Monday, July 31, 2023

Mali, Burkina Faso to View Military Intervention in Niger as Declaration of War

© AP Photo/Sam Mednick

PRETORIA, August 1. /TASS/. Burkina Faso and Mali will consider any military intervention in Niger as a declaration of war against them, AFP news agency reported on Tuesday citing a joint statement of two countries.

"Any military intervention against Niger would be considered as a declaration of war against Burkina Faso and Mali," the statement reads.

Russian Air Defense Forces Down Several Drones Targeting Moscow, Says Mayor

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin 

MOSCOW, August 1. /TASS/. Russia’s Air Defense Forces have shot down several military drones that targeted the Russian capital with one of the drones hitting and inflicting damages on one of the Moscow City skyscrapers, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said on Tuesday.

"Air Defense Forces shot down several drones en-route to Moscow. One of them hit the same skyscraper in the [Moscow] City as previously. The facade at the level of the 21st floor of the building sustained damages. Emergency services are working at the scene of the incident," Sobyanin wrote on his Telegram social network channel.

No casualties reported following drone attack on one of Moscow City skyscrapers

MOSCOW, August 1. /TASS/. No casualties were reported following a drone strike on a 50-storey skyscraper in the Moscow City business center in downtown of the Russian capital, a source in the emergency services told TASS on Tuesday.

"According to unconfirmed data, there are no casualties following a drone attack on a tower in the IQ-quarter of the Moscow City. The glazing of the facility at the level of the 17th floor sustained damages," the source said.

Russian Air Defenses Down Su-25 Ground Attack Plane in Ukraine Operation — Top Brass

It is reported that Russian forces repelled 11 Ukrainian army attacks in the Donetsk area over the past day

© Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation/TASS

MOSCOW, July 31. /TASS/. Russian air defense forces downed a Ukrainian Su-25 ground attack plane, destroyed 23 enemy drones and intercepted 12 rockets of the US-made HIMARS multiple launch rocket system over the past day in the special military operation in Ukraine, Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov reported on Monday.

"Air defense capabilities shot down a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 plane near the settlement of Nikolayevka in the Donetsk People’s Republic. During the last 24-hour period, they intercepted 12 rockets of the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system," the spokesman said.

In addition, Russian air defense systems destroyed 23 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles in areas near the settlements of Lisichansk and Kremennaya in the Lugansk People’s Republic, Donetsk, Soledar, Novopetrikovka and Staromlynovka in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Pologi, Chapayevka and Chubarevka in the Zaporozhye Region," the general reported.

Ukraine's military attempts attacks in three directions over past day

The Ukrainian military attempted attacks in three directions over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"During the last 24-hour period, Ukrainian armed formations continued offensive attempts in the Donetsk, south Donetsk and Zaporozhye directions," the spokesman said.

Russian forces press ahead with advance in Kupyansk area

Russian assault teams continued their advance near the settlement of Kuzyomovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic in the Kupyansk direction over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the Kupyansk direction, assault teams of the western battlegroup supported by artillery fire and army aviation strikes continued offensive operations in the area of the settlement of Kuzyomovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic and gained more advantageous positions," the spokesman said.

Russian forces also successfully repelled an enemy attack near the settlement of Novosyolovskoye in the Lugansk People’s Republic, the general reported.

"In addition, damage by combined firepower was inflicted on amassed Ukrainian manpower and equipment near the settlements of Krasnoye Pervoye, Dvurechnaya and Berestovoye in the Kharkov Region. The enemy’s losses amounted to over 45 Ukrainian personnel, two armored combat vehicles, two pickup trucks and a D-20 howitzer," the spokesman said.

Russian forces destroy 140 Ukrainian troops in Krasny Liman area over past day

Russian forces repelled two Ukrainian army attacks and destroyed roughly 140 enemy troops in the Krasny Liman area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the Krasny Liman direction, units of the battlegroup Center, army aircraft and artillery successfully repelled two enemy attacks in areas near the settlements of Kremennaya and Kuzmino in the Lugansk People’s Republic. As many as 140 Ukrainian personnel, two armored combat vehicles, three pickup trucks, D-20 and D-30 howitzers and a Gvozdika motorized artillery system were destroyed in the past 24 hours," the spokesman said.

In addition, Russian forces inflicted damage by combined firepower on units of the Ukrainian army’s 21st, 63rd and 67th mechanized and 25th air assault brigades near the settlements of Yampolovka and Torskoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Kuzmino and Karmazinovka in the Lugansk People’s Republic, the general reported.

Russian forces repel 11 Ukrainian army attacks in Donetsk area over past day

Russian forces repelled 11 Ukrainian army attacks in the Donetsk area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the Donetsk direction, units of the southern battlegroup successfully repelled in their active defense 11 enemy attacks in areas near the settlements of Belogorovka, Berestovoye, Spornoye, Severnoye, Maryinka, Vodyanoye and Mayorsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the spokesman said.

Russian forces strike Ukrainian troops, military hardware in DPR

Russian aircraft and artillery struck Ukrainian manpower and military hardware in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"Operational/tactical and army aircraft and artillery inflicted damage on amassed Ukrainian manpower and equipment in areas near the settlements of Kramatorsk, Novosyolovka, Konstantinovka and Berestovoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the spokesman said.

Russian forces destroy over 220 Ukrainian troops in Donetsk area over past day

Russian forces destroyed over 220 Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the past 24 hours, the enemy’s losses in that direction amounted to over 220 Ukrainian personnel, three armored combat vehicles, five motor vehicles, two US-made M777 artillery systems, a German-made Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzer, a Gvozdika motorized artillery gun, a Msta-B howitzer, a D-20 howitzer and a US-manufactured AN/TPQ-50 counter-battery radar station," the spokesman said.

Russian forces repulse Ukrainian army attack near Staromayorskoye in DPR

Russian forces repulsed a Ukrainian army attack near the settlement of Staromayorskoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"The battlegroup’s units successfully repulsed by their active operations an enemy attack near the settlement of Staromayorskoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic," the spokesman said.

In the south Donetsk and Zaporozhye directions, units of Russia’s battlegroup East in interaction with aircraft and artillery inflicted damage on amassed Ukrainian manpower and military hardware in areas near the settlements of Novodanilovka, Lesnoye, Preobrazhenka, Malaya Tokmachka, Rabotino and Orekhov in the Zaporozhye Region, the general reported.

Russian forces eliminate 275 Ukrainian troops in south Donetsk, Zaporozhye areas

Russian forces eliminated roughly 275 Ukrainian troops, three tanks and three foreign-made howitzers in the south Donetsk and Zaporozhye areas over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"The enemy’s losses in those directions in the past 24 hours amounted to 275 Ukrainian personnel, three tanks, six infantry fighting vehicles, three armored combat vehicles, five motor vehicles, three foreign-made howitzers, in particular, US-made M109 Paladin and M777 guns and a UK-made FH70 gun, and also two Msta-B and D-20 guns," the spokesman said.

Russian forces eliminate three Ukrainian subversive groups in Zaporozhye area

Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian army attack and destroyed three enemy subversive groups in the Zaporozhye area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the area of the settlement of Uspenovka in the Zaporozhye Region, an enemy attack was repulsed and three Ukrainian subversive/reconnaissance groups were destroyed," the spokesman said.

"Also two subversive/reconnaissance groups were neutralized near the settlements of Marfopol and Priyutnoye in the Zaporozhye Region," the general reported.

