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Israel’s Hi-Tech Boom Propels Record-Breaking Presence on Forbes’ 2024 Billionaires List

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A remarkable milestone was achieved as Forbes unveiled its 2024 World Billionaires list earlier this week, showcasing a record-breaking 42 Israelis among its ranks. This surge in representation is predominantly attributed to the sustained expansion of Israel’s thriving hi-tech sector, which has propelled numerous individuals to new heights of wealth and prominence.

Leading the pack is Miriam Adelson, widow of the renowned casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, whose philanthropic endeavors and business acumen have cemented her status as the wealthiest Israeli on the list. With a staggering net worth of approximately $32 billion, Miriam Adelson’s influence extends beyond financial realms, recently culminating in her acquisition of the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise.

Following closely behind are the formidable duo of Eyal and Idan Ofer, synonymous with their ventures in shipping and sports management. Idan’s significant ownership stake in Atletico Madrid, coupled with Eyal’s strategic investments, have catapulted them into the upper echelons of global wealth, ranking 84th and 120th, respectively.

Among the notable entries are Russian-Israeli figures Roman Abramovich and Vyacheslav Moshe Kantor, alongside industry pioneers like Gil Shwed of Check Point and entrepreneurial visionaries Teddy Sagi, Arnon Milchen, and Amnon Shashoua.

But what underpins this unprecedented surge of Israeli billionaires? The answer lies in the relentless growth and innovation of Israel’s hi-tech landscape, which has birthed a new wave of wealth and opportunity. Notably, five individuals from the cyber sector, including Assaf Rapaport and the co-founders of Wiz—Ami Luttwak, Roy Reznik, and Yinon Costica—have ascended to billionaire status, emblematic of Israel’s prowess in cybersecurity and technology.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that while some individuals may not be as recognizable domestically, their inclusion on the list underscores the global footprint of Israeli entrepreneurship. Despite operating primarily abroad, their Israeli heritage remains a hallmark of distinction, affirming Israel’s status as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.

In essence, Forbes’ 2024 Billionaires list serves as a testament to Israel’s enduring impact on the global stage, fueled by its relentless pursuit of excellence in hi-tech and beyond. As the nation continues to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, the future holds boundless opportunities for further growth and prosperity on the world’s most prestigious financial rankings.

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ATMIS Withdrawal Sparks Concerns Among East African Leaders

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President Museveni and President Ruto Warn of Increased Insecurity Amid Al-Shabaab Resurgence

By Kasim Abdulkadir:

Uganda and Kenya express concerns over the planned ATMIS troop withdrawal from Somalia, citing rising terrorism threats and regional instability.

The scheduled departure of ATMIS troops from Somalia has raised significant alarm among regional leaders, notably Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Kenyan President William Ruto. The two leaders, whose countries contribute troops to ATMIS, voiced their concerns during a recent meeting in Nairobi. They emphasized the potential security vacuum that could be exploited by terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab, thus threatening regional stability.

The United Nations Security Council’s withdrawal plan involves removing 4,000 ATMIS troops by the end of June, following the departure of 5,000 troops last year. This downsizing has reportedly allowed Al-Shabaab to reclaim substantial territories, undermining recent military gains by Somali forces.

President Ruto and President Museveni

President Ruto highlighted that both he and President Museveni agree on the necessity of aligning the troop reduction with the security conditions in Somalia. Analysts and security experts have echoed these concerns, arguing that Somalia’s military is not yet equipped to maintain control over the reclaimed areas.

Abdisalan Guled, a former deputy security chief in Somalia, warned that the withdrawal could jeopardize the significant strides made against Al-Shabaab. He noted that central and southern Somalia remain hotspots for extremism, with numerous incidents reported in regions like Galmudug and Hirshabelle.

International partners, including the European Union, have also expressed apprehension. They caution that the Somali National Army (SNA) lacks the capacity to assume full security responsibilities, urging a reconsideration of the withdrawal timeline.

