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Our 42nd year of publishing The International Observer



In democratically governed countries, the verdict of a judge or jury in a criminal case stands when it is reached, unless on appeal it is changed and sometimes revoked. The former President of the United States of America, Donald John Trump Sr. (1917-1921),77, of the Republican Party, has become the first US chief executive convicted of a crime. Charged with falsifying business records in 2016 to cover up a sex scandal, the trial by the New York State Supreme Court in New York County (Manhattan) opened on 22 April with 12 jurors and six alternates and ended on 31 May with the defendant found guilty on 34 counts [Mar. 2023, p. 11076]. Sentencing is scheduled for 11 July, reported The New York Times. The outcome of three other criminal trials is pending: retention of classified documents [July 2023, p. 11230] and two separate proceedings on attempting to stay in office after losing the presidential election in 2020.  

Not unexpected, the candidate in the November presidential election, blasted the conviction in what he called a” political trial” and reclaimed his innocence. His supporters of the extreme party wing immediately   started exploiting the situation by painting their candidate a “martyr,” while other Republican Party members were less vocal and a few either stood back from criticizing the outcome or even agreed with it. Obviously, a large number of citizens, convinced by the number of pending legal actions against Trump, are waiting for his disappearance from the 2024 campaign. Abroad, a number of governments do not regret the jurors’ decisions but refrain from intruding into a domestic US matter while others, including extreme right-wing partisans and opponents of US global policies and actions, are eager to take the side of the convicted felon.

May 2024


Europe must make a new and strong effort to stay united, secure, and democratic, the President of France Emmanuel Macron warned when he addressed its leaders and people in Paris at La Sorbonne university on 25 April. His admonition that Europe must never be ’vassal’ of the United States of America naturally raised concerns there and took some aback, overlooking that democratic rule in the US is threatened by homegrown extremists in elections in November. Without mentioning that development, such a threat would also negatively affect the other side of the Atlantic.  

In the two-hour speech, the president asked for a ‘credible’ defense strategy and a joint force, to meet the migration challenge with dignity, raise attention to the Mediterranean region and Africa, lead the ecological transition, lead adaptation to the digital world, and make Europe an economic and monetary power.

April 2024

Public interest around the world in international and domestic power plays by the People’s Republic of China is remaining at an all-time high. Equally significant is how its ruler since 2012,  Xi Jinping, 70, is presented. The official news agency Xinhua, for some time now, is reporting increasingly on Xi as a ‘man of culture,’ as evident by his show of interest but notably by continuous discussion of his newly published literary works. His travels around the country, opportunities to show his closeness to the people and to nature as when he is photographed together with a group of school children planting new trees, are not new and belong to the ruler’s tool of inspection trips around the vast country. But observers are pointing to new strong efforts to stress Xi’s literary efforts and the nearly mandatory study and discussion of his writings by Communist Party members and state officials down to cells in remote parts of the country. Any sign of public or internal criticism remains missing in the absence of a free press and freely elected civic organizations and parties. 

March 2024

The make-up of the political scene in the new year, 2024, will be changing substantially, considering the significance of 64 pending elections, including those of the European Parliament, and in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States of America. The outcome could increase chances of a world becoming more unstable if the trend of democratic backslides continues, predicts the EUobserver.Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, and the United States of America. The outcome could increase chances of a world becoming more unstable if the trend of democratic backslides continues, predicts the EUobserver.

February 2024

Ten major conflicts will continue weakening global peace and stability, including those of Israeli retaliation against the Palestinian attack of 7 October 2023 from inside Gaza, and the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Others requiring constant attention, according to the 2024 Watchlist of the International Crisis Group (ICG), include the Middle East and the Sahel, US and China rivalry, Armenia-Azerbaijan, Burma/Myanmar, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Sudan.

