Daybook       Publications   About Us    Contact    Links     Site Map

  The International Observer Recent Issues

 Viewing the World Earlier Issues

 Global Survey Reference Aids




Trying to accept the Afghan withdrawal. Diplomats abroad have learned earlier that a series of policies and practices of the new Administration in Washington are not that different from the ham-handed predecessor. US citizens were overjoyed that gaffes, incompetence and lack of understanding by the president and some of his associates had finally stopped.

Eleven months later, while still enjoying its early widespread acceptance, piece by piece it becomes clear that the new White House either is unaware of the impressions it leaves when it continues former policies, even strengthens them, or has changed its mind about changing what it rejected just an few months earlier. Make America Great Again may not be the motto in Washington but important issues demanding a new direction are not being served by more “America First” and “Buy America.”

Just look at recent developments: It would be ironic and tragic if in some later years the presidencies of both Trump and Biden would be viewed as the period when the role of the United States as the world’s spearhead to fight for democracy and freedom were diminished and when its value as a dependable, reliable ally would be questioned.

Obviously every country’s leaders and governments are determined to spare its people the loss of human life. Then again taking the role of protector, even in a colonial role, or nowadays as defender or rescuer, demands sacrifice, including human lives.

Many Americans have their own idea and version of history. It is relegated to the past with commemoration of gaining independence, fighting a civil war, and engaging in two World Wars. The idea of becoming involved in someone else’s conflict for the sake of safeguarding democracy or the freedom of people is seen as heroic but it must be accomplished satisfactorily and quickly. Drawing it out over generations while taking losses because with patience a rewarding result will be achieved is not the way many Americans see history.

Any loss of life is regrettable, but outside the US, there is consternation. More importance seems to be attached to the much smaller number of casualties in Afghanistan while less attention is paid to the preventable 12,000-15,000 deaths a year from unchecked use of firearms by citizens at home.


Aiding US defending Taiwan – Australian Minister of Defense Peter Dutton, on 12 November, said it “would be inconceivable that we wouldn’t support the US in an action if the US chose” to militarily defend Taiwan, reported The Australian.

The US is reorganizing its intelligence focus on China. On 7 October, the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Joseph Burns, called the Beijing government “the most important geopolitical threat we face in the 21st century,” according to abc.net. To counter China’s influence, the CIA has formed a top-level China Mission Center. The CIA also announced it is creating a Transnational and Technology Mission Center and the new position of chief technology officer to better address issues of global competitiveness, including emerging technology, economic security, global health, and climate change, reported Voice of America (VOA).

In at least 24 countries, presidents will be elected in 2022. Some will be chosen directly by voters, others by legislatures. In addition to significant polls in Brazil, France, Italy, the Philippines, and Sudan, others will be held in Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, India, Iraq, Kenya, Korea (ROK), Mali, Nauru, Serbia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Timor Leste, and Vanuatu.

The Serb Republic of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its member of the B&H Presidency are continuing criticizing and disparaging actions by the UN High Representative and attempting to pull out of the federal system [Oct. 2021,  p. 10379]. Now B&H prosecutors are investigating the Bosnian Serb member Milorad Dodik for “undermining the constitutional order, according to RadioFreeEurop/RadioLiberty.

The appearance of the extreme right-wing Éric Zemmour, 63, author and TV personality, has suddenly injected a new element in the next French presidential election with rising polls but without being a candidate. Stressing French values and Christian civilization and appealing to French white voters who are nostalgic about the past, he has forced the top contenders to change their strategies. If he should qualify for the runoff round, there is the danger that he could split the conservative vote, say poll watchers.

President Vladimir Putin has never made a secret of believing that the collapse and disappearance of the Soviet Union was a historical error. Ruling the Russian Federation under a more or less autocratic regime, he is starting to soft pedal the Union’s most outrageous crimes and deny some of the lesser ones in the hope of restoring its strategic place and power. It all falls into place: jailing or poisoning democratic Russians working toward an open and free nation, closing foundations and memorials depicting Soviet crimes, undercutting close former republics of the USSR, such as Belarus and Ukraine, Georgia and Moldovia, and working toward better control of the former Central Asian Soviet republics.

Not only his speeches but Xi’s portraits too receive most prominent and exclusive display. Readers of the China mainland press have always noted that a preponderance of covering the country’s leaders is devoted to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the President of the People’s Republic (PRC), Xi Jinping. In speeches, nearly all senior CPC members after giving credit to the party talk about Xi, praise not only his leadership but exhort their listeners to adhere to the guidance of Xi Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. When it comes to personal proposals and thoughts, he is again almost the only subject. Even his reading habits, world masterpieces, such as Confucius and Tolstoy, stand by themselves.