Since its inception nearly 17 years ago, ATMIS (formerly AMISOM) has played a crucial role in stabilizing key areas of Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu. Despite criticisms over its inability to decisively weaken Al-Shabaab, ATMIS has been instrumental in maintaining a semblance of order and security.

Security expert Farah Ow Osman supports the Somali government’s request to delay the ATMIS withdrawal, arguing that an extension would provide Somali forces the necessary time to strengthen their position against Al-Shabaab. He suggests that this delay could potentially be endorsed by the United Nations Security Council, ensuring a smoother transition and sustained stability in Somalia.

The departure of ATMIS troops presents a significant challenge to the region’s security landscape. With Al-Shabaab poised to exploit any gaps left by the withdrawal, the concerns raised by Presidents Museveni and Ruto underscore the need for a carefully managed and strategically timed exit to prevent a resurgence of violence and instability. The coming months will be crucial in determining whether the gains made against terrorism in Somalia can be preserved and built upon.

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Biden Administration Rejects Global Tax on Billionaires

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US Stance Contrasts with Support for Global Minimum Corporate Tax

By Kasim Abdulkadir:

The Biden administration opposes a global tax on billionaires’ assets, a proposal supported by several G20 nations. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen emphasizes progressive taxation but rejects international wealth taxation schemes.

A proposal under consideration by some G20 nations to impose a worldwide tax on the assets of billionaires lacks support from the Biden administration, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Yellen reaffirmed the U.S.’s commitment to progressive taxation, where the wealthy pay a larger share of their income. However, she clarified that the U.S. does not support a global arrangement for taxing billionaires, stating, “We’re not supportive of a process to try to achieve that. That’s something we can’t sign on to.”

Without U.S. backing, the proposal faces slim chances of implementation, despite support from leaders of large economies like France and Brazil. The U.S. stance on this issue contrasts sharply with its endorsement of a global minimum tax on international businesses, an agreement Yellen helped broker early in President Joe Biden’s tenure.

The Global Billionaire Tax Proposal

The aim of a global tax on billionaires is to curb tax evasion by the ultra-wealthy, who often move assets across borders to tax havens, avoiding domestic tax authorities. Unlike income tax, which can be minimized through various investment strategies, a wealth tax targets the total assets of billionaires.

Economist Gabriel Zucman, director of the EU Tax Observatory, highlighted the regressive nature of the current global taxation system at a G20 finance ministers meeting in February. Zucman’s research shows that billionaires often pay a lower effective tax rate than average taxpayers. He advocates for international coordination to establish a common minimum standard, arguing that it would prevent the ultra-wealthy from relocating to low-tax jurisdictions.

According to Zucman’s organization, a 2% annual tax on the wealth of approximately 3,000 billionaires worldwide could generate $250 billion in revenue each year.

Moral and Economic Arguments

Prominent economists have voiced support for the global billionaire tax. MIT professor and Nobel Prize-winning economist Esther Duflo, addressing a G20 meeting in Washington, backed the 2% tax and a global tax on international businesses. Duflo argued that the revenue should aid poor nations in adapting to climate change, framing it as a “moral debt” owed by wealthy individuals and corporations whose activities contribute significantly to global carbon emissions.

Duflo emphasized, “Rich people and rich corporations are making their income from selling their products everywhere in the world, including in poor countries. We are not talking about extortion; we are talking about paying your fair share.”

Brazilian Finance Minister Fernando Haddad also defended the proposal, highlighting the need for international taxation to address economic inequality and support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Haddad stressed that individual national efforts are insufficient without international cooperation to prevent tax evasion by the wealthy.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva echoed these sentiments, advocating for fairness and efficiency in global tax systems. Le Maire stated, “You can count on France’s absolute support. It is a matter of efficiency and justice.”

Georgieva pointed out that in many countries, the wealthy pay fewer taxes than the middle class and even the poor. She called for closing loopholes and preventing tax evasion through international agreements that facilitate tax information sharing.

