Here is today’s foreign policy mandate: Myanmar The protests continue after authorities opened fire on protesters on Sunday. Iran rejects the offer of EU-led talks on a return to the nuclear deal and the world this week.
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At least 18 killed in Myanmar
At least 18 people were killed on Sunday in Myanmar, the bloodiest day since protests against the military coup began a month ago.
The killings raise fears that the authorities will crack down if the peaceful demonstrations continue to this day.
Protests are likely fueled by another attempt to keep Aung San Suu Kyi out of the spotlight. On Monday a court in Myanmar added another charge against the democratically elected leader, accusing her of violating a law prohibiting the dissemination of information that could “create fear or alarm” or “disturb the public calm.” She will appear again in court on March 15th.
Aung San Suu Kyi was originally accused of breaking import laws after being in possession of walkie-talkies. Another charge of violating coronavirus restrictions was added later.
“Additional promotions.” The United States has already largely imposed ceremonial sanctions on Myanmar’s generals, but on Sunday White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced “additional measures” against “those responsible for this latest outbreak of violence and coup” should be. These measures are expected in the coming days.
What China wants. Given the limited US leverage, attention has turned to China to resolve the crisis. Some observers speculate that the coup is in China’s best interests. Not so, argues Brian YS Wong in foreign policy, noting that Beijing’s many economic investments in the country depend on a stable government that maintains friendly relations with China.
“Although many observers believe that Beijing prefers authoritarian regimes, China has few reasons to prefer an unpredictable, ambitious military dictatorship with expansionist tendencies to a predictable and largely reliable civilian government in Myanmar,” Wong writes.
On Tuesday March 2ndThe European Court of Justice is issuing a ruling in a case contesting the lifting of judicial review for appointments to the Polish Supreme Court.
On Thursday March 4thThe OPEC + oil ministers meet virtually to decide on production increases for the coming months.
The trial of 26 suspects alleged to have been involved in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues in an Istanbul court. All suspects were charged in absentia.
On Friday March 5thPope Francis embarks on a four-day pilgrimage to Iraq, his first official trip in more than a year.
China’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC) opens, announcing the country’s next five-year plan.
On Saturday March 6thGeneral elections are held in Ivory Coast. The parties of the former presidents Henri Konan Bédié and Laurent Gbagbo have formed an alliance to overthrow the ruling RHDP party.
On Sunday March 7thSwitzerland will hold a quarterly referendum on popular initiatives, including a ban on full face-covering, which is widely seen as a target group of Muslim women. Voters will also consider an economic partnership agreement with Indonesia.
What we are following today
Iran rejects the EU offer. US officials remained optimistic after Iran rejected an offer of nuclear talks led by the European Union. Iranian Foreign Minister Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted on Sunday: “Given the positions and measures taken by the US / E3, the time is not ripe for the proposed informal meeting.” .
An unnamed senior US official told Reuters that Iran’s decision was part of the diplomatic process and that other meeting formats could be tried. “We don’t think this is the end of the road. It is unfortunate … that the Iranians said “no” but we are open to other ideas, “said the official.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meets this week to consider a US-led resolution condemning Iran’s recent decision to block certain nuclear inspections. Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has promised an “appropriate response” if the resolution is passed.
El Salvador’s elections. The preliminary results of the parliamentary elections in El Salvador are expected today. Polls suggest a majority in President Nayib Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party. How big that majority will be determines how much power Bukele can wield: a super-majority of 56 seats would enable him to enforce important appointments, including Supreme Court judges. If the polls are correct, a Nuevas Ideas victory would be the first time in the history of El Salvador after the civil war that the two traditionally popular parties (ARENA and FMLN) failed to win the most seats.
Sarkozy decision. A French court is due to deliver a verdict today in the corruption trial against Nicolas Sarkozy. Prosecutors are demanding a minimum of two years’ imprisonment for the former French president. Sarkozy is alleged to have offered a judge a job in Monaco to obtain information about an investigation into his campaign finances. Today’s verdict won’t end Sarkozy’s troubles as he receives research into funds he received from a Russian insurance company in 2019, among other things.
Armenia tensions. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian last Thursday refused to approve Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s dismissal of the country’s top military officer, leading to a possible showdown in the Constitutional Court. Pashinyan dismissed Lt. Col. Onik Gasparyan after he and a number of other military officers signed a letter calling for the Prime Minister’s removal for dealing with the six-week Nagorno-Karabakh conflict late last year.
Pashinyan is allowed to file his decree for the second release of Gasparyan. If the President neither signs it nor sends it to the Constitutional Court, the decree will come into force.
Vaccine diplomacy. The Czech Republic could soon join Hungary as the first EU country to sell the Russian-made Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine. Czech politicians have blamed the European Union for a slow introduction of vaccines. President Milos Zeman urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to request vaccines.
Speaking to Czech television, Zeman said he would also welcome China’s Sinopharm vaccine, saying that “vaccines have no ideology”. The Czech Republic currently has the highest number of COVID-19 infections per capita in the European Union. The country has vaccinated just under 4 percent of its population – less than the EU average of 4.7 percent.
China is months ahead of the West in fighting the coronavirus and now offers a glimpse into the future for a pandemic-ravaged film industry. February was China’s biggest month for cash sales to date. Moviegoers have spent a total of $ 1.7 billion on movie theaters. 95 percent of those sales came from just seven films, all of which were released in time for the Lunar New Year Festival. If the momentum continues, China is well on its way to becoming the number one film market for the second straight year after overtaking the US in 2020.
That’s it for today.
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Photo credit: Stringer / AFP