On February 8, 2022, UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund) Afghanistan sent out a bleak set of tweets. One of the tweets, which included a photograph of a child lying in a hospital bed with her mother seated beside her, said: “Having recently recovered from acute watery diarrhea, two years old Soria is back in hospital, this time suffering from edema and wasting. Her mother has been by her bedside for the past two weeks anxiously waiting for Soria to recover.” The series of tweets by UNICEF Afghanistan show that Soria is not alone in her suffering. “One in three adolescent girls suffers from anemia” in Afghanistan, with the country struggling with “one of the world’s highest rates of stunting in children under five: 41 percent,” according to UNICEF.
The story of Soria is one among millions; in Uruzgan Province, in southern Afghanistan, measles cases are rising due to lack of vaccines. The thread to the tweet about Soria from UNICEF Afghanistan was a further bleak reminder about the severity of the situation in the country and its impact on the lives of the children: “without urgent action, 1 million children could die from severe acute malnutrition.” UNICEF is now distributing “high energy peanut paste” to stave off catastrophe.
The United Nations has, meanwhile, warned that approximately 23 million Afghans—about half the total population of the country—are “facing a record level of acute hunger.” In early September, not even a month after the Taliban came to power in Kabul, the UN Development Program noted that “A 10-13 percent reduction in GDP could, in the worst-case scenario, bring Afghanistan to the precipice of near universal poverty—a 97 percent poverty rate by mid-2022.”
When the West fled the country at the end of August 2021, a large part of the foreign funding, which Afghanistan’s GDP is dependent on, also vanished with the troops: 43 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP and 75 percent of its public funding, which came from aid agencies, dried up overnight.
Ahmad Raza Khan, the chief collector (customs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, says that exports from his country to Afghanistan have dropped by 25 percent; the State Bank of Pakistan, he says, “introduced a new policy of exports to Afghanistan on December 13” that requires Afghan traders to show that they have U.S. dollars on them to buy goods from Pakistan before entering the country, which is near impossible to show for many of the traders since the Taliban has banned the “use of foreign currency” in the country. It is likely that Afghanistan is not very far away from near universal poverty with the way things stand there presently.
On January 26, 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “Afghanistan is hanging by a thread,” while pointing to the 30 percent “contraction” of its GDP.
Sanctions and Dollars
On February 7, 2022, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told Sky News that this perilous situation, which is leading to starvation and illness among children in Afghanistan, “is not the result of our [Taliban] activities. It is the result of the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan.”
On this point, Shaheen is correct. In August 2021, the U.S. government froze the $9.5 billion that Afghanistan’s central bank (Da Afghanistan Bank) held in the New York Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, family members of the victims who died in the 9/11 attacks had sued “a list of targets,” including the Taliban, for their losses and a U.S. court later ruled that the plaintiffs be paid “damages” that now amount to $7 billion. Now that the Taliban is in power in Afghanistan, the Biden administration seems to be moving forward “to clear a legal path” to stake a claim on $3.5 billion out of the money deposited in the Federal Reserve for the families of the September 11 victims.
The European Union followed suit, cutting off $1.4 billion in government assistance and development aid to Afghanistan, which was supposed to have been paid between 2021 and 2025. Because of the loss of this funding from Europe, Afghanistan had to shut down “at least 2,000 health facilities serving around 30 million Afghans.” It should be noted here that the total population of Afghanistan is approximately 40 million, which means that most Afghans have lost access to health care due to that decision.
During the entire 20-year period of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Public Health had come to rely on a combination of donor funds and assistance from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). It was as a result of these funds that Afghanistan saw a decline in infant mortality and maternal mortality rates during the Afghanistan Mortality Survey 2010. Nonetheless, the entire public health care system, particularly outside Kabul, struggled during the U.S. occupation. “Many primary healthcare facilities were non-functional due to insecurity, lack of infrastructure, shortages of staff, severe weather, migrations and poor patient flow,” wrote health care professionals from Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on their analysis of how the conflict in Afghanistan affected the “maternal and child health service delivery.”
Walk Along Shaheed Mazari Road
On February 8, 2022, an Afghan friend who works along Shaheed Mazari Road in Kabul took me for a virtual walk—using the video option on his phone—to this busy part of the city. He wanted to show me that in the capital at least the shops had goods in them, but that the people simply did not have money to make purchases. We had been discussing how the International Labor Organization now estimates that nearly a million people will be pushed out of their jobs by the middle of the year, many of them women who are suffering from the Taliban’s restrictions on women working. Afghanistan, he tells me, is being destroyed by a combination of the lack of employment and the lack of cash in the country due to the sanctions imposed by the West.
