07/14/2023, 10.51
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Iraqi Christians protest presidency attacks on Patriarch Sako

Today's headlines: EU Parliament resolution asking Delhi for 'all necessary measures' to stop the violence in Manipur; Damascus grants the go-ahead for UN vehicles through the Bab al-Hawa crossing for six months; Thai Foreign Minister meets with Aung San Suu Kyi, the first senior foreign official since the democratic leader's arrest; Pyongyang' crackdown on smoking, but only applies to women accused of 'capitalist culture'; Japanese PM in Gulf to discuss energy.

Iraqi Christians have taken to the streets against the attacks on Card. Louis Raphael Sako, culminating in the decision - under pressure from Shiite militias and self-styled Christian leaders - of President Abdul Latif Rashid to withdraw Decree 147/2013 ratifying his appointment as Chaldean Patriarch. The heart of the protest is Ankawa, in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, with protesters speaking of a "blatant and total violation" of the minority's rights. For independent Christian parliamentarian Faruq Hanna Atto, the decision 'encourages discrimination and amplifies conflict'. 

The European Parliament yesterday adopted a resolution calling on Delhi to take "all necessary measures" to stop the violence in the Indian state of Manipur and protect religious minorities, especially Christians. It was presented by five political groups during the plenary session in Strasbourg and coinciding with the arrival in France of President Narendra Modi, who is today taking part in the official 14 July celebrations. India's response was immediate, condemning the motion and speaking of "interference" in internal affairs.

After days of uncertainty, Damascus informed the UN Security Council that it intends to grant permission to use the Bab al-Hawa crossing to UN assets and its specialised agencies to provide aid "in full cooperation and coordination". The letter sent to Secretary General Antonio Guterres specifies that the access will last six months. 

The foreign minister of the outgoing Thai government paid a secret visit to Naypyidaw where he met - the first foreign dignitary - the imprisoned democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.  Zin Mar Aung, Foreign Minister of the government-in-exile speaks of 'hostage diplomacy' and criticises a meeting that makes the resolution of the 'Burmese question' 'more complicated'.

Pyongyang has launched a crackdown on smoking in public, but it only applies to women. The bans are ignored by men without consequence, in a country where the slightest transgression can result in forced labour or a death sentence. After all, Kim Jong-un is himself an inveterate smoker. The opposite is true for women smokers, accused of promoting 'capitalist culture'. 

In August, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif handed over power to an interim government, putting an end to speculation about extending his mandate and paving the way for general elections. He succeeded Imran Khan in April 2022 by a vote of no confidence. It is up to the Election Commission to announce the date, which is expected within 60 days after the dissolution of the lower house.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar: these are the three stops on Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Middle East tour to discuss energy in particular, as well as proposing Japanese technology for a transition to the zero-emission target. The trip is scheduled from 16 to 19 July and is "important" for "building a personal relationship of trust with leaders". 

The so-called 'Eastern Express', the flow of gas and oil exports from Russia to India and China, seems to have suffered an abrupt and unexpected interruption. In fact, it has dropped to its lowest level in the last six months, below three million barrels per day, more than a million less than in previous months, also due to restoration work at the port of Primorsk, on the Baltic.

As the first act of his new mandate, Uzbek President Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev has dismissed 12 khokim (mayors) and several senior officials. They are accused of being 'traitors' for failing to support the presidential initiatives for economic development in the territory entrusted to them, 'where the investment climate appears to be totally unsatisfactory'.

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