G20 leaders meet in Indonesia’s Bali in the shadow of war and economic slowdown

Special World leaders discuss food and energy security (main) on the opening day of the G20 Summit in Bali. (Getty Images)
World leaders discuss food and energy security (main) on the opening day of the G20 Summit in Bali. (Getty Images)
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Updated 16 November 2022

G20 leaders meet in Indonesia’s Bali in the shadow of war and economic slowdown

G20 leaders meet in Indonesia’s Bali in the shadow of war and economic slowdown
  • “Recover together, recover stronger” theme alludes to COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences
  • Presidents Biden and Xi held first in-person meeting amid strained US-China relations over a number of issues

DENPASAR, Bali: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year appeared to overshadow all else on the agenda of the leaders’ meeting of the Group of 20 on Tuesday, with the conflict in Europe having fueled geopolitical tensions and a global surge in food and energy prices.

Leaders of G20 member states, invited countries and international organizations have gathered in Bali to discuss the pressing challenges facing the global economy, which is creeping toward a recession.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country and Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is hosting the summit under the theme “Recover together, recover stronger” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.

Although the summit’s official focus is on financial stability, health, sustainable energy, and digital transformation, host Indonesia faces another layer of complexity as it tries to bridge rifts within the G20 over the war in Ukraine.

Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president, acknowledged the mood during his opening remarks on Tuesday, just before the closed-door discussions began.

“I understand we need huge efforts to be able to sit together in this room,” he said, while calling for collaboration among countries.

He pointed out that the world could not afford to fall into “another Cold War,” adding that nations must work to “end the war.”

He said: “Today, the eyes of the world are on our meeting. Will we score success? Or will we add one more to the list of failures? For us, G20 must succeed and cannot fail.”

Seventeen G20 leaders are attending this week’s summit, including US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Indonesia invited other nations and international organizations to take part, adding to a long list of world leaders that includes UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets French President Emmanuel Macron (right), as well as speaking with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed (top left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoga on the sidelines of the G20 summit. (SPA)

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, addressed G20 leaders via video link on the summit’s first day, in which he shared his optimism that the conflict’s end could be in sight.

He said: “I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped.”

Analysts expect the war to feature prominently in the summit’s final communique, despite calls by the Indonesian hosts for dialogue and collaboration to resolve global economic problems such as inflation, and food and energy security.

Gatherings of G20 ministers since Indonesia took over the group’s presidency last December have failed to produce joint declarations. There have been disagreements between Russia and other members on the precise language, including how to describe what is occurring in Ukraine.

Dr. Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, an Indonesian international relations researcher at the University of Queensland, in Australia said the expected final declaration on Wednesday was unlikely to fully address the global challenges facing the world today.

He told Arab News: “Given the tensions between the US and China for example in some political matters and then war in Ukraine, it is difficult to see the G20 Summit will deliver an agreeable result that can solve the global challenges facing the world today, because global challenges facing the world today are largely a political problem.




Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, addressed G20 leaders via video link on the summit’s first day. (Screenshot)

“So, it is a difficult task for Indonesia to deliver a joint communique which is able to solve all the global challenges.”

He noted that the challenges facing the world today were “something that goes beyond Indonesia’s reach.”

Umar added that this was “because the global crisis today requires political solutions, and it is difficult for Indonesia to mediate, for example, between Russia and Ukraine.”

The gathering in Bali follows concerted efforts by Indonesia to broker peace between the warring nations. In late June, Widodo was the first Asian leader to travel to Kyiv and Moscow to meet his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts in an effort to ease the conflict’s impact on the international community.

Bhima Yudhistira, director of the Center of Economic and Law Studies in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, also felt that the global situation was beyond Indonesia’s control.

“The summit has been overshadowed by the Ukraine war, and it’s possible that they won’t reach a final communique, even though the key of the meeting’s success is on this communique,” he told Arab News.

“Indonesia’s position is as a developing country, and the defining players are the ones in conflict and developed countries, so even being able to facilitate the meeting between America’s Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping at the G20 is already an achievement for now,” Yudhistira said.




