potuto portare a risultati anche superiori se le intrinseche capacità politico-diplomatiche delle forze navali fossero state sfruttate meglio e molte buone occasioni non fossero andate perse.

Continua a leggere IL CONFINE MARITTIMO ISRAELO-LIBANESE NEL QUADRO DELLE RISORSE ENERGETICHE DEL MEDITERRANEO ORIENTALE

The irresistible temptation of Mr Trump for a New War in the Middle East

By Leonardo Manzari

ERDOGAN

The continuous provocations of Mr Trump towards China, Iran and lately Turkey, are too much focused and punctual to be just the sign of an irresponsible behaviour of the “bad boy” of the White House.

Not by case, the US President is trying, on the other hand, to keep a sustainable relation with Russia (most probably successfully, assumed the “ideological” opposition of US public opinion towards it), notwithstanding the investigations about the role of the Russian intelligence’s actions during the elections of 2016.

In fact Russia is not a threat from the industrial point of view for the US, and trade sanctions against Russia appear to most Europeans, like just a NATO tool to keep the temptation of closer and closer economic co-operation, as distant as possible.

Continua a leggere The irresistible temptation of Mr Trump for a New War in the Middle East

How Japan promotes its competitive system in the areas of higher economic potential by Luca Ebreo, member of EIEAD’s Scientific Committee

“we hereby report the speech by Dr Luca Ebreo,  member of EIEAD’s Scientific Committee, during the Forum EIEAD on June 23rd, in SEAFUTURE 2018 La Spezia, on board the Italian Tallship Amerigo Vespucci”

Part 2

Japan’s Silk Road Diplomacy

With tfotoLucahe collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1991 Central Asian nations and Japan, established diplomatic relations and partnership began to increase steadily as manifested by the level of official contacts. In 1997, the “Silk Road” Diplomacy concept was formulated for Japan’s policy toward Central Asia.

In the beginning of 21st century, we see activation of new actors including India, Korea and Japan in Central Asia, which were mainly welcomed in the region. Tokyo recognized the growing strategic importance of Central Asia in the context of international security and sought to play a more active role as an Asian nation in Eurasia.

During two decades Central Asian nations and Japan, partnership began to increase steadily. Japan is one of the largest assistants to Central Asia in structural reforms and Japanese investments to the different aspects of region economy and transport communication add up to several billions.

There are several areas of special interest to Japan in its relations with Central Asia, including cooperation in education, economic development of the region, political reforms, as well as energy resources. Japan’s effort in creating the “Central Asia plus Japan” dialog is part of its multilateral diplomacy.

Continua a leggere How Japan promotes its competitive system in the areas of higher economic potential by Luca Ebreo, member of EIEAD’s Scientific Committee