Diplomacy

Why Emmanuel Macron’s plan for a European agency to fend off fake news makes sense

When French president Emmanuel Macron sent an open letter to the people of Europe, he said their first freedom is democratic – “the freedom to choose our leaders as foreign powers seek to influence our vote at each election”. Alexi Drew The Conversation He went on to propose establishing a European agency to protect this right. The idea would be to provide European states with experts to help them fend off cyberattacks and other kinds of threats to their elections. ... Read More »

Why is Turkey’s presence in Afrin, Syria any different than the West Bank?

Turkey’s continued role in Afrin, a year after military occupation began in March 2018, is under spotlight as US State Department and UN highlight abuses. Seth J. Frantzman JPost Military occupation. Stolen olives. Checkpoints. Accusations of theft of property, land confiscation, demographic change and settlers. These are claims usually leveled at Israel’s role in the West Bank, but in the last year Turkey and Syrian groups it backs have been accused of similar violations in northwestern Syria. The area of ... Read More »

Wanted: Patient Diplomacy in Yemen

Sanaa has become the centerpiece of a struggle among regional power centers, and the battle for control over it will not end soon. Gordon Gray The National Interest Recent Congressional  debates about the Yemen war  have put a high priority on imposing costs on the Saudi-led military coalition by restricting arms sales and military cooperation. Moreover, this past week’s vote in the U.S. Senate  is just the latest in a series of Congressional actions sending a message of disapproval about the Trump administration’s military policy in ... Read More »

Jews are unsafe in Turkey and should leave now

Turkey’s mercurial leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan took his diplomatic spat with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a new level on Wednesday when he implicitly threatened the well-being of Turkey’s already dwindling Jewish community. Michael Rubin Washington Examiner “Do not provoke,” Erdogan said, before noting that he had not yet taken any action against Turkish Jews or their houses of worship. This is, of course, not the first Turkish government threat against its Jewish community. A decade ago, then-Foreign Minister ... Read More »

The Darkest Hours: Power Outages Raise the Temperature in Venezuela

The crippling blackouts across Venezuela are a grim portent of things to come as U.S. oil sanctions kick in and the country’s crisis deepens. Phil Gunson ICG All concerned to end Venezuelans’ suffering should vigorously pursue a negotiated transition leading to a power-sharing deal. On Thursday 7 March, at around five in the afternoon, the lights went out in Venezuela. Within a couple of hours, as the tropical night descended, around 90 per cent of the country was plunged into ... Read More »

Russia’s Next Land Grab Won’t Be in an Ex-Soviet State. It Will Be in Europe.

First he came for Georgia, then for Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s next target is likely to be a non-NATO nation in the EU. By Mikheil Saakashvili FP Not many observers would consider the world’s coldest shipping lane a geopolitical hotspot. But that may be about to change. Last week, reports emerged that a new Kremlin policy will require all international naval ships to give Russia 45 days’ notice before entering the Northern Sea Route, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans ... Read More »

US Wants To Change The Law Of The Sea – Analysis

The US is frustrated by North Korea’s continuing violation of UN sanctions by using rogue vessels to import and export banned cargo, sometimes transferring the cargo at sea. Mark J. Valencia Eurasia Review So it wants to interdict suspect vessels on the high seas using force if necessary. The problem is that doing so without the consent of the flag state would violate the international law of the sea. John Bolton, the US National Security Advisor is taking the lead ... Read More »

Picking Up the Pieces After Hanoi

The collapse of last month’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was perhaps the inevitable result of a process in which the two leaders dominated, optimistic about their personal relationship and confident in their abilities. Richard N. Haass Project Syndicate The question is what to do now. NEW YORK – When last month’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal, the result was not surprising. ... Read More »

The Best of Bad Options for Syria’s Idlib

The Syrian regime vows to reconquer Idlib, the north-western zone hosting its hardest-core remaining jihadist opposition. ICG But an all-out offensive would be calamitous. Turkey and Russia should recommit to their “de-escalation” deal for Idlib, bolstering it with measures that buy time for a lasting solution. What’s new? An agreement between Turkey and Russia that protects Syria’s rebel-held Idlib governorate from a regime offensive is under increasing stress. Clashes between jihadists and other militants inside Idlib and regime forces have ... Read More »

EU on no-deal Brexit vote: ‘Like Titanic voting for the iceberg to move’

Brussels spokesman offers withering assessment of MP decision on Wednesday night The Irish Times Brussels has said a vote by UK MPs to block a no-deal Brexit in any circumstances is a meaningless move, with one senior EU negotiator describing it as “the Titanic voting for the iceberg to get out of the way”. A European commission spokesman offered a withering assessment of the decision by MPs to ignore Theresa May’s assertion that no deal was the default position unless there was a ... Read More »

The farce and the furious: how May’s government shot itself in the foot

London: There is no bottom to the well of Brexit insanity. Nick Miller The Canberra Times On Wednesday, the British government managed to shoot itself in the foot with a gun that had no bullets in it. This should have been an easy day. The motion before the Commons – put by the government, with Prime Minister Theresa May as its signatory – was that it refused to back a “no deal” Brexit, something everyone but the most hard-core Brexiters agree ... Read More »

Russia Claims Total Military Superiority in the Arctic

The steady and costly buildup of military might in the Arctic has apparently reached a level sufficient for Russia to claim sovereign rights over international waters along the entire length of the Northern Sea Route (known in Russian as Sevmorput), from the… By: Pavel Felgenhauer Eurasia Daily Monitor The Jamestown Foundation Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov told journalists, “This territory [the Arctic] is within the sphere of Russian interests. We will not give it away or let it slip away,” ... Read More »

Salvaging South Sudan’s Fragile Peace Deal

The truce in South Sudan is holding but could break down at any time. ICG To stave off renewed civil war, external actors should urge the belligerents to strike new bargains on security and internal boundaries – and accept a third-party protection force for the capital. What’s new? South Sudan’s new peace deal is nearing its first critical test: the formation of a unity government in May 2019. But steps toward key interim benchmarks – unifying a national army and ... Read More »

Silk Road opens a rift in Italy’s government

Washington and Brussels fear Rome is getting too close to China. Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli Politico ROME — Italy’s government has split over whether to sign onto China’s landmark “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure program that runs across Asia to key European trade hubs. Some 13 EU countries have signed up to China’s new Silk Road plan, but Washington and Brussels are deeply concerned that the involvement of G7 heavyweight Rome could lend greater credibility to a project that they view as a… Prime ... Read More »

China’s growing Latin America ties also matter for Australia

When China’s increasing links to Latin America are discussed, Australia might not be the first country that comes to mind. Erin Watson-Lynn the interpreter Lowy Institute But for Australian policy makers, Beijing’s push into Latin America matters. Australia must do more itself to strengthen its otherwise nascent relationships with the region, especially as China works to fill the vacuum left by the United States’ absence in the region. Two important developments make this need clear. Rethinking Australia’s geographic proximity It ... Read More »

Brexit vote: What just happened?

Theresa May’s planned Brexit deal has suffered a major defeat in the UK parliament, leaving the Brexit process in disarray. BBC Mrs May began the day with renewed hope after securing last-minute changes to her withdrawal deal with the EU. But MPs roundly defeated her proposals, 391 votes to 242, weeks after her first attempt to pass the deal met the same fate. Had the vote gone her way, the UK would be preparing to leave the EU on 29 ... Read More »