We discuss the Taliban personnel in charge of finances, people such as Finance Minister Mullah Hidayatullah Badri and the governor of the Afghanistan central bank Shakir Jalali. Badri (or Gul Agha) is the money man for the Taliban, while Jalali is an expert in Islamic banking. There is no doubt that Badri is a resourceful person, who developed the Taliban’s financial infrastructure and learned about international finance in the illicit markets. “Even the smartest and most knowledgeable person would not be able to do anything if the sanctions remain,” my friend said. He would know. He used to work in Da Afghanistan Bank.
“Why can’t the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) be used to rush money to the banks?” he asked. This fund, a partnership between the World Bank and other donors, which was created in 2002, has $1.5 billion in funds. If you visit the ARTF website, you will receive a bleak update: “The World Bank has paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan.” I tell my friend that I don’t think the World Bank will unfreeze these assets soon. “Well, then we will starve,” he says, as he walks past children sitting on the side of the street.
By Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.
This article was produced by Globetrotter to publish on Telegraf.
Staff of BNNK Bogor Visit Ambassador of Hungary
Bogor Regency National Narcotics Agency (BNNK) staff visited the Hungarian Ambassador (23/05).
Following up on a meeting with the Hungarian Ambassador at an international discussion on the dangers of drugs in a number of countries, including Indonesia and Hungary on April 27, 2022, at Agape Foundation in Cisarua Bogor.
Imam Maulana and Kharisma Putra Bintara paid a visit to the Hungarian Embassy in Jakarta. On that occasion, both represented the Head of BNNK, AKBP. H. Moh. Syabli Noer to hand over souvenirs from BNNK Bogor to Ambassador Lilla Karsay.
During the friendly visit, it was stated that BNNK Bogor was very enthusiastic about establishing a cooperation program in drug handling in Hungary that focused on prevention and rehabilitation, especially for teenagers and adults within the family.
BNNK Bogor hopes that the drug handling program can be synergized between the two countries in the future.
In addition to discussing the issue of Narcotics, the Bogor BNNK also discussed the scholarship program offered by the Hungarian government for Indonesian students who wish to continue their education to a higher level in Hungary. The meeting was warm and pleasant.
Author: Nia S. Amira
CNBC Gives Megawati Lifetime Achievement
Chairman and Founder of CT Corp, Chairul Tanjung (CT) gave an award to the 5th former President of the Republic of Indonesia Megawati Soekarnoputri who received the CNBC Indonesia Lifetime Achievement award. Indonesia’s economic condition is in serious condition due to the national monetary crisis.
The arrival of CT with her daughter, Putri Tanjung and the main commissioner of Trans Media Ishadi SK was received by the Secretary General of the PDI Perjuangan Party Hasto Kristiyanto at Megawati’s residence, Jalan Teuku Umar, Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Friday (11/03/2022).
Hasto greeted the three while talking for a while. Hasto also pointed at a tree where there were many squirrels and introduced some of the plants.
“At Mega’s place, the squirrels are also fed, gathered in all the squirrels in Menteng and get food from Megawati,” said Hasto.
Hasto then explained Megawati’s habit of caring for the environment, including collecting all fallen leaves to be processed into organic fertilizer.
For the award she received, Megawati then greatly appreciated it. In fact, Megawati then spoke at length about the socio-economic and political conditions at that time.
“I am very grateful for this award. I remember from all my life’s journey, this assignment from a country that made me dizzy. Because there is a TAP MPR which is mandatory and there is a date for its completion,” said Megawati.
Before handing over the award, CT also explained about the results of observations and research conducted by CNBC Indonesia that Megawati received a proper award because Megawati was in the economic field, especially in resolving the 1998 monetary crisis when Indonesia’s conditions were severe which then created economic creation.
“We have come to give appreciation for your services in restoring the economy at a time that was devastated by the 1998 monetary crisis. And during your leadership as president, you succeeded in bringing back the Indonesian economy at that time,” CT explained.
Previously, in December 2021, the award was also given virtually, and was represented by the Chairman of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Puan Maharani, who is also the daughter of Megawati.
“We present this award as our appreciation to you for your services to the nation and state,” he said.
