Framing The World, CXXV Edition

The main news from the world

  Articoli (Articles)
  19 February 2024
  17 minutes, 33 seconds

Framing The World, CXXV Edition

In the new issue of Framing we return to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, monitoring the European Union's reaction to it. Looking at the European continent, we report on the news regarding the migration agreement between Italy and Albania. On the African front, we report on the events that are disrupting Senegalese domestic politics.

All this and much more in the 125th issue of Framing the World!












Brussels, the European Union is ready to allocate 1.8 million euros for humanitarian assistance. On February 12, the European Commission shared the allocations for humanitarian aid for 2024. Nearly 300 million people from around the world will need assistance, however " the gap between humanitarian needs and available resources continues to widen," comments Janez Lenarčič,the Crisis Management Commissioner.The European Commission will continue to finance humanitarian actions in support of the most vulnerable ; Of the EUR 1.8 million available, most is earmarked for the African continent to assist the Palestinian civilian population and respond to regional needs resulting from displacement, food insecurity and recurrent armed conflicts in the region. The rest of the budget will be divided between South Asia, South Eastern Europe and South Central America.

(Lisa Pasolini)

Greece, approved the law on same-sex marriage. On February 15th, the Greek parliament marked a significant step in promoting equality and fundamental rights by approving a law recognizing same-sex marriage and paving the way for adoptions by same-sex couples. With a strong support of 176 affirmative votes, the decision came after a heated parliamentary debate and the spread of public narratives infused with homophobia and transphobia.

(Sofia Ena)

Zimbabwe, bill passed to abolish death penalty. On February 6, after a lengthy parliamentary debate, the Cabinet of Zimbabwe announced its decision to abolish the death penalty, proposing the adoption of longer prison sentences for serious crimes. The bill, presented in 2023 by the deputy Edwin Mushoriwa, is expected to be passed by Parliament soon, given the two-thirds majority held by the ruling party, Zanu-PF, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa's support for abolition. Despite Zimbabwe's Constitution protects the right to life and the last executions date back to 2005, the practice of death sentences persists, currently leaving 63 inmates on death row. The announcement received approval from human rights organisations, reflecting the 2022 call by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to 'abolish the death penalty'.

(Lorenzo Franceschetti)

Lisa Pasolini, Sofia Ena and Lorenzo Franceschetti


OECD, increased optimism. Global growth forecasts for 2024 have been revised upward by the OECD to 2.9 % from 2.7 %, although this is still a slowdown from last year's 3.1 %. For 2025, however, only a slight improvement is expected, with growth of 3%. Among the major economies, the United States was particularly bright at the end of 2023, buoyed by robust consumer spending and the labor market, so much so that the OECD raised its growth forecast for 2024 to 2.1% from 1.5%. However, this strength is expected to be offset by more disappointing results for most European countries, for which the OECD said rising interest rates and tighter credit conditions are having a greater impact, leading to the reduction of the Eurozone's growth forecast for this year to 0.6% from 0.9%.

Eurona, recession avoided. The eurozone economy flattened out in the last quarter of 2023, registering 0 % growth over the previous quarter and narrowly avoiding a technical recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction). Economists had expected the economy to contract in the October-December period by 0.1%, the same as in the July-September period, mainly due to the drag created by high interest rates. But vigorous growth in Italy and Spain helped offset the weakness of German output and the downturn in France. Indeed, Germany, usually the engine of the bloc, saw its economy shrink by 0.3% last quarter, hurt by declining investment in construction, machinery and equipment.

China, the economy loses steam. Although it was expected to overtake the U.S. economy in the race to become the world's largest economy in the early 2030s, this increasingly looks like a fantasy, especially after the U.S. increased its lead last year. Indeed, in 2023 the U.S. economy grew by 6.3% in nominal terms, that is, without adjusting for inflation, easily outpacing China, which gained 4.6%. As a result, the size of the Chinese economy relative to the U.S. economy has dropped to 65% from its peak of 75% in late 2021. Of course, some of this outperformance is due to high inflation in the United States, but the data show that the world's number one economy has emerged from the pandemic in a stronger position than China.

Inflation, the struggle continues. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed that inflation remained unchanged in January, standing at 3.1 % year-on-year. The report alarmed investors, sending stocks tumbling. The Nasdaq Composite closed down 1.8%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.4%, its worst day since March 2023, as did the S&P 500. These data make the Federal Reserve's next moves in fighting inflation more complicated. Before the report, investors had estimated a more than 60% chance that the Federal Reserve would cut rates at least once by the May meeting, while last Tuesday that chance had dropped to about 35%.

