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21
June


Last weekend, it was revealed that the spike of active Covid-19 cases in Indonesia over the last six days had entered a very high phase. The number of active Covid-19 cases was found to have increased by 22,350. On June 18, 2021, the average number of active cases in Indonesia even reached 6.87 per cent, while the world was only at 6.5 per cent.

In addition to Indonesia, the spread of the Corona virus has also increased sharply globally. Deaths from the coronavirus, both old and new variants worldwide, crossed the 4-million mark on Thursday (17/6), amid high efforts by countries to provide Covid-19 vaccines to their populations. Based on Reuters records, it took more than a year to touch the first 2 million deaths from Covid-19. However, aadditional 2 million deaths were recorded in just 166 days. The top five countries with the highest total number of deaths from Covid-19 are the United States, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico. These five countries represent about 50% of all deaths worldwide.

The fact or description of the global distribution of Covid-19 is still far from the expected improvement. Indonesia is one of the countries, which is struggling to improve this condition. The total lockdown option has not yet been implemented in Indonesia. However, the Large-Scale Social Restrictions and tightened Community Activity Restrictions have been enforced. Meanwhile, the provision of vaccines continues to be increased throughout the country. These efforts must, of course, be accompanied by consistent enforcement of strict health protocols, a healthy way of life, and other supporting factors in a long term.

18
June

 

Three cognate countries are a term that is often used to name Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. All of them have Malay roots, speak Malay and have large followers of Islam in the Southeast Asian region. Recently, news has circulated that the three countries, which are known to always support Palestine and oppose Israel, actually attracted the attention of Israeli Ambassador to Singapore, Sagi Karni. On Thursday (17/6), he said that he wants to build relations with Muslim-majority countries in Southeast Asia.

In fact, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam are consistent supporters of Palestine and condemned the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza last May. Ambassador Sagi Karni said the criticism from the leaders of the three countries was "dishonest" and ignored "the true nature of the conflict." He also remarked that the conflict was between Israel and Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

The three countries to date have absolutely no diplomatic relations with Israel. They are also the loudest in asking for United Nations intervention to stop Israel's attacks last May.

There is a reason why Israel, through its Ambassador in Singapore, dared to hope to approach the three ASEAN countries to explain its version of the background to the attacks on Palestinians last May. At the end of 2020, four Islamic countries in the Middle East; Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

So far, Indonesia does not want to have bilateral relations with Israel because of its solidarity with Palestine. Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi in her statement said that Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and will keep supporting Palestine to fight for and gain independence and its rights as a sovereign state. Meanwhile, Malaysia, since its independence in 1957, has refused diplomatic relations with Israel. As a Muslim-majority country, Malaysia has a desire to foster solidarity with Arab countries in opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Israel's desire to get close to major Muslim countries in Southeast Asia must of course be based on a basic principle, namely, the recognition of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in addition to respecting for universally applicable human rights enforcement.

16
June

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ended his reign after 13 years. He was removed from power by the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, on Sunday 13 June 2021. Benjamin Netanyahu was later replaced by Naftali Bennet, his former ally, with whom he has been ideologically opposed for several years. Naftali Bennett won  in the Knesset by just one vote namely, 60 against  59 for Netanyahu.

For the Palestinians, especially the HAMAS group, the election of Naftali Bennet does not raise good hopes. Hamas authorities are suspicious of Bennet.  He and his coalition party, are seen as unlikely to change Israel's attitude towards Palestine. After the election of Bennet, the Hamas group from the Gaza Strip confirmed that it would continue to fight against Israel.

Naftalie Bennet is the leader of the far-right party, which frequently calls for the takeover of the Palestinian territories. He had been active in the military and was known to be very anti-Iranian. Naftalie Bennet, 49, is also known to be a millionaire and tech savvy. The former protégé of Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized his teacher several times for being indecisive towards Palestinian Hamas.

US President Joe Biden has congratulated Naftalie Bennet. Meanwhile, the election of the new Prime Minister of Israel has not received a reaction from Arab countries. What is clear is Hammas' tough stance in responding to Netanyahu being replaced by the hard-line Israeli figure. There is a question about the possibility that has been frequently mentioned by various parties recently, namely  the existence of a diplomatic approach to push for Israel's recognition of Palestine as a fully independent state.

What is certain is that the factors of the United States and Iran and the attitude of Arab countries will still greatly determine the existence of new constructive steps for the realization of a sovereign Palestinian state

11
June

 

The Tokyo Olympics is going to be held on July 23, 2021. This world sporting event has been postponed for a year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Currently, it is still a question for many parties how Tokyo will hold the world event and make Japanese volunteers, athletes, officials and people safe from the Covid-19. Due to the fact that up to now, Japan is still in great efforts to control the number of Covid-19. It is reported that 10 prefectures in Japan, including Tokyo, are still under a state of emergency until June 20, 2021. On Tuesday (1/6), Japan started vaccinating its athletes who will take part in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The Japanese government in its latest data mentions only about 3 percent of the 128 million populations who have received vaccinations. There have been 74,000 cases of Covid-19 with a death toll of up to 13,000 people.

