Atlantic nations commit to environmental, economic cooperation on sidelines of UN meeting
More than 30 Atlantic countries have pledged to enhance coordination on economic development, environmental protection, and maritime issues, according to the White House. The Declaration on Atlantic Cooperation was adopted at a meeting hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The declaration includes a commitment to an open Atlantic region free from interference or aggressive action. The effort to tighten coordination between coastal Atlantic countries across Africa, Europe, North America, and South America was launched on the sidelines of last year's General Assembly with the creation of the Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation.
American prisoners freed by Iran head to U.S. after choreographed swap
A plane carrying five Americans who were freed by Iran and exchanged for five Iranians detained in the U.S. has departed from Tehran and is en route to the United States. The exchange was part of a carefully choreographed deal that also involved the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian funds that had been blocked in South Korea. The release of the prisoners and the transfer of funds were mediated by Qatar. The deal has removed a point of friction between the U.S. and Iran, but it is uncertain whether it will improve relations on other issues such as Iran's nuclear program and regional activities. U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the return of the prisoners but also announced fresh U.S. sanctions against Iran. The Iranian president called the exchange a humanitarian action and suggested that it could pave the way for future humanitarian actions. Some U.S. analysts are skeptical about the prospects for further progress in relations between the two countries.
Azerbaijan shelling its Nagorno-Karabakh region in latest escalation with Armenians
Azerbaijan has launched an operation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region to "restore constitutional order" and drive out Armenian troops. The move comes after six Azerbaijanis were killed by landmines, which Azerbaijan blamed on "illegal Armenian armed groups". The Nagorno-Karabakh region is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but it is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians and has its own government, which is not officially recognised by any country. There have been two previous wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory, with the most recent conflict ending in a victory for Azerbaijan in 2020.
Why Xi’s words to Putin could be a moment for the history books
South China Morning Post
The US-China rivalry is entering a new phase, with the world increasingly divided along ideological and geopolitical lines. The US is intensifying its feud with "authoritarian, revisionist" powers led by China and Russia, marking the end of the post-Cold War world order. The rise of rival blocs of ideologically aligned states, such as the US-led Indo-Pacific strategy, poses a security threat to China. However, there have been recent efforts to manage the rivalry through high-level exchanges and talks, although major concessions or a change in confrontational tone are unlikely. There is also speculation about an emerging authoritarian axis involving China, Russia, and North Korea.
China declines to address WSJ report foreign minister was removed over extramarital affair
China's former foreign minister, Qin Gang, was reportedly removed from his position due to an extramarital affair, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Qin, a trusted aide of President Xi Jinping, was abruptly replaced in July after only seven months in the role. The investigation into Qin is said to be ongoing and is reportedly looking into whether his actions could have affected China's national security. China's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report. Qin is still listed as one of China's five State Councilors.
What we know about the Azerbaijan offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh
Azerbaijan has launched "anti-terrorist activities" in Nagorno-Karabakh and demanded the "complete withdrawal" of ethnic Armenian forces as a condition for peace in the disputed territory. Armenia has called on Russian peacekeeping troops in the Armenian-majority region to intervene. The recent aggression could lead to further escalation and the outbreak of a new war between the two sides. The European Union has condemned the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh and called on Azerbaijan to stop its military activities.
China walks fine line with eye on summits with Biden, Putin
China is attempting to improve ties with the US while reaffirming cooperation with Russia as it seeks to set up top-level meetings with both countries this fall. Chinese Vice President Han Zheng met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, expressing hope for healthy and stable relations. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also held talks with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan over the weekend, and a summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping is believed to have been on the agenda. Meanwhile, Wang has reaffirmed the bond between China and Russia during a visit to Moscow.
G7 countries see Russia settling in Ukraine war for longer term, U.S. says
The G7 countries recognize that Russia is settling into a long-term war in Ukraine and are committed to providing enduring military and economic support to Kyiv, according to a senior U.S. official. The official stated that Western backing for Ukraine needs to continue and that security and economic support should be in place for the medium term. This is important to ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin's "imperial project" fails and that he knows he cannot out-wait the West. The official also highlighted the importance of reinforcing Ukraine's air defenses to protect critical infrastructure as winter approaches. Western countries, led by the United States, have already provided billions of dollars in weapons and economic support to Ukraine since Russia's invasion in February 2022.
U.S. committee demands reasons for lack of Xinjiang sanctions
A U.S. congressional committee has called on the State Department to fully implement sanctions on China for its policies in Xinjiang. The House of Representatives select committee on China noted that the Biden administration has not issued sanctions under the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (UHRPA) of 2020, which requires the identification and sanctioning of Chinese officials responsible for abuses. The U.S. has previously imposed sanctions on some Chinese officials and entities linked to Xinjiang, but activists argue that these actions are insufficient. The committee has requested explanations from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security as to why certain officials and companies have not been sanctioned under the UHRPA.
Top US general offers ‘rational’ take on China’s military progress, analyst says
South China Morning Post
The US Pentagon is looking to repair ties with the Chinese military and stabilize relations between the two countries, according to a Chinese analyst. The comments come in response to remarks made by General Mark Milley, the retiring head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, regarding the recent spy balloon incident, Taiwan, and China's military modernization. Milley stated that experts had determined that the balloon "wasn't spying" and that China may not have the capability to attack Taiwan "right this second." The Chinese military and the US Pentagon are expected to continue their relationship as a stabilizer of US-China relations.