Russian forces destroy 30 Ukrainian troops, US-made howitzer in Kherson area

Russian forces destroyed roughly 30 Ukrainian troops and a US-made artillery system in the Kherson area over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"In the Kherson direction, as many as 30 Ukrainian personnel, three motor vehicles, a US-manufactured M777 artillery system, an Akatsiya motorized artillery gun and a US-made AN/TPQ-36 counter-battery radar station were destroyed in the past 24 hours as a result of damage inflicted by firepower," the spokesman said.

Russian forces wipe out Ukrainian army’s drone assembly workshop in Kharkov Region

Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian army’s drone assembly workshop in the Kharkov Region over the past day, Konashenkov reported.

"During the last 24-hour period, operational/tactical and army aircraft, missile troops and artillery of the Russian groupings of forces struck 107 Ukrainian artillery units at firing positions, manpower and military hardware in 119 areas. In addition, a workshop for the assembly of unmanned aerial vehicles for the Ukrainian army was destroyed near the settlement of Veliky Burluk in the Kharkov Region," the spokesman said.

Also, Russian forces wiped out the headquarters and the accommodation site of the operational personnel of the Ukrainian army’s 35th marine infantry brigade near the settlement of Vesyoloye in the Zaporozhye Region, the general reported.

"Near the settlement of Dachnoye in the Donetsk People’s Republic, an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian army’s 24th mechanized brigade was obliterated," the spokesman said.

In all, the Russian Armed Forces have destroyed 458 Ukrainian warplanes, 245 combat helicopters, 5,381 unmanned aerial vehicles, 427 surface-to-air missile systems, 11,048 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 1,140 multiple rocket launchers, 5,678 field artillery guns and mortars and 11,989 special military motor vehicles since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine, Konashenkov reported.

Ukraine’s Military Loses over 20,800 Troops, 2,200 Armaments over Past Month — Shoigu

The defense minister thanked the entire Russian military personnel participating in the special military operation in Ukraine for their service, courage and heroism

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation/TASS

© Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation/TASS

MOSCOW, July 31. /TASS/. The Ukrainian military lost over 20,800 troops and more than 2,200 items of military hardware, including 10 Leopard tanks over the past month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told a conference call with military commanders on Monday.

"Over the past month, the enemy’s losses amounted to over 20,800 troops, to be exact, 20,824 personnel, and 2,227 items of various armament, including 10 Leopard tanks, 11 American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, 40 US-made M777 artillery systems and 50 self-propelled artillery guns from Great Britain, the United States, Germany, France and Poland," the defense chief said.

The defense minister thanked the entire Russian military personnel participating in the special military operation in Ukraine for their service, courage and heroism.

"Earlier, we spoke about some instances of feats, whereas today we have tens and hundreds of worthy servicemen, soldiers, officers and sergeants who do not only perform their duty with honor but also do it highly professionally. The fighters display truly highest examples of courage, heroism and, let me repeat it, professionalism," Shoigu pointed out.

As the Russian Defense Ministry reported, the Ukrainian army has been making unsuccessful offensive attempts since June 4. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu reported on July 11 that the Ukrainian army’s losses had exceeded 26,000 since Kiev launched its counter-offensive. Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that Ukrainian troops had failed to achieve any success in any of the frontline areas.

Guyana Willing to Negotiate with China to Sign BRI Cooperation Plan: Joint Statement

By Global Times

Jul 31, 2023 04:00 PM

China and Guyana Photo: VCG

China and Guyana released a joint statement on Monday, stating that two sides will commit to further deepening and expanding bilateral relations and promoting bilateral cooperation in multilateral fields.

Guyanese President Mohamed Irfaan Ali was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the 31st FISU Summer World University Games and visit China from July 25 to August 1. On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Guyanese President Ali, and the two sides held in-depth exchanges on bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern. They expressed their commitment to further deepen and expand bilateral relations and promote bilateral cooperation in multilateral fields.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang met with Ali in Beijing on Sunday, saying that China is willing to work with Guyana to promote relations between China and Caribbean countries, and to jointly safeguard the common interests of developing countries.

According to the joint statement, Guyana highly appreciates the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Global Development Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative proposed by China. Recalling that the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding between China and Guyana on Cooperation within the Framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative on July 27, 2018, the Guyanese side expressed its willingness to negotiate with China to sign the BRI cooperation plan.

The joint statement showed that the two sides reaffirmed that, on the basis of the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, they respect each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and support each other's people in choosing development paths suited to their national conditions. 

Guyana reiterated its firm support for the one-China principle.

Ali thanked China's support for Guyana's economic development, including infrastructure construction. Both sides are committed to deepening economic cooperation, including expanding trade and investment, and expanding cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, health, energy, education and other fields.

China expressed appreciation to Ali for Guyana's constructive role in regional and international issues, especially in the areas of food security, regional integration and China-Latin America cooperation. 

Ali expressed to the China his firm belief that both developed and developing countries should focus on promoting food, climate and energy security to advance sustainable development. Both sides recognize that global development initiatives contribute to this goal, said the joint statement.

The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable development and environmental protection, and pledged to deepen cooperation in areas including forest conservation, biodiversity conservation and promotion of renewable energy, according to the statement.

The two sides recognize the important value of trade and investment in deepening economic cooperation and are committed to creating a sound business environment and promoting bilateral trade and investment activities. The two sides agreed to explore cooperation in agriculture, energy, minerals, manufacturing and services.

Ali thanked China for supporting Guyana's successful election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

In view of the global challenges posed by climate change, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to continue advocating for climate change and sustainable development at the international level. To this end, the two sides are committed to expanding cooperation in renewable energy, climate resilience and adaptation. 

Also, in order to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, the two sides decided to support cooperation between educational institutions of the two countries, promote student exchange programs and promote cultural cooperation.

The two sides agreed to promote health cooperation between the two countries by sharing experience and technology. Ali highly appreciated the medical services provided by the Chinese medical team to Guyana for the local people.

Separately, Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs and Chinese foreign minister, met with Hugh Todd, minister of foreign affairs of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, on Friday in Chengdu, the capital city of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Wang called on both sides to make joint efforts to deepen cooperation in various fields and push for sustained and in-depth development of bilateral relations under the guidance of the important consensus reached by the two heads of state.

Todd, who is accompanying Guyanese President Ali for the opening ceremony of the Chengdu Universiade, believed that China will continue to show global leadership, promote solidarity among developing countries and promote the South-South cooperation.

Global Times

China, UAE to Hold 1st Joint Air Force Drill, Eye Cooperation Boost

By Liu Xuanzun

Jul 31, 2023 07:20 PM

A L-15, a Chinese supersonic training aircraft, rehearses on November 13, 2021 a demonstration flight ahead of the 2021 Dubai Airshow, which is scheduled to be held from November 14-18, 2021. The Dubai Airshow is a biennial international event aimed at business professionals and the wider industry. Photo: VCG

China announced on Monday that its air force will for the first time hold a joint exercise with its counterpart from the UAE, which is expected to further enhance military cooperation after the signing of a warplane deal between the two countries earlier this year, analysts said.

In accordance with an annual schedule and the consensus reached by the two sides, the China-UAE Falcon Shield-2023 joint air force exercise will be held in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in August, China's Ministry of National Defense said in a press release on Monday.

It marks the first time China and the UAE will hold a joint air force exercise, as the move aims to deepen practical exchange and cooperation between the two countries' militaries and boost understanding and mutual trust, said the Chinese Defense Ministry.

The first China-UAE joint air force exercise is a good start to enhance military exchanges and cooperation with countries in the Middle East, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Monday.

The joint exercise is a natural development after the UAE procured Chinese military aircraft earlier this year, marking the deepening of the relations between the two countries' militaries, Fu said.