Observers at Radio Free Asia (RFA) found that an increase in the sale of Xi’s portraits and the sudden popping up of his extra-large portraits along those of Mao Zedong in the streets of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa are a good indication that party and Xi re getting ready for his re-election for a third term as China’s leader at the 20th Party Congress in 2022.

December 2021


The dispute over the future of the Western Sahara, once under Spanish colonial control, is being stirred up again. Since 1976, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Sagia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro, the Polisario, claims the territory and formed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) to govern there. Morocco never accepted it and continues to defend its claim. While the United Nations (UN) maintains a mission since the 1991 cease-fire to hold a referendum, foremost Algeria but also other African states support Polisario. Now, in a televised speech on 7 November, King Mohamed VI of Morocco, repeated that Western Sahara “is not negotiable,” immediately raising tension with Algeria. But he left it open that in order to reach a peaceful solution of the dispute, the kingdom would negotiate, reported Al-Jazeera.

The Ukrainian president, on 26 November, told a news conference that security services had overheard Russian and Ukrainian plotters planning a coup d’état, reported HB (NV) magazine. Since then no further clarification or details have become available. Given the current state of relations between Ukraine and Russia, incl. threats about a Russian invasion, it remains uncertain whether there is a plot or tension is driving over-reaction.

November 2021


Afghanistan is quickly burdened by new serious problems after the Taliban took over in August and lowered one phase of country-wide violence. Corruption in government and society, disharmonious relations and rivalry between ethnic groups, and widespread poverty has hampered acceptable government and economic development for decades. Now that the Islamic Emirate is in charge, shortcomings have multiplied and  past and new behavior of the ruling Taliban make matters worse not only between them and their former opposing countrymen but in relations with the outside world and international organizations which are desperately needed for humanitarian, economic and financial help.

The interim government consists of Taliban members, some sought as criminals, no former government experts, no women, and all without reliable evidence of higher education. The moment they ended fighting, attacks, bombings, more destruction and death are being caused by jihadist militant groups, including those affiliated with al-Qa’ida or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-Da’esh (violating the 2020 Doha Agreement with the United States banning cooperation or support of terrorists).

More basic than continuing insecurity are impoverishment, growing shortage of food, and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Large humanitarian aid outlays are needed and while some are forthcoming, incl. from the United States, the Taliban’s way of distributing it to their own or to those supporting the new rulers, does not gain them any sympathy with the United Nations and others. Nor do acts of retaliatory violence, punishing demonstrators, banning women from government and universities and excluding girls and women from school and colleges.

Next to al-Qa’ida (the Base) which is banned and designated as a terrorist organization in many major countries, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (Da’esh) (al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil-Iraq wa al-Sham), is now seen by governments as the major growing threat of violence in Africa, according to the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom. Highly concerned, he told participants of a Global Coalition against Da’esh meeting in Rome on 27 June that the British government is providing new funding to counter the insurgents in the Lake Chad Basin and encourage them to leave the Islamic State. ISIL formed in 1999 as a Sunni group oriented toward Wahhabism, became first substantially engaged in insurgencies in Iraq in 2003 and later in Syria. Since about 2014, Da’esh has developed into a major insurgent force in West Africa, especially Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo (DR), Mali, Niger, and Nigeria. Some of its groups and affiliates are also present in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Mozambique and Somalia (affiliate).

Observers of the increasingly autocratic government of Hungary are concerned about apparent steps by its Prime Minister Viktor Mihály Orbán and the ruling Federation of Young Democrats-Civic Alliance (FiDeSz-MPSz) of moving public assets, incl. most from higher education institutions, from government to private foundations. New elections will be held in 2022 and the position of Orbán could be substantially challenged by a newly formed opposition coalition. The shift of public assets which began in May, according to EURACTIV, could ensure that FiDeSZ could “maintain important positions in the event of a defeat.” The transfers can only be restored by a two-thirds majority and a number of presidents of the receiving institutions are appointed by the prime minister for a nine-year term.

Mexico’s president is planning to give the state control of a major part of the energy market and total control over the production of lithium, reported The Financial Times. An amendment to the constitution, requiring approval by two-thirds in both houses of Congress, was submitted on 1 October. The change, if approved, also would eliminate independent regulators.

