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Diplomacy
Semiconductor chip cooperation between the USA and the European Union concept.

EU and US continue strong trade and technology cooperation at a time of global challenges

by Margrethe Vestager , Valdis Dombrovskis

Today, the EU and the United States held the sixth meeting of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) in Leuven, Belgium. The meeting allowed ministers to build on ongoing work and present new deliverables of the TTC after two and a half years of cooperation. The TTC is a key forum for close cooperation on transatlantic trade and technology issues. The Commission was represented by Executive Vice-Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis, joined by Commissioner Thierry Breton. On the US side, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai were present. The meeting took place in a challenging geopolitical context, including Russia's illegal war against Ukraine and global economic pressures. In addition, the acceleration of the digital and green transitions opens opportunities for growth and innovation but also requires transatlantic cooperation towards joint approaches. The meeting showed that there is a strong commitment to advance transatlantic leadership on emerging technologies and in the digital environment, facilitate bilateral trade and investment, cooperate on economic security and defend human rights and values. Transatlantic cooperation on artificial intelligence, quantum, 6G, semiconductors and standardisation The EU and US reaffirmed their common commitment to a risk-based approach to artificial intelligence (AI) and support for safe and trustworthy AI technologies. Both partners believe in the potential of AI to help find solutions to global challenges. A short overview document published today on AI for the Public Good identifies milestones on which the EU and US are cooperating in the areas of extreme weather, energy, emergency response and reconstruction. The partners also announced a new Dialogue between the EU AI office and the US Safety Institute on developing tools, methodologies and benchmarks for measuring and evaluating AI models. Since the launch of the TTC in 2021, the EU and US have worked on transparency and risk mitigation to reap the benefits of AI for their citizens and societies and continue to implement the Joint Roadmap for Trustworthy AI and Risk Management. The EU and US have adopted today a common 6G vision setting out a path for leadership on this technology, and have signed an administrative arrangement for research collaboration. This builds on the 6G outlook adopted in May 2023, and the industry roadmap on 6G of December 2023. In the semiconductors area, the EU and the US are extending for three years their two administrative arrangements, under which they have been cooperating fruitfully to identify early-on supply chain disruptions and ensure subsidies transparency. They will commit to cooperating on legacy semiconductors and join forces in research to find alternatives to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in chips, including by leveraging AI capacities. On emerging technology standards, the EU and US are releasing a Digital Identity Mapping Report with the aim of identifying use cases for transatlantic interoperability and the cross-border use of digital identities. In 2023, the EU and the US endorsed a common international standard on megawatt charging systems for the recharging of electric heavy-duty vehicles. The partners will continue to work on standards as enablers of the green transition. Boosting digital skills and talent is fundamental for the success of the digital transition. The Talent for Growth Task Force launched in April 2023 with a one-year mandate, has served as a platform for rich exchanges on innovative skills development and actionable solutions to address skills shortages in the technology sector in both the EU and the US. The Task Force presented the outcomes of these discussions in the margins of the TTC. Promoting easier, more sustainable and more secure trade on the transatlantic marketplace Promoting sustainable trade as part of the green transition is a priority for both parties and the TTC remains a key forum for the EU and the US to cooperate on this. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the Transatlantic Initiative on Sustainable Trade (TIST), which since its inception in 2022 frames the TTC's work in this regard. At today's meeting, ministers took stock of the work taking place under TIST including on conformity assessment, to facilitate trade in goods and technologies that are vital for the green transition. They agreed to publish a Joint Catalogue of Best Practices on Green Public Procurement to help accelerate the deployment of publicly financed sustainability projects, and to advance their cooperation on solar supply chains. The EU and the US have declared their intention to make transatlantic trade easier and to continue growing their unique economic partnership. To this end, both sides have agreed to facilitate digital tools in trade. In particular, they have taken steps to ease digital trade for companies by coordinating and aligning their respective technical standards for e-invoicing systems, which should considerably cut down on time and red tape. This will also reduce paper usage and carbon emissions associated with traditional invoicing methods. Furthermore, both parties reaffirmed the importance of the EU-US Clean Energy Incentives Dialogue as a platform for exchange to avoid zero-sum competition and trade and investment distortions in the clean energy sector. They also welcomed the publication of recommendations for greater transatlantic e-vehicle charging infrastructure compatibility, which complement the previously published Transatlantic Technical Recommendations for Government Funded Implementation of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Moreover, the EU and the US hold that sustainable trade is not only about cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but also about ensuring a fair transition for workers and firms up and down the