Analysts expect the war to feature prominently in the summit’s final communique, despite calls by the Indonesian hosts for dialogue and collaboration to resolve global economic problems such as inflation, and food and energy security. (AFP)

On Tuesday, Biden and Xi held their first in-person meeting since the US president took office. It came amid strained relations between their two countries that span various issues, ranging from trade to the status of Taiwan.

Yudhistira was nevertheless confident that this year’s G20 Summit would go down in history.

“I think this is a historic G20. It’s historic because of the polarization, because of the crack in multilateralism, but it’s still the one forum that brings together differences, such as between the US and China,” he added.

For others, there was still hope that the summit could bring about stability.

Diana Dewi, chairwoman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s chapter in Jakarta, told Arab News: “There is hope that this would result in world peace, because with this summit it’s not only about reaching for economic growth, but ever since the beginning, like President Widodo has said, this is an event that is supposed to unite.”

News agencies reported on Tuesday that leaders of the world’s largest economies appeared ready to convey a strong message condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though the draft declaration would still need to be approved by all the group’s members.

Established in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, the G20 was originally intended to foster global economic cooperation. But it has since morphed into a forum addressing urgent world problems. This year’s focus was on health infrastructure and food security.

The annual leaders’ summit also serves as an opportunity for informal diplomatic exchanges, as heads of state participate in bilateral talks on the sidelines of the big meeting.




Joe Biden (right) and Chinese president Xi Jinping held their first in-person meeting since the US president took office. (AFP)

Tuesday witnessed a handful of the bilateral exchanges, including that of Xi and Anthony Albanese, Australia’s new prime minister, which marked the first formal meeting between the leaders of the two countries since 2016.

The Saudi crown prince also held a number of meetings on the summit’s sidelines, including with the UAE president, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Though most international headlines have focused on US and Chinese participation in the summit due to their global economic standing, Saudi Arabia’s role “is very significant,” senior Indonesian journalist Andreas Ismar told Arab News.

“Saudi Arabia needs to diversify its economy to be less oil-reliant and they have plenty of chances of doing that in this forum,” Ismar said, alluding to the Vision 2030 reform plan aimed at diversifying the Kingdom’s economy away from hydrocarbons.

Saudi Aramco and Indonesia’s state-owned Pertamina recently agreed to work together on the possibility of developing a clean ammonia and hydrogen value chain, as both Riyadh and Jakarta prioritize efforts on transitioning toward renewable energy sources.

“I’m guessing there will be plenty more to come between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Cooperation between the two countries was previously more on political and culture, but it is now rapidly shifting into economics,” Ismar added.

 


Somali troops overpower militants to end hotel siege

Somali troops overpower militants to end hotel siege
Updated 12 sec ago

Somali troops overpower militants to end hotel siege

Somali troops overpower militants to end hotel siege
  • Somalian security forces, who are trained by the US and Turkey, were under orders to “eliminate” the militants
  • Mohamed Sayid Hassan Elmi, who lives in Birmingham, was named locally as one of the victims at Villa Rose Hotel

MOGADISHU: Somali security forces stormed a hotel in the capital on Monday to end a near day-long siege by Al-Shabab militants who killed nine people at the building near the president’s residence in the capital, police said.

A Briton is reported to have died in the siege in Mogadishu, where Somalian security forces, who are trained by the US and Turkey, were under orders to “eliminate” the militants who stormed it yesterday.

Mohamed Sayid Hassan Elmi, who lives in Birmingham, was named locally as one of the victims at Villa Rose Hotel.

