October 20, 2023
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
As the bombings in Gaza continue, the humanitarian situation has become increasingly alarming. On the evening of Tuesday 17 October, the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza was hit with an airstrike, killing hundreds of people. Whereas the Hamas-controlled Palestinian authorities blamed Israel, Israel claims it was not the Israeli Air Force that hit the hospital, but rather an errant missile strike from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The hospital bombing raised fury all over the world. Regional allies condemned Israel for the explosion, which increased tensions in the region. Moreover, people have taken to the streets across the world over the past week to protest the violence, in support of both the Israeli and Palestinian causes.
Amidst this atrocity, Biden visited Tel Aviv on Wednesday, showing the US’s support for Israel’s war against Hamas terrorism. The US works to prevent the war from escalating into other areas, as European officials are concerned with a spillover of the conflict into other countries. A condition to Biden’s visit was a humanitarian package, which included open corridors into Gaza to allow for humanitarian aid and safe areas for Palestinian civilians. Egypt’s President had agreed to open up the Rafah Crossing and allow aid to enter Gaza. Over a 100 trucks with aid have been waiting on the Egyptian side of the border since Thursday. The Crossing was set to open up on Friday 20 October, but it has not yet been opened. The Crossing is of high relevance to everyone in Gaza, as it is the only exit that does not lead into Israeli territory.
Ukraine fired a series of aerial assaults on Russian air bases in the occupied regions of Luhansk and Berdyansk using the newly acquired, long-range, ATACMS. The ATACMS have long been promised to be delivered by Washington, but specific dates remained secret for fear of Russian interception of the missiles. Kyiv has continuously requested greater military support and more advanced weapons from Washington and European allies. ATACMS in the Ukrainian arsenal provide Kyiv with a greater ability to strike further into the heart of Russian forces because of their long-range nature. Kyiv has promised Washington not to use the missiles against targets inside Russia’s internationally recognized borders.
A Russian offensive on the Eastern Ukrainian towns of Andriivka and Kupiansk, located in the Russian-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, has continued this week. Russian forces have made minimal and costly gains on the small towns. Kupiansk was recaptured late last year in a lightning Ukrainian offensive while Andriivka has long held out from Russian interference dating back to 2014.
The European Parliament announced that Mahsa Amini would be awarded the Sakharov Freedom Prize for Freedom of Thought. Amini died while in police custody after being detained by the notorious morality police for improperly wearing her hijab. Her death sparked mass protests across the country and posed the biggest threat to the regime since its founding. The European Parliament declared that they “proudly stand with the brave and defiant who continue to fight for equality, dignity and freedom in Iran”.
On October 18th, The U.S. Treasury Department announced a new round of sanctions on actors in Iran and elsewhere working for Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle and missile programs. A spokesman for the Treasury Department claimed that “the persons designated today have materially supported Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), or their subordinates in the production and proliferation of missiles and UAVs.” The move comes in the wake of Hamas’ horrifying assault on Israeli territory last week and questions about Iranian involvement and military support to the group.
After successful negotiations between Maduro’s representatives and the U.S., the Venezuelan government recommenced talks with the opposition. Under the promise of the U.S. to relieve some sanctions on the Venezuelan oil industry, Maduro’s government has taken steps toward holding democratic elections in 2024. They have signed a deal with the opposition which established rules for the elections. Sunday, the opposition holds primaries to find a candidate behind which they can unite. On Thursday, the five prisoners were released by the Venezuelan government as part of the talks. Among them were also well-known opposition leaders. The first steps within the deal have thus already been taken.
On Monday 16 October, the top Georgian Court ruled that Zourabichvili’s unauthorized visits to European leaders were indeed in breach of the constitution. She retains her role as President, but is now forbidden to get involved in Georgia’s foreign relations without permission of the government. On 18 October, the parliament held a plenary session regarding her impeachment after which they voted. Zourabichvili started the session by stating that the court ruling “will be remembered not as a victory for the rule of law, but as a consolidation of one-party supremacy over the judicial system.” The impeachment failed, as 86 members of Parliament voted in favor. 100 votes for the impeachment were necessary in order for it to succeed.
The government has also aimed to change the broadcasting law. The new law allegedly should regulate hate speech and calls to terrorism. However, the law would expand the powers of the National Communications Commission and therewith expand the powers of the ruling party.
Myanmar’s military government hosted a gathering with ethnic rebel groups to commemorate the eighth anniversary of a multilateral cease-fire agreement. The meeting marks the first formal gathering since the military takeover of Aung San Sui Kyi’s elected government in February 2021. Although most rebel groups were in attendance, three signatories – Karen National Union, Chin National Front, and All Burma Students’ Democratic Front – boycotted the event. The allied forces stated that peace talks cannot take place, as there is no legitimate government, no constitution and no parliament. The groups continue to oppose and abstain from discussion with the junta until their pro-democratic demands have been met.
Further discussion of Rohingya repatriation took place on Tuesday, where delegates from the United States, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Bangladesh and more negotiated funding and the introduction of policies favorable to Rohingya refugees. The U.N High Commissioner for Refugees urged the international community to provide additional support, as he stated that Myanmar has received less funding due to crises in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and the Middle East.
New Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrived in China on Monday to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders at the third annual Belt and Road Forum. Srettha have been bullish on Chinese investment in Thailand amidst a poor economic recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic. The conference marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, a program to enhance China’s investments in international economies and the global supply chain, all the while promoting Chinese influence abroad.