January 2024


Grave concern is rapidly rising about indications that the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only causing more civilian casualties but opening the wider region to resumption of dormant conflicts or starting new ones. Governments in Jordan and Turkey and those of the European Union (EU), France, United Kingdom, and the United States are considering positive preventative steps to keep Iran and the Youthi rebels in Yemen from exploiting the turmoil and are anxious for Lebanon and the Red Sea becoming less favorite targets.

December 2023


The renewed eruption of conflict in the Middle East over the unresolved state of Palestinians–dragging on for more than 70 years –is practically touching public life almost everywhere in the world, a unique and not the normal reaction to wars.

 Certainly Arab neighbor countries are taking sides as are Jewish communities in regions where they are represented in large numbers and above all free to voice their views.

November 2023

Palestinian new massive sneak attack on Israel echoes worldwide. Barely five months after a ceasefire between militants in Palestinian Gaza and Israeli troops, one of the major Palestinian militant groups, the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), on 7 October launched a major terror assault on Israel with thousands of rockets. Supported by the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad Movement of Palestine, the surprise attack immediately caused hundreds of Israeli civilian deaths and over a thousand of  injured  persons. Numerous Israelis were taken hostage and brutally mistreated, including children, reported news organizations. Israel’s government was taken by surprise, but formally  declared war on the next day and ordered Gazans to leave the area, followed by continuing aerial bombing, missile attacks and artillery firing.  Israel’s prime ministerr is rejecting dermands for a ceasefire and by month’s end Israeli forces are entering Gaza with orders to destroy HAMAS.

Away from the region, especially in countries with substantial numbers of  Jewish and Muslim residents and supporters, demonstrations in defense of Israel and freedom and independence for Palestinians are occurring almost daily, frequently marred by clashes with opponents.

 October  2023

The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and State Chairman Xi Jinping is following in the footsteps of Iranian ayatollahs who use the morality police to make sure Iranians, mainly women, are not wearing foreign, speak un-Islamic apparel. The People’s Republic is in the process to ban clothes that “are detrimental  to the spirit of Chinese people” after the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) reviewed public security laws during its 5th session, 4-8 September.  The people have long been denied human rights and political freedom and it is no surprising that this latest move is widely criticized. From comments made, the main offender appear to be Japanese kimonos and costumes that are offending. Traditional clothing of ethnic groups have long been suspect if they seemed to boost cultural differences. Even before the planned changes, police have interfered and arrested people as troublemakers for what they wore or showedoff, such as unusual hair styles. 

Since 12 September, both US president and ex-president are facing hearings and trials. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, giving in to far-right Republican Party legislators, opened an inquiry into impeaching President Joseph R. “Joe” Biden for charges, so-far unspecified. Seen by many as revenge for[JHW1]  prosecuting the former president, the move will become a hunt for evidence, regardless how vague and weak.  

 September  2023 

Barely a month has gone by when West Africa and the world faced a new military coup d’état, on 30 August in Gabon]. The country is not seriously threatened by insurgency and hosting French military forces. But the prolonged presence of a head of state for nearly 14 years – and by no means one of the continent’s longest serving rulers – was one reason for some Gabonese to wish for a change. Especially when the military coup d’état on 30 August dramatically and ostentatiously took effect within minutes of announcement of the second and controversial reelection of the president. Some benefit from oil revenues but poverty is widespread and political recurring demonstrations and unrest are usually linked to the presence and deep influence of just one family of presidents. The latest junta head has promised to restore civilian rule and holding free elections.  

There is little doubt that the suspicious death of  the chief of the Wagner Group mercenaries is seen by many in Russia as a warning from the Kremlin to copycats not to interfere. Observers abroad noted especially that reaction to Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s rebellion on 23 June was first met with condemnation and then with two months of feigned restraint and a public effort not to appear bent on punishment.