US Military Increases Surveillance, Missile Defences After North Korea Launches
The US military has increased surveillance and reconnaissance collection in the Yellow Sea and heightened its ballistic missile defence readiness after a “significant increase” in North Korean missile testing, the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said on Thursday (Mar 10).
North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests in January, including its largest weapon since 2017, and after a month-long pause launched two rockets last week in what it said were tests of spy satellite systems.
“We have made clear our concern over the significant increase in DPRK missile testing activity, which undermines peace and security and is destabilising to the region and the international community,” INDOPACOM said in a statement, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.
In light of this, on Monday the command ordered intensified intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance collection activities in the Yellow Sea, as well as “enhanced readiness” among US ballistic missile defence forces in the region, the statement said.
North Korea’s missile launches could be groundwork for a return to intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and nuclear bomb tests this year, the US Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) said in its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment released this week.
North Korea has not conducted a nuclear test or launched its longest-range ICBMs since 2017, but has suggested it could resume that testing because denuclearisation talks are stalled.
Washington says it is open to talks without preconditions, but Pyongyang says such overtures are insincere as long as the United States and its allies maintain “hostile policies” such as sanctions and military drills.
Also on Thursday INDOPACOM shared photos of a US nuclear-capable B-52 strategic bomber flying a mission from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
“The United States remains committed to serious and sustained diplomacy toward the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” INDOPACOM said.
How Pakistan Could Find a Development-First Path to Peace in Balochistan
The disappearances and killings of Baloch activists living in Pakistan and abroad under mysterious circumstances have made headlines in recent years. The surge in cases relating to these “enforced disappearances” highlights the urgency for Pakistan to resolve the grievances felt by the people of the region as it tries to forge an identity away from the U.S. and looks to China for its future growth.
On December 20, 2020, on a winter day during the pandemic, 37-year-old Karima Baloch, a Pakistani Baloch human rights activist living in exile in Canada, apparently decided to take a stroll along the Toronto waterfront at Center Island—a tourist area that was located far from then-mostly locked-down places of business—and was found dead due to drowning. The police ruled out any criminal activity behind her death, but her husband, Hammal Haider, who is also an activist, said that they had received death threats a month before his wife’s death, according to the Guardian.
Eight months earlier, in May 2020, another Baloch activist, journalist Sajid Hussain, was also found dead due to drowning in a river in Sweden, where he’d been granted political asylum in 2019. These two deaths—both newsworthy for having taken place in Western countries and involving activists who had been living in asylum—are a drop in the ocean in terms of disappearances of activists from the Balochistan province in Pakistan. Groups in Balochistan believe there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people who have disappeared in Pakistan, with new cases of “enforced disappearances” filed all the time. One Western source reported that more than 1,000 activists were “killed and dumped” in Balochistan between 2011 and 2016 alone.
Prolific Pakistani activist and writer Pervez Hoodbhoy told me that the protests against the “enforced disappearances” that took place in the Balochistan region at the end of 2021 “drew tens of thousands of people, including women and children, day after day for three weeks from nearby areas of Gwadar, including Turbat, Pishkan, Zamoran, Buleda, Ormara, and Pasni. They were protesting against the treatment of locals, and particularly the paucity of drinking water and intrusions by Chinese fishing vessels. The sense of deprivation is felt far and wide in Balochistan.”
There are many elements to the conflict between Balochistan and Pakistan. Balochistan is on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and has been greatly affected by the four decades of conflict there. It’s the keystone of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which stretches from China to the regional hub port of Gwadar. It’s also the region belonging to the oppressed Baloch minority within Pakistan.
At the heart of the conflict, however, is the failure of the counterinsurgency model being followed by Pakistan for keeping the nation together.
England invaded Balochistan in 1839, as part of their 19th-century “Great Game” operations intended to secure and expand the British Empire in Asia. Considered semi-autonomous, Balochistan was called Kalat and ruled by Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, the Khan of Kalat, who declared independence during the traumatic events of the 1947 partition of India into India and Pakistan. After an eight-month insurgency beginning in 1947, the Khan of Kalat finally acceded to Pakistan in 1948. Several rounds of battle between Baloch nationalists and Pakistan’s government followed thereafter: in 1958-1959, 1962-63, 1973-1977, and from 2004 to today.
