Weekly Global Newscast | July 22 - July 28, 2019
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan Completes a Three Day Visit to US
The visit was marked with one on one meeting between Pakistan’s PM and US President along with congressional meetings and meetings with heads of IMF and World Bank. Talks centred round reaffirming commitment towards the Afghan Peace Process.
‘This week, U.S. President Donald Trump held out extravagant hopes to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, suggesting he wanted to resume security aid, multiply bilateral trade many times over, and even try to mediate the decades-old Kashmir issue with India (claiming, falsely, that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him for help). Trump’s friendly display represented a major presidential entreaty with a singular goal: to induce Pakistan “to help us out to extricate ourselves” from neighbouring Afghanistan, as the president put it’, write Michael Hirsh and Lara Seligman for Foreign Policy.
‘If we judge the visit by the metric of public diplomacy, and how Khan was received and perceived by his hosts, then the visit was wildly successful. And given how Pakistan’s image abroad has suffered for so long — especially in Washington — one can chalk up the great optics and good vibes to emerge from the visit as a strategic success as well’, analyses Michael Kugelman for Dawn.
‘For Pakistan, the hope was to get the recognition that it feels it often doesn’t get for the assistance it has rendered to the US. And that recognition was certainly there, as evidenced by all the effusive praise and kind words from many top US officials. I don’t think the “do more” rhetoric has gone away, it has just gone a bit softer. Whereas in the past this message would be delivered forcefully and threateningly, this time around it was likely conveyed gently, with Trump and other US officials inviting Islamabad to take its assistance in Afghanistan to another level’, answers Kugelman to questions posed by Asad Hashim for Al Jazeera.
Tension Between China and US on the Rise over Taiwan
China’s Defence Ministry has come up with the official security and defence document; the white paper on Wednesday. Following this, the Ministry’s spokes person warns US on growing separatist threat in Taiwan expressing concern over US action of selling arms to Taiwan as undermining the global and regional stability.
‘To be sure, it was hardly the first time that China has issued such an invasion threat. But Wu’s statement came at a delicate juncture, with Hongkongers demonstrating against what they see as China’s attempts to undermine their city’s special autonomy and what Beijing perceives as other rising threats to its economic and strategic interests. Beijing’s official policy for the reunification of the “motherland” – one country, two systems – is obviously not working in Hong Kong. Chinese state media, on July 10, went as far as to accuse the US of having a hidden hand in Hong Kong’s escalating protests’, analyzes Bertil Lintner for Asia Times.
‘The release of the defense white paper comes after an unusually long four-day stopover by Taiwan’s Tsai to the US in early July — en route to the Caribbean — the latest sign of warming ties between Taipei and Washington despite intense hostility from Beijing. China criticized the US for its recent decision to sell more than $2 billion in tanks and anti-air missiles to Taiwan. It also accused the US of undermining “global stability,” while saying international strategic competition was on the rise overall’, write Steven Jiang and Ben Westcott for CNN.
Middle East & North Africa
Iranian Crisis Could Turn into an All-out War
The series of escalation in the Strait of Hormuz, including the seizure of British ship by IRGC in retaliation of the capture of Iranian ship in Gibraltar; and the drone strikes in the Persian Gulf, have put the countries on the brink of war.
‘President Trump and his adversaries in Iran are inching closer and closer to the brink. Both sides insist they don’t want war, but a series of escalations in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere are shrinking their room to maneuver. A number of figures have emerged as would-be mediators but there’s little indication of what’s even up for mediation. American and Iranian officials are digging in, locked in a loud war of words while their navies tacitly test each other’s red lines. Tensions remain high after naval units of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized the Stena Impero, a move Tehran considered a retaliatory measure for the British impounding of an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar. Last week, the United States announced it had shot down an Iranian drone flying too close to a U.S. vessel, a downing that Iranian authorities denied took place. In a bid to stem a brewing crisis, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled plans for a European-led maritime security force rejected by Iranians. The tit-for-tat strikes have yet to explode into a more dangerous confrontation, but analysts fear conflict could still be around the corner. After capturing the small British tanker, it’s unclear what Iran’s Revolutionary Guard may consider to be its next suitable move. In the absence of a clear diplomatic track, Petraeus warned, “there clearly is a prospect for some inadvertent escalation.” Ishaan Tharoor reported for The Washington Post.
‘Any UK-flagged ship passing through the strait of Hormuz, and indeed in other areas around the Saudi Arabian peninsula, will be at risk. We should aim to have four escort ships in the region. It is important that we enforce the right of free passage which is so vital to the free flow of trade around the globe. A military response against Iran is not appropriate and, in any case, is beyond the capability of our armed forces acting alone.But we should make it clear to the Iranians that, while up until now we have been trying to talk to Washington about easing sanctions, we will side with the US and strengthen sanctions unless Iran releases our ship and its crew.There are very real risks of a miscalculation or some foolhardy action leading to a war. And, despite what some people think, should a war start there is no way the UK could avoid being fully involved on the US side. Some powerful groups in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States want war and think a precision strike against key parts of Iran’s military capability would lead to regime change. They are wrong. It would lead to an open-ended war with catastrophic consequences across the region and the globe.’ Admiral Lord Alan West reported for The Guardian.
Sub Saharan Africa
Tunisian President, BejiCaïdEssebsi dies at the age of 92
Tunisian first democratically elected President has died on 25thof July 2019, leaving the country with an interim president to take over.