supply chain. This aim is encapsulated by the work of the Trade and Labour Dialogue (TALD), which, building on the discussions during a workshop with social partners organised at the fifth TTC meeting in January 2024 held its third meeting at today's TTC ministerial meeting. In addition, the EU and US have intensively engaged on critical minerals, which are indispensable for a wide set of technologies needed for EU strategic sectors such as the net-zero industry, and the digital, space and defence sectors. The EU and the US are advancing negotiations toward a Critical Minerals Agreement This agreement aims to strengthen EU-US supply chains in critical minerals for electric vehicles batteries and to reinforce the protection of labour and environment in international critical minerals supply chains. The EU and the US also welcomed the launch of the Minerals Security Partnership Forum (more information will be available later here), which they will co-chair, and look forward to a fruitful future cooperation with a wide range of partners around the world. Ministers also discussed partnering on economic security. In this regard, the EU and the US reaffirmed their shared concerns over the challenges posed by economic coercion and non-market practices employed by third countries and resolved to continue their efforts to de-risk and diversify their trade and investment relations. They also recognised the important role that the TTC has consistently played to optimise EU-US work on export controls against Russia and Belarus. They resolved to further align their respective priorities in this regard and to continue work on facilitating secure high-technology trade while maintaining an effective export controls regime. The EU and the US have carried out joint work to identify and promote best practices on foreign investment screening and will continue to exchange information to address threats to security and public order. Both parties also agreed to continue to exchange information on how to respond to the risks posed by outbound investments in certain critical technologies. Defending human rights and values in a changing geopolitical digital environment The EU and the US concur that online platforms should exercise greater responsibility in ensuring a fair, transparent, and accountable digital environment including by addressing gender-based violence and protecting human rights defenders online. The partners have developed a set of joint principles on gender-based violence on online platforms which complement the list of high-level principles on the protection and empowerment of minors and data access for researchers, which are in line with the EU's Digital Services Act. Both partners are determined to support democracies across the world and to defend human rights, free and independent media and combat foreign information manipulation and interference, especially in a year when many elections take place in the world. Following suit, they have published joint Recommended Actions for Online Platforms on Protecting Human Rights Defenders Online. The EU and US committed to facilitating data access from online platforms and published a report on mechanisms for researcher access to such data, which builds upon efforts undertaken by the academic and research community. Moreover, the EU and the US reiterated their commitment to support secure and resilient digital infrastructure and connectivity projects in third countries and announced a joint support package for Tunisia. This adds to the implementation of projects underway in Costa Rica, Jamaica, Kenya, and the Philippines. Next Steps The wide-ranging fruits of the TTC's work since its launch in 2021 attest to the value of this transatlantic policy forum, and principals agreed on the need to continue this work. Therefore, as both sides enter their respective electoral processes, the EU and US will reflect on the lessons learned so far and possible ways forward. In the meantime, the technical work under the TTC will continue. Building on the lessons learnt from our cooperation so far, we intend to use the remainder of 2024 to engage with EU and U.S. stakeholders to gather their views on the future of the TTC. Background The EU and the US launched the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC) at their summit in Brussels on 15 June 2021. It has served as a forum to discuss and coordinate on key trade and technology issues, and to deepen transatlantic cooperation on issues of joint interest. The inaugural ministerial meeting of the TTC took place in Pittsburgh on 29 September 2021. Following this meeting, ten working groups were set up covering issues such as technology standards, AI, semiconductors, export controls and global trade challenges. This was followed by a second meeting in Paris on 16 May 2022, a third meeting in College Park, Maryland, in December 2022, a fourth meeting in Luleå, Sweden, in May 2023 and a fifth meeting in Washington DC in January 2024. The EU and the US remain key geopolitical and trading partners. EU-US bilateral trade is at historical highs, with over €1.6 trillion in 2023 and with bilateral investment stocks topping €5 trillion. Quote(s) “In today’s fast-moving and uncertain world, our partnership with the United States on trade and technology allows us to deal with some of the most crucial challenges of our time. I am proud of the results delivered so far and we will keep working to enhance economic security and build a fair digital environment that reflects our values.” Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age “The TTC has injected new dynamism into transatlantic trade relations. It is the first forum of its kind that has allowed the world’s two largest economies to set new standards and cooperate on current challenges - such as sanctions against Russia - based on shared democratic values. The TTC has made important inroads in terms of bolstering our economic security and enhancing the resilience of supply chains. We have also made valuable progress in jointly forging the green transatlantic marketplace.” Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President, and Commissioner for Trade