Nvidia, record rises. Thanks to a 2.9% rise in early trading on Wednesday, Nvidia's market capitalization managed to surpass that of Alphabet, Google's parent company, making it the third most valuable company in America, behind only Microsoft with $3.015 trillion and Apple with $2.836 trillion. Nvidia's rise comes amid predictions of increased demand for chips to power artificial intelligence systems. In recent months, Nvidia has been the biggest beneficiary of this artificial intelligence boom compared to other stocks in the "Magnificent Seven" (in addition to Nvidia, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta Platforms, Tesla, and Alphabet, with its shares rising 56% since the beginning of the year and more than 246% in the past 12 months.

Leonardo Aldeghi


Kenya, demonstrations against violence against women on Valentine's Day. On Feb. 14, more than 1,000 Kenyan feminist groups organized a mobilization, Dark Valentine, to denounce feminicides and call for the implementation of the Maputo Protocol, a women's rights charter adopted by the African Union in 2003, which protects against practices such as female genital mutilation, among other things. According to some estimates, between 2017 and 2024 there were about 500 feminicides in Kenya. There was also a wave of outrage in Somalia after three women were killed by their respective husbands in the first week of February. Somali journalist Naima Said Salah explained in the Guardian that her country lacks a law against domestic violence.

(Aurelia Puliafito)

Senegal, Constitutional Council halts country's feared authoritarian drift. After two weeks of escalating tensions and protests that had led to fears of the worst in West Africa's most stable democracy, the Constitutional Council declared that the postponement of presidential elections to Dec. 15, 2024, was unconstitutional and revoked Head of State Macky Sall's decree canceling elections scheduled for Feb. 25, 2024. The president's spokesman said Sall accepts and intends to respect the council's decision. Wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with the name of the citizen collective that called for the march, "Aar Sunu Election" ("We Protect Our Elections"), or in the colors of Senegal, thousands of opposition and civil society figures were able to demonstrate peacefully in Dakar on Saturday.

(Aurelia Puliafito)

DRC, UNICEF warns, over 2 million people affected by floods. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the worst floods in sixty years are occurring, leaving more than 2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. According to estimates by OCHA, 18 out of 26 provinces have been affected by exceptionally intense rains over the last 2 months. The floodwaters have destroyed or damaged nearly 100,000 homes, 1,325 schools, and 267 health facilities. Crops have deteriorated in fields submerged by water, increasing the prospect of food shortages in some locations. The situation worsens considering that 40% of cholera cases have been found exactly in flooded areas, and indeed the UN children's fund has stepped up efforts reaching a base funding of 700,000 dollars, far from the 9 million needed according to the Flash Appeal for the initial response.

(Giulio Ciofini)

Somalia, authorities have imposed a ban on masks. This measure, announced by the administration's spokesperson Salah Dheere, has been implemented to prevent criminals from using masks to conceal their identity and facilitate illicit acts. Additionally, carrying weapons on public transport and wearing hats have been prohibited, except for traditional Islamic headgear reserved for the elderly. This initiative was taken following a security meeting led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, as a direct response to the increasing insecurity caused by the attacks of the jihadist group al Shabaab, which has intensified its violent actions since the government's offensive against them in August 2022.

(Giulio Ciofini)

Aurelia Puliafito and Giulio Ciofini


United States of America, Biden over financial aid (part 1). The American Senate has approved a bill containing a $95 billion aid package aimed at Ukraine, Israel, and other American allies. The proposal has then been forwarded to the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, which will give the final verdict. The proposal includes $60 billion destined for Ukraine, to supply arms and ammunition to the military on the front lines; $14 billion to support Israel and American military operations in the Middle East; and over $8 billion in support of American partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan. Finally, around $10 billion will be allocated for humanitarian aid to civilians suffering in war zones. "We cannot afford to wait any longer," Biden declared, urging Republicans in the House to act as soon as possible to approve the bill.

