This week’s Monday Briefing turns the spotlight on the military clashes that have been reported across Sudan over the weekend. In other news, Macron signs into law his controversial pension reform in France, a US airman is charged in the leak of classified Pentagon documents, Elon Musk plans his new AI startup, and much, much more in our latest issue.
Spotlight: Fighting erupts in Sudan as rival Generals battle for control
On Saturday, heavy gunfire and chaos engulfed the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, and other parts of the country as clashes erupted between Sudan’s armed forces (SAF) and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The clashes have deep rooted links to the military-led ousting of Sudan’s authoritarian leader in 2019, which had followed a year of popular civil uprisings. After the coup, a power-sharing agreement, signed by the civilian forces and the military, created the Sovereignty Council, a body that would oversee the country’s transition to democratic rule. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was appointed chairman of the Council. In October 2021, General al-Burhan orchestrated a coup that deposed the newly formed civilian government and the prime minister. In his efforts, General al-Burhan was supported by Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan (widely known as Hemeti), head of the paramilitary group RSF. After the 2021 power grab, as General al-Burhan seized the leadership of Sudan, General Hamdan of the RSF became the country’s deputy leader.
In recent months, the two leaders had publicly clashed over a rocky deal which planned to merge the RSF into the national armed forces, as part of an agreement with the ruling to junta to bring Sudan back to democratic rule this month. Tensions boiled over into armed clashes between the RSF and SAF on Saturday morning. The RSF has since claimed to have seized the presidential palace, the army chief’s residence, and airports in Khartoum and in the northern city of Merowe. The SAF rejected these assertions, adding that there would be “no negotiations or dialogue until the dissolution of the paramilitary RSF.”
Both Generals have distinctly portrayed themselves as the country’s foremost defenders of democracy, while it is apparent that they have a mutual interest in the conflict’s escalation, as it pushes further away any possibility of handing power over to civilian forces. The fighting has so far left at least 97 people dead and nearly 365 wounded. The WHO has warned that some hospitals in the capital are running out of critical supplies to treat the injured as clashes enter their third day. Among the dead are three UN World Food Programme employees in Darfur; this has led to the temporary halting of the programme’s operations in the country.
Sudan, Africa’s third largest country by area, is situated in a particularly strategic location, bordering both the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa. This means there are larger geopolitical forces at play, with Russian and Western powers battling for influence in Sudan. The Kremlin, for example, has been pressing for the establishment of a Russian military base on the Red Sea, to which Sudanese military leaders have expressed openness. Sudan’s former civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, released a statement appealing to both sides to stop the gunfire “immediately,” warning that a civil war in Sudan could mean instability in the whole region.
Around the World
Airman charged in leak of classified Pentagon documents. On Friday, Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts National Air Guard was accused by the US Justice Department of having leaked classified documents, some of which included briefings on the evolution of the war in Ukraine. If found guilty of unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents, the airman will face a prison sentence of at least 15 years. US President Joe Biden thanked law enforcement for having swiftly investigated the case, and for arresting Mr. Teixeira.
China agreed to secretly arm Russia, leaked Pentagon documents reveal. The information was obtained through a US intercept of Russian intelligence and was included in a summary briefing compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. According to the top-secret papers, China allegedly consented to the “provision of lethal aid” to Russia in its war effort in Ukraine. Additionally, Beijing had planned to disguise military equipment as civilian items. In a public statement, China has denied all these allegations.
Macron signs controversial pension changes into law after months of protests. On Friday, France’s highest constitutional court approved Macron’s controversial pension reform. The court deemed the key provisions of the reform – raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 and extending the years of work required to claim a full pension – to be in accordance with French law. Some violent protest erupted overnight on Friday as the court’s verdict was announced. Workers’ unions, having staged three months of protests against the reform, called for other mass Labor Day protests on May 1st.
Japan’s PM escapes explosion unharmed after suspected attack. After less than a year from the shooting which killed Japanese former prime minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s current PM, Fumio Kishida, was safely evacuated from what was suspected to be an attempt to target him with an explosive device. No one was reported to be injured in the attack. When Kishida resumed with the campaign speech he was about to give before the attack, he reassured the crowd and said he is looking forward to the parliamentary and local elections that will be held later this month.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, a fierce Putin critic, is handed a 25-year prison sentence. Mr Kara-Muza, an activist and journalist, has been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Over the past year, he gave a number of speeches in the US and Europe strongly condemning the war. After his return to Russia last April, he was sentenced to administrative arrest and accused of spreading “fake” information about the Russian Army. This week, in his last speech to the court, which found him guilty of treason and sentenced him to 25 years in prison, Mr Kara-Muza said: “the day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate.”
Alexei Navalny in ‘critical’ situation after possible poisoning in Russian jail. There are no updates on Alexei Navalny’s health condition after an ambulance was called last week to the maximum-security penal colony at Melekhovo, where the leader of the Russian opposition had been suffering of severe stomach pain. Navalny has been imprisoned since coming back from Berlin in 2020, where he was cured after being poisoned with novichok on a plane to Siberia. Shaveddinov, a close ally of Navalny, reported his suspicions on the pain being caused by slow-acting poisoning.
IMF warns of ‘hard landing’ for global economy if inflation persists. Recently released forecasts by the international organization have shown a 25% chance that the annual global growth rate could fall below 2 percent in 2023, a risk twice as large as normal. What’s more, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said this was the weakest medium-term outlook for the global economy since the 1990s. According to Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, chief economist at the Fund, “Below the surface..turbulence is building, and the situation is quite fragile”.