In February, China announced that it had sealed a deal to export the domestically developed L15 advanced trainer jet to the UAE. In 2022, the Defense Ministry of the UAE said it intended to buy 12 L15s from China, with the option for 36 additional aircraft of the same type in the future.

As the new generation of light attack and combat trainer jet independently developed by China, the L15 can be used to train pilots for fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets, or it can also carry out air-to-air combat and land attack missions. The Chinese People's Liberation Army also fly the L15 under the designation JL-10.

As military ties between China and the UAE continue to develop, there could be more joint exercises and arms deals, analysts said.

The air force of the UAE is coming to China for the first joint exercise, and the air force of China could visit the UAE for the next, Fu said.

China is not planning to fill the so-called power vacuum left by the US in the Middle East, but is enhancing cooperation with countries in the region, respecting their independent development, and helping safeguard regional peace and stability, Fu said.

Don't Let Quitting BRI Become Italy's Regret: Global Times Editorial

By Global Times

Aug 01, 2023 12:28 AM    

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Photo: VCG

Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said in an interview recently that the previous government made an "improvised and atrocious" decision when it joined the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The issue today is, he said, how to walk back (from the BRI) without damaging relations (with Beijing).

This is the strongest message sent by a cabinet minister of the current Italian government since speculation that Italy may not renew the China-Italy BRI MOU surfaced. However, it must be pointed out that it's abnormal for a defence minister to make such remarks.

It's known to all that the BRI is a regional economic cooperation framework, which has nothing to do with national defense. To evaluate its actual achievements, it should be the foreign trade department, the economic development department, or even the treasury department that are qualified. As Italian Defence Minister, Crosetto is inappropriate to take the lead to "blast" Italy's economic cooperation with China, even just from the perspective of his position alone, and his statement is also seriously inconsistent with the facts.

For example, he said the BRI multiplied China's exports to Italy but did not have the same effect on Italian exports to China. But in fact, for more than four years, the bilateral trade volume between China and Italy has repeatedly hit new highs. From 2019 to 2022, it increased by nearly 42 percent against the trend. Last year, it reached nearly $78 billion. From 2019 to 2021, Italy's exports to China increased by 42 percent. In the first five months of this year, Italy's exports to China increased significantly by 58 percent. These figures irrefutably reflect the strong effect of the BRI, which is not what Crosetto said at all.

However, on the other hand, although the statement made by the Italian defence minister is very awkward, it seems "normal" in today's political environment in the US and Europe. In terms of economic cooperation with China, it is often the security and defense officials who have the most radical attitude, the officials who are actually in charge of the economy appear to be much more "moderate" instead. This exactly shows how serious the US and the West over-stretch security issues. Crosetto is just the latest example.

In addition, the timing of Crosetto's rhetoric is also doubtful, and the US is obviously behind it. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has just concluded her visit to the US. There have been speculations that Meloni might withdraw from the BRI to show loyalty to the US, but it was proved untrue afterward. But after meeting with US President Joe Biden, Meloni said that the Italian government will make a decision on the BRI before December, emphasizing "keeping a constructive dialogue open with Beijing," and revealing her willingness to visit China. This also reflects Italy's current dilemma: It wants Washington's political recognition, but it is unwilling to give up economic cooperation with China, and it does not want to pick just one.

It is clear who is responsible for Italy's current difficult situation. Since it decided to join the BRI in 2019, the US has exerted strong pressure on it and almost labelled Italy as a "traitor of the West." At that time, the New York Times even described Italy as a "Trojan Horse" of the Western world, "allowing China's economic — and potentially military and political — expansion to reach into the heart of Europe." After the change of the Italian government, Washington saw an opportunity and stepped up pressure on it. Just before Meloni's visit to the US, John Kirby, director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, publicly "educated" Italy about "the lack of reward for economic partnerships with China" and said that "We've created an alternative."

This is indeed an intriguing scene. While the US and the West are hyping vigilance against the BRI, they have also launched "imitations" of the BRI, such as the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment of G7 and the Global Gateway Initiative of the European Union. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, said Kishore Mahbubani, a former diplomat who served as Singapore's permanent representative to the United Nations. The US and the West learn from and imitate the BRI while suppressing and smearing it, further showing that the BRI was put forward with a long-term vision and in line with the general trend of the times. Unlike the multilateralism upheld by the BRI, history has given answers time and time again to what role the "imitations" based on geopolitics and hegemony can play. 

As the only country in the G7 that has signed the MOU on the BRI, Italy's priority in China's foreign relations and the status of China-Italy relations in China-EU relations had been significantly improved, resulting in many direct and indirect positive effects. It also puts Italy in a unique and advantageous position to connect the East and the West. If we only see from a pragmatic point of view and purely from Italy's national interests, joining the BRI is undoubtedly beneficial. But if it is mixed with geopolitics and the pressure and coercion of the US, things will become complicated. We hope that Italy can make a rational decision without external interference. This is the time to test Italy's political wisdom and diplomatic autonomy.

Italy's BRI Dilemma Worsens as 'Pressure from US, EU Mounts'

Shift also driven partly by incumbent govt's right-wing nature: expert

By GT staff reporters

Jul 31, 2023 07:56 PM

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Photo: AFP

The defense minister of Italy, Guido Crosetto, has added to recent signs that this Group of Seven (G7) and NATO member state may tend to leave the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), describing the decision to join the framework as "improvised and atrocious."

Italy's policy turn is driven partly by the incumbent government's right-wing nature, but is more a dilemma resulting from mounting pressure from the US and the EU against the backdrop of intensifying geopolitical confrontation, observers said on Monday. 

According to Crosetto, "The issue today is: how to walk back (from the BRI) without damaging relations (with Beijing). Because it is true that China is a competitor, but it is also a partner," Reuters reported Sunday. 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, after a meeting with US President Joe Biden, said on Thursday that her government was still deliberating on whether to renew the BRI agreement and announced a trip to Beijing in the near future.

Meloni earlier said the decision to stay or leave will be finalized by December and the issue required discussions with the Chinese government and within the Italian parliament.

The joint construction of the BRI has provided a new platform for pragmatic cooperation between China and Italy, achieving numerous practical results in economy, trade and business cooperation, a spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Further exploring the potential of jointly building the BRI is in line with the interests of both sides, the spokesperson said. 

Meloni's far-right populist Brothers of Italy party is dominant in the incumbent government and noises about BRI deal renewal have been on the rise ever since the power change in 2022. The incumbent government has tended to stand with the US on political and security issues and interprets the BRI as a risk and even a threat rather than a framework for win-win cooperation, Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Monday. 

A defense minister commenting on BRI also demonstrated Europe's sweeping trend of over-stretching security concepts on economic and trade issues, which Italy alone can hardly resist, Zhao said.

Both Meloni and Crosetto have expressed the necessity to preserve China relations even without the BRI pact, which will renew automatically in March 2024 if neither side opts out. 

Maintaining ambiguity on the issue is Italy's approach to maximize its room for operation as the country is put under pressure under intensifying geopolitics, Zhao said, noting that the defense minister is responding to US pressure while the Italian government is still weighing the costs and gains. 

Critics of BRI said it did not bring about substantial benefits to Italy, but the fact is the bilateral trade volume between China and Italy has repeatedly hit new highs during the past four years. 

Official data shows that in the first five months of 2023, Italian exports to China increased by 58 percent, with Chinese analysts saying it showcases the resilience and potential of bilateral trade. 

Exports to China have grown by more than our French and German competitors' during the period since the signing of the BRI MoU, and the potential for joint investment projects in Asia and Africa, now that we have exited three years of COVID, is apparent, Michele Geraci, former undersecretary of state at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, told the Global Times previously.