In conclusion, the Biden administration’s rejection of a global tax on billionaires highlights a significant divergence in approaches to international taxation. While the U.S. supports a global minimum tax on corporations, it remains opposed to a wealth tax on billionaires. This stance underscores the complexities and challenges in achieving international consensus on taxing the ultra-wealthy.

As the debate continues, the future of global taxation will likely depend on broader international cooperation and the willingness of major economies to align their tax policies to address growing economic inequalities and the pressing needs of climate change adaptation.

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International Criminal Court seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Gallant, 3 Hamas leaders

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The head prosecutor at the International Criminal Court announced Monday that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, along with three Hamas leaders in Gaza for war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the Israel-Hamas war, a decision that has triggered a slew of reactions.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the announcement “beyond outrageous and shows the extent to which the international judicial system is in danger of collapsing.”

Herzog added on his social media platform X post that “any attempt to draw parallels between these atrocious terrorists and a democratically elected government of Israel — working to fulfill its duty to defend and protect its citizens entirely in adherence to the principles of international law — is outrageous and cannot be accepted by anyone.”

Israel’s foreign minister Israel Katz echoed Herzog’s comments calling ICC’s request to issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant an “outrageous decision.”

In a post on social media platform X, U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham decried the ICC decision. “The state of Israel is waging one of the just wars fought in modern history following a reprehensible massacre perpetrated by terrorist Hamas on the 7th of October,” he said. “The prosecutor’s position to apply for arrest warrants is in itself a crime of historic proportion to be remembered for generations.”

The Hamas Islamist group, which is designated by the U.S., the U.K and other countries as a terrorist militant organization, also denounced the ICC prosecutor’s decision to seek arrest warrants for three of its leading members. It accused ICC prosecutor Karim Khan of trying to “equate the victim with the executioner.” In a statement Monday, the group said it has the right to resist Israeli occupation, including “armed resistance.”

Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch, hailed Khan’s decision.

“This principled first step by the prosecutor opens the door to those responsible for the atrocities committed in recent months to answer for their actions at a fair trial,” Jarrah said in a statement Monday.

ICC prosecutor Khan announced Monday that his office believes all five people bear responsibility for acts against humanity.

He said in a statement, Netanyahu and Gallant “bear criminal responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including starving civilians as a method of warfare and intentionally directing attacks against civilians “as a means to eliminate Hamas, secure the return of the hostages which Hamas has abducted, and collectively punish the civilian population of Gaza, whom they perceived as a threat to Israel.”

In addition, Khan said, the Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, commander of the Hamas military wing Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and the head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, taking hostages as a war crime, rape, other sexual violence and torture.

“It is the view of my office that these individuals planned and instigated the commission of crimes on 7 October 2023, and have through their own actions, including personal visits to hostages shortly after their kidnapping, acknowledged their responsibility for those crimes,” Khan said. “We submit that these crimes could not have been committed without their actions.”

The prosecutor must request the warrants from a pre-trial panel of three judges, who will first examine the evidence before they decide if they move forward with arrest warrants.

Palestinians look at the rubble of a family house that was hit overnight in Israeli bombardment in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah in southern Gaza, May 20, 2024.
Palestinians look at the rubble of a family house that was hit overnight in Israeli bombardment in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah in southern Gaza, May 20, 2024.

Israel is not a member of the ICC, and even if the arrest warrants are issued, Netanyahu and Gallant do not face any immediate risk of prosecution. But Khan’s announcement increases Israel’s isolation as it presses ahead with its war, and the threat of arrest could make it difficult for the Israeli leaders to travel abroad.

Israel’s war in Gaza was triggered by the October Hamas terror attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of about 250 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Israel’s subsequent counteroffensive in Gaza has killed more than 35,400 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which includes civilians and combatants in its count, but says most of the dead are women and children.

Israel says it has killed more than 14,000 militants and around 16,000 civilians.

