15 November 2018   Leave a comment

There are some disquieting rumors in the press about a possible deal with Turkey to get the Turks to ease up on pressure on Saudi Arabia about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.  Several media outlets are reporting that the Trump Administration is thinking about expelling Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen who has been living in the US for many years.  Turkish President Erdogan regards Gulen as the leader of a failed coup against him two years ago.  NBC News makes the argument:

“The secret effort to resolve one of the leading tensions in U.S.-Turkey relations — Gulen’s residency in the U.S. — provides a window into how President Donald Trump is trying to navigate hostility between two key allies after Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

“It suggests the White House could be looking for ways to contain Erdogan’s ire over the murder while preserving Trump’s close alliance with Saudi Arabia’s controversial de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

Eric Levitz, writing for New York Magazine, is much less diplomatic in his understanding of the situation:  “To review: In order to help an Islamist theocracy get away with executing one American immigrant, Trump is (reportedly) trying to find a legal rationale for letting another (much less totalitarian) Islamist theocracy execute a different American immigrant.”  If the reports turn out to be accurate, one can safely assert that Realpolitik is alive and well at least in some areas of American foreign policy.


We are getting a better idea of how Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro, intends to rule.  He has announced his selection for Foreign Minister and the choice reflects the deep-seated populism of the new government.

“Ernesto Araújo – until recently a mid-ranking official who blogs about the “criminalisation” of red meat, oil and heterosexual sex – will become the top diplomat of South America’s biggest nation, representing 200 million people and the greatest and most biodiverse forest on Earth, the Amazon.”

Since 1992, Brazil has been a true leader in the international actions to protect the global environment.  Its defection from the movement will make it more difficult to take the necessary steps to avert climate change.


There is a deal of uncertainty about the British exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU).  After Prime Minister Teresa May informed her cabinet of the tentative agreement with the EU, several of her cabinet ministers–Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Work Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, junior Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, and junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman–resigned in protest.   The Brookings Institution has a nice summary of the tentative agreement:

  • Separation issues, enabling a smooth winding down of current arrangements (e.g., protect existing intellectual property rights, conclude police and judicial cooperation on criminal matters, enable goods placed on the market to reach their destination)
  • Financial settlement, ensuring both sides meet all financial obligations undertaken while the U.K. was an EU member
  • Citizens’ rights, protecting the rights of over 3 million EU citizens in the U.K. and over 1 million U.K. nationals in EU countries
  • Northern Ireland backstop, ensuring no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and protecting the rights enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement
  • Protocols for Cyprus and Gibraltar, respectively protecting the interests of Cypriots who live and work in the Sovereign Base Areas and enabling close cooperation with Spain on the rights of citizens living in Gibraltar

It is possible that Prime Minister May may have to face a vote of no confidence.  But the possible outcomes are quite complex and bewildering.  The Washington Post runs through some of the possibilities.


Posted November 15, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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