August  2023 

The military took over another West African state. After coping with four major Islamist insurgencies for the past 16 years, Niger lost its elected President Mohamed Bazoum, 63 years, and government on 26 July when the presidential guard commander who had protected him since 2011 betrayed him and country. In the evening before 26 July 2023, the guard locked the presidential palace in Niamey with president, family, and staff inside. On the 26th, presidential palace and ministries were blocked off by military vehicles and persons approaching were sent away, according to Al Jazeera. 

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), United Nations (UN, European Union (EU), France, Russia, and the United States of America immediately called for the president’s release and ceding of power.  

On 27 July, the commander of Niger’s Defense and Security Forces (FDS) changed his position and supported the military coup d’état by the so-called National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country (Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie) (CNSP) and General Abdourahmane Tchiani, 62 years, who appointed himself the council’s President. On 28 July, he appeared on television and declared that “Niger needed to change course to avoid the gradual and inevitable demise.”

Later, newly found supporters of the president’s ouster marched in the streets, denounced France, the country’s main source of aid, waving Russian flags.  

Niger is a poor and fragile country, located between Burkina Faso and Mali, both headed by members of the military who overthrown their elected governments during the last three years. It is noteworthy that Russia’s Wagner Group PMC (GV) mercenaries is active in neighboring Mali since 2021 and may soon appear in Niger. The country is also the world’s seventh biggest producer of uranium, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), a radioactive metal in great demand by Russia and others.  

The Russian Wagner Group PMC (GV) of mercenaries has not disappeared. Nor has its head Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin who although having been investigated by Russian authorities for trying to mount a coup d’état, reappeared in Russia and even was in contact with President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Those GV mutineers who moved to Belarus [June 2023, p. 11189] are now being used by the host’s president to threaten his neighbors, especially Poland where borders were placed under tighter surveillance to prevent the infiltration of undercover GV mercenaries.  

After decades of chilly relations between Greece and Tűrkiye and a minimum of direct exchanges, their leaders met on 12 June and agreed to resume talks in the coming months, reported Al Jazeera from Vilnius. The Greek prime minister and the Turkish president had met on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) where Turkey dropped its opposition to membership of  Sweden.

July 2023 

A planned coup d’état in Russia that soldiers-for-hire, mercenaries, launched in the last week of June, was stopped. Its key target, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation since 2012, lost no time on 26 June in an Address to citizens of Russia

  • To declare that “decisions to neutralize the emerged threat were made instantly”;
  • Noting that the majority of Wagner Group “soldiers and commanders” are also Russian Patriots;
  • Stressing that “steps were taken to avoid spilling blood”;
  • To express gratitude to Wagner Group soldiers and commanders who chose not to engage in fratricidal bloodshed;
  • Offered the opportunity to continue service to Russia;
  • To keep his promise to those who want to go to Belarus; and
  • Expressed his gratitude to Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus.

By mid-June, probably some Russian generals and US intelligence had learned that Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group PMC (GV) of mercenaries supporting Russia’s attack on Ukraine and its conflicts in Africa and Syria, was planning armed action against the military. By 23 June, authorities had launched a criminal probe of him, and Russian generals accused Prigozhin of trying to mount a coup d’état on Putin. Prigozhin also accused the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu of ordering a rocket attack on GV field camps in Ukraine.  

On 23 June, he used the Wagner Group to launch a rebellion against the Russian military leadership, again accusing the Defense Ministry of shelling Wagner soldiers. The Wagner Group captured the Russian city of Rostov-na-Donu and headed for Moscow and then stopped.

By 24 June, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko had brokered an agreement with Putin and Prigozhin and the rebellion was called off. Prigozhin agreed to move to Belarus and criminal charges against him for rebellion were dropped. Wagner mutineers would not be prosecuted if they agreed to either sign contracts with the Defense Ministry or move to Belarus.  

On 27 June, US President Joe Biden denied involvement in the revolt and Putin took more credit for preventing it. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) stopped its criminal investigation but allies of Prigozhin might be punished.