US talks

Meanwhile, Gallant said Monday that Israel is committed to broadening its ground operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, as he met with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Gallant said in a statement that he told Sullivan the effort in Rafah was aimed at dismantling the Hamas militant group and securing the return of the hostages still being held in Gaza.

Gallant also said he and Sullivan discussed ways to strengthen Israel’s position in the Middle East.

Sullivan met Sunday with Netanyahu to discuss a more targeted Israeli military operation against Hamas in Gaza that would lower risks of civilian collateral damage.

The U.S. official reiterated President Joe Biden’s “longstanding position on Rafah,” the White House said, referring to calls by Biden to avoid a major offensive in Rafah due to fears of a humanitarian disaster.

Netanyahu has vowed not to let up the fight against Hamas until the Islamist group is defeated and all remaining hostages are brought home.

However, his Cabinet is facing an internal rift on a postwar Gaza governance plan.

Benny Gantz, one of the ministers of his War Cabinet, threatened to quit the governing coalition Saturday, unless Netanyahu approves a postwar “action plan” by June 8.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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The Celebrity ‘Blockout’: Social Media Users Push for Accountability Over Gaza Conflict

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A grassroots movement pressures celebrities to take a stand on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by blocking their social media content.

By Kasim Abdulkadir:

What is the Celebrity ‘Blockout’ Over the War in Gaza?

Social media users have initiated a “blockout” campaign to pressure celebrities into taking a stand on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The blockout involves users blocking the social media accounts of celebrities who they believe are not speaking out or doing enough against Israel’s actions in Gaza amidst its war with Hamas.

How Does the Blockout Work?

On platforms like X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and Instagram, users can mute or block specific accounts. By blocking celebrities, users stop seeing their posts, photos, videos, and sponsored content. This action reduces the celebrities’ engagement metrics and potentially affects their income from social media activities. The goal is to divert attention away from these celebrities’ brands, thereby pressuring them to address the crisis.

Who is Being Blocked?

There isn’t a centralized list of celebrities to be blocked. Participants of the blockout choose whom to block based on personal criteria or suggestions from others. Celebrities from the U.S. and other countries are being targeted. Each social media user must block celebrities individually on each platform they use.

Origins of the Blockout

The blockout gained momentum following the recent Met Gala, a high-profile event known for its extravagant fashion displays. As images from the gala circulated online, they were juxtaposed with distressing images from Gaza, highlighting the stark contrast between the opulence of the event and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. This led to increased scrutiny of celebrities’ responses, or lack thereof, to the situation in Gaza.

Will the Blockout Be Effective?

The long-term effectiveness of the blockout remains uncertain. According to Beth Fossen, an assistant professor of marketing at Indiana University, the impact may vary depending on the celebrity’s brand and public persona. Celebrities known for their humanitarian efforts may face more significant backlash for their silence compared to those whose fame is primarily based on their talent or other attributes.

Blockout Backlash

The blockout has faced criticism from some quarters. Detractors argue that focusing on celebrities detracts from the real issues on the ground in Gaza. There are also debates about what constitutes adequate action or statements from celebrities, adding complexity to the movement’s goals.

In conclusion, the celebrity blockout is a digital protest aimed at leveraging social media dynamics to push celebrities into taking a public stand on the Gaza conflict. While its long-term effectiveness is yet to be determined, the movement highlights the growing expectation for public figures to engage with pressing global issues. The blockout also reflects broader tensions about how social media influences activism and accountability in the digital age.

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Museveni Backs Raila Odinga for AU Top Job Amidst Intense Competition

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has endorsed ODM leader Raila Odinga for the chairmanship of the African Union Commission (AUC). During his state visit to Kenya, Museveni reaffirmed his support, emphasizing the shared vision of a united East African Community (EAC).

Despite backing from EAC member countries, Odinga faces significant competition. Somalia has nominated former Foreign Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adam, garnering substantial support from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Additionally, Seychelles supports former Vice President Vincent Meriton. Djibouti’s Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, is also in the race.

