1. Coronavirus rewrites G20’s agenda in Saudi Arabia
February starts on a palindrome date: 02/02/2020. Luckily or not, many historical events can be read as palindromes: they don’t follow one way direction, but they make one step forward and one step back right after. We do hope that’s the case of Covid-19’s outbreak, which spread from China to the rest of the world, promising to leave behind a trail of closed borders all over the globe ─ that’s especially true toward Italian people, that right now are globally considered the plague-spreaders ─ as well as thousands of victims and a worldwide economic collapse that rewrote the agenda of G20 Forum for International Economic Cooperation in Saudi Arabia.
2. USA, between Trump’s impeachment trial and presidential elections
The Impeachment against Donald Trump can also be read as a palindrome: it ended in a stalemate, despite the explosive memoir by John Bolton ─ Former National Security Adviser, first nominated and then fired by the President ─ which was not heeded in the proceedings by decision of republican senator Lisa Murgowski, who opposed Dem’s request to hear more witnesses. This incident is very serious and alarming: the check and balance system doesn’t exists anymore. By now, everything is possible and democracy pays the price of that. Here is Roberto Savio’s analysis on American democracy’s worrying decline. Someone is also trying to review impeachment’s mechanism in order to improve it. Strengthen by this victory, Trump began to take revenge by purging Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland, key witnesses for the Chamber, who were stripped of their roles at the White House. Furthermore, after listing his supposed achievements in the State of the Union, he proudly declared that “The best is yet to come”, while right behind him Nancy Pelosi was ripping off his speech’s copy.
3. Kobe Bryant’s sudden death and Trump’s propaganda
Meanwhile, United States are shocked by the sudden death of NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter, killed in a helicopter crash. Yet Trump keeps going on with his propaganda for 2020 Presidential Elections:
- He unveils his Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan, which results in heavy criticisms from the whole Islamic community.
- He extends the Muslim Ban to new countries.
- He keeps riding US fight against terrorism, announcing the death of Al Quaeda’s leader in Yemen by an US raid.
- He keeps talking about the wall along Mexican border.
- He shows off tweeting about US armaments around the world after Soleimani’s assassination, confident that military industry’s jobs are the key to his re-election.
- He plans for space weapon system, implementing US Space Force project by signing the 2020 Defense Bill, and he promises to take the man on the Moon again by 2024, at the end of his potential second term.
Meanwhile Bernie Sanders rides Democratic caucus: most likely he will be the front-runner who will defy Trump, especially after first Covid-19 cases were reported in the US, since his program calls for an universal Health Care plan in a country where health care is only for wealthy people and where, in case of a massive epidemic, the risk of a high number of fatalities among those who cannot afford health insurance is very high.
4. Iran realizes Trump has passed the line with Iran
Someone in Iran finally realized Trump has passed the line and the Senate voted a bipartisan document to reduce President’s authority to launch military operations against Iran, after consultation with the Congress. Unluckily, the document will hardly pass presidential veto. Meanwhile, Conservatives won Iran’s elections, thanks to US bombings and Soleimani’s assassination, therefore we can say good bye to Rohani’s reformists. According to Annalisa Pretreghella, from ISPI, Institute for International Political Studies, post-election times will be even worse.
5. 12,000 US troops in Afghanistan
The Afghan conflict is the longest in US modern history: more than 12,000 American troops are currently stationed in the country. Luckily, negotiations for peace between the Taliban and US are going on despite President Trump wants to keep 8,600 troops in Afghanistan.
6. Iraq towards the change
While a Katyusha rocket hits an American base in the Governorate of Kirkuk ─ no victims made ─ protesters keep gathering on the streets of Baghdad asking for a change: the Iraqi revolution goes on.
7. Turkey and Russia, what is going on?
Lybia in chaos: the Berlin conference called by the Kremlin to solve the Lybian conflict – which saw Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia supporting General Khalifa Haftar, and Turkey supporting Fayez al-Sarraj’s national unity government – failed. Another palindrome: the arms embargo is violated, what was left of the curfew gets shattered under the airstrikes by Haftar’s forces, basically a new siege of Tripoli. Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio flew to Lybia to meet the Lybian head of government and the commander general of the national army. On the table, the controversial Memorandum on migrants, and the issue of oil exportation stop after the terminals in Cyrenaica were shut down by the general. At the Munich Security Conference, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas asks for a European mission to enforce what was established by the UN. As a result, the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union unanimously decides to replace Operation Sophia, expiring in March, with a new mission in the Mediterranean.
8. Syria, yet another humanitarian catastrophe
Humanitarian catastrophe in Syria: after a 9-year-long civil war, the Syrian army has finally taken back every single bit of land seized by the rebels. Assad conquers Saraqeb and marches closer to Idlib, that was occupied by the rebel supported by Turkey. Despite reinforcements sent by Erdogan in order to make Damascus forces retire, Idlib was hit by a devastating attack. Nato expressed full solidarity. Erdogan declared he will open the gates for Syrian refugees, therefore new migration flows are expected to hit Greece, which is already rejecting them with violence. According to the UN, the estimated number of displaced people is around 900, and that is actually an humanitarian catastrophe. The analysis by the Institute for International Political Studies.
9. Italy and Egypt: Giulio Regeni and Patrick Zaky’s cases still unpunished
While the uncontrolled Egyptian practice of forced disappearances, such as the one of Giulio Regeni, stays unpunished, another young researcher, Patrick Zaky, got arrested in Egypt as soon as he landed from Bologna. However, rather than making taking a strong position, Italian Government choosed to work out a new agreement with Al Sisi.
10. Antarctica hits record temperature of 20,7 C
A heated month. Literally. Record temperatures were hit everywhere, even in Antarctica, where an iceberg the size of Malta broke off. Climate change: will that be reversible, will that be a palindrome too?
11. Brexit: there’s no return
Brexit is now officially in force and the EU leaders failed to agree on the 2021-2027 budget, while dealing with a 75 billion shortfall, that’s what the UK used to pay. Europe is left without a penny and it wonders what will be of the Green Deal. According to Forbes, the EU budget will not be enough. Meanwhile in London, Julian Assange’s extradition trials are under way, despite the European Council called for his release, forbidding his extradition to the US. The Sinn Féin success in Ireland’s elections is a historical turning point, setting the start for a brand new political season. Speaking of elections and the role of social media, in Brussels Mark Zuckerberg reminds the European Commission of the responsibilities of national governments and regulation, but he only got back a warning to pay more attention to the illegal contents posted on his platforms. Europe is determined to dictate the rules of the tech world. Cecilia Capanna