Objectively, Putin’s image was altered by the mutiny, even if it was a failed attempt, noted The Week in Russia of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on 30 June. “Wagner forces essentially took control of Rostov-on-Don, a city of more than 1 million, and had advanced to within 200 kilometers of Moscow when Prigozhin abruptly called off the ‘march for justice’.” Ms. Tatyana Stanovaya, senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center wrote “This mutiny was so shocking that the regime appeared to many as near to collapse, which significantly undermines Putin’s ability to secure control in the eyes of the political class. There is also the notion that an “alternative future” that might have unfolded had things gone another way might not be the kind that millions who hope for change in Russia would welcome.”

June 2023 

War is deepening the divide between autocracies and democracies among 29 nations in the region stretching from Central Europe to Central Asia is the warning raised by Freedom House of Washington DC. In its 25th edition of the annual Nations in Transit report it points clearly at the Russian unprovoked invasion of Ukraine as the further cause of overall decline in democratic governance for the region. For the 19th consecutive year, democratic governance in the Nations in Transit region suffered an overall decline. Democracy scores declined in 11 out of the 29 countries. Seven countries earned improvements, however, as civic activists and democratic leaders continued to strive for better governance across the diverse region.

May 2023  

Bipartisan efforts in the United States of America to protect institutions and support of democracy and correct shortcomings of the economy, social aid, and rights of women and minorities are constantly undercut by the white, racist, bigoted wing of the Republican Party, the US Congress, and a number of state legislatures. While the Administration is eager to improve infrastructure at home and support Ukraine against Russian aggression, the Republican wing in the House of Representatives is investigating alleged or perceived failures and violations by the president, and members of his family and of the Administration.

April 2023

Relations between China and the United States of America are unbalanced. While there is a strong incentive to remain peaceful when their leaders are continuing profitable economic dealings, both governments are also pursuing political aims that undercut the positive balance. There was a recent show of unity by China and Russia when their leaders met while Russia is at a war with Ukraine and China expressed support for the Kremlin. China’s leader and the ruling party are sticking to Xi Jinping’s vision to become the preeminent power in East Asia and to pursue aggressively becoming a major world power. The US is sanctioning some Chinese companies, pushing back against Chinese moves in Africa and Latin America, and strengthening not only strategic ties with India, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines but boosting Australian naval power and visibly supporting Taiwan as demonstrated by the island leader’s visit to Washington.

March 2023

During recent years, the president of Türkiye has perseveringly amassed power. Likewise, he has increasingly become more intolerant of dissent as well as any criticism of him which he is quick to take before a court, charging personal insult. The latest blow against democracy was delivered on 13 October when the Grand National Assembly in which his Justice and Development (AKP) party and allies passed a disinformation law by 344 of 600 votes. The president signed it into law on 18 October. It criminalises what the authorities call disinformation and spreading “fake news,” without clearly defining it. Journalists, social media users and others are subject to imprisonment up to three years if found guilty. By the end of January, international media have increasingly condemned the residential authoritarianism. Turkey remains  rated ‘not free’ by Freedom House of New York NY.

 February 2023

Good news at the start of 2023 was the quadrennial report on the 1987 Montreal Protocol that the Earth’s ozone layer, weakened by higher than normal levels of ozone-depleting chemicals from China in 2018, is expected to recover within the next four decades, according to the the Ozone Secretariat of the  United Nations (UN) Environment Program (UNEP) on 10 January. The report was prepared by scientists of a UN-backed panel.  

The traumatic election of a United States Speaker of the House of Representatives is casting an unfortunate shadow on the next two years of acrimonious and probably self-defeating politics. After 15 rounds of voting over our days, the Californian Congressman of the Republican Party was finally elected on 6 January, not before being forced to make numerous concessions to the party’s far-right blocks. Following immediately were appointments of bloc members to new investigative committees to look into alledged misconduct of the government and steps to resist raising the public debt limit, lowering spending on safety net programs, and lowering taxes on business and millionaires.

January 2023





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