Raila Odinga, endorsed by EAC countries, aims to succeed the current AUC chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, whose term ends in February 2025. Odinga, known for his long-standing political influence in Kenya, seeks to bring his vision of unity and progress to the continental stage.

Somalia’s candidate, Fawzia Yusuf Adam, has secured over half the total support from African nations, thanks to backing from the OIC. Her candidature introduces a significant challenge to Odinga, highlighting the intense competition for the AUC chairmanship.

Somalia’s candidate, Fawzia Yusuf Adam

Seychelles has put forward Vincent Meriton, a seasoned diplomat with a focus on improving executive decision implementation at the AU. His entry further complicates the race, showcasing the diverse array of experienced candidates vying for the position.

In conclusion, the race for the AUC chairmanship is heating up, with strong candidates from across the continent. Museveni’s endorsement of Odinga signifies a strategic alignment within the EAC, but the competition remains fierce with significant support for candidates from Somalia and Seychelles.

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EDITORIAL

Celebrating Somaliland’s 33rd Independence Day: A Triumph of Resilience and Hope

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By Kasim Abdulkadir:

May 18th marks a significant day in the hearts of Somalilanders as they celebrate their Independence Day, commemorating 33 years since reclaiming their sovereignty from Somalia. This day is steeped in history, resilience, and pride, dating back to May 18, 1991, when the Burao Conference declared Somaliland’s independence. This article delves into the significance of this celebration, the historical journey, and the aspirations for the future.

Historical Context

Somaliland’s quest for independence is rooted in its colonial past. On June 26, 1960, Somaliland gained independence from the United Kingdom. However, this independence was short-lived as it voluntarily joined with Somalia five days later to form the Somali Republic. The union, however, was fraught with challenges, leading to decades of civil unrest and disenfranchisement for Somalilanders.

The pivotal moment came in 1991, amidst the collapse of the Somali government, when the Burao Conference gathered representatives from all regions of Somaliland. This conference was a watershed moment, where extensive consultations led to the unanimous decision to reclaim Somaliland’s sovereignty. This bold step marked the beginning of a new era for Somaliland.

Significance of the Celebration

Celebrating 33 years of independence is not merely a reflection of the past but a celebration of Somaliland’s resilience, achievements, and aspirations. The day is marked with parades, speeches, and cultural performances across the country, with Hargeisa, the capital, becoming a hub of festivities. Government officials, political leaders, students, and the military participate in these events, showcasing national unity and pride.

Commemorating Sacrifices and Achievements

The celebration is a tribute to the sacrifices made by Somalilanders to achieve freedom, security, and stability. It is a day to honor the progress made since 1991, including the establishment of a constitution, a functioning government, a robust military and police force, and the successful transfer of power between five presidents.

Despite not being recognized internationally, Somaliland has made significant strides in governance, security, and economic development. It stands as a beacon of stability and democracy in the Horn of Africa, a testament to what can be achieved through determination and unity.

Looking to the Future

The 33rd anniversary is not just a time for reflection but also an opportunity to look ahead. Somalilanders remind themselves of their responsibility to defend their hard-won freedom and sovereignty. This day symbolizes hope for international recognition, a goal that remains elusive but ever-present in the hearts of the people.

The upcoming presidential election on November 13, 2024, adds to the significance of this year’s celebration. Over 1.2 million registered voters are set to participate, showcasing the strength of Somaliland’s democratic processes. This election, delayed due to regional conflicts, is a crucial step in reaffirming Somaliland’s commitment to democracy and good governance.

Strengthening National Unity

This year’s celebrations are particularly poignant given the challenges faced in the past year, including the Lasanod conflict. The unity displayed by Somalilanders in the face of external threats is a testament to their resilience. The festivities serve as a rallying point to strengthen national unity and solidarity.

Diaspora Celebrations

The Somaliland Diaspora plays a vital role in these celebrations, organizing events across Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Africa. These gatherings not only celebrate Somaliland’s independence but also promote its achievements on the international stage. The Diaspora’s efforts are crucial in advocating for Somaliland’s recognition and showcasing the country’s progress.

