Indian Prime Minister to lead India at SCO meeting in Dushanbe

On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi will lead the Indian delegation and address a plenary session at the meeting of the Council of Head of State at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Dushanbe. The meeting is scheduled to be held virtually.

For the first time, the 21st meeting of the SCO Council of Head of State will be held in a hybrid format. It will be chaired by Tajikistan President Emmomali Rahmon. This will be India’s fourth summit where it will participate as a full-fledged member of SCO. On Wednesday, in a statement, the ministry of external affairs said that the summit will be attended by the leaders of SCO member states, secretary-general of the SCO, executive director of the SCO, observer states, Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure(RATS) along with the President of Turkmenistan.

In Tajikistan’s capital, India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar will represent India in a key meeting at the summit. This year at the SCO meeting he is expected to confine a series of bilateral discussions with his counterparts from Iran, Tajikistan, and Russia. The conversation is likely to revolve around the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on regional security.

Saudi Foreign Minister to Visit India owing to concerns over Afghanistan

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud is scheduled to arrive in India on September 19. Prince will hold a meeting with EAM Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, and call on Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi.

Prince will discuss the unfolding situation in Afghanistan as Qatar has taken the lead over the diplomatic engagement in Kabul and towards legitimizing the Taliban. India along with Saudi Arabia and UAE is worried about the security’s consequence of the medieval theocratic state of Afghanistan. The country’s ties with the global jihadist network with the Talian regime are a matter of concern that may pose problems. The Middle East is also agitated with the involvement of Qatar, Turkey, and Pakistan for engaging the Sunni Islamist regime with Islamabad sending its first commercial flight to Afghans capital Kabul. Taliban is considering handing over its perimeter security to the Turkish military whereas Qatar is handling the technical side of the Kabul airport operation.

PM Modi had a telephonic discussion on Afghanistan’s situation with UAE crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on September 3. Notes were exchanged on the Kabul crisis between EAM Jaishankar who hosted Dr. Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Advisor UAE President.

Malaysian King Welcomes Bipartisan Cooperation

Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al Mustafa Billah Shah said that he will welcome and appreciate the bipartisan cooperation that is being forged by the new government and the opposition party of the country.

On Monday, in royal decree at the parliament, King said that he welcomed and appreciated the efforts towards realizing dual-partisan cooperation involving all sides that will build a new political landscape and bring changes in the country’s administrative system. He further added that maturity like this is what the people want.

Under Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government, this is the first parliament meeting where the House of Representatives will meet for 17 days until October 12. The duration of the senate meeting will be from October 4 to October 26.

The king in his speech at the opening ceremony said that the new government has to double its efforts to fight COVID-19 to bring the country and people out of the pandemic. He said with the high-performance work culture and a focus on short-term and long-term goals, he believes that the new government can prove its early achievement in 100 days. He advised all sides to practice deliberative democracy in finding solutions to all problems.

Japan, Vietnam Get into Defence Transfer Deal Owing to China Worries

Japan and Vietnam have agreed to sign up for cooperation amid worries about China’s growing military influence. They signed the deal that enables the export of Japanese-made defense equipment and technology to Hanoi.

Nobuo Kishi, Japan’s Defence Minister said that the deal elevates the two countries’ defense partnership “to a new level” and both the nations plan to deepen defense ties through multinational joint exercises and other means. Vietnam became the 11th nation that has signed defense equipment and technology transfer deals with Japan.

The defense minister’s meeting with Phan Van Giang who is his Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi coincided with a two-day visit to the Vietnamese capital by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Over the Spratly and Paracel island groups in the South China Sea, Vietnam has territorial disputes with China. China and Japan are also in a territorial dispute against the Chinese coast guard’s presence in the East China Sea near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands which Beijing claims to be Diaoyu. Japan accuses Chinese vessels of routinely violating Japanese territorial waters around the island and sometimes they also threaten the fishing boats.

Kishi has expressed Japan’s strong opposition to “any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion or any activities that escalate tensions”.

Bhupendra Patel Set to Become 17th CM of Gujarat

On Monday, Bhupendra Patel will take oath as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat. Followed by the resignation of Vijay Rupani from the top post in the state, Patel holds a strong influence in the Patidar community in Gujarat which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has banked upon to win the upcoming elections.

He will be the 17th Chief Minister of Gujarat, fondly addressed as ‘Dada’ by his supporters, Bhupendrabhai Rajnikantbhai Patel. He is the fourth CM in the BJP-led state government in the country this year to opt for this move. Earlier, Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat Uttatakhknad’s Chief Minister and BS Yediyurappa tendered their resignations.

On Sunday, the announcement came as a surprise for many as the low-profile MLA was not seen to be among the top contenders for the post at the legislative party meeting of the BJP. According to BJP the selection of Bhupendra Patel was a unanimous decision by all leaders present in the party’s meeting. He had won the maiden seat by a margin of 117,000 (72%) votes in 2017 which was the largest margin that defeated congress candidate Shahikant Patel.

Patel has been invited by Governor Acharya Devvrat to the oath as the chief minister.

The Brics Group Agrees On Anti-terrorism Measures

The BRICS group has agreed on anti-terrorism measures, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the virtual summit he chaired on Thursday. Presidents Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Cyril Ramaphosa, and Jair Bolsanaro attended the summit hosted by India.

