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Editorial (903)

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.

24
May

 

Performing the Hajj in Mecca is an obligation for Muslims who are able to carry out financially at least once in a lifetime. In Indonesia where the majority of the population is Muslim, the implementation is even regulated by the state, the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The 2021 Hajj season is expected to fall in July. However, amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit the world, the Indonesian government is still waiting for confirmation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia whether it can send a group of prospective Hajj pilgrims this time. The reality that must be faced in various countries is that the number of Covid-19 cases is still high.

In early May this year, news circulated that Saudi Arabia had issued regulations related to the implementation of the Hajj in 2021. However, it has not officially announced which countries have received permits for pilgrims to depart for the pilgrimage. Reportedly, Saudi Arabia plans to set the 2021 haj quota of 45 thousand for pilgrims from outside and 15,000 from within the country. However, Indonesian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Agus Maftuh Abegebriel said that until Sunday, 23rd May 2021, there had not been an official statement from the Government of Saudi Arabia regarding this matter.

Seeing these developments, the Government of Indonesia needs to anticipate the disappointment of the prospective pilgrims who have expected to depart this year so as not to cause confusion and disappointment, especially after the cancellation of last year's departure due to the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic.

21
May

 

New Zealand is one of the countries that has successfully coped with the Covid-19 pandemic. Various events with a large number of participants have been carried out as usual there. On the other hand, other countries such as Singapore, for example, stated that they would close all school activities from Wednesday 19 May to 28 May 2021. In general, Singapore has decided to lock down from 14 May to 13 June 2021. This decision was taken as a result of the worsening spread of Covid-19, especially the number of communal cases since April 27. The  spike marks the start of the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Singapore. This is related to the spread of the corona virus variant B1617 India which is endemic in the Asian region.

Malaysia is still implementing a national lockdown until June. Meanwhile, Indonesia still hopes that there will not be an explosion in the number of Covid-19 cases post-Idul Fitri festivity.

The description mentioned is the condition experienced by countries that have been quite successful in dealing with Covid-19 (in this case New Zealand) and the countries that are still in the process of handling Covid-19 (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia). Of course, it is unfair to compare the efforts of one country to another in overcoming the Covid-19. Because, the size of the area that must be faced, the number of people with different cultures and compliance and the response of one country are different from each other.

A book edited by Professor Elizabeth King, a global health researcher at the University of Michigan in the USA, as quoted by BBC Indonesia earlier this year, reveals findings about a comparison of the efforts of several countries to tackle the first wave of the coronavirus in early 2020. It states that the demographic composition in each country will affect its handling. For example, Italy, more than a fifth of the country's population is over 65 years old, making it more vulnerable to Covid-19. It’s in contrast to Africa's younger population. Public health policy is also influenced by other factors, such as the system of government (democracy or autocracy), formal political institutions (federalism or presidentialism), and state capacity (control over the health care system and public administration). All of them contribute to each government's response to the Covid-19.

It takes solid cooperation and synergy within each country to overcome this pandemic. In addition, there is a need for togetherness in steps in various regions. Without common awareness, it seems that it will be difficult for Covid19 to completely disappear from the face of the earth.

19
May

 

More than 200 Palestinians, 63 of them children, have died as a result of the Israeli attack on the Palestinian Gaza territories. The attack between Israel and the Palestinian militias living in Gaza has resulted in the loss of Palestinian civilians far more than the Israelis. At least 217 Palestinians including children were killed by Israeli air raids on Gaza and 1400 injured. While on the Israeli side those who died from rockets of the Hamas militia numbering 12 people.

Since the conflict began on May 10, there has been no sign of Israel easing its attacks on Gaza on the west bank. The AFP news agency reported that more Palestinians died and were injured as a result of air raids on the Gaza Strip throughout Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The conflict, resulted from attacks by Israeli soldiers on Palestinians praying at the Al Aqsa Mosque a few days before Eid, hasn't shown any signs of abating. Israel has intensified its air strikes, while the Hamas militia also continues to launch rockets toward Israeli territory.

The reason Hamas launched the rocket attack was to retaliate against the Israeli security forces who obstructed and attacked Palestinians who were praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. Seeing the escalation of the conflict, the European Union called on a ceasefire between the two sides. With the exception of Hungary, European Union countries see the importance of ending the war in order to avoid more casualties, especially among civilians. The majority of European Union countries are in support of Palestine. This is in contrast to the United States, which has made Israel its main ally in the Middle East. Although seems to be different from Donald Trump in terms of aggressiveness in supporting Israel, Joe Bidden does not immediately withdraw his support for Israel, which has bombed the populated area of Gaza and caused hundreds of civilians to become victims. China has criticized the United States' stance on the war that has raged since May 18.

In this regard, the Palestinian struggle to create a state that is truly independent and safe from Israeli threats and interference is still far ahead. Support and pressure from Muslim countries through diplomatic channels are now much needed. There must be concrete efforts to stop Israeli actions which have caused hundreds of Palestinians to die. In line with this, the role of the United States is very decisive. As long as the United States is not in a neutral position by supporting Israel, a solution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict is difficult to realize. Therefore, the European Union stance which calls for a ceasefire to stop the war is an important note that needs to be realized. The international community certainly cannot allow the increasing number of Palestinians to become victims, either dead or injured.