Part of moving toward independence of the Bougainville Island from Papua New Guinea by 2027 is the search for a new capital. Because of the devastating civil war for independence between 1988 and 1998, the island capital was moved from Arawa (1975-1997) on the southern east side to the present interim location Buka Town on the northern Buka Island. It lies across from northern Bougainville, separated by the Buka Passage, between 300 and 1,070 meters wide without a bridge but with ferry service. A parliamentary committee was touring the Autonomous Region in late September, reported Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) and found a strong preference for the former Arawa.

Tanzania remains under autocratic rule under the new president, characterized by banned rallies, suspension of newspapers, prosecution of opposition Party for Democracy & Progress (Chadema) leaders and members and even of dissenters within the ruling Revolutionary Party of Tanzania (Chama Cha Mapinduzi/(CCM). The Africa Center for Strategic Studies of the US Department of Defense in Washington DC, warned in September that “Tanzanians today live in a climate increasingly filled with fear and reticence to exercise their rights lest they run afoul of a raft of new restrictive laws or suffer physical retribution. On 21 July, police arrested Chairman Freeman Mbow and ten senior members of Chadema, charged them with ‘terror-related crimes’ and is continuing the trial. In August, the Uhuru newspaper of CCM was suspended, followed by a 30-day suspension on 6 September of Raia Mwema, a leading Swahili-language weekly, for allegedly publishing false information and deliberate incitement, Reuters reported. The autocratic rule began with Tanzania’s former President Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli in 2015, continued throughout his rule until his death in March 2021 and is continuing under his successor Ms. Samia Hassan Suluhu (born 27 January 1960), CCM, since 19 March 2021.

October 2021


Return to military dictatorship in Brazil has become a renewed topic this year at home and abroad. Fed by the mismanagement of public health at a time when only 21 percent of the population is fully immunized against COVID-19 after half-a-million have died, the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro is receiving low ratings in opinion polls. The pandemic is not the only source of criticism but so is the often erratic and chaotic style of administration. His excuses now start with those who oppose him, Supreme Court judges, the press, and the use of electronic voting. More than once, the first time some 20 years ago, Bolsonaro has praised the military, the 1964 coup, and strongly hinted that he together with the generals could run the country better than under the democratic rule. That is not preventing president and military declaring in the same breath that “the people can count on the armed forces to defend democracy and freedom.”

Return to military dictatorship in Brazil has become a renewed topic this year at home and abroad. Fed by the mismanagement of public health at a time when only 21 percent of the population is fully immunized against COVID-19 after half-a-million have died, the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro is receiving low ratings in opinion polls. The pandemic is not the only source of criticism but so is the often erratic and chaotic style of administration. His excuses now start with those who oppose him, Supreme Court judges, the press, and the use of electronic voting. More than once, the first time some 20 years ago, Bolsonaro has praised the military, the 1964 coup, and strongly hinted that he together with the generals could run the country better than under the democratic rule. That is not preventing president and military declaring in the same breath that “the people can count on the armed forces to defend democracy and freedom.”

Bolsonaro, graduated from a military academy and for the next 11 years served in the army and moved to the reserve with the rank of captain. Since 1989 he has been active in politics but never omits to mention his devotion and preference for the military. Its presence in the administration, never low before the incumbent, has increased dramatically. From the vice president, a former general, to some 6,000 military personnel, are holding positions normally reserved for civilians. A number of cabinet ministers are senior military officers.

September 2021

On 1 July at Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, CPC General Secretary and President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Xi Jinping observed the Centenary Ceremony of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and addressed the 95,148-million party members nation-wide while equally admonishing the 1,400 million population, reported People’s Daily. In nine commandments he demanded that

 Listening to Xi exhort party members to defend he party and watch out for enemies, it becomes clear that the vaunted defender of China is not on such solid ground. Xi is determined that only the CPC will decide who will to run the country and how. The need to use aggressive, coercive and self-assertive language is telling that neither China nor party are fully united and that disappointment, doubt and even resistance have not been overcome. There would be less need to constantly remind party members and people in the People’s Republic that only Xi cares and knows how to lead and move the state and why there cannot be others if there were not national, political, economic, ethnic, cultural, religious and social factors, forces and personalities that differ, disagree or contradict the situation that is the basis for Xi’s actions and pronouncements.

