1 September 2019   Leave a comment

Great Britain needs to make a deal with the European Union on its departure from the community by 31 October. The new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was a strong advocate for Brexit and he just asked the Queen to suspend (prorogue) Parliament until 14 October (a completely legal move). The move will effectively limit the amount of time Parliament can debate the terms of Brexit to two weeks. Many in Britain regard the prorogation as a “coup” against democracy. There are techniques for voiding the prorogation, but none seems to be highly likely given Johnson’s opposition. The suspension makes the possibility of a British exit without an agreement with the European Union (a “no-deal” Brexit) more likely. There are many issues yet to be resolved, but the thorniest seems to be the relationship between Northern Ireland (which is part of Great Britain so it will also leave the European Union) and the Republic of Ireland (which will remain in the Union as an independent state). Since the Good Friday Agreement reached 20 years ago between Great Britain and Ireland, movement between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has been seamless. If an agreement between Great Britain and the EU is not reached, then a “hard” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland–complete with immigration and customs controls–would have to be resurrected, reminding the Irish of their long, tortured history with Great Britain.

There have been negotiations going on for months between the US and the Taliban over a possible peace agreement in Afghanistan. The discussions have been held in the Qatari city of Doha since the US does not recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban regime. These discussions have been set against the backdrop of US President Trump’s desire for a complete US withdrawal from this war which began in October 2001 (a sentiment also held by his predecessor, President Obama, who failed to accomplish that end). The withdrawal is strongly opposed by most in the US military who believe that the situation in Afghanistan is very unstable and that a US withdrawal at this time would allow terrorist forces to once again use Afghanistan as a base for operations. Al Jazeera outlines the essential points of the current round of negotiations:

“Since last year, the two sides have held discussions over a potential agreement that is focused on four key issues: a Taliban guarantee that it will not allow foreign armed groups and fighters to use Afghanistan as a launchpad to conduct attacks outside the country; the complete withdrawal of US and NATO forces; an intra-Afghan dialogue; and a permanent ceasefire.

“A Taliban representative in Doha who is part of the negotiating team told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that a peace agreement was ‘near’, without providing further details.

“‘This round of talks has been very productive and we are near to an agreement that will be finalised and hopefully announced in the next coming weeks,’ he said.

“The Taliban, who was overthrown in 2001 by a US-led military coalition for sheltering al-Qaeda, the group blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, has long demanded a complete withdrawal of foreign troops in order to ‘end the occupation’ in Afghanistan.

“About 14,000 US troops and around 17,000 troops from 39 NATO allies and partner countries are in Afghanistan in a non-combative role. “

We know that President Trump’s policy is opposed by his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who apparently has been sidelined in the discussions. But don’t count this hardliner out–he is reputedly a straight-edge kind of bureaucratic fighter.

Posted September 1, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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