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Global Pulse: Egypt has held 22 executions over the last three Tuesdays, and China and Japan are using Thailand in their struggle for control

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Is Tuesday the new “Execution Day” in Egypt? The country has executed civilians on Dec. 26, Jan. 9, and Jan. 2— all Tuesdays. Thailand is serving as the new “playground” for the Sino-Japanese struggle for control over Southeast Asia. In the tussle between the United States of America and Pakistan, it is Afghanistan that suffers.

Tuesday’s curse

In the New York Times, Mona Eltahawy points out that Egypt has carried out executions— or as she refers to them, “state-sanctioned murder”— over the past three Tuesdays, executing 22 people in total. The reasons for the executions included a 2013 attack on a military checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, accusations of being Islamic militants, and rape.

“We talk of having an independent judiciary in Egypt, but it is far from impartial. Whether in a military tribunal courtroom or a civilian one, the arc of the Egyptian moral universe bends not toward justice, but instead toward the political whim of whoever has power,” she writes. “Since Mr. Sisi has been in power, the numbers of death sentences and executions have risen markedly.”

“Why hold 22 executions over three successive Tuesdays? They seem a clear message from a government determined to show it is in control.”

Eltahawy debates the possible reasons for this sudden spurt of this exercise. She also expresses little hope that American vice president, Mike Pence, will condemn these executions in scheduled visit to Egypt. “Still, too many await death by hanging in Egyptian prisons. What Egyptian can forget the notorious judge who, after a cursory trial of a few sessions lasting just minutes, sentenced more than 680 people to death in April 2014 for the killing of one police officer?”

“The death sentence is unjust and barbaric, everywhere. It is especially an abomination in countries where justice is rarely served. Egypt must not make Tuesdays synonymous with mass hangings,” she writes.

Southeast Asia has a new battlefield

It is no secret that China and Japan have been fighting for dominance in the Southeast Asia, and according to Pavin Chachavalpongpun in the Japan Times, Thailand has played its own role in making the competition stronger. “Seeking to cement ties with Japan and China to lessen the impact of Western sanctions, the Thai junta has allowed the two countries to exploit its political crisis for their national interests.”

Thailand currently has ongoing railway projects from China and Japan, and has received investment from both. The country has also had a summit with China, which Japan countered by offering to develop Thailand’s transport systems. These moves reflect “complicated regional politics”, writes Chachavalpongpun.

“China has long regarded Southeast Asia as its sphere of influence. Hence, its mega-project in Thailand is part of its plan to firm up its footholds in the region.

For Japan, the urge to counterbalance China’s growing Chinese clout in Southeast Asia has driven it to become more assertive toward Thailand. Investing in a high-speed train in Thailand, in the eyes of the Japanese leadership, will not only maintain the regional balance of power, but also reaffirm Japan’s interests in that part of the world,” he writes.

The toll on Afghanistan

It’s Afghanistan that always bears the brunt of the fallout between Pakistan and the United States, writes Mohammad Hanif in the New York Times. “Their declared intent was to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet occupation. More than two generations of Afghans have seen nothing but war.”

“Some experts’ solution to the current tensions is that Trump, that stable genius, should ask his new Saudi friends to use their influence over Pakistan to play broker. Imagine this: Four decades on, an American president, a Saudi prince and a bunch of Pakistani generals walk back into Afghanistan.”

“Like Pakistan, America is addicted to this conflict. Here’s a permanent Vietnam, another war essential to America’s existence as a world power. Whenever Pakistan and the United States have squabbled over the years, it has been about the amount of dollars paid versus the number of bad guys killed. In this accounting from hell, what are a few mass murders between friends?”

What could go wrong, he asks poignantly.

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