Diplomacy
Amman, Jordan - October 18, 2023 : Arab unity in the Al-Aqsa flood war (flag of Jordan and Palestine) Demonstrations of the Jordanian people in solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian people

Political Insights (5): Determinants of the Jordanian Stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood

by Atef al-Joulani

Jordan’s official stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood faced challenges in maintaining a balanced position, despite strong and unprecedented engagement from the Jordanian public. The initial official stance, which seemed relatively strong and clear, diminished later, revealing contradictions between political declarations and practical measures on the ground. This has raised questions about the factors influencing Jordan’s position on the confrontation. First: Determinants of the Official Stance The official Jordanian stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood was shaped by various factors: 1. Concerns regarding national security intensified due to the hostile attitudes of extreme right-wing Zionist groups towards Jordan, along with fears of forced displacement in the West Bank (WB) amidst the arming of tens of thousands of settlers and their persistent efforts to compel Palestinians to relocate to Jordan. Furthermore, concerns emerged regarding security threats to the kingdom’s northern and eastern borders amidst increased attempts to breach them due to escalation in Gaza Strip (GS). On 28/1/2024, a drone attack targeted US forces stationed near the Syrian border in Jordan, killing three soldiers and wounding about 35 others. 2. Geographic and demographic factors, coupled with strong public engagement with Operation al-Aqsa Flood, persistently fueled Jordanian protests against Israeli aggression and in support of resistance since October 7th. The protests have spanned the entire geographical and societal spectrum in Jordan. 3. The provisions of the Wadi Araba Treaty between Jordan and Israel, including political, economic restrictions, and normalization commitments between the parties. 4. The strategic relationship between Jordan and the US, which fully sided with Israel and provided it with political, military and financial cover to continue its aggression on GS. 5. Jordan’s tepid ties with Hamas suffered a setback after Operation al-Aqsa Flood, which coincided with a noticeable decline in relations, prompted by the arrest of several Hamas members for attempting to smuggle weapons into WB. 6. Jordan’s political stance within the Arab and international sphere, which opposes Hamas and “political Islam” movements. 7. Jordan’s political choices in the Palestinian arena, which support the political settlement, negotiations and the two-state solution, the efforts to de-escalate and impose calm in WB, enhancing the PA status within the Palestinian society, and preventing its collapse or decline in favor of other parties. 8. The official side voiced concerns about the impact of Operation al-Aqsa Flood on Jordanian public sentiment and electoral trends, fearing its exploitation by the Islamic movement during the critical upcoming parliamentary elections later this year (2024). Second: The Various Facets of the Jordanian Position On the political front, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi was the first to indicate in the early days of the confrontation that “Hamas is an idea, and the idea does not end.” He emphasized that discussing a post-Gaza phase is a leap in the air, clarifying that Hamas did not create the conflict but rather the conflict created Hamas. Jordan was quick to describe Israeli military operations in GS as aggression and heinous war crimes, with positions issued by the King, Queen, Crown Prince and Jordanian Prime Minister condemning the aggression, calling for its cessation, and declaring solidarity with the Palestinian people. On the practical front, Jordan canceled the Quad Summit scheduled in Amman with the US President on 18/10/2023, in protest against the Israeli massacre at the Baptist Hospital in GS. Jordan also froze the energy-for-water agreement with Israel. On 1/11/2023, Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel and conducted multiple air drops to support its field hospital in GS, while establishing a second field hospital in Khan Younis. Yet, the Jordanian public deemed these official actions insufficient, demanding the cancellation of the Wadi Araba treaty and the gas agreement with Israel, along with halting the water-for-electricity deal, closing foreign military bases in Jordan, supporting Palestinian resistance and engaging with its factions. The Jordanian official stance during Operation al-Aqsa Flood can be summarized as follows: 1. Condemnation of Israeli aggression on GS and urging an end to war crimes. 2. Implementation of measures falling short of public demands, amidst strong interaction by the Jordanian public during the confrontation. 3. Permitting limited popular activities, restricting access to borders with the occupied Palestinian territories, opposing open sit-ins and arresting activists participating in some events. 4. Allowing Jordanian territory for Gulf-to-Israel truck transit, within the context of a land bridge inaugurated to bypass Houthi restrictions in the Bab al-Mandab Strait for ships bound to Israel. Conclusion Jordan’s official response to Operation al-Aqsa Flood reveals significant confusion in aligning its regional and international stance, political choices and commitments with addressing the demands of the Jordanian public. Jordan’s participation in the land bridge for goods transit to Israel has damaged its credibility and provoked public outrage. This revelation coincided with Israel’s intensified blockade on GS, coupled with increased measures to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid, as part of the Israeli policy to starve the population and incite popular resentment against the resistance. Given recent practical behavior and relative retreat in stance and rhetoric, ongoing confusion in Jordan’s official position is expected in the coming period, with increased engagement in Arab and international arrangements regarding Gaza’s post-war future. Regarding relations with Palestinian factions, Jordan’s official side is expected to maintain its preference for engaging solely with the Palestinian Authority, aiming to bolster its position in the Palestinian arena, without showing openness to resistance movements in the foreseeable future.