17
May

 

Indonesia's economic growth in the second quarter of this year will be on the positive track. Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, in a press conference on Saturday (15/5) estimated that Indonesia's economic growth could reach 7% this year. According to Minister Airlangga, the economic recovery has been seen from the Purchasing Manager's Index -PMI which reached 54.6. The Consumer Confidence Index -IKK is also close to normal figures. Currently, it has reached around 90 to 100. He also said that Indonesia's export and import performance growth has returned to a positive direction. The government spending also experienced the same thing. Several sectors, such as information, communication, health services, agriculture, property and industry, with the Luxury Value Added Tax (PPNBM) borne by the government and other policies, made quite a high increase. Gross Fixed Capital Formation (PMTB) is close to 0% or now minus 0.23%. Meanwhile, exports reach 6.74%. In fact, this is higher than before Covid-19. Imports of capital goods and production were recorded at 5.27%.

Meanwhile, the ASIAN Development Bank -ADB at the end of last month estimated that Indonesia's economic growth in 2021 would reach 4.5%. Economic growth will also increase in 2022 to 5% amid the national and global economic recovery. According to ADB's Director for Indonesia, Winfried Wicklein, with the continued recovery of trade, the revival of the manufacturing sector and a large national economic recovery budget for 2021, ADB is also optimistic that Indonesia will return to its growth track next year. This can be realized as the Covid-19 vaccination program progresses and more sectors of the economy are back in operation. In addition, investment is also expected to increase, along with improving economic prospects. However, the pace of recovery in financing or credit will still lag behind due to the uncertainty of investor sentiment. Inflation, which reached an average of 1.6% last year, is estimated to rise to 2.4% in 2021, or before falling again to 2.8% in 2022. This inflation rate is still within Bank Indonesia's target range, due to inflationary pressures, currency depreciation and higher food demand.

There are, of course, some significant risks to this estimate. Economic recovery can slow down if there is a spike in Covid-19 cases during Ramadan and Idul Fitri holidays. From the news in the media, the government has tried hard to ban people from going home in a bid to reduce the rate of transmission of the Covid-19. But in fact, there were millions of people who went to their hometowns or villages. In addition, delays in vaccination efforts, especially during Ramadan and the government’s weak revenues can also bring about a significant impact on achieving economic growth forecasts in the second quarter of this year.

14
May

 

Ramadan, which is the holy month for Muslims around the world and this year falls from April 13 to May 13, closes with escalating conflicts between Israel and Palestine. Bloody clashes took place at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Jerusalem on Friday evening local time (7/5/2021) after Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at Palestinians armed with stones. This incident is related to the threat of expulsion of Palestinians from their territory which is claimed by the Israeli settlers. The situation in Jerusalem has heated up following clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli security forces in recent days.

The clashes were triggered by a police blockade of places where residents gathered after fasting, which is an obligation of Muslims to be carried out every day during the month of Ramadan. In addition, Israel also threatened to expel dozens of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah area.

Refering to history, the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, especially in relation to the Seikh Jarrah area in East Jerusalem, began when 28 Palestinian families who were expelled by Israel from their hometowns in 1948 settled in that neighborhood. The expulsion is widely known as the Nakba (disaster) which resulted in hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes.

Various tug-of-war processes continue between Israel and Palestine regarding the Sheikh Jarrah area. However, what is in the world spotlight is the violence that often occurs to the point of casualties. Since Friday last week, Israeli forces have continued to launch relentless attacks and injured hundreds of Palestinians praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque - the third holiest site for Muslims - as well as in Sheikh Jarrah, a settlement in the East of Jerusalem. This has certainly sparked global concern that the unrest could spread further. The violence around the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, which was generally at night, was declared the worst violence since 2017.

It is hoped that the Organization for Islamic Cooperation countries -OIC, as well as the United Nations -UN can act immediately to find the best solution for resolving the open conflict between Israel and Palestine, which is feared to worsen. The most important thing to do now is to stop acts of violence of both sides. Because the most disadvantaged and often become victims are civilians, especially women and children.

Hopefully, peace in this region can be achieved sooner.

05
May

 

After the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, the situation in Myanmar did not show any improvement. Attacks between the military and anti-coup groups have even tended to increase. The mass media in Myanmar is also polarized between the military junta media, the anti-coup media and the media that contains information about the various violence that occurred.

A few days after the ASEAN Summit discussed Myanmar's crisis following the military coup, the atmosphere in several regions there became increasingly tense. The bomb that exploded in the residential area made people even more afraid and worried. Local media reported that a parcel bomb exploded in the West Bago area that killed, among others, a former member of parliament who supported Aung San Su Kyi. Five people, including a policeman, were reportedly killed in the explosion that happened Monday, May 3. Naturally, people are increasingly fearful because neither party feels responsible for the bomb explosion that occurred more than once.

Ethnic armed resistance groups supporting the demonstrators have begun to step up attacks on Myanmar's military. Along with that, came attacks from unknown parties on Myanmar air bases and military bases.

The situation became increasingly unclear due to confusing news and information. The domination of news from the military is countered by the reporting of the opposing parties. Meanwhile, provoking information appears which is only reporting acts of violence. The closure of the media supporting the resistance action and the blocking of the internet and social media did not solve the problem or stop the resistance.

The people of Myanmar live in uncertainty due to the military coup. If the situation gets more chaotic and out of control, there is great concern that there will be civil war in that country.

In fact, the commitment to carry out the results of the ASEAN summit in Jakarta recently is very important to be realized, especially by the military junta government. The presence of the Myanmar Senior General then, should not be used by the military junta only to legitimize its existence and actions.

The points of the Summit results in Jakarta need to be realized immediately. ASEAN leaders, can and need to take further steps to prevent a civil war in Myanmar. The country is a member of ASEAN. Myanmar's increasingly chaotic situation will certainly have an impact on the existence of ASEAN and other member countries.