Forty years of often ambiguous alliance with the United States in Afghanistan has transformed the Pakistani state, strengthening the covert wings of the country’s armed forces. Since the 1980s, Pakistan has supported the Afghan insurgents. In the 2000s, Pakistan supported American counterinsurgents, and eventually came to support both the U.S. occupation in Afghanistan and the Taliban insurgency (which took over control of Afghanistan in August 2021 and has been governing the country ever since) at the same time. Pakistan used a U.S.-modeled approach to deal with Baloch separatism, sponsoring Islamic militancy against secular nationalism in the region and deploying the brutal methods of counterinsurgency.
When I asked Hoodbhoy about Pakistan’s approach to Balochistan, he said: “Like the dreaded generals of Latin America, Pakistan’s generals too have learned how to quell insurgencies. Over the years, dead bodies have appeared on the roadsides with marks of torture and many thousand young Baloch men have gone missing, some forever.”
On Pakistan’s nudging of rebels against secular nationalism in Balochistan, Hoodbhoy said: “The establishment has willfully used extremist militant religious organizations like Sipah-e-Sahaba as an antidote to Baloch nationalism. It has worked up to a point—what was once a Marxist-inspired insurgency as… [seen during] the 1973 uprising is now more ethnically oriented.”
Hoodbhoy also identified the local media coverage of the issue as part of the problem: “No journalist who reports accurately on events from Balochistan can expect to live too long,” he said. “In January 2022, Baloch students were rounded up in Lahore, which is many hundred miles away [from Balochistan], after a terrorist attack [a bomb blast in the market area in Lahore that was] likely carried out by the Taliban.”
These methods—covert operations, the infiltration and sponsorship of specific insurgents against one another, media manufacturing of consent of the public against innocent people who have been baselessly implicated in terrorist activities—are characteristic of the U.S. counterinsurgencies carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan. But should Pakistan keep using legacy U.S. methods when it is no longer under any obligation to do so?
Deteriorating Relations Between the U.S. and Pakistan
The visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to Moscow on February 23-24, in the middle of Russia’s war with Ukraine, symbolized the sorry state of the Pakistan-U.S. relationship. This deterioration in relations set in more than a decade ago as the United States grew frustrated with Pakistan’s less-than-enthusiastic support for U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and the inhumane U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. Former U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said in 2012 that “Quite frankly, the Pakistani military and leaders that give safe haven to the mass murderer of Americans [Osama bin Laden] should not expect to be treated with respect,” according to an Al Jazeera article. Another Congressman, Louie Gohmert, suggested during a 2012 video interview that the U.S. should look at breaking up Pakistan, starting with Balochistan, as a strategy to help U.S. troops who were then still occupying Afghanistan: “Let’s talk about creating a Balochistan in the southern part of Pakistan. They’ll stop the IEDs and all of the weaponry coming into Afghanistan, and we got a shot to win over there,” reported Al Jazeera.
Pakistan has been accused of supporting terrorism and faces a tightening noose of financial controls and sanctions through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The U.S. practices financial warfare against allies and enemies alike. As an ally quickly moving toward becoming an American enemy, Pakistan is not likely to escape these financial sanctions.
What has put Pakistan fully in the opposing camp to the United States is Pakistan’s relationship with China, its so-called “all-weather ally.” And the symbol of that relationship is perhaps the cornerstone of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship of which is the Gwadar port in Balochistan. Writer and political analyst Andrew Korybko has argued that Pakistan is the target of a U.S. hybrid war, one focused on the CPEC and Balochistan, and that Pakistan has been the target of this war since 2015. He told me that Pakistan is now trying to change course from the American iron fist: “Efforts are being made [in Pakistan] to invest more in the region’s infrastructure, both physical and social. Locals feel left out of the country’s recent growth and want a larger share of the wealth that’s derived from their resource-rich and geostrategically positioned region.” Pakistan’s lighter approach, he said, will “be put to the test in Balochistan in the coming future.”
With a growing presence in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, BRI deals often involve Chinese banks financing the construction of infrastructure projects in these regions, which are led by Chinese companies, with loans sometimes paid back directly in natural resources such as minerals or petroleum. As former Liberian Minister of Public Works Gyude Moore explained to an audience at the University of Chicago, these loans by the Chinese banks are often rescheduled when they become due. The BRI is based on the premise that the path to prosperity for poor countries is through win-win solutions—trade deals in which the economically stronger party (China in all cases) does not interfere with the internal politics of the weaker party or country. This means that for all the business being done in the CPEC, the resolution of the Balochistan conflict remains solely Pakistan’s responsibility. China’s approach to separatism within its own borders, in Xinjiang, has been different from the U.S. (or Pakistan’s or India’s) counterinsurgency approach: as opposed to enforced disappearances, assassinations, and military operations, the cornerstones of China’s counterinsurgency approach have been vocational training, “re-education” camps, and poverty alleviation.