Diplomacy
Berlin, March 15, 2024: Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes French President Emmanuel Macron

The French - German tension

by Juan Antonio Sacaluga

That there is a miscommunication between Paris and Berlin is something that is already being unreservedly acknowledged even among the power leaders in the two capitals. The rift caused by the war in Ukraine is the arena in which tensions are being played out. But there are underlying factors that have contributed to making this gap a major concern for the European stability. We point out the following: The strategic factor Geography determines strategic choices. Germany has always looked to the East as a pole of concern, but also as a pole of opportunity. The former has almost always outweighed the latter. Wars have historically conditioned coexistence with Rusia, regardless of the political regime that has existed in each historical stage. There is one incontrovertible fact: Germany has never won a war against Russia. On the other hand, when talking about peace, German interests have prevailed. Hence in Berlin (or in Bonn, during the first Cold War) there has always been a tendency towards appeasement towards Moscow. Earlier, Hitler wanted to postpone the inevitable confrontation with Stalin’s Russia with a tactical, not a strategic pact (in 1939), a move to gain time and consolidate his domination of Western Europe. With the victory of the Soviet Union, Germany endured the division of the country for almost half a century, a punishment even more humiliating than the previous ones. The western part prospered, and the eastern part stagnated. However, this underhand triumph did nothing to facilitate the reconciliation. Willy Brandt understood this very well when he launched his ‘Ostpolitik’ (Eastern policy) in the early 1970s. The initiative caused concern in Washington, not so much because it was opposed to a thaw it shared, but because of the risk of losing control of the process. There was also some reluctance in Paris. De Gaulle and his heirs had always maintained an open channel of cooperation with Moscow but were distrustful of German overtures. With the crisis of the Soviet system, Franco-German tensions surfaced again. A united and strong Germany awakened the ghost of three devastating wars for France. The Chancellor at that time, Kohl was Gorbachev’s main supporter and acted as a fundraiser for a Soviet Union that was falling apart at the seams. Germany’s repeated commitment to peace and European integration did not seem to be a sufficient antidote to the vision of an Eastern Europe, ‘germanized’ by the economic weight of the new political and territorial power. Germany’s actions in the Yugoslav wars, initially perceived in Paris as ‘dynamiting’, contributed to increase those fears. After the failure of the democratization trial in the ‘new’ Russia, largely caused by a predatory capitalism encouraged from the West, Germany continued to cultivate very close relations with Moscow to prevent an undesirable drift in the Kremlin. Until the successive crises in Ukraine have brought this strategic project to a halt. In France, there has always been an interest in an autonomous relationship model with Moscow, whether in collaboration with Germany or the United States, but in no way subordinate. Gaullist nationalism has survived, both on the right and on the left. Somehow, the French elites have tried to avoid Paris from playing a secondary role in relations with the Kremlin, whether in cooperation or confrontation. Hence Macron (‘more papist than the Pope: more Gaullist than the General’), will attempt a risky mediation game with Putin after the phantom intervention in Crimea and the more obvious one in the Donbas, in 2014; and eight years later, when the invasion of Ukraine was consumed. There has been much speculation about the true intentions of the French president’s trip to Moscow. Macron is anything but naive. Perhaps it was indeed the inevitable need of the Elysée Palace to leave its mark. Now that any conciliation with Moscow seems distant, Macron takes the lead among the ‘hawks’ and pretends to forget that he once wanted to look like a ‘dove’, by suggesting that, although there is no allied consensus, sending soldiers to Ukraine cannot be ruled out to prevent a Russian military triumph. Of all Macron’s gambits, this has been the most or one of the riskiest. And the one that has provoked the most irritation on the other side of the Rhine [1]. Since February 2022, Germany has buried the various branches of the ‘Ostpolitik’, a task falling to a Social Democratic chancellor, perhaps the most unremarkable and least suited for high-level leadership. Olaf Scholz announced the ‘zeitenwende’ (translatable as “change of era, or time”). Half a century of rapprochement with Russia was called into question. The economic equation (energy raw materials in exchange for machinery and capital goods) in bilateral relations was dissolving under the weight of Western sanctions against Moscow. Moreover, the pacifist post-Hitler Germany committed to a military effort of $100 billion (to start with), aimed rejuvenating, strengthening, and expanding the Germany military apparatus. But in everything there is a limit, or a red line. Germany has not been shy with Putin, despite being the European country most harmed by embargoes, limitations and constraints in the Russian oil and gas consumption. Economic war was accepted as inevitable in Berlin. However, caution has been exercised, particularly in the supply of arms to Ukraine. Nonetheless, Germany is, after the United States, the largest net contributor to Kiev’s arsenals [2]. Let’s not forget that. France has also taken its precautions in pressuring the Kremlin, as has the US, despite the rhetoric and the cold war propaganda prevailing for the past two years. That is why Macron’s latest ‘provocation’ has annoyed Berlin so much. Moreover, as usual in his boasts, the French president added insult to injury by suggesting that Ukraine’s delicate fragility demanded more “courage” and less timidity from the allies [3]. Scholz replied with