Geraci believes the massive coverage of every single expression and comment Italy has made on BRI is more media hype, as the government decision is yet to be made and does not have to be made before the deadline. 

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, also stressed that China should not fall into the narrative trap set by Western media of equating Italy's decision on BRI to its attitude to China relations. 

Italy has not changed its attitude on pragmatic cooperation with China, but the BRI is an easy target due to the West's bloc confrontation with China, and Italy's signing of the MoU has increasingly been seen as a political burden for this G7 and NATO member, Cui said.

Ultimately, the BRI is for win-win cooperation, rather than a coercive alliance that imposes duties and binding clauses on members. If Italy ultimately yields to external pressure and domestic far-right waves, "it is a pity but no big deal to BRI itself," Cui noted.  

There might be twists and turns, but the prospects of BRI hinge on how many projects can be implemented and how many benefits participants can enjoy, not on how many members stay in the framework, some analysts said.

China Issues 20 Measures to Boost Consumption amid Growing Efforts to Stabilize Growth

By Wang Cong and Tao Mingyang

Jul 31, 2023 10:29 PM 

Visitors select milk powder at the booth of Hoeslandt at the third China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE) in Haikou, capital city of south China's Hainan Province, on April 14, 2023. The expo opened to the public on Friday. Photo:Xinhua

Chinese authorities on Monday issued 20 measures to boost domestic consumption, including support for expanding real estate and auto sales, underscoring the country's intensifying efforts to ensure steady economic recovery and meet annual economic development goals amid internal and external downward pressures.

Also on Monday, the State Council, China's cabinet, held an executive meeting that stressed strengthening the study of counter-cyclical adjustment and policy reserves, and the introduction of new policy measures to better reflect the pertinence, combination and synergy of macro policies. It also called for efforts to stimulate the vitality of private investment and accelerate the cultivation and growth of strategic emerging industries.

The measures from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning agency, represent swift policy action following a recent top tone-setting meeting that stressed efforts to stabilize growth, analysts said. The supportive measures are crucial to improving market expectations and lifting domestic demand, and will, along with a slew of measures in other areas such as boosting the private economy, ensure steady economic recovery in the second half of 2023, analysts noted. 

An important focus of the 20 measures released on Monday is stabilizing consumption of big-ticket items such as houses and cars. In terms of houses, the NDRC reiterated support for those buying their first homes and those seeking to upgrade their living standards. Specifically, the NDRC vowed to improve the basic mechanisms and support policies for housing security, expand the supply of affordable rental housing, and focus on addressing the housing problems of new urban residents, young people and other groups with housing difficulties.

The NDRC's measure for the housing industry came as other Chinese authorities and local governments have in recent days issued various measures to boost the real estate market, which is a major driver of domestic consumption, but has come under pressure. 

The State Council executive meeting on Monday also called for efforts to adjust and optimize real estate policies, and introduce policies and measures that are conducive to the stable and healthy development of the real estate market according to different needs and cities.

At a recent symposium with property developers, Ni Hong, minister of housing and urban-rural development, called for the full implementation of favorable measures, including lower down payment requirements and mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers, tax breaks for upgrading and treating buyers who have paid off prior mortgages as first-time purchasers.

Another key driver of domestic consumption is auto sales, which account for about 10 percent of total consumption. The NDRC on Monday said all regions are barred from imposing new restrictive measures on car purchases, and places that already have restrictions in place should optimize car purchase restrictions according to their local conditions. Also, efforts should be made to fully implement policies aimed at removing restrictions on sales of second-hand cars. More policy support will also be put in place to boost sales of new-energy vehicles (NEVs).

Auto sales have become a highlight of consumption recovery in China. In the first half of 2023, auto sales in China increased by 9.8 percent year-on-year to about 13.24 million units, according to official data. Most notably, sales of NEVs in the first half of the year surged 44.1 percent year-on-year to 37.47 million units.

Apart from home and car sales, the NDRC measures on Monday also covered a wide range of areas, including expanding services consumption and rural consumption, promoting new models of consumption, and improving consumption infrastructure. Also drawing widespread attention on Monday is the NDRC's call for full implementation of the paid leave system, off-peak leave and flexible work and rest, in order to boost cultural and tourism consumption.  

Key to steady recovery

"Promoting consumption is the key to the current recovery and expansion of demand. It's about better meeting people's expectations and yearning for a better life, and it is also very important to laying a solid foundation for economic recovery," Li Chunlin, vice chairman of the NDRC, said at a press conference on the 20 measures on Monday. 

Asked about how to better improve consumers' pessimistic sentiment, Li said that consumers' willingness to spend improved in the first half of the year, pointing to an 8.2-percent year-on-year growth rate in total retail sales, which hit 22.75 trillion yuan. "What I want to express… is that the Chinese economy has strong resilience and vitality, and the ship of the Chinese economy will definitely be able to cut through the waves and sail steadily and far," Li said. 

Analysts also said that the 20 measures are very timely, as the country's economy continues on a recovery trend but faces challenges from both at home and abroad. 

"The 20 measures are a crucial part of the slew of measures aimed at promoting consumption and expanding domestic demand," Li Chang'an, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that the measures are very specific and targeted, focusing on areas that are significant for promoting consumption, such as home and auto sales. 

Li said that more detailed measures could follow, especially measures from finance and monetary authorities, which will further expand the effect of the measures on Monday in boosting consumption. 

As China eyes steady economic recovery in the second half of the year, many ministries have issued various measures to boost consumption and other major growth drivers. The measures on Monday came just days after the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee held a meeting to analyze the current economic situation and make arrangements for  the economic work in the second half of the year. The meeting noted that the Chinese economy is facing new difficulties and challenges, which mainly stem from insufficient domestic demand and other difficulties and risks. 

Following that tone-setting meeting, many ministries and local governments have moved swiftly to announce measures to tackle those challenges and ensure stable economic recovery. 

"Mainly due to the impact of [negative] expectations, there have been some fluctuations during the period of the country's economic recovery," Cong Yi, dean of the School of Marxism at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Monday. "In terms of policy formulation, we need to seize the opportunities brought about by structural changes, provide high-quality services and products to meet multi-level and diversified consumer demand, and further release the impetus for economic recovery."

Going forward, analysts expect more policy measures to be announced to further boost consumption, investment, foreign trade, and other economic growth drivers in China, as the world's second-largest economy is aiming for a growth rate of about 5 percent in 2023, a massive goal that would once again make China the bright spot of the global economy amid persistent downward pressure on world growth.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

ECOWAS Threatens Force on Niger Coup Leaders, French Embassy Attacked

By Boureima Balima and Felix Onuah

July 30, 20237:19 PM EDT


ECOWAS bloc gives ultimatum to Niger's new military leaders

Pro-coup protesters burn French flags in Niamey

Military takeover was Sahel region's seventh since 2020

From Paris, Niger's PM says sanctions would be disastrous

NIAMEY/ABUJA, July 30 (Reuters) - West African nations imposed sanctions and threatened force on Sunday if Niger's coup leaders fail to reinstate ousted President Mohammed Bazoum within a week, while supporters of the junta attacked the French embassy in Niamey.

The 15-nation ECOWAS bloc's response to the Sahel region's seventh coup of recent years came as crowds in Niger's capital Niamey burned French flags and stoned the former colonial power's mission, drawing tear gas from police.

Images showed fires at the embassy walls and people being loaded into ambulances with bloodied legs.

At an emergency summit in Nigeria to discuss last week's coup, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States called for constitutional order to be restored, warning of reprisals if not.

"Such measures may include the use of force," their communique said, adding that defence officials would meet immediately to that effect.

