Foreign Policy

EU heads of state and authorities plan to react to the disaster in Belarus and the tensions between Greece and Turkey

Here is today's one Foreign policy short: Belarus and Turkey high on the agenda when EU heads of state and government meet in Brussels, India fights with caste-based violence and a suspected participant in the Genocide in Rwanda is about to be delivered.

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Sanctions against Belarus could be imminent

EU leaders will meet in Brussels today to kick off a two-day special summit aimed primarily at unraveling the two major crises in the region – the political upheaval in Belarus and the dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean. Participants will also discuss topical issues with China as well as the unfolding conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Sanctions against Belarus. The European Union has been slow to respond to the deepening political crisis in Belarus, partly due to concerns about Russia's increasingly hostile attitude. Weeks after Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko won a landslide election in an election marked by allegations of fraud, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned EU powers not to interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus and even offered Lukashenko military assistance .

After a secret opening ceremony in the Belarusian capital Minsk last weekend, the EU said it had not recognized Lukashenko as the legitimate President of Belarus but had not announced any sanctions. A German official told Reuters that the bloc could decide on sanctions during the summit.

Go your own way. However, this has not stopped some EU member states from imposing unilateral sanctions. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – the latter is the current opposition leader in exile, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya – prevented action by the bloc and imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and several other high-ranking government officials in August. Belarus responded on Wednesday with benefits in kind and retaliatory measures.

Intertwined crises. However, the EU's stance towards Belarus has also been hampered by the ongoing dispute between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus has insisted that it will not support sanctions against Belarus unless Brussels takes similar measures against Turkey because of its growing assertiveness in the region – a move the EU is reluctant to take. Last week Cyprus blocked an attempt by EU ministers to impose sanctions on Lukashenko and several other key government officials.

EU leaders are likely to make significant efforts during this summit to appease Cyprus. While the Ankara bloc is unlikely to impose sanctions, it actively supports efforts by Greece and Turkey to negotiate an end to their dispute.

What we are following today

Expansion of the crisis. Have international powers acted Barbs over violence in the Caucasus as Armenia and Azerbaijan continued their clashes over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region for a fourth day on Wednesday. The NATO powers are increasingly concerned about the involvement of Turkey, which Azerbaijan strongly supports. During a visit to Latvia, French President Emmanuel Macron said he was concerned about Ankara's "warlike messages … which are essentially removing all barriers to Azerbaijan's recapture of Nagorno-Karabakh".

Turkey, which is also a NATO member, has insisted that it would provide military support to Azerbaijan. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey would "do what is necessary" if Azerbaijan asks for military assistance. Ankara has already been accused of bringing militants from Syria to Azerbaijan.

Anger over caste-based violence in India. Have protests escaped across India after the body of a 19-year-old woman who recently died from brutal rape was cremated without her family's permission. The woman was a member of the Dalit community, a highly marginalized group at the bottom of the country's caste hierarchy, and was allegedly attacked by upper-caste men in Uttar Pradesh state in early September.

The incident sparked public outrage over the treatment of people from lower castes in the country and re-examined the Indian system of social stratification. Elderly opposition leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted that "Uttar Pradesh's" class-specific "rule of the land killed another woman. The government said it was false news and let the victim die. This unfortunate incident, the victim's death and the government's calluses – none of it is one wrong message. "

Further US sanctions against Syria. The United States beaten a new round of sanctions against key Syrian entities and individuals accused of supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The sanctions are an attempt to urge Syria to re-engage in US-led efforts to find a peaceful solution to the country's nearly decade-long civil war. "The United States will continue to use all of its tools and agencies to investigate the finances of everyone who benefits from or facilitates the abuse of the Syrian people by the Assad regime," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Cuba to devalue its currency. The Cuban government is to prepare plans to devalue the peso for the first time since the 1959 revolution that brought the communist regime to power when the country was hit by its worst economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The economy has come under severe pressure from the effects of the coronavirus and renewed US sanctions forcing the government to implement drastic currency reforms. In addition to devaluing the peso, the government is also planning to remove the convertible peso, a second form of currency used in the country, and allow Cubans to buy it in US dollars.

Iraq promises to protect diplomats. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi pledged Ensuring the protection of foreign diplomats in the country and enforcement of the state monopoly of force as an obvious response to threats by the United States to withdraw from its embassy in Baghdad. "Iraq is very interested in enforcing the rule of law, the state monopoly on weapons, the protection of foreign missions and diplomatic buildings," Kadhimi said at a meeting with 25 ambassadors.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week told The Iraqi government said it would close its embassy if it did not prevent attacks by rogue militia groups against US interests in the country, raising concerns that a US diplomatic withdrawal could lead to violence between US forces and Iran-backed militias. But as Shelly Kittleson wrote in the Foreign policy In August, efforts to extend the government's authority over the country's multitude of armed groups will be a serious challenge.

Extradition in the case of the genocide in Rwanda. France's highest civil court has ruled that Felicien Kabuga can be extradited to a United States tribunal in Tanzania to be tried for alleged involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Kabuga, a former tea tycoon, is accused of financing and importing mass shipments of machetes for Hutu fighters against ethnic Tutsis during the genocide that killed around 800,000 people over 100 days. Kabuga was arrested in France in May after a two-decade long manhunt that ended in a nondescript apartment in the Paris suburbs. The charges against him include genocide and genocide.

Even though the genocide ended more than a quarter of a century ago, the United Nations continues to track those who helped perpetrate atrocities in Rwanda. In May 2019 Foreign policyColum Lynch reported of a retired U.N. official's efforts to prosecute Callixte Mbarushimana, a retired U.N. official who allegedly oversaw the murder of 32 people during the genocide.

Various underlying factors can make a person more susceptible to COVID-19, including what it turns out to be divide some genes with prehistoric Neanderthals. Scientists in Sweden and Germany recently claimed that a strand of DNA passed on from Neanderthals to modern humans during a relatively brief overlap in their history about 50,000 years ago tripled the risk of developing COVID-19. The researchers took the DNA of several patients with serious illnesses and compared it with the DNA of a Neanderthal man in Croatia. In doing so, they found that the section of DNA that increases the likelihood that people will develop a serious illness matched.

"I almost fell off my chair because the DNA segment was exactly the same as in the Neanderthal genome," said Hugo Zeberg, assistant professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

That's it for today.

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Photo credit: Yves Herman / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

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