WORLD ROUNDUPWhen Will Washington Get Serious About Taiwan? | Who Would Benefit from Ebrahim Raisi’s Death? | Hundreds of India Election Rallies Targeting Muslims, and more

Published 22 May 2024

·  Who Would Benefit from Ebrahim Raisi’s Death?
If the Iranian president turns out to have lost his life in a helicopter crash, it will set off a fierce scramble for power

·  Poland Announces £2bn Border Defense Project ‘to Keep out Russia’
The East Shield scheme will make the Polish border ‘impenetrable’ to potential enemies, according to Donald Tusk

·  When Will Washington Get Serious About Taiwan?
Its long-standing attitude toward the island is based on a set of military and political foundations that no longer exist

·  The Man Who Would Help Trump Upend the Global Economy
As a potential U.S. Treasury secretary, Robert Lighthizer has more than trade policy to revolutionize

·  Spain, Ireland Poised to Back Palestinian State
Spain and Ireland are set to push ahead with an initiative to recognize a Palestinian state. Other EU members and European countries may also provide their backing

·  US Watchdog Documents Hundreds of India Election Rallies Targeting Muslims
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party and other party leaders and candidates have been delivering incendiary speeches targeting India’s Muslims

·  China Accelerates Forced Relocation of Rural Tibetans to Urban Areas, Report Says
China has been accelerating the forced relocation of Tibetan villagers and herders in the name of “poverty alleviation” and environmental protection since 2016

Who Would Benefit from Ebrahim Raisi’s Death?  (Arash Azizi, The Atlantic)
Raisi belongs to a very particular precinct of Iran’s political elite, and in the past few years, others in the political class had come to worry about the ambition of the circles surrounding him. A native of the holy city of Mashhad, in northeastern Iran, Raisi previously held the custodianship of the holy shrine in the city, which is also an economic empire in its own right. He is married to the daughter of Mashhad’s Friday-prayer leader, an arch social conservative. Raisi’s wife, Jamileh Alamolhoda, has played an unusually public role, leading some conservatives from outside the couple’s regional cadre to worry that after Khamenei’s eventual death, a “Mashhad clique” might come to the top of the regime.
Raisi’s apparent passivity has also emboldened challengers among a band of particularly noxious hard-liners, who saw his weak presidency as an opportunity to raise their political profiles at the expense of more established conservatives, such as the parliamentary speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. Some of these ultra hard-liners did well in the parliamentary election earlier this year, which was largely a contest within the hard-line camp. They ran a heated campaign against Qalibaf, who commanded the support of the main pro-regime conservative political parties and many outlets of the IRGC.
For all of these reasons, Raisi’s death would alter the balance of power among factions within the Islamic Republic. According to the Iranian constitution, his vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, would assume the duties of the presidency, and a council consisting of Mokhber, Qalibaf, and the judiciary chief Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i would have to organize new elections within 50 days.

Poland Announces £2bn Border Defense Project ‘to Keep out Russia’  (Bruno Waterfield and Bartosz Kielak, The Times)
Poland has begun work on a £2 billion “great project” to make its borders with Russia and Belarus “impenetrable”, in a move that has been compared with France’s failed Maginot line.
Donald Tusk, the prime minister, used the 80th anniversary of the 1944 allied victory at Monte Cassino, in which Polish troops played a key role, to unveil the scheme, dubbed “East Shield”. (Cont.)