Azerbaijan forces attack Nagorno-Karabakh as threat of new war looms
Azerbaijan has launched a military operation in the Armenian-controlled region of Nagorno-Karabakh, warning that it will not stop until Armenian forces surrender. The attacks followed the deaths of four soldiers and two civilians in landmine explosions allegedly planted by Armenian saboteurs. Azerbaijan's defence ministry said the operation aimed to "disarm and secure the withdrawal of formations of Armenia's armed forces". The move has raised the prospect of a new war in the region, which has been a flashpoint since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
US climate envoy Kerry meets China's VP, urges China to 'raise ambition'
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry has urged China to "raise ambition" in efforts to accelerate decarbonization and reduce emissions of methane. Kerry met with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng in New York City, emphasizing the need for both the U.S. and China to take ambitious action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The meeting between Kerry and Han follows a recent visit to China by Kerry, where he discussed climate policy measures and progress on actions to address climate change. The talks between U.S. and Chinese officials could pave the way for a meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year.
Risk of new war on Putin’s doorstep as Azerbaijani forces strike Armenians
The Sydney Morning Herald
Azerbaijan has sent troops and launched artillery strikes into the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is controlled by separatist Armenian authorities. The move raises the threat of a new war with Armenia. Karabakh, a mountainous region in the South Caucasus, is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani territory. However, it is claimed by separatist Armenians who say the area is their ancestral homeland. The latest conflict has led to condemnation from the US, EU, France and Germany, and could have wider geopolitical implications in the region, which is crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines.
Saudi Arabia praises 'positive results' after Yemen's Houthi rebels visit kingdom for peace talks
The Toronto Star
Saudi Arabia has praised the “positive results” of talks with Houthi rebels in Yemen, as the country tries to bring an end to the years-long war it launched on Yemen. The conflict is part of a larger proxy war against Iran, with which the Saudis reached a détente earlier this year. Few details on the talks have been released, but the Houthis said they discussed options for resolving previous disagreements. The rebels have long demanded the Saudi-led coalition pay salaries for all state employees and open all airports and ports under Houthi control as part of a peace deal.
Zelensky says UN incapable of stopping Putin’s ‘criminal aggression’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the United Nations (UN) of being incapable of preventing aggressors from invading other countries, specifically referring to Russia's "criminal and unprovoked aggression" against Ukraine. Zelensky made his comments during a special meeting of the UN Security Council, where he called for reform of the General Assembly and Security Council to address Russia's aggression. He proposed removing Russia's veto power on the Security Council and expanding the membership to include Germany and the African Union, among others. Zelensky argued that the UN has failed to defend the sovereign borders of nations and that humankind no longer pins its hopes on the organization for defense. He called for efforts to protect territorial integrity, sovereignty, human rights, and prevent aggression and genocide to be centered in the General Assembly and Security Council.
Zelensky’s criticism of the UN comes as tensions between Ukraine and Russia continue to escalate. The meeting at the UN Security Council was significant as it marked the first face-to-face encounter between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambassador to the UN since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Zelensky accused Russia of violating the norms of war and the UN Charter itself with its aggression. He called for international support to end Russia’s war on Ukraine and emphasized the need for reform within the UN to address the ongoing conflict.
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been ongoing since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Since then, fighting has continued in Eastern Ukraine, leading to thousands of deaths and displacements. The UN Security Council has met numerous times to discuss the situation, but its ability to take action has been hindered by Russia’s veto power. Zelensky’s call for reform aims to address this issue and ensure that the UN can effectively respond to acts of aggression and protect the sovereignty of nations.
China’s climate envoy decries trade curbs for ‘politicising’ renewables
South China Morning Post
Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate envoy, has criticised export controls on renewable energy products, describing them as "politicising" and "imperilling" decarbonisation goals. Xie's comments came during a panel on climate change at a forum held by the Centre for China and Globalisation. Xie's criticism comes as diplomats from the US and the European Union urged China to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Both the US and EU ambassadors also asked China to pledge to cut methane emissions.
South Africa to host US trade forum as diplomatic tensions subside
South Africa will host a meeting of nations participating in the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in November, despite earlier calls to exclude the country due to its ties to Russia. AGOA allows sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the US market if they meet certain conditions. Some American lawmakers had urged the meeting be moved elsewhere amid allegations that South Africa supplied arms to Russia for its war in Ukraine. South Africa is one of the biggest beneficiaries of AGOA, with exports to the US through the act estimated at $3bn in 2022.
Zelenskyy makes his case at the U.S. Capitol for more war aid as Republican support softens.
The Toronto Star
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Washington to meet with Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. Zelenskyy’s second visit since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022 comes as Biden’s request to Congress for an additional $24 billion for Ukraine’s military and humanitarian needs is under review. Back home, Russia launched its heaviest strikes in a month, killing three people. Zelenskyy is meeting with US military leaders at the Pentagon and will speak with President Joe Biden at the White House.
Don’t be surprised if Xi is a no-show at US Apec summit
South China Morning Post
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's recent speech on American foreign policy, titled "The Power and Purpose of American Diplomacy in a New Era," has been described as idealistic and self-righteous. Blinken declared the end of the post-Cold War period and highlighted Russia and China as the most immediate threats to the international order. His speech also warned against dangers posed by elected leaders who exploit resentments and stoke fears. The article suggests that Blinken's speech is consistent with President Joe Biden's views and does not bode well for improved Sino-US relations.
Kenya’s president commits country to lead multinational force to Haiti to combat gangs
The Globe and Mail
Kenya's President, William Ruto, has committed his country to leading a multinational force in Haiti to combat gang warfare. Gangs have overpowered Haitian police, with estimates suggesting they now control around 80% of the capital since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. The US has praised Kenya for considering leading the UN-backed force and is drafting a UN Security Council resolution authorising it. However, some Haitians and Kenyans are sceptical about a multinational deployment led by Kenyan police, who have been accused of using deadly force, torture, and other abuses.