The Japanese newspaper -Yomiuri conducted a survey on June 4 – June 6, 2021 which revealed that 50 percent of respondents said the Olympics would be held this summer. About 26 percent of respondents said the Tokyo Olympics would not be possible without spectators. More than 48 percent of respondents said the sporting event would eventually be cancelled.

The survey also revealed that respondents' support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had declined to the lowest level of 37 percent. Most of the respondents said the reason was because they were tired of the bans imposed to stop the corona virus outbreak and the policies they felt were not enough to protect Olympic athletes and participants.

Since the beginning of the year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been encouraging athletes and Olympic committee teams from various countries to be vaccinated before they arrive in Japan.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made this event difficult to carry out. However, with the various efforts that have been made and the delay of a year, Japan seems determined to keep holding the Olympics amid this pandemic. After preparations that cost a lot of time, money, and energy, it seems that Japan really has no choice but to continue to hold the Olympics. Of course, there are various adjustments to health procedures to anticipate the Covid-19.

09
June

 

 

 

After the ASEAN envoy's visit to Myanmar, the resolution of the crisis in Myanmar has not yet shown a bright spot. Secretary General of ASEAN, Lim Joch Hoi and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Erywan Yusuf, Friday, June 4, 2021, visited Myanmar in order to realize the Consensus of Asean Leaders at the meeting in Jakarta. The mission, which specifically met junta leader Henderal Min Aung Hlaing, was criticized by a rival government calling itself the National Unity Government, NUG. The Myanmar military junta's official television reported that the meeting had discussed humanitarian assistance. In addition, the ASEAN envoy also discussed the election plan with General Min Aung Hlaing who promised to hold it when the situation was conducive.

 

The NUG rival government responded to the meeting and its outcome with skepticism. They were disappointed because, as at the high-level meeting in Jakarta, the shadow government was not invited. During the visit of two ASEAN envoys to Myanmar last Friday, they also did not get a chance to meet.

 

The NUG's doubts about the results of the ASEAN meeting are quite reasonable. After the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta in April, the military junta continued to use violence against protesters. At least 800 protesters and civilians have been killed as a result of the military's actions in handling the protests since the military coup four months ago. The junta leaders seem to feel that the consensus, which is the outcome of the Jakarta high-level meeting, is not a binding decision that must be implemented. After returning from Jakarta on April 24, Myanmar's military authorities even arrested 3000 anti-government people and killed at least 200 others.

 

On the other hand, ASEAN member countries are also ambiguous in their attitude towards Myanmar's military authorities. Reportedly, Singapore and Thailand have started to cooperate with the military government by making investments. ASEAN's stance is not as firm as the European Union and the United States, which strongly condemn the junta's actions and carry out an embargo on the economic access of Myanmar military officials.

 

The exclusion of the NUG element by ASEAN in an effort to find a solution in Myanmar, in addition to causing apathy towards ASEAN, has also strengthened resistance to the junta. It is feared that this situation could be used as an excuse for the military authorities to take tough action against protesters and postpone the election because the situation is not considered conducive.

 

For ASEAN, the principle of non-intervention, as well as the ambiguous attitude of some of its members due to the interests of investment and economic cooperation, is the cause of the absence of a firm attitude and more concrete action. In this case, ASEAN really needs to get back together to state its commitment to seriously address the crisis in one of its member countries. This is none other than to prevent a civil war that could tear the country apart and make its people suffer more.

 

 

 

ASEAN's Action In The Myanmar Crisis

After the ASEAN envoy's visit to Myanmar, the resolution of the crisis in Myanmar has not yet shown a bright spot. Secretary General of ASEAN, Lim Joch Hoi and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Erywan Yusuf, Friday, June 4, 2021, visited Myanmar in order to realize the Consensus of Asean Leaders at the meeting in Jakarta. The mission, which specifically met junta leader Henderal Min Aung Hlaing, was criticized by a rival government calling itself the National Unity Government, NUG. The Myanmar military junta's official television reported that the meeting had discussed humanitarian assistance. In addition, the ASEAN envoy also discussed the election plan with General Min Aung Hlaing who promised to hold it when the situation was conducive.

The NUG rival government responded to the meeting and its outcome with skepticism. They were disappointed because, as at the high-level meeting in Jakarta, the shadow government was not invited. During the visit of two ASEAN envoys to Myanmar last Friday, they also did not get a chance to meet.