Chad's President Mahamat Idriss Deby, who came to power in 2021 after a coup, met his Nigerian counterpart Bola Tinubu on the sidelines of the summit and volunteered to speak to the military leaders in Niger, two presidential aides told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

Niger's state TV showed Deby arriving and meeting them.

ECOWAS and the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union said that with immediate effect borders with Niger would be closed, commercial flights banned, financial transactions halted, national assets frozen and aid ended.

Military officials involved in the coup would be banned from travelling and have their assets frozen, it added.

Niger's prime minister under Bazoum's government, Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou, said ECOWAS sanctions would be disastrous because the country relies heavily on international partners to cover its budgetary needs.

"I know the fragility of Niger, I know the economic and financial context of Niger having been the finance minister and now prime minister," Mahamadou, who was abroad when the coup occurred, told France24 television from Paris.

"This is a country that will not be able to resist these kinds of sanctions. It will be catastrophic."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed ECOWAS's action on Sunday.

"We join ECOWAS and regional leaders in calling for the immediate release of President Mohamed Bazoum and his family and the restoration of all state functions to the legitimate, democratically-elected government," said Blinken in a statement.


Similar sanctions were imposed by ECOWAS on Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea following coups in those countries in the past three years.

Although the financial sanctions led to defaults on debt - in Mali in particular - such measures have tended to hurt civilians more than the military leaders who seized power in some of the world's poorest countries, political analysts say. Timelines to restore civilian rule have been agreed in all three countries, but there has been little progress implementing them.

The military coup in Niger, which began unfolding on Wednesday, has been widely condemned by neighbours and international partners including the United States, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and former colonial power France.

They have all refused to recognise the new leaders led by General Abdourahamane Tiani.

Niger has been a key ally in Western campaigns against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel, and there are concerns that the coup could open the door to greater Russian influence there. Thousands of French troops were forced to withdraw from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso following coups there.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, receiving close to $2 billion a year in official development assistance, according to the World Bank.

The United States, France, Italy and Germany have troops there on military training and missions to fight Islamist insurgents. Niger is also the world's seventh-biggest producer of uranium, the radioactive metal widely used for nuclear energy and in nuclear weapons, as well as for treating cancer.

Ahead of the summit, Niger's junta had warned that ECOWAS was considering an imminent military intervention in collaboration with other African and some Western nations.

"We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer, of our firm determination to defend our homeland," junta spokesperson Colonel Amadou Abdramane said.


At their invitation, thousands of people rallied in the capital on Sunday, some heading to France's embassy.

"We are here to express our discontent against France's interference in Niger's affairs. Niger is an independent and sovereign country, so France's decisions have no influence on us," said protester Sani Idrissa.

Similar to events in neighbouring Burkina Faso in September last year following a coup, some protesters tried to climb the embassy walls, while others stomped on burning French flags.

They were dispersed by Niger national guard.

France condemned the violence and said anyone attacking its nationals or interests would face a swift and stern response.

"The era of coups d'etat in Africa must stop. They are not acceptable," French foreign minister Catherine Colonna Catherine Colonna told RTL radio, adding that the situation had calmed by the afternoon and no evacuation of French citizens was planned.

The European Union and France have cut off financial support to Niger and the United States has threatened to do the same.

Sunday's ECOWAS communique thanked nations in line with the bloc's stance but "condemned the pronouncement of support by foreign governments and foreign private military contractors."

Russia's Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who remains active despite leading a failed mutiny against the Russian army's top brass last month, has hailed the coup as good news and offered his fighters' services to bring order.

Reporting by Boureima Balima and Moussa Aksar in Niamey, Felix Onuah in Abuja, Elizabeth Pineau and Layli Foroudi in Paris; Writing by Bate Felix and Alexandra Zavis; Editing by Frances Kerry, Andrew Cawthorne, Don Durfee and Diane Craft

French Embassy in Niger is Attacked as Protesters Waving Russian Flags March Through Capital

Thousands of people backing the coup in Niger marched through the streets of the capital denouncing France, the country’s former colonial power, waving Russian flags, and setting a door at the French Embassy ablaze.


Associated Press

July 30, 2023, 5:18 AM

Nigeriens participate in a march called by supporters of coup leader Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani in Niamey, Niger, Sunday, July 30, 2023. Days after mutinous soldiers ousted Niger's democratically electe...Show more

The Associated Press

NIAMEY, Niger -- Thousands of people backing the coup in Niger marched through the streets of the capital denouncing France, the country's former colonial power, waving Russian flags, and setting a door at the French Embassy ablaze on Sunday before the army broke up the crowd.

Demonstrators in Niger are openly resentful of France, and Russia is seen by some as a powerful alternative. The nature of Russia's involvement in the rallies, if any, isn't clear but some protesters have carried Russian flags, along with signs reading “Down with France” and supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian mercenary group Wagner is operating in neighboring Mali, and under Putin Russia has expanded its influence in West Africa. The new junta's leaders have not said whether they intend to ally themselves with Moscow or stick with Niger's Western partners.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that attacks on France and its interests would not be tolerated and anyone who attacks French citizens will see an immediate response.

Niger, a French colony until 1960, had been seen as the West's last reliable partner battling jihadists in Africa’s Sahel region. France has 1,500 soldiers in the country who conduct joint operations with the Nigeriens. The United States and other European countries have helped train the nation’s troops.

At an emergency meeting Sunday, the West African bloc known as ECOWAS said that it was suspending relations with Niger, and authorized the use of force if President Mohamed Bazoum is not reinstated within a week. The African Union has issued its own 15-day ultimatum to the junta in Niger to reinstall the democratically elected government.

Shortly after the ECOWAS meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Chadian President Mahamat Deby arrived in Niger to lead mediation efforts, according to the Chad state radio station.

ECOWAS has struggled to make a definitive impact on the region’s political crises in the past but Bazoum was democratically elected two years ago in Niger’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from France in 1960.

Members of the Niger military announced on Wednesday that they had deposed Bazoum and on Friday named Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani as the country’s new leader, adding Niger to a growing list of military regimes in West Africa’s Sahel region.

Some leaders of the mutiny said they overthrew Bazoum because he wasn’t able to secure the nation against growing jihadi violence. But some analysts and Nigeriens say that was a pretext for a takeover driven by internal power struggles.

“We couldn’t expect a coup in Niger because there’s no social, political or security situation that would justify that the military take the power,” Prof. Amad Hassane Boubacar, who teaches at the University of Niamey, told The Associated Press.

He said Bazoum wanted to replace the head of the presidential guard, Tchiani. Tchiani, who also goes by Omar, was loyal to Bazoum's predecessor, and that sparked the problems, Boubacar said.

Niger's dire security situation is not as bad as that in neighboring Burkina Faso or Mali, which have also been battling an Islamic insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Last year, Niger was the only one of the three to see a decline in violence, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Some taking part in Sunday's rally warned outside bodies to stay away.

“I would like also to say to the European Union, African Union and ECOWAS, please, please stay out of our business,” Oumar Barou Moussa said at the demonstration. “It’s time for us to take our lives, to work for ourselves. It’s time for us to talk about our freedom and liberty."

Niger has the most at stake of any country in the Sahel if it turns away from the West, given the millions of dollars of military assistance it has received from abroad.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the continued security and economic cooperation with the U.S. hinges on the release of Bazoum — who remains under house arrest — and “the immediate restoration of the democratic order in Niger.”

Macron said he'd spoken to Bazoum and his predecessor on Sunday. On Saturday France suspended all development and financial aid to Niger.

The 15-nation ECOWAS bloc has unsuccessfully tried to restore democracies in nations where the military took power in recent years. Four nations are run by military regimes in West and Central Africa, where there have been nine successful or attempted coups since 2020.

