US announces $1 billion aid cut to Afghanistan: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced a $1 billion cut in US aid to Afghanistan after he failed to convince Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political foe Abdullah Abdullah to end a feud that has jeopardized a US-led peace effort. Both Ghani and Abdullah claimed the presidency following a disputed September election marred by allegations of fraud. In a sharply written statement, Pompeo said Ghani and Abdullah had informed him that they were unable to agree on an inclusive government despite what the chief US diplomat described as an urgent need for one. Pompeo added that their failure had harmed US-Afghan relations and dishonored those Afghan, Americans, and coalition partners who had sacrificed their lives and treasure. “The United States is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests,” Pompeo said.
China defends expulsion of American journalists: Beijing has defended its decision to expel journalists from three major US publications. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had been compelled to take countermeasures after Washington imposed restrictions on staff at Chinese state media outlets in the United States. Last month, Washington demanded journalists from Chinese state media be registered as staff of diplomatic missions. China then expelled three “Wall Street Journal” reporters after the paper published an opinion column calling China the “real sick man of Asia”. The increasingly bitter rivalry between China and the US also extended to the coronavirus outbreak. US President Donald Trump continues to refer to coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” a term he’s used multiple times that some experts say has led to hateful attacks on those of Asian descent.
theguardian.com, reuters.com, nbcnews.com
Russia calls for UN mandate to ensure compliance with Libya arms embargo: Russia’s long-serving EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov has demanded that the EU naval mission “Irene”, which aims to implement the arms embargo against Libya, only be carried out with the consent of the UN Security Council. Chizhov sharply criticized the EU, saying the bloc had contributed to Libya being a divided country. He believes that only negotiations can end the local conflict in Libya, not an arms embargo. In order to succeed, it would be necessary that all parties are involved, Chizhov said. Going it alone would be potentially harmful and would entail the risk of creating rival camps.
Militant attack kills 29 Malian soldiers: Suspected Islamist militants killed 29 Malian soldiers last Thursday in an attack on a base in the country’s northeast, the army said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Mali’s army has repeatedly suffered heavy casualties from jihadist fighters active in the area with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State. Former colonial power France has had thousands of troops across the Sahel, but French officials acknowledge they have failed to slow the violence. French army chief Francois Lecointre told senators last month that the Malian, Nigerien and Burkinabe armies were losing the equivalent of one battalion per year to the militants’ attacks.
US National Guard to help fight coronavirus: Tens of thousands of US National Guard troops could be activated to help US states deal with the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak. The National Guard, part of the reserve component of the US Armed Forces, has already been called up in 27 states, including New York, to assist with testing sites, cleaning public spaces and to deliver food to homes. Dealing with the outbreak is an unusual mission for the National Guard, best known for assisting during national disasters like hurricanes and supplementing the US military overseas or during times of war. More than 21,000 National Guard members are currently abroad.
Afghanistan: Taliban kill 22 Afghan soldiers – army wants revenge handelsblatt.com
Human rights: Government official condemns torture in eastern Ukraine dw.com
Greek-Turkish border: Police use tear gas on migrants attempting to tear down border abcnews.com
Covid-19: Americans stock up on guns and ammunition during coronavirus crisis npr.org
Extremism: Right-wing extremist group “Revolution Chemnitz” has been convicted nzz.ch
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
According to the National Arms Register in Germany, 33,191 weapons are currently missing.
How water shortages can fuel conflicts: Climate change, poor water management and rapid population growth are among the reasons for rising water insecurity, which coupled with other social problems like rising inequality and ethnic tensions are threatening conflicts between and within states. For farmers and ranchers in particular, it is becoming increasingly difficult to irrigate their fields and provide water for animals. In some cases, violent conflicts are starting to occur due to water shortages. Charles Iceland, director of global and national water initiatives at the World Resources Institute, spoke to “DW” about disputes over the essential resource and how they can be prevented, as well as the new Water, Peace and Security tool that forecasts where water disputes are likely over the next 12 months, and how they might be avoided.
Hope and Chaos in Sudan and South Sudan: Profound upheavals and power shifts are currently happening in Sudan and South Sudan. Former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by a popular uprising in April 2019 after a 29-year rule. The ousted dictator had waged a merciless war against the people of the Sudanese region of Darfur since 2003. The conflict began when rebel groups took up weapons in Darfur, accusing the Arab-dominated Bashir government of marginalizing the western region and oppressing its people. Stabilizing Sudan is also intended to strengthen pan-African cohesion. But there are also opposing forces: Saudi Arabia is recruiting young Sudanese as soldiers in the war against Yemen. Chaos still reins in South Sudan. Although people welcomed the end of the al-Bashir regime, the country has failed to secure peace and basic services in the country.
Conflict in Mali cannot be solved by military means alone: Security expert Miriam Sissoko has outlined the challenges in the Mali conflict. According to her analysis, international cooperation, better coordination and increased national efforts are desperately needed. Sissoko emphasizes that the Malian government’s corruption has encouraged the strengthening of Islamist militias and that this has been a problem since 2012 – the government has been losing credibility and legitimacy. At the same time, the idea of entering into negotiations with terrorist groups seems unimaginable to some and has been polarizing for many – but without dialogue, it could be difficult to end the conflict.
“The populists are now being exposed since they have no answers.”
Former Swiss diplomat Theodor Winkler talks about the international political consequences of the coronavirus.
Lavrov turns 70: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been in office longer than any other chief diplomat in the world – for 16 years. During this time he dealt with Joschka Fischer, Guido Westerwelle, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Sigmar Gabriel and Heiko Maas as German colleagues. The politician has now turned 70 years old – and on the occasion of his birthday, Lavrov said he was optimistic about the future.