diplomatic and bureaucratic discretion, without any outbursts, recalling that NATO’s decisions ruled out ‘boots on the ground’ (sending troops to Ukraine). But his Defense Minister, Pistorious, could not resist returning the favor and admonishing him for his new moral lesson. The foreign ministers of both countries attempted to ‘diplomatically’ solve the crisis days later, but did not risk holding a joint press conference in order not to show that the political wound between Berlin and Paris was still open. The leak of a meeting of senior German military commanders, spied on by Russian agents, further clouded the atmosphere [4]. Another element unchanged since the Cold War: Berlin may support the European autonomous defense project, but it has never ceased to consider it as subordinate to NATO. The American nuclear umbrella is untouchable, then and now. And not even an eventual (and only speculative, for now) strategic availability of the French nuclear arsenal is capable of changing that axiom [5]. Political factors Apart from strategic considerations, domestic political factors have also played a role in this latest crisis. Macron faces the European elections with the apprehension of a seemingly inevitable victory of the far-right ‘Rassemblement National’. It was once considered a pro-Russian party and even generously funded by the Kremlin. In recent years, the party’s chairwoman has tried to distance herself from the Kremlin but has not entirely succeeded. And Macron wants to exploit this supposed vulnerability of a woman he has defeated twice in the presidential elections, but who seems destined to occupy the Elysée Palace in 2027 if she achieves successful results in this year’s European elections. In this week’s parliamentary debate on the bilateral security agreement with Kiev, Marine Le Pen ordered an abstention. She made it clear that she supports the Ukraine resistance, so that there would be no doubt about her change of attitude towards Russia. But he saw in the initiative of the President’s party a clear intention for electoral gain. Divisions were evident on the left: rebels and communists voted against, while socialists and ecologists voted in favor, but the latter rejected the suggestion of troops deployment. Scholz also faces a challenge from the far right, with elections this autumn that could consolidate the dominance of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) in the eastern states (Eastern Länder). This party has won over citizens who do not have such negative memories of the GDR, but in its rise, it has also bitten into the social democratic base. The chancellor does not want to appear too hostile to an electorate that does not participate in the anti-Russian discourse. Institutional factors In this Paris – Bonn clash, as in previous ones, the structure of the respective political systems also exerts a disturbing influence. The French political system is presidential; the German one is parliamentary. In France, the President has exclusive and personal authority over foreign policy. He does not even need his own majority (in this case, the minority that supports him) to formulate his international proposals. In Germany, by contrast, the Chancellor has to negotiate foreign policy with the coalition partners, and even on rare occasions when there has been a single-party majority government, the Bundestag has exerted considerable influence. Personal factors Finally, personal style is also not to be dismissed. It is not unusual for the Elysée Palace and the Chancellery to be inhabited by like-minded characters. The French President is conditioned by the aura of a political system that relies on an exalted figure and demands real, but also impactful, leadership. Both being and appearing so. The Chancellor, on the other hand, is a sort of ‘primus inter pares’, no matter how prominent. Therefore, since 1945, the personal stature of German leaders has always been framed in firm structures that prevent hyper-leadership. It is the Chief’s (Fuhrer) chastisement. This limitation (historical and political) is sometimes reinforced by a purely personal style. At present, the gap is perhaps the widest in the last eighty years. A French President who likes to talk and a Chancellor who is perhaps the most discreet since the post-war period. De Gaulle and Adenauer cultivated little personal relationship, but neither intended to. Pompidou and Brandt never got along particularly well, although the German took great care that his growing popularity did not irritate in Paris… until the Guillaume scandal ended his career. Giscard and Schmidt gave their cooperation a technical character, forced by the oil crisis following the wars in the Middle East. Mitterrand and Kohl raised the tone of the bilateral relationship but did not always adjust their personal dynamics. The German was the longest-serving post-war chancellor and so, the most mediatic, but the Frenchman never renounced, on the contrary, the solemnity with which the office was exercised. Merkel played down Sarkozy (and later Hollande), but not to highlight her personal qualities, but to put them at the service of Germany’s undisputed economic leadership in post-Cold War Europe. Macron wanted to put an end to this French ‘inferiority’, with difficulty. It is not clear that he succeeded against a retreating Merkel, but he thinks he has it easier with the unremarkable Scholz. Notes [1] “France-Allemagne, un tándem secoué par l’épreuve de la guerre en Ukraine”. PHILIPPE RICHARD & THOMAS WIEDER. LE MONDE, 9 de marzo. [2] “German Chancellor pledges to boost [ammunition] production for Ukraine”. DER SPIEGEL, 5 de febrero (versión en inglés). [3] “Le débat sur l’envoi de soldats en Ukraine révèle les profondes differences de vision de la guerre parmi les allies”. LE MONDE, 6 de marzo. [4] “Now It’s Germany’s turn to frustrate Allies over Ukraine”. THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 de marzo. [5] “Dans cette nouvelle ère où l’affrontement a remplacé la cooperation, la question de la dissuasion nucleaire reprend tout son sens”. SYLVIE KAUFFMANN. LE MONDE, 7 de febrero.

