In our event “The New Normal”, we explore how the world will deal with the twists and turns of 2020, amid the consequences of Covid-19 and beyond. FRANCE 24 provides you with a selection of original reports from our correspondents and teams around the world.
>> The fighting has stopped in Nagorno-Karabagh, but neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia accuse each other of using white phosphorus incendiary bombs during the conflict. These weapons are not explicitly prohibited under international law, but their use is controversial because of the cruelty they inflict. Luke Shrago, Roméo Langlois and Mohamed Farhat reported from a hospital in Yerevan.
>> Meanwhile Ethiopia, the army’s offensive in the northern region of the Tigray rebels threatens regional stability. Thousands of refugees flew in the fighting. Our correspondents Maria Gerth-Niculescu and Bastien Renouil report on the difficult humanitarian situation in the camps along the border with Sudan.
>> Now for Brazil where the Yanomami, an indigenous tribe living in the Amazon rainforest, struggle to retrieve the bodies of their community members who were killed by the coronavirus. They want to bury it in their customary land. Our correspondent, Valeria Saccone, and her team went to meet them.
>> We’re over Israel, where two Jewish communities struggle to gain access to the Asi. One group, who live on a kibboutz planted before Israel was founded, have privatized the stream, while residents of a nearby town want to be allowed to swim in it. The case, which reveals much about divisions in Israeli society, has ended in court. Our correspondents Irris Makler and Gwendoline Debono report.
Pakistan on Tuesday congratulated Azerbaijan on the liberation of their main territory from occupied Armenia.
“We congratulate the government and the brotherhood of the Azerbaijan people on the liberation of their territory,” said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ministry expressed hope that this will lead to an era of “stability and prosperity” in the region and “will pave the way for the return of internally displaced persons to their ancestral lands”.
“Pakistan consistently supports the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh dispute in accordance with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” he continued.
The trilateral agreement facilitated by Russia, said the statement further, offered a “new” opportunity to build peace in the South Caucus region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday morning that two former Soviet republics had signed an agreement to end the conflict in Upper Karabakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev hailed the agreement as a victory for his country, saying Baku’s military success had allowed it to gain the upper hand to end the three-decade occupation of its territory.
The Turkish leadership also welcomed the ceasefire, calling it a “big victory” for Azerbaijan.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have remained tense since 1991, but new clashes broke out on 27 September.
Armenia repeatedly attacked civilians and Azerbaijani troops for more than 40 days, even violating three humanitarian ceasefire agreements.
Apart from other towns and villages, Baku’s liberation of the strategic city of Shusha on Sunday has signaled victory is imminent.
Horses painted in the colors of the Turkish and Azerbaijani flags, to express solidarity with Ankara and Baku, were paraded at the summit of an international tent-setting tournament in Pakistan’s northeastern Punjab province on Sunday.
“This is a small show of solidarity with our brothers in Turkey and Azerbaijan,” Sultan Bahadur Aziz, an international tent maker and one of the organizers, told Anadolu Agency.
“We present this tournament to the Azerbaijan brothers and sisters who were martyred in the war against Armenia,” he said, referring to the ongoing clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 27 September. “All Pakistan stands with Azerbaijan during this trial.”
Turkey, he added, has stood beside Pakistan through hardships and hardships, and “we are grateful for that.”
The two-day event held in the Khushab district was attended by around 50 riders from the US, Canada and Norway as well as the locals.
Offering condolences for the loss of life and destruction caused by Friday’s massive earthquake in Izmir, Turkey’s third largest city, Aziz said all Pakistanis share the pain and sorrow of the Turkish nation.
Tent pegging is a popular sport in rural Pakistan. Dozens of small and large tournaments are held every year.
Ahead of the European Union summit scheduled for October 12, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) published a report alleging that Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok-type poison. The so-called cholinesterase inhibitor is not officially included on the list of banned substances, but the OPCW claims that its structure resembles that of other substances that have been banned.
The OPCW report forms the basis of statements by the French and German foreign ministers, who stated that the Kremlin has not yet given a satisfactory response to attacks “on Russian soil, against Russian opposition figures, using a military nerve agent developed by Russia.” a plausible explanation for Navalny’s poisoning other than Russian involvement and responsibility. “
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas threatened: “It is clear that if these events are not resolved and the necessary information is not provided, targeted and disruptive sanctions against those responsible on the Russian side will not be avoided. Russia should not let this happen. “
According to the French daily WorldThe EU will discuss sanctions on Monday against nine senior Russian officials, including members of the presidential administration and the security apparatus.
In response to the OPCW report and statements from Berlin and Paris, Russian officials issued angry reprimands. Russia’s envoy to the OPCW, Ambassador Alexander Shulgin, said: “Russia doesn’t owe anyone anything. Both to Germany and other countries which have firmly and baselessly accused Russia of poisoning Alexei Navalny. We don’t have to explain ourselves to them and we won’t. “
The Russian foreign ministry repeated its call for an analysis of the tests and results produced by the German army’s laboratory in Munich. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, “We are surprised that the EU is functioning without a trial and investigation. They demanded that we carry out an investigation, but the same Germans didn’t give us any facts. “Earlier this week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marina Zakharovra said” there is no business as usual “between Berlin, Paris and Moscow unless France and Germany change course in the Navalny case.