Elon Musk plans artificial intelligence start-up to rival OpenAI. Not long after leading a letter that called for a pause on development of GPT-model services due to safety concerns, billionaire Elon Musk has made sizeable strides in creating his own AI start-up. On March 9th Musk incorporated a company named X.AI, a development that comes after he re named Twitter into X-corp and proposed to create an “everything brand” under the X name. Musk has apparently already presented and received support from major Space X and Tesla investors, while having also bought an immense amount of GPUs and hired specialists from multiple branches of the field of artificial intelligence.
Airstrikes by Burmese military kill dozens at anti-junta event. On Tuesday morning, Myanmar’s military targeted a ceremony marking the peaceful opening of an office set up by the military’s domestic opponents, killing at least 53 people. The victims of the attack included “schoolchildren performing dances, as well as other civilians.” The military junta, which seized power in a coup in February 2021, has increasingly launched airstrikes in an attempt to crush a determined armed resistance movement.
Lula vows partnership with China to ‘balance world geopolitics’. The next stop on Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva’s journey to reassert his country’s role on the international diplomacy stage was China. With talks of expanding trade flows between the two countries, reviving multilateral organisations, creating a “peace club” of countries to address the war in Ukraine, and bringing balance to the world’s geopolitics, the visit appears to have strengthened relationships diplomatically and financially, with 10 billion dollars worth of accords having been made by the end of the visit.
E.U. Cries Foul as Poland and Hungary Ban Ukraine Grain Imports. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union lifted tariffs on imports of Ukrainian grain. However, these exports have led to a surplus of grain produce in Europe, as farmers’ stock in Hungary, Poland, and other EU countries, is undercut by cheaper Ukrainian grain. To protect national production, Hungary and Poland have announced bans on Ukrainian grain imports this past week. The EU has responded that individual member states could not make this kind of trade-policy decisions, as these decisions fall under EU exclusive competences.
Bruxelles in contatto con Roma sullo stato d’emergenza sugli arrivi dei migranti. “La Commissione Europea ha preso nota della decisione dell’Italia di dichiarare lo stato di emergenza sui migranti: è una misura di stampo nazionale e origina da una situazione molto difficile a causa dell’aumento del numero degli arrivi”. Lo ha detto una portavoce dell’esecutivo Ue, precisando che prima di commentare sulle misure specifiche previste dal decreto la Commissione dovrà “vagliare nel dettaglio le norme previste”. La Commissione è “in contatto” con le autorità italiane e nota di aver reagito alla situazione difficile del Mediterraneo centrale con il piano d’azione dedicato, varato lo scorso anno.
ChatGPT, l’ultimatum del Garante della privacy: le due condizioni per ritornare in Italia. Il 30 aprile è la data imposta dal Garante della privacy ad OpenAI entro la quale adeguare il trattamento dei dati personali raccolti tramite ChatGPT ai requisiti richiesti. In tal caso, il blocco sarà rimosso. Il garante inoltre chiede, con meno urgenza, che vengano messi a disposizione degli utenti degli strumenti per poter modificare e/o cancellare i dati messi a disposizione del sito.
La lite Renzi-Calenda. “Renzi non ha mai voluto fare un partito. Messo alle strette ha provato a rifilarci una ‘sola’ e non gli è riuscito. Allora ha fatto saltare tutto. Ora ignoriamo gli insulti, la cagnara dei finti profili di IV etc. e andiamo avanti a fare politica come l’abbiamo sempre fatta: in modo onesto, trasparente e sui contenuti”. Con un tweet Carlo Calenda tenta di sedare così la montagna di polemiche, insulti e dileggi che accompagnano il naufragio del Terzo Polo. Se i due partiti si dividessero davvero, perderebbero i 14 milioni di euro in finanziamenti e non avrebbero il numero minimo per formare un partito unitario presente alla Camera e al Senato.
After a well-deserved Easter break, our campus is yet again filled with professors and students rushing to their next class. These following weeks are announced to be packed with events, courses, and other activities.
For example, on the 18th of April, the Volunteer Desk will be open in the Campus Life space on Via Bocconi 12, where students will be able to find out more about several exciting summer volunteering opportunities in Italy, or abroad. What’s more, a Geopolitics lab will take place a day later, which will be an opportunity for Bocconians to debate upon the most pressing political issues of today. The event will be held online and is organized in collaboration with ISPI.
What’s more, the cinephile will be excited to discover that there will be 2 movie screenings held on campus this month: “Alien” will run on the 18th, while “Akira” will be played on the 26th. For more information about events on campus, check your Outlook email inbox.
Cartoon of the Week: Elon Musk enters the ring
In case you missed it
Jemmy Suwannaluck illustra in breve le mostre e gli appuntamenti culturali che la città di Milano offre questa primavera. Jemmy scrive: “in questa Milano primaverile è un invito per tutti a prendere la bici, il tram o la metro e passare almeno un’ora, un giorno, un fine settimana a visitare mostre e musei, perdersi tra la bellezza e riscoprirsi grazie all’arte e alla primavera che ci circondano.”
Giovanni Cannari, con l’associazione studentesca Keiron, tratta di come la rapida evoluzione dei software di intelligenza artificiale rischia di mettere in crisi alcuni principi generali che governano l’imputazione penale.
Gonçalo Almeida, in the weekly finance column Week at Close, recaps the main events that dominated financial markets over the past month, and how this week’s announcement by OPEC+ to cut oil production is set to further affect the global financial situation.
Bojan Zeric analyzes Macron’s political support following the introduction of his controversial pension reform. Bojan writes: “the President has convincingly pushed for the reform, hardly hesitating before alienating the parliament and the French people and accepting to pay a remarkably high political cost.”