While the bloc has struggled to have much impact, the measures placed on Niger Sunday show the gravity of the situation, said Andrew Lebovich, a research fellow with the Clingendael Institute.

“The strenuous measures they have put in place or threatened to put in place show not only how seriously they are taking this crisis, but also the urgency the regional body and larger international community feel in trying to force a return to normal that will likely prove elusive,” he said.

The response from the bloc towards Niger differs from how it dealt with recent coups in Mali and Burkina Faso, which did not involve the threat of force if constitutional rule wasn't reinstated.

In the last few decades it has sent troops into member countries a handful of times.

In the 1990s, ECOWAS intervened in Liberia during its civil war. In 2017 it intervened in The Gambia to prevent the new president’s predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, from disrupting the handover of power. Approximately 7,000 troops from Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal entered, according to the Global Observatory, which provides analysis on peace and security issues.

Economic sanctions could have a deep impact on Nigeriens, who live in the third-poorest country in the world, according to the latest U.N. data. The country relies on imports from Nigeria for up to 90% of its power, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. The sanctions would suspend all commercial and financial transactions between ECOWAS member states and Niger.

In a televised address Saturday, Col. Major Amadou Abdramane, one of the soldiers who ousted Bazoum, accused the meeting of making a “plan of aggression” against Niger and said the country would defend itself.

“Tensions with the military are still ongoing. There could be another coup after this one, or a stronger intervention from ECOWAS, potentially military force,” said Tatiana Smirnova, a researcher in conflict resolution and peace missions at the Centre FrancoPaix. “Many actors are also trying to negotiate, but the outcome is unclear."


Associated Press reporters Angela Charlton in Paris and Chinedu Asadu in Abuja, Nigeria and Edouard Takadji in N'Djamena, Chad contributed.

Experts Foresee Ethiopia’s Comparative Advantage in BRICS

July 30, 2023

ADDIS ABABA—Ethiopia’s BRICS membership request has to follow systematic diplomatic move not to infringe its smooth western ties, so stated political and international relations experts.

Speaking to the Ethiopian Press Agency(EPA), Institute of Foreign Affairs Senior Researcher Dares kedar Taye (PhD) said that Ethiopia should appeal BRICS member countries again and again to approve its membership request. For Ethiopia, being member of BRICS is desirable, and it can garner comparative advantage out of BRICS membership, but it needs methodical diplomatic approach to not harm western amiable relations.

He said: “BRICS has its own platform and organization to help member states. So, Ethiopia would be beneficial if its membership will be approved. Besides, the bloc has been working to make the global trade exchange fair. So, involving Ethiopia in this task will also result mutual benefit. As it could also help Ethiopia economically, it will contribute crucial political role to the bloc, too.”

“However, some political misunderstanding may happen on the side of the western world. The main thing to be done here is diplomatic balancing. The Ethiopian government should consider political and diplomatic interpretations of being member in BRICS,” he underlined.

Another expert, Addis Ababa University North and Central East Africa Geopolitics and Security Affairs Researcher and Associate Prof. YakobArsano (PhD) on his part said that Ethiopia’s membership in BRICS will have both positive and negative consequences .

The unjustified dispute between developing eastern and developed western countries needs artistic approach for solution. The request of Ethiopia to BRICS seems very critical, because the influence of the West may decline if BRICS gets bigger. Hence, it needs systematic diplomatic approach to sustain relation with the West, he opined.

Being member of the BRICS will allow Ethiopia to get out of some global powers’ influence. But, if the government sustains friendly diplomacy with partners, the end of injustice is inevitable, he described.

Political Science and International Relations Researcher and Assistant Professor at Dire Dawa University, Surafel Getahun also stated that several countries are seemingly revolting against the Western system.

“The membership of Ethiopia in BRICS will balance political engagement in global arena. So the existing BRICS members have to give due attention to Ethiopia’s request.”

The benefit of membership will also help Ethiopia to endure its diplomatic and economic integration with BRICS members.


The Ethiopian Herald July 30/2023

Ethiopia, Russia Seal Bilateral Pacts

July 30, 2023

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia and Russia signed set of agreements to strengthen bilateral cooperation during the 2nd Russia- Africa summit.

The agreements were signed by members of the Ethiopian delegation participating in the Russia-Africa Summit at St Petersburg. The two countries agreed to enhance information, business, and infrastructure cooperation.

According to local media reports, the State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mesganu Arga and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, signed the agreement between Ethiopia and Russia to work together on international information security.

The information further stated that the agreement aims to build capacity in the information security sector globally, to maintain cyber security, and to use infrastructure and technology together. Besides, increasing the two countries aviation sector is one of the agreements that were signed by Ethiopia and Russia.

In this regard, Russian Deputy Minister of Transport, Igor Chalik, who signed the agreement, said that Ethiopian Airlines will play an important role in strengthening Russia’s ties with African countries.

Likewise, Ethiopia and Russia agreed to work on the nuclear technology that Ethiopia quest to exploit the technology into health, agriculture, and power supply. The agreement was signed between the Minister of Innovation and Technology, Belete Molla (PhD) in the Ethiopian side and the Head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, Alexei Lekachev on Russian side. The agreement also focused for the nuclear development roadmap to be implemented in Ethiopia. Up on the agreement, Lekachev promised that Russia to construct the Ethiopian experts’ capacity on atomic science and it is the priority point.

Furthermore, Russia has also interested to give trainings and scholarship for Ethiopian media communication experts. The two countries have agreed to open Ethiopian media to Russia and the vice versa. In this regard, the agreement was signed between the Government Communication Service State Minister Selamawit Kassa and Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of Russia, Bela Cherkesova who were participating at St. Petersburg, Russia. Building vibrant media is significantly useful to show the history, culture, and diplomatic ties of two countries, it was learnt.


The Ethiopian Herald July 30/2023

Mali Strengthening Financial Resilience to Recurrent Droughts


July 28, 2023

Photo: Vincent Tremeau, World Bank

Recurrent droughts have altered the characteristics and composition of Mali’s vegetation. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists that are typically found in the arid and semiarid areas in the north, where rainfall is less than 400 mm per year, are especially vulnerable to the impact of climate shocks. Considering Mali’s bouts of recurrent drought, floods, and locust invasions in recent years and their major economic and social impacts, the latest World Bank Economic Update on Mali provides keen insights into this climate shock.

The 2023 Economic Update for Mali notes that droughts are adversely affecting the livestock sector, one of the most important economic sectors in Mali and the region. Livestock farming accounts for 40% of the GDP of the primary sector and about 15% of national GDP, is a source of livelihood for 85% of farmers, and generates income for approximately 30% of the population (roughly six million persons). In addition, Mali has the second largest herd in the ECOWAS region after Nigeria with 60.1 million head of cattle in 2019.

According to the study, Mali experienced at least 40 major climate shocks between 1970 and 2020. For example, drought is estimated to have affected approximately 400,000 persons each year and led to $9.5 million in lost earnings from crops annually. Locust infestations in 1985-1988 and 2003-2005 destroyed millions of hectares of crops, but their impact on the populations was not measured.

In terms of negative impacts, the report notes that droughts can also lead to conflict or exacerbate existing ones whenever pastoralists move into regions such as cropping areas and rangeland being used by others. The rise in jihadist insurgencies since 2017 has increased ethnic tensions and violence, particularly in the central regions, and further heightened the vulnerability of pastoralists. The loss of productive assets and looting related to violence and security incidents have disrupted markets and household livelihoods in the affected areas.