Diplomacy
Presidential election 2024 in the United States. Voting day, November 5.

Elections in USA: a fast-paced race

by Raquel López-Portillo

As rarely in history, elections in the United States have accelerated their tempo at a dizzying pace. The Triumpist tsunami that has swept through this initial primary election process is striking in terms of the acceleration of the process. In 2016, it was not until May that the former President Trump secured the Republican Party candidacy, while in the 2020 cycle it took Biden until June. This hastening has not only impacted domestically but has also put Mexico in a delicate position ahead of the general elections in both countries. It is nothing new that migration is a central topic of debate and dispute, even more so when its politicization increases in an electoral environment. However, the US electoral process has placed Mexico, literally and metaphorically, as a campaign stage. As evidenced by the visit of the two potential candidates for the US presidency to the Mexican border a few weeks ago, the importance of our country today takes a prominent place both in the priorities of the electorate and in the respective campaigns of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. This leaves the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a tenuous position in an already complex scenario. The fact that the focus of the conversation has been set on the border so soon leaves at least eight months of a potential spike in tensions. Biden’s rhetoric is no longer the same as when he began his term, nor is it attached to the human rights-centered line that has traditionally characterized the Democratic Party. In contrast, Biden has insisted in recent days on the passage of a bipartisan initiative to allow for the deployment of more border agents and asylum officers, detection technology, and increased capabilities to close the border when it is overwhelmed. In this scene, it is possible to expect that the diplomacy and repeated high-level meetings that have been held in recent months will now come laden with even greater demands and ultimatums. In addition, our country is also expected to be at the center of the legislative debate. While the most radical wing of the Republican Party has been the main protagonist of the budget attacks, the immigration crisis has provoked some democrats to take tougher positions. Politically, this situation has become a thorn in President Joe Biden’s side. He is perhaps the most damaged between the pressures of his closest supporters and the Republican resistance to give him legislative victories, at a time when every message or decision could influence from the presidential race to the elections in the local legislature, where the Democrats seek to recover lost spaces. For the time being, everything points to the fact that the greater the chaos on the border with the country, the greater the political gains. Finally, the border with Mexico has also found a place in the electorate’s priorities. According to various polls, eight out of ten Americans (with or without party affiliation) place immigration as a priority issue. Likewise, at least 28 percent of the polled by the Gallup Agency stated that immigration is the most serious problem that faces the country, ahead of issues such as the economy, inflation, or crime. This also impacts Mexico because it is not only limited to a matter of perception but is inevitably reflected in everyday life. Considering that migration, drug trafficking and insecurity are generally considered as part of the same problem, this has a significant impact on the increase of xenophobic positions, particularly against Mexican nationals living in the United States. Regardless of how the electoral pace continues or who ends up in the White House, Mexico should pay special attention to the speeches, proposals and actions of other people competing at the local or federal level for a position in the next government, particularly on issues that concern our country, such as migration, security, or the fight against organized crime. It is precisely these people who will determine the future of our most important bilateral relationship.

Diplomacy
The High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, during her speech at an event.

The growing discourse of rejection of the 2030 Agenda in Latin American governments