Because of the comprehensive demonization of China’s approach by the Western media, China’s programs in Xinjiang have no prestige and are not seen as a model to be followed by any other country. But for the resolution of the issues in Balochistan, viewed by many as “Asia’s Next Headache,” is a path based on peace and development possible?
Hoodbhoy outlined his thoughts on the minimum elements required for improving the situation in the province: “The key to Pakistan’s stability does not lie in making the army’s fist yet harder or peddling hard varieties of religion in an attempt to contain nationalist discontent. Instead, it must be found in sharply limiting the power of the federation, sharing power between provinces, equitably distributing resources, and giving Pakistan’s various cultures and languages their due. In the long run, only a system where all [provinces and regions] have a stake can survive and prosper.”
The urgent need of the moment, however, is to turn the heat down in Balochistan. How to cool Balochistan off? I asked Baloch activist and writer Shah Jahan Baloch about what Pakistan should do immediately to dial the conflict down. He came back to me with an extensive list. On the human rights front, the bare minimum includes the release of all missing persons; criminal cases against those who have murdered civilians and activists whether they are in the armed forces or not; the withdrawal of the Frontier Corps and army and its replacement with civil administration and law enforcement; and peace negotiations with the Baloch nationalist parties with international mediation. On the economic side, the army needs to release its control of border trade with Iran and Afghanistan and replace it with ordinary customs authority; fishing and water rights need to be demilitarized; and so, too, do educational institutions and elections. If a long-term solution based on developmentalism is to work, demilitarization must precede it.
By Justin Podur is a Toronto-based writer and a writing fellow at Globetrotter. You can find him on his website at podur.org and on Twitter @justinpodur. He teaches at York University in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.
When Half Of Our Life Is In The Darkness
Several families who attended a gathering in Jakarta which was organized by Hendrik Wowor the Agape Founder recently, feeling like a big family reunion. Coming from the same background where their children slip into the well of drugs, which makes half of our lives dark, and even don’t know what to do.
It still remains in our memories, when Komjen Pol. Anang Iskandar still served as Head of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) before being replaced by Komjen Pol. Drs. Heru Winarko, S.H., Anang Iskandar said about drugs and Indonesia’s status is in a drug emergency, around 50 people die every day due to narcotics and illegal drug abuse, with economic and social losses reaching Rp 63 trillion per year.
Currently, Indonesia is in a drug emergency with a high alarming mortality rate, which is 100.000 annually due to drug abuse, based on BNN report as of September 2020. This figure has increased by 28.8% from the previous year and this mortality rate is the highest point due to drug abuse in Indonesia.
Indonesia’s status of a drug emergency has forced the government to impose a Reporting Recipient Institution (IPWL) for every institution that organizes rehabilitation for drug addicts. IPWL is an institutional system established based on Government Regulation Number 25 of 2011 concerning the Implementation of Compulsory Reporting for Narcotics Addicts. This institution is an implementation of Law Number 35 of 2009 concerning Narcotics, especially article 55. The Agape Foundation is one of the legal institutions that has become a Reporting Obligatory Recipient Institution (IPWL) and has partnered with the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs since 2015.
As a person who has been in drug rehabilitation works for two decades, Hendrik Wowor, a calm middle-aged man, feels very sad about the existence data on the Prevalence of Drug Users and Addicts in Indonesia, which has reached 3.6 million people (BNN RI Survey as of 5 Dec 2019). When reading more, it is sad that the types of Narcotics that have entered Indonesia have reached 803 types and only about 47 types are regulated by the Law & PERMENKES RI/20/2018. It is a huge homework for social institutions that are trying to reduce the number of living victims and those who are died due to drug abuse / psychotropic drugs.
BNN targets is to be able to rehabilitate 100,000 people every year to suppress the growth rate of people who are exposed to drug addicts, because new types of drugs will always appear. BNN has detected the existence of 48 drug dealer networks throughout Indonesia, and the death penalty is the only solution to provide a deterrent effect to drug dealers and Indonesia has established the death penalty as a solution to dealing with drug dealers.