To cope with the effects of  droughts, pastoralists have had to flee their drought-stricken villages in search of other water sources and pastures. The World Bank report also notes that while mobility is an effective strategy used by pastoralists to protect their assets, especially during droughts, it can induce conflicts with farmers in sedentary agricultural production systems. The report further states that in many cases, pastoralists often opt for the quick sale of their animals at low prices to buy food as their main coping strategy. This is a detrimental approach, as it depletes key assets that are difficult to recover once droughts have ended, thereby making households even more vulnerable to the next drought.

In response, the report calls for the establishment of instruments to protect such key sectors as pastoralism and agriculture, thus suggesting that it is possible to “strengthen [the country’s] financial resilience to drought.” The introduction of such disaster risk financing and insurance instruments could reduce the adverse socioeconomic impacts of climate shocks and provide timely and targeted financing in response to or in anticipation of a shock. According to the World Bank study, about 15% of Mali’s land area is ideally suited to index-based disaster risk financing and insurance (IBDRFI) for pastoralists, while an additional 10% could be deemed suitable after further analysis.

With respect to the country’s macroeconomic outlook, the report indicates that Mali achieved resilient GDP growth despite multiple shocks in 2022, including ECOWAS sanctions, food inflation, and parasite infestations affecting cotton production. An estimated GDP growth rate of 1.8% is supported by the recovery of food agriculture and the resilience of the gold and telecommunications sectors. Average annual inflation increased to 9.7% in 2022, driven primarily by rising food costs.

Photo Exhibition of Nelson Mandela Opens in Moscow

By News Desk 

July 26, 2023

On July 18, 2023, the solemn opening of the photo exhibition Nelson Mandela. Life in Photographs was held in Moscow.

The exposition depicts various stages of the life of the outstanding African politician. It includes photographs as a child, pictures taken during his imprisonment, his photographs as President of South Africa, and many other captured episodes of his life.

The exhibition is dedicated to the 105th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and the promotion of the international initiative to erect a monument to the great African politician in Moscow.

This event was organized on the initiative of the Russian-African Club of Lomonosov Moscow State University in cooperation with the Moscow House of Nationalities, the Commission on Public Security and People’s Diplomacy of the Council for Nationalities under the Government of Moscow, the Public Diplomacy Foundation and the Cameroonian Diaspora of Russia ANO Diaspocam. The project was supported by the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum.

Representatives of African diplomatic missions and African diasporas, as well as foreign students of Russian universities came to get acquainted with rare photographs of the legendary Madib (this is the name Nelson Mandela is known in his homeland).

Alexander Fedorovich Berdnikov, Executive Secretary of the Russian-African Club, acted as the leading moderator at the opening of the photo exhibition.

Welcoming addresses to the exhibition guests were made by Ilya Vyacheslavovich Ilyin, First Vice-President of the Russian-African Club, Dean of the Faculty of Global Studies at Lomonosov MSU; Inna Vitalievna Andronova, Dean of the Faculty of Economics of the Peoples’ Friendship University, and Darya Vladimirovna Vanyukova, Researcher at the State Museum of Oriental Art.

All of them unanimously noted the outstanding role of Nelson Mandela in the struggle against the apartheid regime and the independence of African peoples from the colonial oppression of European countries.

The role of Moscow University in supporting Nelson Mandela, who was in prison at the time, was also highlighted by the speakers. This is evidenced by an archival photograph of the solemn meeting of the Council of Moscow State University on entrusting Nelson Mandela with the honorary doctor diploma of Moscow State University in 1988.

The USSR provided its comprehensive support in fighting for the freedom of the peoples of Africa. Today Russia continues to help the peoples of the African continent to strengthen their independence.

Then, Louis Gouend, Director of the Department for Interaction with African Diasporas and the Media of the Russian-African Club, guided a tour of the photo exhibition. He spoke about the brightest episodes of Madib’s biography and his difficult fate.

The photo exhibition tour continued with a visit to other expositions dedicated to Africa. More than 70 works of art by masters from Ghana, Benin, Ethiopia, Uganda, Madagascar, Nigeria, Angola and a sculptor from Burkina Faso were presented to the attention of visitors.

African artists living and working in Russia occupy a special place in the exposition.

At the end of the event, the guests of the photo exhibition were in for a surprise.

African students of the Moscow Polytechnic University have prepared a creative program in honor of the 105th anniversary of Nelson Mandela. They sang the song Bella Ciao, read poems by Eduard Asadov and Anna Akhmatova.

The Russian-African Club is grateful to the leadership and staff of the Moscow House of Nationalities for the opportunity to carry out a very significant project for Russian-African relations. Proposals are already being received to extend the exposure of the photo exhibition in a number of Russian higher educational institutions.

It should be noted that the next step will be the erection of a monument to Nelson Mandela in Moscow.

WHO Commends Tanzania for Controlling Marburg Viral Disease

By Xinhua 

July 30, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday commended Tanzania for its unwavering efforts that resulted in the control of Marburg viral disease (MVD).

The commendation was given by the new WHO representative to Tanzania Charles Sagoe-Moses when he presented his credentials to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Stergomena Lawrence Tax, in Dar es Salaam, the economic hub of Tanzania, the ministry said in a statement.

“A good example is how Tanzania took efforts and achieved to control Marburg viral disease in Kagera region,” he said in reference to the declaration by the WHO in early June on the end of the MVD outbreak which was confirmed on March 21 in the northwestern Kagera region.

A total of nine cases — eight confirmed and one probable — and six deaths were recorded in the outbreak after laboratory analysis confirmed that the cause of deaths and illnesses that were reported earlier in the region was Marburg.

Sagoe-Moses also said the WHO will continue cooperating with Tanzania in the fight against diseases and epidemics.

Tax said Tanzania and the WHO have been working closely in fighting and controlling diseases and epidemics, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tanzania’s Dodoma Region of Tanzania Known to Have Vast Minerals Deposit

By Xinhua 

July 30, 2023

Workers at Phoenix Metals Ltd push bags of minerals after weighing them at the plant yesterday. (John Mbanda)

The Geological Survey of Tanzania (GST) said in its survey released Saturday that the country’s central region of Dodoma has the highest deposits of different types of critical minerals.

Maswi Solomon, the geological manager of the GST, said the survey carried out by the state-run GST has shown that Dodoma boasts four critical minerals.

According to the survey undertaken in mainland Tanzania in collaboration with stakeholders, minerals found in the Dodoma region were lithium, chrysoprase, iron, nickel, uranium and gypsum.

Critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies — from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles.

Speaking after the GST official handed over the survey, the Dodoma regional commissioner Rosemary Senyamule said the survey will help the region to promote investment in the mining sector.

One of the roles of the GST is to acquire geoscientific data and information from new areas and mineral prospects to encourage further evaluation by the private sector.

Ghana: Hundreds Mark PANAFEST, Revisit Cultural Traumas that Led to Slave Trade

Performance at PANAFEST

Africa News

28/07 - 13:01

Hundreds of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora have converged at Ghana's historic site, Elmina Castle, to celebrate history and relieve cultural traumas that led to the Atlantic slave trade. Called PANAFEST, the celebration was organised by the Upper East Regional office of the Ghana Tourism Authority under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in collaboration with the PANAFEST Secretariat.

"The idea of pan-Africanism is still an idea that is in the formulation to manifestation and maturity and that idea of pan-Africanism of bringing the African people together as one to be empowered of ourselves. It deserves its own rituals and ceremonies that are symbolic of bringing the African spirit together" Rabbi Kohain Halevi, Pan African Festival of Arts and Culture Convener.

The event, which was on the theme: “Reclaiming the African family: confronting the past to face the challenges of the 21st Century”, was interspersed with cultural dance performances by the Sandema War Dancers and the Sakoti Dancers.

