What We’re Watching

What our analysts are watching and key events they are keeping an eye on
15th November 20216 min

China’s sixth plenum consolidates Xi Jinping’s power. At a four-day Central Committee plenum in China the CCP approved a decision reassessing the party’s 100-year history and enshrining Xi Jingping in the party’s official records of era-defining leaders. The move, signaled in an official summary of the meeting, elevated Xi Jinping to a stature alongside Mao Zedong, the founder of the country’s Communist party, and Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of its economic miracle. This effectively places Xi’s achievements on par with those of Mao and Deng Xiaoping, the only other Chinese leaders to release such a document. In the complex and symbol-driven Chinese political system this strengthens Xi’s position and means Xi will stay in power through next year’s pivotal Party Congress and likely as long as he pleases.

Read the geopolity series the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Turns 100

Libya’s elections attracting global attention. The French gathered stakeholders in Libya’s elections, due in December, in Paris on 12 November 2021. The Paris meeting, which included the leaders of France, Libya, Germany, Italy and Egypt, as well as the US vice president. The summit intended to cement backing for the planned December election vote, but the meeting focused on all those who may attempt to obstruct the elections, read Turkey and Russia who have forces in the country. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of former President Muammar Gaddafi, declared his candidacy for President. Saif al-Islam joins a list of heavyweights vying for the presidential office that includes eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah and parliament speaker Aguila Saleh. There have been many conferences over Libya with the Europeans and the US backing different personalities. We will be watching which factions each of these nations will promote i n the upcoming elections.

For further analysis see Libya: The Battle for Africa’s Oil Giant

British foreign minister visits Far East. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arrived in Malaysia on 7 November as part of a week-long visit to Southeast Asia to deepen economic and security links with fast-growing and increasingly influential countries. On 9 November she arrived in Thailand and closed her tour by visiting Indonesia on 11 November. Commenting on her South East Asia tour, she said that the “ties with key Southeast Asian nations are “underpowered” and that deepening them will deliver jobs and opportunities to the UK while boosting security and prosperity in the region.”

Liz Truss also said, “I want to position Britain where the future growth is and to think about who our major partners will be in 2050 and beyond. Southeast Asia will be the engine of the global economy and I want Britain to be part of that, upgrading our economic and security relations with the region to reflect its growing importance.”

The visit follows the recent arrival of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group to the region as well as HMS Richmond’s successful joint exercise with the Indonesian Navy in October. After Brexit, Britain cut its special relationship with Europe. It is now finding its major economic partners across the world. And, major economies of SouthEast Asia are the best options for Britain. Britain’s new strategy called ‘global Britain’ is trying to make a comeback with hard power as it tries to confront China by shaking hands with the US. The visit of the foreign Secretary is in line with “Integrated review” of its foreign policy. It is to observe if Britain is able to find its alternative economic partners in South East Asia.

Germany plans long-term Far-East presence. The chief of Germany’s navy said Tuesday 9 November that its dispatch of a warship to the Indo-Pacific underscores his country’s concern that freedom of navigation and the rule-based international order are being threatened in the region, an apparent reference to its biggest trading partner, China.

Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schonbach, in Tokyo for a port call by the frigate Bayern, said escalating tensions, territorial disputes and the changing military balance in the region can have an extensive impact beyond Asia. Schonbach said the frigate Bayern’s visit is the beginning of a long-term commitment to the region by Germany. It plans to dispatch military aircraft next year and a fleet of frigates and supply ships within two to three years, he said. Germany is taking the opportunity to raise its international stature by joining an American led naval mission in the South China sea.

Tensions on Belarus-Poland border. Tensions are rising along the Belarus-Poland border as thousands of migrants and refugees try to make their way into the European Union. Refugees are sheltering in freezing conditions on the border between Belarus and EU states Poland and Lithuania, which are refusing to let them cross. Poland has deployed additional soldiers, border guards and police, preventing refugees and migrants from forcing their way across the frontier. Western European officials have accused Belarus’s autocratic leader, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, of orchestrating the passage of migrants into his country and then to the border. The officials say he is essentially using the migrants as weapons to retaliate against the EU for imposing sanctions after he claimed victory in a disputed 2020 election. “Lukashenko is making an inhumane power play with people,” German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key ally of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, said Belarus has nothing to do with the migrant crisis. Moscow is an ally and creditor of Belarus.

Afghanistan on the brink of economic collapse. Food prices in Afghanistan have jumped more than 50% since the Taliban took power as the freezing of $9 billion of Afghanistan’s assets held in foreign central bank reserves and the withdrawal of foreign income stokes inflation.  “The economic and development outlook is stark,” the World Bank observed in a report. 10% of the country’s GDP came from foreign aid, all of it has dried up after the International Institutions stopped the disbursement. Thousands of Afghan public servants are demanding their unpaid salaries. The United Nations has, most recently, estimated that without urgent aid, 22.8 million people are likely to experience severe food stresses warning that Afghanistan is on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than half the country facing “acute” food shortages and winter forcing millions to choose between migration and starvation. Afghanistan is “at the brink of economic collapse” and the international community must urgently resume funding and provide humanitarian assistance, Pakistan’s foreign minister warned Thursday as U.S, Chinese, Russian and Taliban diplomats met in Islamabad. Doing so would benefit Western countries also, he argued in later comments to state media. Western Nations are demanding Taliban to comply with conditions including human rights, for the resumption of more international assistance.

Read our analysis on Afghanistan – Taliban Announce New Government

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