August 2021


Before the US military has left Afghanistan, the United States helped form a new “diplomatic platform” to remain involved in Afghanistan. The quadrilateral group of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and the United States agreed to stay focused on regional connectivity and held its first meeting on 15-16 July in Tashkent. The governments agreed to meet in the coming months to determine with mutual consensus how to shape cooperation. While the initial focus is on Afghanistan, the leader of the US delegation, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Presidential Assistant for Homeland Security, expressed the government’s commitment to promote security, prosperity and regional connectivity in Central Asia. On 15 July, the US also took part in a regular meeting of foreign ministers of Central Asia and the US (C5+1) in the Uzbek capital on the stability of Afghanistan and institutional strengthening of C5+1, reported The Astana Times. Senior leaders of Afghanistan and the Taliban Islamic Militia met on 17-18 July in Doha and agreed to speed up negotiations on an inclusive political settlement.

 The Taliban Militia is reconquering Afghanistan and is threatening to retake power in Kabul, twenty years after 11 September 2001, notes Le Point. It is now clear that one goal of the insurgents is to secure towns on borders especially with Iran and Pakistan. It will enable the Taliban to control not only who can leave but also the smuggling of drugs and resupply of arms from abroad. Former US commanders and officials involved with Afghan affairs are not only warning about collapse of the Kabul government but chaos that will follow and the fall of Afghan society, especially women, into despair.

July 2021


Unresolved situations in the Middle East and Central Asia are keeping the rest of the world from turning attention to cope with the continuing change in climate, limiting the spread of arms, and protecting from corona virus and other ills. A new president in Iran and the latest Israeli government do not appear willing to stop meddling in neighboring Sunni countries nor to pull out occupation troops from Palestine and help to make the two states a reality. Leaving Afghanistan without effective allied help and backing up its ailing government against the intensifying onslaught from the Islamist Taliban insurgents may end one war but continue in new conflicts, especially with neighboring Pakistan. 

Five months after Burma’s generals waged a coup d’état, ousted the elected government, and detained officials, they have not shown any signs of relenting or preparing for return to democratic rule and observation of human rights. With the quiet backing of China and Russia, the generals are flouting international and regional protests and sanctions but have misjudged internal resistance. Anti-coup demonstrations are widespread and pro-democracy elements of the former government set up a National Unity Government (NUG) with a budding military force and have allied with armed ethnic organizations, all pointing dangerously to the outbreak of civil war. 

June 2021




The White House is visibly concerned about the rise of hostile acts against the United States from Russia, sometimes carried out by third parties, especially the committing of cyber crimes and spreading of disinformation. While some of this activity has occurred before the new president took office, especially the interference with the elections, causing a strategic fuel pipeline to come to a halt and hacking an agency of the State Department, happened just recently. Testing a new president was practiced by Nikita Khrushchev when he met with John F. Kennedy in Vienna in June 1961 and following up with deploying missiles in Cuba. Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are about to meet in Geneva in June. Unlike the situation 60 years ago when the US had the backing of strong alliances, political as well as military, the last president not only neglected allies but downgraded international relations under his America First campaign and openly preferred the world’s dictators and strongmen, seeing them as effective  rulers.

May 2021

Worldwide spreading of corona virus (COVID-19) is continuing with high number of infections in the United States of America, India, Brazil, United Kingdom, Russia, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Germany and Colombia. In an additional 10 countries there are at least one million cases, according to the center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), Johns Hopkins University.

April 2021

Insurrection suddenly became reality on 6 January when right-wing extremists and supporters of the president broke into the Capitol building, home of the US Congress in Washington, briefly disrupted the scheduled transfer of power, threatened legislators, staff and police, and demolished, vandalized and stole. The insurrection was incited by the former president who first suggested he might join them but then watched the Capitol siege on television from the White House. Belatedly, after thanking them, he told them to go home. Numerous participants have been arrested, charged and are awaiting trial. An indication of the seriousness of the growth of domestic extremists was the public issue of a National Terrorism Advisory Bulletin by the Department of Homeland Security on 27 January

February 2021

The United States of America are seen as again shouldering international obligations and responsibilities under the new elected president after four years of diminishing, shedding and weakening them around the world. Immediately after taking office, the president again accepted the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, indicated willingness to extend the nuclear arms limitation under 2011 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia and to resume cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Indications are strengthening that former President of the Congo (DR) Major General Joseph Kabange Kabila (2001-2019) is planning to be a presidential candidate in 2023, according to former staff. 

Italy is searching for its next government after Prime Minister Prof. Giuseppe Conte, serving since 2018, stepped down over an internal feud over COVID-19 funds. Former President of the European Central Bank Dr. Mario Draghi was asked by Italy’s president to form a new government.

January 2021