by Javier Surasky

In September 2015, the delegations of the 150 presidents participating in the Sustainable Development Summit were part of the 193 States preparing to adopt the outcome document of this meeting. This meeting represented the end of the most participatory negotiation process in the history of the United Nations: the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. The sense of optimism and of moving towards a common goal was palpable. Eight years later, the progress of the 2030 Agenda has fallen far short of expectations. Unfulfilled promises, lack of financing, the health crisis generated by COVID-19, the recent wars, and the global economy that has faced first recessionary and then inflationary pressures all have made the idea of finding common solutions to the problems afflicting the world lose momentum. Misinformation on the 2030 Agenda On this fertile soil, conspiracy theories sprout that see multilateralism as the origin of today’s problems. The 2030 Agenda is, in many cases, at the center of these distorted visions. Three conspiracy theories are being raised against the main global sustainable development agenda. Theory of the “New World Order”: This theory is based on the idea that an elite (Bilderberg Club style) formed by a small group of the most powerful people in the world governs the destinies of the planet for their benefit. The “Great Reboot” theory was proposed in Davos after the pandemic, and with the UN’s “build back better” vision, the theory focuses on the economic dimension. It suggests an orchestrated plan by the most powerful countries to appropriate all the world’s wealth. They claim the intentional creation of a pandemic to initiate their plan. “Trickle-down communism” theory: After the fall of the Soviet Union – and knowing that communism could never take over the West – the “left” began a worldwide campaign to slowly insert its ideas into Western societies so that by the time the plan was discovered, the West would have embraced the communist ideal without realizing it. All three conspiracies arrive at the same result: the 2030 Agenda is creating a group (an economic elite, a group of powerful countries, or international communism) aiming to appropriate the world’s wealth. These stories contradict reality and seek to misinform about this milestone for international cooperation, which, despite the difficulty of addressing it, is a renewal of the concept of international development. The disinformation of the 2030 Agenda happens, in most cases, through social networks, and their expressions claim, for example, that this is oriented to Forcing citizens to eat insects instead of meat. Confine the world’s population to neighborhoods where they cannot leave without permission under “15-minute cities”. Feminize men to reduce the world population. Despite the absurdity of the “arguments,” they have served as a basis for those who seek to debate the value of the 2030 Agenda in Latin America. José Luis Chilavert, former goalkeeper of the Paraguayan national soccer team, became a candidate for president of his country in the 2023 elections. He obtained 0.7% of the votes but explained his decision: “I got into politics to fight against Agenda 2030. They want to destroy us.” Sandra Torres, three-time presidential candidate for the Partido Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE by its acronym in Spanish) party, said in a video in the 2023 election campaign: “I will never let them impose an international agenda on us. We Guatemalans will set Guatemala’s agenda. I believe in life, family, and religious freedom. No to Agenda 2030.” In Chile, Congressman Cristóbal Urruticoechea Ríos, with an active mandate until 2026, stated in his country’s congress that “the dehumanization of human beings and the humanization of animals, the destruction of language, the destruction of the middle classes, the liquidation of the sovereignty of nations, the attack on families, life and roots. This is part of the 2030 Agenda.” After Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat in the last Brazilian elections, his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, became the face of the Liberal Party. His position is forceful: “The more we fight against Agenda 2030, the greater our electoral success will be.” In Costa Rica, New Republic deputy David Segura said in a speech at the chamber that the 2030 Agenda was adopted to “confuse people and, of course, to impose little by little the great modern enemy of all families, which is the nefarious gender ideology,” and then added that Agenda 2030 “opens the door to promote nothing more and nothing less than abortion, financed by international capital giants that pursue their interests, which are far from being yours, mine.” At the level of presidents we have Nayib Bukele, recently reelected to govern El Salvador, maintains a cautious position: “On the issue of Agenda 2030, I am very suspicious of this type of international agendas of the UN, the World Economic Forum, or wherever they come from and their intentions”. Although undoubtedly, the greatest exponent of conspiracy theories in the region is Javier Milei, current president of Argentina, who, during his campaign, stated, “We are not going to adhere to Agenda 2030. We do not adhere to cultural Marxism. We do not adhere to decadence” (read in Spanish), and, already in office, he explained that he was traveling to the Davos Forum with the aim of “planting the ideas of freedom in a forum that is contaminated with the socialist agenda 2030 that will only bring misery to the world”. With such positions, one of the few well-established consensuses in the region during the last 10 years is cracking. The fact that the discussion is settled will be a setback that cannot be allowed. It is up to Latin America’s leaders to armor their support for the 2030 Agenda by being clearer in their positions and more active than before in their policies to implement the SDGs. The Regional Forum on Sustainable Development must make a strong statement in that direction. When the UN Secretary-General stated that we are facing a “breakdown or breakthrough” dilemma, it seemed a rhetorical question. For Latin America, it is no longer so.