United States of America, Biden over financial aid (part 2). In defense of his bill proposal and in response to complaints from Republican House spokesperson Mike Johnson, regarding the lack of adequate reinforcements to protect the southern borders of the United States, Joe Biden argued that supporting financial aid is the right way to stand against the atrocities committed by Putin, who otherwise remains free to tyrannize democracy. He also expressed strong criticism towards Trump: the former American President, besides encouraging Republicans to oppose the bill proposal, urged the Russians to attack NATO members who, according to him, have not contributed their monetary funds to the International Organization. "Can you imagine a former President of the United States saying that?" Biden asked, "the worst thing is, he means it. No other President in our history has ever bowed down to a Russian dictator. Let me say this as clearly as I can: I never will". The highest American authority went further, calling Trump's choice "dumb, shameful, and dangerous."

Lorenzo Graziani


Brazil, the climate alliance takes shape. As announced by Brazilian President Lula and by Silva, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, a collaboration with the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan will take place. This troïka stems from the final agreement made during the 28th United Nations Conference, Cop28. It is precisely on Tuesday, Feb. 13, that this partnership is announced, which provides for improved cooperation and continuity on climate and negotiations. The goal is to bring climate warming down to 1.5 C. The formalization of the agreement took place through a ceremony in Dubai to build the "Road Map for Mission 15". Brazil will organize Cop30 in 2025 in the Amazon city of Belem, but first it envisions a rapid concretization of effective solutions according to Silva.

Serena Basso


Indonesia, Prabowo declares victory. The current Minister of Defense and former general, Prabowo Subianto, candidate of the right-wing nationalist party "Great Indonesia Movement Party," has declared himself the winner in the first round of the presidential elections on February 14. Prabowo relied on unofficial independent "quick counts" for his claim. He is connected to the country's more traditional elite, supported by radical Islamic groups, and is the ex-husband of the daughter of General Suharto, Indonesia's dictator for three decades from 1965 to 1988. During his military tenure, Prabowo was accused of human rights violations committed during the dictatorship years. Official election results are expected on March 20. If none of the presidential candidates secures more than 50% of the votes and at least 20% more votes than half of the country's provinces, a runoff will be held on June 26.

Philippines, The Government Deploys Warship. The Philippines has deployed a warship off the coast of Palawan, facing the South China Sea. Commodore Edward Ike De Sagon stated that the presence of the ship in Palawan "will serve as a reminder to all those who dare to challenge our sovereignty that we are ready and vigilant," as China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea. The deployment of the patrol corvette BRP Emilio Jacinto comes just days after the Philippines and the United States conducted joint maritime exercises in the South China Sea. Palawan is also home to one of the four additional bases that the U.S. military gained access to last year under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Myanmar, mandatory conscription activated. The military government of Myanmar has announced its intention to enlist 60,000 young men and women annually into the ranks of the armed forces starting from next April. The compulsory conscription law was unexpectedly activated on Saturday, February 10, amid a situation of severe difficulty for the military, which has been facing coordinated offensives from rebel armed groups in various areas of the country for months. All men aged between 18 and 35 years old and women aged between 18 and 27 years old are required to serve for a maximum of two years, while specialists such as doctors up to the age of 45 are obligated to serve for three years.

Francesco Oppia


The European Commission is ready to unveil its strategy for the defense industry. The European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, announces an imminent strategy to revitalize the defense sector. With a focus on increased investments, coordination, and shared projects, the strategy aims to generate employment and security. The plan not only seeks to enhance security but also to create economic benefits through the establishment of new jobs. Close collaboration with NATO is essential to avoid duplications: "The strategy to strengthen the European defense industry is closely coordinated with NATO on planning processes and standards," assured von der Leyen."

(Sofia Ena)

Italy, the agreement on migrant management has been approved by the Senate. The Italian Senate has definitively approved the agreement between Italy and Albania for the management of migrants. With 93 in favor, 61 against, and no abstentions, the bill, already approved in January by the Chamber of Deputies, is now law. The agreement, presented in November by the Italian and Albanian heads of government, involves the establishment of two Italian centers in Albanian territory for migrant management. Italy will bear all costs related to the construction, transportation, and medical assistance for migrants, managing the facilities internally, while Albanian authorities will be responsible for external security.

(Sofia Ena)

EU, agreement on rider protection blows up. The permanent representatives of the member states for the second time failed to find a qualified majority to approve the directive affecting 28 million European gig economy workers. France, Germany, Greece and Estonia in fact formed a blocking minority that made it impossible to approve the directive, which aims to frame riders as employees and not as self-employed, thus preventing those who are subject to the direction of the algorithms and apps of the big platforms from being considered precarious. With the end of the parliamentary term approaching, the time for a new trialogue is very short. However, the European Parliament could now secure its position by re-adopting the text at first reading and then handing it over to the second legislature.