Mr. Modi said during India’s leadership of the Brics grouping, all of the group’s partners have cooperated fully.

“Today we are an influential voice for the emerging economies of the world. This platform has also been useful for focusing attention on the priorities of developing nations as well,” he said. Its members have established powerful institutions like the New Development Bank, Contingency Reserve Arrangement, and Research Cooperation Platform, said Modi. He also added that these are all very strong institutions.

PM Modi remarked that it is also essential to not become contented and that a collective effort to ensure that BRICS is even more result-oriented in the next 15 years should be made.

The Counter-Terrorism Action Plan outlines the grouping’s approach and actions to combat terrorism and implements the Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

With 41 percent of the world’s population, 24 percent of global GDP, and 16 percent of global trade, the Brics (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) are five of the world’s largest developing countries.

Rapprochement talks continue between Egypt and Turkey

A second round of high-level consultations between Ankara and Cairo took place in the Turkish capital on Sept. 7-8. The focus of the meeting was on bilateral and regional issues, including developments in Libya, Syria and Palestine.

In a joint statement to initiate the process of mutual benefits, they noted, “The two sides agreed to continue these consultations confirming their desire to make progress in areas under discussion and the need for further steps to facilitate normalization of their relations.”

Egyptian officials invited Turkish representatives to Cairo early in May to discuss ways to improve relations, despite diplomatic relations being downgraded since 2013. Erdogan’s Friday statement announcing the beginning of new relations with Egypt was quickly followed by a statement from the Turkish President on May 7.

Turkish networks, including those operated by the Muslim Brotherhood, were asked in March to tone down their criticism of Egypt. A ban was imposed later in June. Turkish authorities have also reportedly placed manhunts for the Brotherhood figures involved in the murder of Hisham Barakat. A leader who defected from the Brotherhood, Tariq Abu Al-Saad, has denied these claims.

Turkish contacts with Cairo are regarded as a very positive development for regional and international stability, say analysts.

Indonesian palm oil faces major stranded asset risks due to Paris Agreement

According to new research, 22 million acres of land in Indonesia earmarked for palm oil cultivation may become stranded assets if investments and regulations shift in support of the Paris Climate Agreement. Climate risk analysis firm Orbitas warns the threat to Indonesian palm oil producers and investors who pursue unsustainable production will be severe if world governments and financial markets address deforestation’s role in climate change.

The production of palm oil in Indonesia accounts for 72 percent of global production. Palm oil plantations in Indonesia have repeatedly come under fire for destroying tropical rainforests. This is a practice that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and reduced carbon sinks.

In spite of this, Orbitas estimates that more than three quarters – 76 percent – of Indonesia’s unplanted palm oil concessions. The same goes for 15 percent of the country’s current plantations. Investment changes and regulatory changes will render unsustainable production unprofitable soon. If global warming rises by 1.5 degrees Celsius, palm oil prices may rise by 29 percent. As a result, the undeveloped plantation land in Indonesia may increase by 52 percent, resulting in significant challenges.

In addition, it is expected to increase global demand for palm oil in the coming years, creating a market value increase of $9 billion. Palm oil was used to produce a wide variety of food, drinks, and consumer goods.

India’s Presidency of the UNSC Strengthens Its Role in World Affairs

India concluded its presidency of the United Nations Security Council for August. With the significant strides made under Indian stewardship August was busiest and probably most productive for the Security Council.

The permanent representative of India to the United Nations Mr. T.S. Trimurti said that India managed to achieve almost all of what they had set out along with successfully handling the expected and unexpected challenges that came their way. During India’s presidency they had ‘14 outcome documents’, out of them five were UNSC resolutions. The country held three major signature events with a clear focus on their priority issues. The issues were Maritime security, UN peacemaking and counter-terrorism that found resonance with the larger UN membership.

The event that was chaired by the Prime Minister, India worked closely with all the Security Council members to ensure the statement was adopted by consensus. 18th August was important to focus on the issue of Peacekeeping which was chaired by S. Jaishankar in New York to safeguard the UN Peacekeepers, a resolution on Protecting the Protectors was adopted. The third signature was for the threat posed by the Islamic State/Daesh.

He further added that there is no doubt that India’s presidency has once again reinforced the fact that India continues to play an important role in world affairs.

After Military Coup, West African Regional Bloc Suspends Guinea’s Membership

On Wednesday, after the military coup that ousted President Alpha Conde, west Africa’s main political and economic bloc suspended Guinea’s membership. Mamady Doumbouya, Guinea’s coup leader, pledged to install an unfinished, transitional government. The details about how and when for the same were not mentioned.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders from the 15 members demanded a return to the constitutional order and immediate release of the president during the virtual meeting. Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Alpha Barry said that they agreed to send a high-level mission to Guinea earliest by Thursday. They aim to reexamine the position by the end of the mission.

Barry did not announce any immediate economic sanctions against Guinea like they did for Mali following a coup in August 2020. Experts say that the leverage with Guinea by the ECOWAS can be limited and be in parts due to the country not being a member of the West African currency union and not landlocked like Mali.

For the first time, Doumbouya met the head of various Guinea’s military branches with the hope to unify the country’s armed forces under the junta’s command. Life in the streets of the capital Conakry got back to normal with some military checkpoints removed.