Nothing published by the OPCW and the imperialist powers can be underestimated. The OPCW is notorious for providing the pretext for political and military intervention by imperialist powers. In 2018, that make a report, claiming, despite conflicting evidence from members of his own staff, that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. Thus providing the pretext for the French, British and US bombings of Syria.
Navalny’s alleged poisoning with Novichok raises a number of unanswered questions. First and foremost is how Navalny survived exposure to a very lethal nerve agent, and why no one who came into contact with him developed even mild symptoms. In the 2018 Salisbury incident, when former Russian secret service agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were allegedly poisoned with Novichok, at least one person died and one became seriously ill from minimal exposure to the poison. The entire building must be evacuated.
However, in Navalny’s case, no one on the plane he was traveling from Tomsk to Moscow reported any symptoms. Nor have any of its staff members – not even those who rescued the bottle from his hotel that was said to contain Novichok, according to the German army lab – suffered any repercussions.
Leonid Rink, one of the developers of the Novichok agency, told the Russian press that the substances detected by the OPCW were actually non-toxic and ineffective as poison.
In a bizarre two-hour interview with Russian YouTube blogger Yuri Dud ‘this week, Navalny, now fully recovered, compared his feelings of poisoning and dying to the effects of the Dementors in the Harry Potter fantasy book. He and his wife cannot describe any part of his alleged poisoning without repeated references to novels and films.
When pressed by Dud ‘why he thought Putin had personally ordered his poisoning, Navalny insisted that it was primarily the fact that Novichok’s alleged use “proved” Putin’s direct involvement. In fact, there are plenty of other governments and security agencies capable of producing and deploying Novichok, if Novichok is actually used in this case. No evidence was provided for any Russian involvement, let alone Putin’s personal responsibility.
In the same interview, Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, claimed she was almost unaware of the involvement of the German and French governments in Navalny’s transfer to the Charité Berlin hospital, stating that the publicity she generated was decisive in making the transfer possible. In fact, it was revealed from the start that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was personally involved from the very beginning, urging that Navalny be transferred to Germany. He later also reportedly visited her at the hospital, receiving daily briefings about her condition.
Nowhere is the suspected Navalny poisoning exploited as aggressively as in Germany. Most German political institutions have taken advantage of this case to encourage a more aggressive attitude by Berlin and the rest of the European Union towards Russia. Navalny gave an interview to picture, calling former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who has close ties to Russia’s state-owned Gazprom company, as “Putin’s henchman.” He called for halting the near completion of the NordStream2 pipeline, which delivers gas from Russia directly to Germany, and sanctions members of Russia’s ruling elite.
Navalny’s case cannot be understood beyond the push by imperialist powers to fight amid an unprecedented crisis of capitalism fueled by the pandemic, rising social inequality and bitter geostrategic tensions. The EU’s aggressive attitude towards Russia is driven by rising class tensions in Europe amid an escalating pandemic. In addition, US-EU tensions, especially between Washington and Berlin, have escalated in recent years.
It is against this background that European imperialist powers seek to exploit the growing economic and political weaknesses of the post-Soviet Russian capitalist oligarchy. The past few months have seen mass protests and strikes against the Alexander Lukashenko regime in Belarus, the only government left on Russia’s western border that is not directly allied with NATO. The EU, with Germany and France at the front, has sought to support the pro-NATO opposition in Minsk, both to suppress and divert strikes and further undermine Russia’s geopolitical position.
In the Caucasus, war rages between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a religious and ethnic conflict that threatens to spill over into Russia’s North Caucasus. What’s more, in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s government rolled by an opposition party that has denounced the previous government’s close cooperation with Russia as a violation of Kyrgyzstan’s national sovereignty.
At the same time, Putin’s regime has been plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic, to which Russian oligarchs, such as the ruling class around the world, are responding with a de facto policy of “group immunity”. While Russia is now facing a revival of the pandemic, Moscow is preparing for further cuts health and social spending and has stated that no lockdowns will be put in place to stop the spread of the virus.
Amid this growing instability, imperialist powers are seeking to support the far-right opposition Alexei Navalny, notorious for his links to right-wing and regionalist powers in Russia, both to advance their geopolitical interests in the former Soviet Union, and to build a right-wing ally that can relied on in the violent suppression of working class opposition not only to the Putin regime but the capitalist system as a whole.
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and Canada said on Tuesday that there was an urgent need to stop military action in and around Nagorno-Karabakh and called on all parties to return to the negotiating table.
“Canada and Britain reaffirm the urgent need to end continued military action in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone,” said Foreign Minister Dominic Raab and Canadian Foreign Minister François-Phillippe Champagne.
“We are deeply concerned about the reports of shootings in civilian areas and would like to send our condolences to the families of those who tragically lost their lives.”
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, written by Sarah Young