Cultural Significance

The national flag is a central symbol during the celebrations, with Somalilanders displaying it proudly on their homes, cars, and clothing. School children wave the flag in parades, and traditional songs and dances are performed, highlighting the rich cultural heritage of Somaliland. The flag represents not just the country’s identity but also the pride and unity of its people.

The Role of Youth

Somaliland’s youth are at the forefront of the celebrations, embodying the spirit and hope of the nation. They participate in various activities, from singing national songs to performing traditional dances, showcasing their patriotism and commitment to the country’s future. Their involvement is a testament to the vibrant and dynamic nature of Somaliland’s younger generation.

Future Prospects: MOU with Ethiopia

An exciting development coinciding with this year’s celebration is the anticipated MOU agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia, which could pave the way for formal diplomatic recognition. This agreement, which includes the establishment of an Ethiopian naval base in the Red Sea, is seen as a strategic partnership that could enhance regional stability and economic integration. It is a hopeful sign that Somaliland’s quest for international recognition may soon bear fruit.

Conclusion

As Somaliland celebrates its 33rd Independence Day, it stands as a testament to resilience, hope, and progress. Despite the lack of international recognition, Somalilanders have built a stable, democratic, and prosperous nation. The celebrations on May 18th are a reminder of the sacrifices made and the achievements earned, as well as a look forward to a future where Somaliland is recognized and respected on the global stage.

The journey of Somaliland is one of determination and unity, and as they commemorate this significant milestone, the hope for a brighter, recognized future continues to inspire its people. The 33rd anniversary is not just a celebration of the past, but a beacon of hope for what lies ahead for this remarkable nation.

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China and Russia Reinforce Strategic Partnership to Counter US Influence

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Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin Pledge Cooperation Against Washington’s Hostile Pressure

BY GUEST ESSAY:

In a bid to counter US influence, China and Russia have reaffirmed their strategic partnership, pledging to work towards a multipolar world and criticizing the US and NATO’s regional military presence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded his two-day trip to China, reaffirming a strategic partnership with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two leaders criticized US and NATO’s influence in the Indo-Pacific and pledged cooperation against hostile pressures from Washington. They emphasized their commitment to a multipolar world and discussed resolving the Ukraine conflict through political means. Analysts note that Beijing and Moscow aim to challenge the US-led world order, although China remains cautious about committing to a specific strategy regarding the Ukraine war. The meeting reflects a deepening alliance amid growing geopolitical tensions.

During their meetings, Putin expressed Russia’s willingness to collaborate with China and other global south countries to promote a multipolar world order. Xi reiterated the importance of steering global governance in the right direction. Analysts suggest that both leaders want to present their partnership as a positive force in the global system, striving for a more equitable and inclusive economic and political environment.

In addition to their criticisms of the US and NATO, Xi and Putin emphasized the need for a sustainable security system in Eurasia based on equal and indivisible security. This stance reflects their view of Washington and NATO’s expanding military presence in Asia as a zero-sum game. According to Mathieu Duchatel, director of international studies at the French policy group Institut Montaigne, Xi and Putin aim to undermine Washington’s alliance networks in Asia.

As Switzerland prepares to host a peace summit dedicated to the Ukraine war, Xi and Putin exchanged views on the ongoing conflict. They agreed that the war should be resolved through a political settlement. Xi emphasized the importance of establishing a new, balanced, effective, and sustainable security architecture. He suggested that an international peace conference, recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, could be a step towards resolving the conflict.

Putin appreciated China’s objective and balanced stance on the Ukraine issue and reiterated Russia’s commitment to political negotiations. However, analysts like Philipp Ivanov remain skeptical about China’s concrete efforts to resolve the war, noting that China’s peace plan is more diplomatic than substantive.