The NUG's doubts about the results of the ASEAN meeting are quite reasonable. After the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta in April, the military junta continued to use violence against protesters. At least 800 protesters and civilians have been killed as a result of the military's actions in handling the protests since the military coup four months ago. The junta leaders seem to feel that the consensus, which is the outcome of the Jakarta high-level meeting, is not a binding decision that must be implemented. After returning from Jakarta on April 24, Myanmar's military authorities even arrested 3000 anti-government people and killed at least 200 others.

On the other hand, ASEAN member countries are also ambiguous in their attitude towards Myanmar's military authorities. Reportedly, Singapore and Thailand have started to cooperate with the military government by making investments. ASEAN's stance is not as firm as the European Union and the United States, which strongly condemn the junta's actions and carry out an embargo on the economic access of Myanmar military officials.

The exclusion of the NUG element by ASEAN in an effort to find a solution in Myanmar, in addition to causing apathy towards ASEAN, has also strengthened resistance to the junta. It is feared that this situation could be used as an excuse for the military authorities to take tough action against protesters and postpone the election because the situation is not considered conducive.

For ASEAN, the principle of non-intervention, as well as the ambiguous attitude of some of its members due to the interests of investment and economic cooperation, is the cause of the absence of a firm attitude and more concrete action. In this case, ASEAN really needs to get back together to state its commitment to seriously address the crisis in one of its member countries. This is none other than to prevent a civil war that could tear the country apart and make its people suffer more.

 

04
June

 

As the world is dealing with Covid-19, AFP news agency on Friday (4/6/2021) reported that at least 40 countries, including countries in East and South Africa are now on track to achieve a 90-percent reduction in AIDS-related deaths by 2030. In a report, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS said that 37.6 million people worldwide were living with HIV in 2020. Of that total, 27.4 million, or more than three times the number in 2010, received treatment. A condition that is quite encouraging and makes one optimistic that AIDS can be conquered by 2030. As an epidemic disease that destroys the immune system, it is hoped that AIDS can be controlled by 2030. Currently, the number of patients and deaths has decreased. According to the BBC, Thursday (July 17, 2014), the United Nations Aids Agency said that to reduce the rate of the spread of AIDS, further international efforts and cooperation were needed. The steps being taken now have not been able to end the spread of the disease yet.

What needs to be a concern now is how to keep the spirit of overcoming AIDS from being hampered in the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic. The AIDS-free target by 2030 that has been proclaimed must be secured in a pandemic. In fact, amid the coronavirus pandemic like now, a strong immune system is needed. Of course, this is a challenge for AIDS sufferers.

Whether people with HIV and AIDS are more susceptible to Covid-19 is actually still being studied. Citing the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of Covid-19 for everyone is the same, including those who have or do not have HIV. People of all ages who have serious medical conditions may be at higher risk of developing severe illness because they have a weak immune system. Thus, the risk of people with HIV/AIDS being infected with the corona virus is very large. It is hoped that with comprehensive steps amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the AIDS-free target by 2030 can be achieved.

02
June

 

After the General Elections that re-established Bashar al Assad as President of Syria, the country is still an arena for the struggle for influence of Russia, the European Union and the United States.

As is known, in the elections held last Wednesday, Bashar Al Asaad won 95 percent of the vote and made him President of Syria for a fourth term. Syrian Parliament Speaker Hammouda Sabbagh told a news conference that 78 percent of voters had cast their ballots. With the implementation of the election, the Syrian government emphasized that the country was running normally even though there was an armed conflict that had lasted for 10 years, and was being hit by Covid 19.

The results of the general election that re-installed Bashar Al Assad have been criticized by European Union countries and the United States. Before the election was held, the European Union and the United States issued a joint statement that considered it a fabrication of Bashar Al Assad. The United Nations has called for elections in Syria to be held with international oversight. The United Nations hopes that the results of such election will be able to encourage the birth of a new law that becomes a way for conflict resolution.

Instead of criticizing the implementation and results of the election, Russia, which is an ally of Bashar Al Assad, welcomed the results of the election that re-established Bashar Al Assad as President of Syria. With his victory, Bashar Al Assad will rule for another 7 years and continue the reign of the Al Assad family which has lasted for half a century. Bashar's father, Hafez Al Assad, previously ruled Syria for 30 years until 2000. The bloody conflict in Syria began in 2011 during the reign of Bashar Al Assad. The demonstrations in line with the Arab Spring phenomenon eventually turned into civil war which later attracted countries supporting and opposing Bashar Al Assad. As a result, millions of people were displaced, thousands died and the Syrian people lived in poverty.

The election, which is widely considered to be full of fraud and controversy, can be expected to not be able to resolve the bloody conflict that has also damaged infrastructure and beautiful historical heritage. The absence of an internal solution as well as the influence and intervention of foreign countries will make the country that used to be called Sham and known to be prosperous will continue to be torn apart with the suffering of the people.