‘Tunisia’s 92-year-old President BejiCaïdEssebsi died Thursday morning after being transferred to a hospital “under direct recommendation by his doctors,” Last month, the President was hospitalized for tests.At 92, Essebsi was the oldest sitting president in the world.He became Tunisia’s first democratically elected president in 2014. He had been praised for leading the first democratic success from revolutions that toppled autocratic leaders in the Arabic-speaking region in North Africa and the Middle East.Tunisia has, however, witnessed many terror attacks and suicide bombing in recent years.’ Bethlehem Feleke, Nada AlTaher and Bukola Adebayo reported for CNN.
‘He was a major figure in the country’s transition to democracy after the Arab spring. Tunisia is often described as the lone success story of the revolutions of 2011 because of its slow but steady progress towards democracy, despite extended economic problems. Though the crisis of 2013 has not been repeated, Tunisia still faces multiple challenges. Security forces have been battling militant groups in remote desert areas on the border with Algeria since Ben Ali was toppled, and high unemployment has stoked unrest. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in separate attacks on police in the capital, Tunis, last month, killing one officer and wounding eight other people. Essebsi had neither rejected nor enacted an amended electoral code passed by parliament in June that would exclude several strong candidates from the polls.’ Jason Burke reported for The Guardian.
For the Second time in these Summers, a heat Wave hits Europe
This second heat wave has sparked discussion over the climate change problem and what can be done to tackle this.
‘For the second time in a month, a high pressure system drew scorching air from the Sahara desert, breaking heat records for Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, while France risked doing the same. This summer’s second heat wave has amplified concerns in Europe that human activity is heating the planet at a dangerous rate. One study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said the deadly, weeks-long heat wave across northern Europe in 2018 would have been statistically impossible without climate change. Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has highlighted the problem of global warming through school strikes, warned MPs at France’s parliament of dire consequences if “business as usual” continues until 2030’, writes James Rothwell for Telegraph.
‘Parisians could be seen plunging fully clothed into the fountains of the Trocadéro, Viennese cooled themselves in municipal misters, and Amsterdamers dangled their feet in a repurposed kiddie pool at a cafe. But here is what is far less likely to be seen: air-conditioners. That’s because the technology that transformed American homes and offices over the last century still gets a chilly reception in much of Europe. Still, when tradition-proud cultures meet relentlessly heating planets, it is not usually the planets that bend, and there are signs that sweltering Europeans are rethinking their views on air-conditioning’, analyze Iliana Magra, Elian Peltier and Constant Meheut for New York Times.
Papua New Guinea’s new Prime Minister Makes his First Overseas Speech in Australia
He says that the country is open for all sorts of investments and he will ensure more scrutiny and also that he does not want the economy to be specific and focused on any one or two sectors.
‘Among the controversial agreements involving the Pacific nation are a $1.2 billion loan from investment bank UBS and the $13 billion Papua LNG project which aims to double the country’s exports of liquefied natural gas. Mr Marape has announced a review of the UBS loan and his petroleum minister Kerenga Kua said today he wanted to increase PNG’s revenue share from the LNG project. With a key location in the Asia Pacific region, PNG has attained new strategic importance as the United States and China jostle for dominance. But Mr Marape said he wanted the country to be more than independent’, writes Nick Bonyhady for The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Mr Marape, who travelled to Australia with a number of his ministers and provincial governors, is on his first international visit as prime minister of PNG. After his speech, Mr Marape departed to attend a Cronulla Sharks game with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. And though Mr Marape cited both the economic opportunity of supplying Asia and the importance of his country’s relationship with Australia, which is its largest aid donor, he said his government would prioritise independence. On the issue of asylum seekers, Mr Marape said little beyond that he intended to work with Australia to resolve the situation of those on Manus Island’, writes Karo Karui for Business One Australia.
Despite Strong Opposition Guatemala Signs a Controversial Migration Deal with Trump
Due to the fear of sanctions, Guatemala and US have signed a migration deal on 26th July, 2019 despite huge opposition in the Guatemala domestic politics.
‘On Friday afternoon, the US and Guatemala signed an agreement that will direct Central American migrants who pass through Guatemala hoping to seek asylum in the United States to first apply for protection in Guatemala instead. Those who travel to the US without applying for asylum in Guatemala could be removed by US border officials to that country. According to a new rule, people seeking asylum at the US border will be turned away if they passed through another safe country — a “safe third country,” as they are called — before reaching the United States. The move is expected to curb migration from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, the Central American countries from which the bulk of asylum-seekers at the US border originate. Trump celebrated the treaty as a victory on Friday, calling it a “landmark agreement” that will “put the coyotes and smugglers out of business.”Morales was less optimistic, saying on social media on Friday that the deal will help Guatemala to escape “drastic sanctions.”The deal faced fierce opposition in Guatemala, but tariff threats limited options. Although the deal’s been signed, it may not be implemented’ Anya van Wagtendonk reported for Vox.
‘But refugee and human rights groups say such an agreement imperils migrants, given Guatemala’s dangerous crime rate and gang violence and lack of a proper asylum system. “Guatemala is in no way safe for refugees and asylum seekers, and all the strong-arming in the world won’t make it so,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International. “This agreement also violates U.S. law and will put some of the most vulnerable people in Central America in grave danger.” The deal is also expected to face legal challenges in the U.S., especially because Guatemala is a dangerous country in its own right and does not have a strong asylum system. “President Trump’s decision to sign this agreement with Guatemala is cruel and immoral. It is also illegal. Simply put, Guatemala is not a safe country for refugees and asylum seekers, as the law requires,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. McAleenan dismissed those concerns, saying it was “risky” to paint Guatemala and Central America in general with a “broad brush… There are places that are dangerous, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a process for people to seek protection.”’ Conor Finnegan reported for ABC News.