"People still ask me how is Ghana doing because this is the hub of all these African slave trade. Even though it is abolished but it is still in the memory of people so they want to see actually where it did happen and this is the place so it’s time for them to come" Nana Kojo Eduakwa, Protocol officer.

Organizers said next year's celebration would start at Pikworo since the region was home to several historical sites, including the regional museum. This was to remind everyone that everything about the slave trade started from Pikworo. official delegations from countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America took part in the event.

"It’s not only about suffering even though the suffering still remains. I think what connects us now is the resistance. It is what has remained, because in Brazilian culture they are so many things that come from Africa and that we only realise once we come here"  Luiza Horta, a Brazilian diplomat said.

PANAFEST is celebrated from July 23 to August 2 every year in Ghana.

Senegal Opposition Leader Charged in Criminal Case

FILE - Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko addresses journalists following his release from police custody in Dakar, Senegal, on March 8, 2021. Sonko has been charged with conspiracy against the state and calls for insurrections among other offenses, said the public prosecutor on Saturday, July 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui, File)


2:02 PM EDT, July 29, 2023

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has been charged with conspiracy against the state and calls for insurrections among other offenses, the public prosecutor said Saturday.

The announcement comes weeks after Sonko was convicted on separate charges of corrupting youth and sentenced to two years in prison, which ignited deadly protests across the nation.

Prosecutor Abdou Karim Diop made the announcement on state television, a day after Sonko’s lawyer said he was taken into custody for questioning at the police courthouse in the capital, Dakar.

In June, Sonko was acquitted on charges of raping a woman who worked at a massage parlor and making death threats against her. But he was convicted on a lighter sentence of corrupting young people, which includes using one’s position of power to have sex with people under age 21. Corrupting youth is a criminal offense in Senegal that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to more than $6,000.

The conviction led to deadly clashes across the country between Sonko supporters and police, where at least 23 people were killed and dozens injured.

Sonko placed third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is popular with the country’s youth. His supporters maintain the charges against him are part of a government effort to derail his candidacy in the 2024 presidential election.

Sonko’s ongoing legal battles may bar him from running. Once in prison, he can ask for a retrial for his June conviction.

Saturday’s charges are separate, said the public prosecutor. The accusations include calling an insurrection, criminal conspiracy to commit terrorism, compromising public security and theft.

It is unclear what led to the charges. Sonko has mostly stayed in his house since being sentenced to prison.

In a tweet posted shortly before his arrest on Friday afternoon, Sonko said a team of soldiers were breaking down the door following an altercation with secret service agents who were taking videoing him.

Friday evening, an AP reporter saw around 20 protesters burning tires in the middle of the road in Parcelles Assainies, an outer neighborhood of Dakar.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

EU, African Union Escalate Pressure on Niger’s Coup Leaders

EU suspends financial aid to Niger, while the AU calls on the military to return to their barracks.

General Abdourahmane Tiani, who was declared as the new head of state of Niger by leaders of a coup, arrives to meet with ministers in Niamey, Niger July 28, 2023.

29 Jul 2023

The European Union has said it is suspending financial support and cooperation on security with Niger following this week’s military coup, as the African Union called on the coup’s military leaders to return to their barracks.

The commander of Niger’s presidential guard General Abdourahamane Tchiani on Friday declared himself the head of a transitional government after his soldiers took President Mohamed Bazoum into custody on Wednesday.

“In addition to the immediate cessation of budget support, all cooperation actions in the domain of security are suspended indefinitely with immediate effect,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on Saturday.

According to its website, the EU has allocated 503 million euros ($554m) from its budget to improve governance, education and sustainable growth in Niger over the 2021-2024 period.

Borrell’s statement also said Bazoum “remains the only legitimate president of Niger” and called for his immediate release and for holding the coup leaders to account for the safety of the president and his family.

Borrell said the EU was ready to support future decisions taken by West Africa’s regional bloc, “including the adoption of sanctions”.

Earlier, the United States’ top diplomat also offered his “unflagging support” to Niger’s overthrown leader, warning his captors that hundreds of millions of dollars of assistance could be at risk if democratic norms were not restored.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Bazoum in a phone call that Washington would work to re-establish the constitutional order after his toppling in the coup, the state department said on Friday.

Blinken also “praised Bazoum’s role in promoting security not only in Niger but the wider West Africa region”.

Blinken’s comments came after he told Bazoum earlier in the week that Washington’s support of the landlocked African nation would depend on its “democratic governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights”.

In an address on state television on Friday, the 62-year-old General Tchiani said he had taken control of the government to prevent “the gradual and inevitable demise” of the country.

‘Return to barracks’

The African Union also demanded the military in Niger “return to their barracks and restore constitutional authority” within 15 days since it grabbed power.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council “demands the military personnel to immediately and unconditionally return to their barracks and restore constitutional authority, within a maximum period of fifteen (15) days”, it said in a communique following a meeting Friday on the Niger coup.

The group said it “condemns in the strongest terms possible” the overthrow of the elected government, and expressed deep concern over the “alarming resurgence” of military coups in Africa.

Tchiani previously led the resistance to a failed coup in March 2021, when troops tried to take over the presidential palace days before the swearing-in of the then-newly elected Bazoum.

The pro-West Bazoum’s election marked the first peaceful transfer of power since Niger gained its independence from France in 1960.

Niger, which borders seven African countries including Libya, Chad and Nigeria, is seen by the US and former colonial ruler France as an important partner to address security threats in the region.

The country is the largest recipient of US military assistance in West Africa, having received an estimated $500m in assistance to the country since 2012.

The country also hosts more than 2,000 Western troops, mostly from the US and France.



The Officers' Union for International Security (OUIS), considered by Washington to be a front company for Wagner in the Central African Republic, on Thursday evening shared a message attributed to Prigozhin.

A video grab taken from handout footage posted on June 24, 2023 on the Telegram account of the press service of Concord - a company linked to the chief of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin shows him speaking inside the headquarters of the Russian southern military district in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Handout / TELEGRAM/ @concordgroup_official / AFP

AFP | 28 July 2023 13:22

MOSCOW - A Russian organisation affiliated with the Wagner mercenary group shared a message apparently from its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who said the events in Niger were part of the nation's fight against "colonisers".

The Officers' Union for International Security (OUIS), considered by Washington to be a front company for Wagner in the Central African Republic, on Thursday evening shared a message attributed to Prigozhin.

While the voice in the audio message resembles that of Prigozhin, AFP was unable to confirm its authenticity.

Prigozhin has been out of the public eye since the mercenary group's short-lived rebellion against Russia's top military brass last month.

"What happened in Niger is nothing more than the struggle of the people of Niger against colonisers, who tried to impose their own rules of life," the message said.

The message noted "former colonisers are trying to keep the people of African countries in check" and "fill these countries with terrorists and various gangs, creating a colossal security crisis".

"In order to maintain their actual slave system in the territories of these states, they deploy various foreign missions, which number tens of thousands of soldiers," the statement attributed to Prigozhin said.

It added that "these tens of thousands of soldiers are not capable of protecting the population of sovereign states. The population is suffering".

Wagner has for years been a major player in the security sphere in Africa but its overseas operations have been called into question by its leader's failed revolt.

Prigozhin hailed the "effectiveness" of the Wagner force saying a thousand of its fighters "are able to restore order and destroy terrorists, preventing them from harming the civilian population".

Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum has been confined to his residence since Wednesday by coup plotters in the west African nation.

The alleged statements from Prigozhin come as Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts African leaders for a Russia-Africa summit in his native Saint Petersburg.