31
May

 

The Indonesian economy has entered a recovery path from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, making it the right time for foreign investors to invest in Indonesia. This was affirmed by Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI), Perry Warjiyo during the Indonesia Investment Forum 2021 held by the Indonesian Embassy in London, England more recently. He said there were three reasons that attracted foreign investors to Indonesia. The first is optimism for economic recovery. This year, the Indonesian economy is predicted to grow positively in the range of 4.1-5.1%. The sources of economic growth this year are strong export performance, increased private investment and consumption, and continued monetary and fiscal stimulus. In addition, the inflation rate and financial system stability will also be maintained. Second reason is the establishment of close policy coordination among the government, central bank and related authorities that gave birth to fiscal and monetary policies in line with structural reforms to create jobs and spur investment. The third one is the digitalization of the economy that has accelerated very quickly amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, data from the Investment Coordinating Board show that the realization of investment that entered Indonesia in the first quarter of 2021, was recorded at around 25.66 percent of this year's investment target, consisting  of domestic and foreign investments.

Based on the reports, the largest foreign investment for the January-March 2021 period includes the Motor Vehicle Industry and Other Transportation Equipment sector, Food and Beverage Industry, Transportation, Warehouse and Telecommunication, Mining and the Non-ferrous Base Metal Manufacturing Industry with an investment realization value of US $ 1.8 billion.

The realization of foreign investment, which reached 50.8% of total investment, shows the growing world confidence in the investment climate and investment potential in Indonesia. According to Governor Perry Warjiyo, this occurred because of the cooperation of all parties who helped drive investment growth, especially amid the current Covid-19 pandemic. All elements of society must participate to continue to reduce the rate of spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and prevent the explosion of the second wave from occurring in Indonesia. If it fails, it is possible, the efforts that have been made to attract foreign investors into the country could be hampered.

28
May

 

Syria's political atmosphere has begun to be in the spotlight of the world with elections taking place without involving the United Nations -UN and has received criticism from various countries. The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy on Tuesday (25/05) released a statement calling the Syrian elections held on Wednesday (26/05) "neither free nor fair." The five Western countries claim that the election this time was a fraud orchestrated by President Bashar al-Assad, who according to Reuter ended up winning with 95% of the vote. These countries also noted that the elections in a conflict-ridden country like Syria should be under UN supervision "with the highest international standards of transparency and accountability".

What is interesting to note is the relationship between the United States and western countries with Syria. The civil war in Syria which began in 2011 is known to be very complex and has brought about many victims. Initially, the United States and its allies were involved because they wanted to overthrow the government of President Bashar Al Assad and the ISIS terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. Even so, The US avoided direct combat with Assad's supporting forces.

Recently, the US also blockaded Iran and Lebanon's Shiite militias Hezbollah from being permanently present in Syria for fear of threatening Israel. Meanwhile, Assad is in a position to continue to maintain his power by involving supporting countries such as Russia and China

The situation in Syria is indeed very complex, especially with the involvement of many countries, not only the US and its allies but also several other countries with their respective interests. It is hoped that resolution efforts will be taken by the parties by prioritizing the notion that this conflict has been too long with so many casualties.

26
May

 

America  plans to reopen its Consulate in Palestinian Jerusalem. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made this statement on Tuesday local time. Previously, the US Consulate was closed in 2019. The closure was carried out while President Donald Trump was still in office. In 2017, Donald Trump also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and then moved his embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. At that time, several countries such as Russia, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Mexico, Portugal, Australia, Poland and Sweden rejected the invitation to inaugurate the transfer, whether for technical reasons or principles.

The status of Jerusalem is one of many highly emotional and controversial issues that have sparked the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides claim the city as their capital. As a background, when Britain's mandate on Palestine ended in 1947, the United Nations passed a resolution calling for an Arab-Palestinian state and a state of Israel living  side by side safely and declaring Jerusalem an international city. But in the first Arab-Israeli war a year later, Israel captured the western part of the city of Jerusalem, and Jordan took control of the eastern part. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel succeeded in controlling east Jerusalem, and at the same time declared the city the capital of Israel. The American Embassy itself had been opened since 1948 in Tel Aviv, while in Jerusalem there was an American consulate office.

The conditions of the open conflict between Israel and Palestine have never subsided. Indeed, on May 21, a ceasefire was reached, but a few hours later, clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians occurred again.

Naturally, the world hopes that there will be steps to maintain and bring about peace which is jointly pursued. Both by the warring parties and the surrounding countries. According to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the US has taken steps to re-open its Consulate in Jerusalem as a form of support for Palestine. Something doubted by many, considering that the US has always stated that Israel is its main ally in the Middle East.

Hopefully there will be communication made both by the international community through the United Nations and other organizations so that there are steps that can reduce the Israeli and Palestinian conflicts.

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