(Bianca Franzini)

Bianca Franzini and Sofia Ena


Estonia, Estonian PM Kallas placed on a wanted list by Moscow. Estonia is on high alert for possible aggressive action from Russia, with the inclusion of the Estonian premier, Kaja Kallas, on a wanted list by Moscow adding tension to the already incandescent climate. Kallas' personal history, with family members deported to Siberia, amplifies the sinister significance of this Russian move. The country sees itself as a bulwark against Russian expansion and fears a possible war with NATO in the coming decades, based on Russian military movements and Putin's speeches. Despite NATO's military superiority, uncertainties related to developments in Ukraine and the international context persist. Estonia prepares for the worst by increasing military spending and building bunkers along the border with Russia, while remaining vulnerable to a Russian hybrid war and working to make Europe aware of the looming threats.

(Alessandro Alloro)

Russia, Russia's leading opponent Alexei Navalny has died. Leading Russian regime opponent Alexei Navalny, who died in prison at the age of 47, died on 16 February 2024. The circumstances of his death are still unclear, but the Russian authorities said it was caused by a blood clot. Navalny had been imprisoned in 2021 on alleged fraud charges, widely regarded as specious by the international community. His death sparked protests in several Russian cities and turned the spotlight on the inhuman conditions in which many prisoners are held in Russian jails. Navalny's passing represents a great loss for democracy and freedom in Russia. His courage and tenacity in exposing the corruption and abuses of the Putin regime inspired millions of people around the world, and his death is a warning not to underestimate the brutality of the Russian regime and its determination to suppress any form of dissent.

(Alessandro Alloro)


Lebanon, Nasrallah threatens reprisals against Israel for killing Lebanese civilians in air raids. Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, has vowed to step up resistance against Israel and said the group will increase its operations. Hezbollah attacked an Israeli army facility, saying damage was inflicted. Tensions are high after Hezbollah and Israel exchanged attacks, causing casualties on both sides of the border. While there are international efforts to calm the situation, Hezbollah has received support from Iran. Israel warns that if a diplomatic solution is not found, it could move to push Hezbollah away from the border, with serious consequences for Lebanon.

Sara Oldani


Belarus, alleged Ukrainian saboteurs arrested at border. According to President Lukashenko's statement, a group of Ukrainian citizens were arrested while attempting to cross the border. Belarusian authorities said they were carrying loads of explosives aimed at carrying out sabotage on the territories of Russia and Belarus. A counterterrorism operation near the border with Ukraine had been announced in recent weeks by Belarusian intelligence, without the latter providing further details. The Ukrainian government denied any involvement, instead accusing the Kremlin of spreading propaganda to justify its attacks.

India, opposition party accounts frozen. The Indian National Congress, the main opposition party, revealed that all its bank accounts have been frozen over alleged tax irregularities dating back to 2018-19, the latter reported by the same Treasury Department leading the investigation. Ajay Maken, the party's treasurer, admitted delays in filing tax returns related to funds collected by the youth wing (about 2.1 billion rupees). He himself criticized the decision, calling it excessive and a sign of democratic decline in India. This episode is especially worrisome in view of the upcoming national elections, where Prime Minister Modi of the BJP will seek a third consecutive term.

Davide Shahhosseini

Framing The World is a project conceived and created by the collaboration between members of the team of Mondo Internazionale associates.

Alessandro Alloro: Central and Eastern Europe and Russia

Alessandro Dowlatshahi: Latin America

Aurelia Puliafito: Sub-Saharan Africa

Bianca Franzini: Western Europe and the European Union

Davide Shahhosseini: Terrorism and International Security

Francesco Oppia: Asia and Far East

Francesca Pasqualino: Western Europe and the European Union, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia

Giulio Ciofini: Sub-Saharan Africa

Leonardo Aldeghi: Economics and International Finance

Lorenzo Franceschetti: Human Rights

Lorenzo Graziani: North America

Michele Magistretti: Middle-East and North Africa

Sara Oldani: Middle-East and North-Africa

Serena Basso: Latin America

Sofia Ena: Human Rights, Western Europe and the European Union

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