Gunfire crackled from inside the hotel as the special forces fought the militants more than 12 hours after the Islamist group stormed the building in the center of Mogadishu.
A police spokesperson said 60 civilians had been rescued, while a government minister said he and others had kicked down a door to escape after being caught in the hotel following evening prayers when a suicide bomber struck and the gunbattle broke out.
The assault underscores the continuing ability of the Al-Qaeda-allied militants to stage deadly attacks with sometimes high casualties inside the city even as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government presses an offensive against them.
“The operation at the hotel Rose has been concluded,” Sadik Aden Ali, the police spokesperson said, referring to the Villa Rose hotel where the siege occurred.
Ali said the militants had killed eight civilians and later added that one soldier had also died in the siege. Five soldiers were injured, he said.
Six Al-Shabab fighters had been involved in the attack, with one blowing himself up and five shot dead by the security forces, Ali said.
Al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, which controls swathes of the country, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that it was targeting the nearby presidential palace.
Al Shabab, which is seeking to topple the government and establish its own rule based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, frequently stages attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.
Government officials in Mogadishu often use the Villa Rose hotel for meetings. Some officials also live there.
Somalia’s environment minister Adam Aw Hirsi said the assault on the hotel, where he lives, began with a deafening explosion by a suicide bomber who was followed by militants on foot to breach the perimeter of the heavily guarded hotel.
“I had exited the hotel mosque where we performed the evening prayer in congregation when the explosion hit. The roof of the VIP room I was in flew and glasses shattered far and wide,” Hirsi told Reuters, describing the scene of the attack.
“Then bullets rained in all directions,” he said, adding that he, a friend and another minister fled the building through a back exit. “Many people followed us to the exit, we broke the door with collective kicks and we exited to safety,” he said.
Asked what the government would do next, he said there was no turning back and the government would “not let up the fight.”
Somalia government forces, supported by clan militias and, at times, African Union troops and US air strikes, have made a number of battlefield gains in offensive against Al-Shabab over the last three months.
The US military has conducted several air strikes against the Al-Shabab this year, but it was not clear whether it was involved in Monday’s battle.
Despite being pushed back, Al-Shabab has still been able to stage large attacks on both civilian and military targets.
In October two car bombs exploded at Somalia’s education ministry next to a busy market intersection, killing at least 120 people. It was the deadliest attack since a truck bomb exploded at the same intersection in October 2017, killing more than 500 people.
Somalia’s parliament said it had postponed a scheduled session for both of its houses on Monday as the siege unfolded.


Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center

Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center
Updated 28 November 2022

Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center

Saudi-Indonesia kinship in spotlight as Kingdom pledges support to restore Jakarta Islamic Center
  • Major fire at JIC in late October destroyed dome of grand mosque
  • Islamic centers with ‘significant role’ in promoting tolerant Islam

JAKARTA: Indonesian officials have thanked Saudi Arabia after its pledge to finance the restoration of the Jakarta Islamic Center.

The announcement, which was made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this month, has reaffirmed the close and important relations between the two countries.

A major fire broke out at JIC in late October, destroying the iconic dome of a grand mosque located at the complex.

The crown prince announced the Kingdom’s financing of the center’s restoration earlier this month, and the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the planned restoration “confirms his keenness and interest in Islamic centers in all brotherly and friendly countries.” 

Saudi’s financial help is expected to help speed up the restoration process which, according to the center’s management, could have taken as long as five years without assistance.

Paimun Abdul Karim, spokesman of JIC’s management, told Arab News: “We are very grateful for such help from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“We are filled with thanks because it means the restoration will be faster.

“His action shows the solidarity between Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia’s plan to help us shows the good relations between the Saudi and Indonesian governments, and it will bring great benefits for us.

“This is another way to open up JIC’s diplomacy and connection to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.”

JIC’s work has centered on the promotion of tolerant and moderate Islam, with the complex housing not only a grand mosque, but also a research studies center and a conference hall which hosts various programs and gatherings.

Eko Hartono, Indonesia’s consul general in Jeddah, told Arab News that the support offered by Saudi Arabia “reaffirmed the closeness of friendly relations” between Jakarta and Riyadh.

He added: “Saudi’s assistance also reaffirms the country’s commitment to help the Muslim world and glory of Islam in every part of the world, including Indonesia.”

Marzuki Abubakar, researcher and lecturer at Ar-Raniry State Islamic University in Banda Aceh, said Indonesia, which is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has always had a very close relationship with the Kingdom.

He told Arab News: “Islam in Indonesia certainly has its own unique characteristics that have captured the world’s attention, and this has led to campaigns for religious tolerance and moderation, which are also important for Saudi Arabia.

“This is why Saudi Arabia’s participation in supporting programs related to tolerance and moderation, including at the Jakarta Islamic Center, has become very important.”


Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians
Updated 28 November 2022

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians
  • Group of 50 Conservatives demands prime minister removes ‘loopholes’ in asylum law
  • Organization says returning trafficked people is likely to ‘deliver them into cruel exploitation all over again’

LONDON: A row is brewing in the UK after Amnesty International condemned a group of Conservative MPs who called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to return Albanian asylum-seekers to their home country — including those claiming to be victims of human trafficking.

The UK has witnessed a marked increase in the number of Albanians coming to the country in the past 12 months, with many who cross the English Channel in small boats claiming they have been trafficked, and are victims of modern slavery.

The group of more than 50 politicians said moves to expedite the process of deporting Albanians was necessary to dissuade migrants from making the journey from what, they said, was a safe country, and reduce significant backlogs in the UK’s asylum process.

In a letter to Sunak, the MPs said: “If they (asylum-seekers) have really been taken (to the UK) against their will, then they could not reasonably object to being returned to their own homes.

“The quirks in our modern slavery laws that prevent this are clearly in defiance of the aims of that law and should be removed.”

David Davis MP, one of the signatories, told Sky News: “The Home Office itself has not been interpreting the asylum laws correctly. The point is to turn the turnaround time for an Albanian landing on our shores from years to days or weeks.

“That’s the aim and we think it’s possible. If we don’t do it, the Home Office is never going to be able to cope with the number of applications. It’s already 420 days to get a decision. It’d be longer and longer.”

He added that fear of persecution by smugglers and criminal gangs should not enable people to claim asylum.

“I’m not scapegoating the individual Albanians. What I want to do is to close those loopholes,” he said.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International’s UK refugee and migrant rights program director, criticized Davis, telling The Guardian: “There does seem to be quite a lot of nonsense here.

“The starting point is whether your government is unwilling or unable to provide protection from persecution. It doesn’t set out who your persecutors have to be.

“It could be organized crime, or a blood feud. It can also be women who are persecuted by their own families. The question is whether the state is both able and willing to provide the protections that it is expected under international law to provide.”

He added: “Not every survivor of human trafficking is necessarily unsafe to be returned, but returning someone to where they were trafficked from is likely to deliver them into cruel exploitation all over again, unless there is some significant improvement to their circumstances in that place.”


WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox
Updated 28 November 2022

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox
  • Bid to avoid stigmatization stemming from the existing name
  • Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year

GENEVA: Monkeypox is to be renamed mpox in English, the World Health Organization announced Monday, in a bid to avoid stigmatization stemming from the existing name.
Monkeypox received its name because the virus was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is found in a number of animals, and most frequently in rodents.
“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term ‘mpox’ as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”
The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries where it is endemic.
But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world, mainly among men who have sex with men.
Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year, from 110 countries.


Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
Updated 28 November 2022

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
  • Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex
  • UN nuclear watchdog wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station

KYIV: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine remains under Russian control, authorities installed by Moscow in the nearby city of Enerhodar said on Monday, after a Ukrainian official suggested Russian forces were preparing to leave.
“The media are actively spreading fake news that Russia is allegedly planning to withdraw from Enerhodar and leave the (plant). This information is not true,” the Russia-installed administration wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The head of Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy company said on Sunday there were signs that Russian forces might be preparing to vacate the vast Zaporizhzhia plant which they seized in March, soon after invading Ukraine.
Ukraine, which suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in Chornobyl in 1986, and Russia have accused each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex.
Both sides have warned of the danger of a nuclear catastrophe. The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency), wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station, which is Europe’s largest.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said late on Sunday that he had no doubt that Russian forces would leave the plant, where Ukrainian staff are still operating. Many of these workers live in Enerhodar.
“The defense line is starting to retreat to the borders of the Russian Federation,” Podolyak told Ukrainian television, adding that Ukraine would “take it (the plant) back.”
Ukraine’s military said on Monday its forces late last week destroyed six units of Russian military equipment and that about 30 Russian servicemen were wounded in fighting near Enerhodar.
Reuters was not able to immediately verify the reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin moved in September to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and the Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine where his forces say they have partial control. Kyiv and its Western allies condemned the move as illegal.