Hendrik Wowor is the founder of the Agape foundation which is located in a shady calm place, surrounded by big trees in Cisarua Bogor, an ideal place for healing. At first, it was his sincere intention to help a drug addict patient, and on the advice of a friend, Hendrik established the Agape Foundation in 2000 with the aim of helping brothers and sisters who have become addicts. Hendrik uses a holistic approach in treating his patients, and over time, he finds many addicts who were initially used as drug couriers by drug dealers in the Bogor area and its surroundings even since they were still in junior high school and coincidentally they came from family living around Cisarua. Agape sincerely and happily provides services for public who really need help regardless of class, creed or social strata, outside of their inpatients.
Until now Hendrik and his staff have treated hundreds of patients one after another and currently the patient rooms are inadequate and need a lot of renovation. Hendrik dreams of building a better and representative drug addicts rehabilitation place for the recovery of drug addicts, so that they will feel more comfortable and not feel like they are in a rehabilitation center. So far Hendrik has started by building in a wider location, not far from the old building. Hendrik wants to realize his big dream comes true together with his friends who want to see Indonesia proud and smile again when he finds his former patients can rebuild their own country and their lives become bright again.
Hendrik’s hope in the future, it is necessary to bind a solid synergy between fellow Rehabilitation Institutions whose aim is to assist the country in solving drug problems. The Drug Law should be reviewed, so that the boundaries between victims and perpetrators are clearer. According to Hendrik, the drug victims are sick people, so they must be treated not imprisoned and the place for treatment is in rehabilitation centers, while the dealers can just go to the prison. There are around 190 Compulsory Reporting Recipient Institutions (IPWL) for drug rehabilitation homes under the Ministry of Social Affairs. Of course the capacity at the Directorate of Drugs at the Ministry of Social Affairs is not comparable to the number of Rehabilitation Institutions existence, the human resources that provide supervision must be very overwhelmed. “Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the role of non-government rehabilitation institutions,” said Hendrik.
The Agape Foundation provides 2 types of services; namely Inpatient Rehabilitation where there is a place provided, while Road Rehabilitation, there are consular officers who go directly to the field to provide education mostly to the street children. Patients who live in Agape’s Rehabilitation Center come from various ages, from teenagers to the elderly within 11 months of treatments.
“The big threats to the Indonesian people are Corruption, Terrorism and Drugs, and the biggest threat is drugs. Currently, my friends and I at the Agape Foundation are rehabilitating drug victims, online gambling, and patients with mental disorders, we are both praying and joining hands in dealing with the dangers of this drug” Hendrik closed the conversation while offering warm tea and a plate of fried bananas.
By Nia S. Amira is a distinguished author, journalist and linguist from Indonesia. She writes on cultural, international affairs, multicultarism and religious studies. Her articles have appeared in over thirty newspapers that are published in Europe, Asia and United States.
Japan-US ‘Island Chain’ Will Roil China, Russia
How Plans to Develop a Japan-US ‘Island Chain’ Will Provoke Backlash from China and Russia
A Kyodo News agency report on Friday cited Japanese government sources to the effect that Tokyo and Washington have drawn up a draft joint operation plan that would enable the setup of an attack base along the Nansei island chain in Japan’s southwest in the event of a Taiwan contingency.
According to the report, the forthcoming “2+2” ministerial of foreign and defense chiefs of the US and Japan on January 7 in Washington is expected to “formalize” the operation plan.
The report details that under the plan, “US Marines will set up a temporary attack base” on the Nansei Islands (also known as Ryukyu Islands) initially in a chain stretching southwest toward Taiwan, with around 40 “candidate sites” amongst around 200 islands, including uninhabited ones.
The report comes in the wake of the recent remarks by Japan’s hawkish former PM Shinzo Abe that any Taiwan contingency would also be an emergency for Japan and for the Japan-US security alliance.
This report comes only a day after the approval by the Japanese Parliament on Friday to approve the country’s biggest ever increase in defense spending since World War 2.
What remains to be seen is whether the Japanese government will now push ahead with a constitutional amendment that will allow Japan to wage war. The existing pacifist constitution, a legacy of World War 2, forbids Japanese armed forces waging wars except strictly in self-defense.
