21 December 2019   Leave a comment

The US has finally put sanctions on companies and individuals that contribute to the building of a natural gas pipeline call Nord Stream 2 which connects Russia and Germany. Europe is interested in the pipeline since it will increase natural gas supplies to European state and Russia wants the pipeline because it will increase its gas exports. The US, however, has been opposed for two reasons. First, it will reduce demand in Europe for US natural gas which is critical to maintaining the profitability of gas companies that use fracking to produce natural gas. Second, it increases European dependence on Russia which harms US influence on Europe. The US, however, has been slow to impede the Nord Stream 2 project and it now appears as if the pipeline is a done deal. Forbes reports:

“Already last year it was clear that the pipeline was probably unstoppable unless the U.S. took immediate action, which it did not. Since then, Denmark has given the last approval needed for the project. The company construction Nord Stream 2 says it is now 83% finished, with 2,042 kilometers (1,270 miles) already laid at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. They say the last section through Danish territorial waters, approved after a long delay in October, can be constructed in just five weeks.

“The pipeline is expected to start pumping gas midway through next year.”

The new pipeline also negatively affects Ukraine because it reduces Russian dependence on Ukraine for the transit of its natural gas.

18 people have died in India in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The government has imposed curfews in certain areas of the country and internet access has been blocked in other areas. In Uttar Pradesh, a state with about 200 million people, assemblies of more than four people have been banned. Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes in Foreign Affairs:

“The burgeoning movement against the citizenship act is a refreshing sign of possible constitutional regeneration. But it may struggle against the headwinds of Modi’s assertive Hindu nationalism. The BJP’s policy priorities in recent months reflect a hard ideological turn: the shredding of Kashmir’s nominal autonomy and the ensuing crackdown in the restive territory; the triumphant exultation over the Supreme Court decision to allow the building of the powerfully symbolic Ram Temple in Ayodhya; and talk of anti-conversion and population control legislation. Even in public discourse, the baiting and demonization of minorities is more palpable. In a recent speech in the central state of Jharkhand, Modi made a sly reference to the fact that those protesting the citizenship law could be ‘recognized by their clothes,’ a clear dog whistle for Muslims.

“Modi’s robust combination of Hindu majoritarianism and authoritarianism will not be defeated easily. But the passage of the citizenship act has woken India to the dangers that threaten its core constitutional values. The road to recover and protect those values will be long, arduous, and full of conflict. Many Indians are finally saying, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Other countries have been slow to express their opinions on the government’s response to the protests. Not long ago, Prime Minister Modi’s position in India seemed unassailable. But his actions in Kashmir and the larger issue of the Registry of Citizens raised suspicions about his commitment to the idea of secular India and the Citizenship Amendment Act has solidified those suspicions into outright mistrust among many Indians.

Posted December 21, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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