The meeting between Xi and Putin follows Xi’s five-day trip to Europe, where some analysts believe Beijing sought to exploit disunity within the European Union. Despite repeated warnings from the United States about the consequences of supporting Russia’s war efforts, Beijing seems confident that potential sanctions from the West may not materialize. Ja Ian Chong, a political scientist at the National University of Singapore, suggests that China is testing Europe’s response to its support for Moscow.

Ivanov noted that Putin’s visit to China likely involved discussions on how to circumvent Western sanctions. He anticipates increased transactions and import-export activities through third countries, such as those in Central Asia. Despite Western attempts to pressure China, analysts believe Beijing will continue to uphold its partnership with Moscow, with no significant reduction in Russia’s access to Chinese dual-use technology.

Overall, the strategic partnership between China and Russia appears to be on an upward trajectory, with both countries committed to countering US influence and creating a multipolar world order.

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Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan Escalates Amid Looming Famine

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UN agencies warn of catastrophic famine as conflict between Sudan’s rival generals intensifies.

BY GUEST ESSAY:

The humanitarian crisis in Sudan worsens with escalating conflict and a looming famine. UN human rights chief Volker Türk urges Sudanese generals to cease hostilities and ensure humanitarian aid access.

As famine threatens Sudan, the humanitarian crisis is spiraling out of control. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that UN human rights chief Volker Türk had separate phone calls with Sudan’s rival generals to try to deescalate the conflict.

“The high commissioner warned both commanders that fighting in el-Fasher, where more than 1.8 million residents and internally displaced people are encircled and at imminent risk of famine, would have a catastrophic impact on civilians and would deepen intercommunal conflict with disastrous humanitarian consequences,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the high commissioner, in Geneva on Friday.

The fighting for control of el-Fasher, the last stronghold of the Sudanese Armed Forces in western Darfur, escalated dramatically last week. The United Nations reports that at least 58 civilians have been killed and 213 injured.

During separate telephone conversations with Sudanese Armed Forces Commander Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, Türk appealed to both generals to put the interests of the people first. He expressed his “deep distress” at the situation in Sudan and urged them to take specific concrete steps to cease hostilities, resume peace negotiations, ensure access to adequate humanitarian assistance, and ensure their troops and allied forces fully respect international humanitarian and human rights law.

Both generals acknowledged the importance of respecting international humanitarian law, and SAF Commander Burhan indicated that he would facilitate visas for more UN human rights staff. Shamdasani highlighted the importance of having more UN staff on the ground to cover the crisis more closely, noting that her office currently has only one international staff member in Port Sudan.

Since the conflict between the SAF and RSF erupted in mid-April 2023, over 15,500 people have been killed, approximately 33,000 others injured, and an estimated 6.8 million have been displaced within the country. Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesperson, stated that half of Sudan’s population, 25 million people, need humanitarian aid. However, efforts to support the most affected are severely underfunded, with only 12% of the UN’s $2.7 billion appeal met.

“This is not just an underfunded appeal; it is a catastrophically underfunded appeal,” Laerke said. “People in Sudan are staring famine in the face.” The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that famine is looming, especially in parts of Darfur and in the capital, Khartoum, with more than one-third of the population facing acute hunger.

Dr. Shible Sahbani, the WHO representative in Sudan, reported a 22% increase in acute malnutrition among under-5 children and pregnant and breastfeeding women, rising from 3.9 million to 4.9 million people in 2024. The recent escalation of violence in Darfur, particularly in el-Fasher, is causing more civilian deaths and injuries, and access to health facilities is being hampered by the ensuing insecurity.

The WHO has recorded 62 verified attacks on healthcare, with two-thirds of Sudan’s 18 states currently experiencing multiple outbreaks of deadly diseases such as cholera, measles, dengue fever, and malaria. These outbreaks are likely to worsen during the upcoming rainy season, making it even harder to reach those in desperate need.

“We stand ready to do more and utilize all available avenues to reach the most vulnerable populations across Sudan, but we need assurances of security for our staff and supplies,” Sahbani said. “Health cannot be ensured in the absence of peace.”

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