Seven decades ago, the US imposed a pacifist constitution on Japan — which was drafted over the span of just a week by a small team of Americans led by Gen. MacArthur, the supreme commander for the Allied powers. Ironically, the US is now actively encouraging Tokyo to jettison the restrictions and be a “normal” country so as to recruit it as a full-fledged participant in its alliance system in waging wars in the Asia-Pacific.
Japanese militarism is a fact of modern history. The Great Depression affected Japan by a great amount, and led to a rise in militarism. Succinctly put, Japan wanted to expand in order to gain more natural resources and to create its own economic empire in the Pacific. Its genesis can be traced to the period of rapid militarisation to modernize quickly and keep up with the Western world.
Circumstances then and now have similarities and dissimilarities. The main difference in the early 20th century was that Japan was unhappy with the massive wave of modern globalization by the Western powers, which resulted in the colonization of numerous countries around the world whose ramifications were felt especially in Asia. In sum, Japan protected itself against colonization from western powers.
To protect itself from what it perceived as the possibility of war with Western powers, Japan developed a National Defense State, which was effectively a highly militarized government in which the political establishment made the militaristic decisions with strength of the nation’s economy tied with that of its military.
Of course, an ideological revitalisation went hand in hand whereby the Japanese nation came to believe in serving the militant, ultra-nationalistic state as a sacred duty. Thus it was that Japan turned into an imperialist type power of Asia with its rapid industrialisation and invasions in China, Korea and Manchuria.
Beijing and Moscow do not seem overly worried about Japan’s moves right now. But they are watching closely, given the geopolitical reality that any revival of Japanese militarism will now be also anchored on the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy against China and Russia. They may yet be waiting to see if Japan makes its biggest move yet — actually amending its antiwar constitution for the first time.
Russia’s tensions with the US over Ukraine also has a Far East vector. Second, Russia and Japan are yet to sign a Peace Treaty bringing their World War 2 hostilities to a formal end. Russia increasingly sees a congruence of interests with China.
On November 23, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe that US air patrols near Russia’s eastern borders had increased, with a total of 22 strategic flights over the Sea of Okhotsk in 2020 – up from three the previous year – which he said posed a threat to both Russia and China. “Against this background, Russian-Chinese coordination is becoming a stabilizing factor in world affairs,” Shoigu said.
This conversation took place on the sidelines of the signing of “a road map” for military cooperation by the two defense ministers. Only three days earlier, Chinese and Russian air forces conducted a joint strategic air patrol over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. China sent two H-6K aircraft to form a joint formation with two Russian Tu-95MC aircraft.
This was the third joint strategic air patrol by the Chinese and Russian militaries aimed at enhancing “the level of strategic coordination and joint operational capabilities, and jointly maintain global strategic stability,” according to a Chinese readout.
A month before that, after wrapping up a joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan on October 17, ten powerful Chinese and Russian warships undertook an unprecedented mission to sail through the Tsugaru Strait into the Pacific Ocean in their first joint maritime patrol encircling Japan.
Russia’s defense ministry said, “The tasks of the patrols were the demonstration of the Russian and Chinese state flags, maintaining of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and guardianship of the subjects of maritime economic activities of the two countries.”
Quite obviously, Moscow’s line has hardened in the recent months on the Kuril Islands problem with Japan. President Putin unveiled a new proposal in September to establish a special economic zone in the disputed islands under Russian law. Evidently, Russia plans to intensively and rapidly develop the Kuril and strengthen its integration. Tokyo has protested.
Moscow fears possible deployment of US missile systems on the islands if they are returned to Japan, creating a direct military threat to Russia. The Russian Defense Ministry announced on December 2 the deployment of advanced mobile coastal defense missile system Bastile on the Kuril Islands.
The Russian Defense Ministry also announced on December 21 a plan to hold two strategic command-and-staff exercises, headlined Vostok and Grom, next year. The Vostok (East) drills in the Russian Far East are planned as a key combat training event for all Russian troops.
The disclosure by Kyoto of a joint US-Japan joint operation plan to set up an attack base along the Nansei island chain will most certainly draw a backlash from Moscow. The Kyodo News report said the US deployment will include a “high mobility artillery rocket system.” Russia has repeatedly warned the US against the deployment of intermediate range missiles in Japan. China too has a similar position and has warned that it would “not stand idly by” if the US deployed ground-based missiles to Asia.
By M.K. Bhadrakumar is a former Indian diplomat.
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