Top of the Morning: Ban Heading to Tehran; The Geopolitical Consequences of Ethnic Strife in India; Conflict Mineral Rules Approved

Top stories from DAWNS Digest.

Ban Ki Moon to Attend Meeting in Tehran, Defying USA and Israel

Despite the best efforts by the USA and Israel to dissuade him, the Secretary General will visit Tehran and address a meeting of the non-Aligned Movement. This is sure to perturb the United States, but the Non-Alligned Movement is an important bloc at the UN. “U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that Ban will be in Tehran August 29-31 for a meeting of some 120 non-aligned nations, and for bilateral talks with senior Iranian officials. “With respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary-General will use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community,” he said. “These include Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria. Ban is “fully aware of the sensitivities” linked to his visit, but he is also aware of his responsibilities as head of the United Nations, Nesirky said. He noted that non-aligned nations comprise two-thirds of all U.N. member states. (Reuters

How India’s Ethnic Strife May Have Geopolitical Consequences

Some interesting analysis on the recent ethnic trauma in India from Time’s Ishaan Tharoor. “Rumors circulating last week of planned attacks on migrants from the Indian Northeast saw tens of thousands of Northeasterners in some of India’s main cities cram onto trains bound for their remote homelands. The “exodus” — as it was branded in bold block letters by the Indian media — followed earlier incidents of ethnic strife in the northeastern state of Assam, where members of the indigenous Bodo tribe clashed with Bengali Muslim settlers, driving hundreds of thousands of Muslims out of their homes. Mass SMSes, emails and posts over Facebook and Twitter warned of (and, in some cases, encouraged) Muslim reprisal attacks on Northeasterners in cities like India’s tech capital, Bangalore, as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan drew to a close, sparking a nationwide panic. The shadow of China looms large — Beijing still claims much of the territory of Arunachal Pradesh as its own and has ramped up its investment and infrastructure along the contested border with India, while nationalist Chinese websites routinely urge China’s leadership to stealthily wrest the Northeast away from India. Various insurgent groups — from Assam’s ULFA to separatist factions in the state of Nagaland — have ties to a host of regional actors, ranging from sympathetic rebel ethnic militias in Burma to both Pakistan and Bangladesh’s military intelligence agencies. Though far from New Delhi’s corridors of power, the Northeast ought to increasingly preoccupy the concerns of its strategists.” (Time

Crime Wave in Haiti

Haiti is experiencing a surge in violent crimes, which is negatively affecting the economic outlook of poorer Haitians. “Virtually everyone agrees that rates of violent crime have soared in recent months. This spike must be set against Haiti’s impressive gains in safety between 2007 and 2011. However, Port-au-Prince’s homicide rate spiralled to more than 60 homicides per 100,000 people by February 2012. Recent surveys conducted by the Igarape Institute reveal that despite some fluctuation, it has shifted upwards to roughly 72 per 100,000 by late July. By way of comparison, the global average homicide rate is closer to 7 per 100,000. The geographic and demographic characteristics of Haiti’s crime wave are unevenly felt. For example, residents of the capital city’s slums are more than 40 times more likely to be a victim of homicide than other urban dwellers. The incidence of sexual violence is also especially pronounced among young women and girls regardless of what strata of society they come from. Likewise, property crime and banditry are taking their toll, particularly among the poorer populations of the capital. Since mid-2011, the average costs of a physical or sexual assault on a typical household member amounts to a fifth of their annual income. A murder results in expenses that are more than five times an average family’s annual income of $1,200 a year. The costs of violent crime accumulate quickly. For example, burial and funeral costs average almost $5,000 per household. Nearly all of the households we surveyed take out loans to pay these costs. The interest fees charged by money-lenders are extortionate, ranging from 50% to 150% a month.” (The Guardian

US Regulators Pass Conflict Mineral Rule

The controversial conflict mineral rule included in section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank bill will be implemented in two years following a 3-2 vote in favor by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. “Under the new rule adopted Wednesday, companies will have until May 31, 2014, to make their first disclosures of whether the minerals they use in manufacturing are “conflict-free,” meaning that they do not benefit the armed groups in and around Congo. SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro and fellow Democratic commissioners Luis A. Aguilar and Elisse B. Walter voted in favor of the new provision. Republican commissioners Daniel Gallagher and Troy Paredes opposed the rule, saying it was outside the agency’s mandate.” (WaPo