Diplomacy
Map of Countries with elections in 2024

A landmark year for Africa and the democracies

by José Segura Clavell

2024 has begun intensely and looks extremely busy for the neighboring continent: up to 18 countries will hold general elections at a time of global polarization where democracies are strained by the rise of populism and the growing influence in Africa of countries like Russia, China, and Türkiye. It is not every year that the African continent has an electoral calendar as relevant and extremely busy as the one we are starting in 2024: specifically, 18 general elections are expected to be held this year in Africa. Comoros, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Mozambique, Botswana, Chad, Tunisia, Mauritius, Namibia, Ghana, Algeria, Republic of Guinea, South Sudan, and Guinea Bissau have already passed, will or should go through this important stage in the next twelve months. And I maintain that it is a transcendental year because the test of democracy for all these countries is taking place in a context of enormous global polarization, in a world that seems to increasingly reward populist options. In the background of our observation of all these electoral processes and aware that, in many countries, certain deficiencies in democratic culture can be detected, there is a fundamental debate underway among Africans themselves, but which challenges us directly. Aren’t we in the West trying to impose a model of democracy that, as we can see, has not been useful in so many African countries? A complex debate, undoubtedly, but as a democrat, it does not allow for many nuances in my view, beyond the fact that what matters is that the people can participate in their government and express themselves, and that they can do so in freedom, without coercion, threats, or conditions. However, all these processes must also be seen from a geopolitical point of view. Europe, which has always insisted the most on democratic demands, is losing steam in Africa. The European Union, and the voids it leaves behind have been filled by countries such as China, Russia, or Türkiye, which do not hesitate to violate democratic procedures or respect for human rights. Because Russian influence in certain areas of Africa has not only been military: its interference in fields such as disinformation has weakened the democratic approaches that we, Europeans, have always defended and inspired. And China, which would almost deserve another article, will be discussed another day, since its dominance is economic, tied by the granting of credits. It is also evident that among African youth a clear critical analysis of colonialism, and how their countries have been related to European countries until today, is growing. In West Africa, the one around us, this clearly leads us to France, which is highly questioned throughout the Sahel, but which in a certain way affects the image of all the countries that we could include in what we call “the West”, whether we have a colonizing history or not. And that should also call us to reflect on how badly we have done and how selfish we Europeans have been with the African continent, giving priority to our commercial and geopolitical interests. Not so long ago, and forgive the harshness of the term, is where we went to hunt black people later sell them, in a spurious trade of human beings. Some of these electoral processes will take place in territories of great relevance for our country, such as the neighboring Senegal, that current sender of a large part of the people who come to us on board of small boats and “cayucas”. I write these lines on a morning (Friday, January 26th) in which, despite a horrible windstorm and very rough seas, the arrival of cayucos to the Canary Islands has not stopped, six of them in the last few hours, with more than 300 people, one of them to the island of El Hierro with two corpses on board. The drama does not stop, and it is even more difficult for me to digest it amidst information from Fitur in which we celebrate the wonderful prospects for the arrival of more and more tourists. There is barely a month to go before a key electoral process for Senegal, this friendly country, until a few years ago considered a beacon for democracies throughout West Africa. Journalist José Naranjo, who lives in Dakar, wrote the other day in El Pais that these are the most open elections in recent Senegalese history. Many of the Senegalese migrants who arrived in the Canary Islands during this record-breaking 2023 pointed to the political climate in the country and its impact on local economies as one of the causes for risking their lives at sea, so it is clear the importance of how the election results unfold, and how the electoral results are accepted. This is followed by the Sahel countries. The ‘non-democratic’ situation in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger or Chad is extremely complex, reflecting the tense geopolitical moment they are experiencing, marked by the rise of terrorism – the pressure exerted by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, with an increasingly well-founded fear of their expansion towards the West African coastal countries, like Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo or Benin –, the European withdrawal from the region and the subsequent rapprochement with Russia of the countries currently governed by military juntas. In the Sahel, three countries are due to hold general elections in 2024 to return to the democratic path. They are Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad. In Mali and Burkina Faso, the situation is almost the same: after two coups d’etat in each case, the resulting military junta expelled from the country the European military missions that were assisting them in the fight against terrorism and moved closer to Russia. Amid sanctions by the international community and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the countries not only postpone the elections (in the case of Mali), but also argue that, given the delicate moment of the fight against jihadist forces, organizing election is not a priority. The last of our Sahelian neighbors is Mauritania, a country with close economic and even sentimental ties to the Canary Islands archipelago. Mauritania is a Sahelian country that differs from its neighbors in that it is not governed by a military junta, but by a democratically elected president. The current ruler, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, came to power in 2019 after elections that were deemed free and transparent by international observers. Ghazouani has pushed for a gradual political opening, releasing political prisoners, allowing the return of exiles, and favoring dialogue with the opposition. However, the country continues to face challenges such as the threat of jihadist terrorism, poverty, slavery, and ethnic discrimination. Its presidential elections are scheduled for June 22. Very soon we will see our Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, visiting the country. Another country facing a key election this year (expected in October) is South Africa. The ruling African National Congress (ANC), the party that succeeded with Mandela in defeating segregationism, faces its biggest challenge since the end of apartheid, as polls suggest it could lose its absolute majority in Parliament for the first time. Some corruption scandals, the economy (inflation, unemployment, or electricity blackouts) and the great inequalities experienced by South African society seem to have questioned the traditionally, calm majority, of the party now led by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Let us not forget that, together with Nigeria, South Africa is the economic engine of the African continent and that, at the global and geopolitical level, it is already a leading player. Its decisive gesture of suing Israel for genocide against the Palestinians at the International Court of Justice has put it in the limelight, positioning it as the voice of the global south at a time when that global south is making a decisive place for itself on our geopolitical map. All this is to explain that we are facing a series of elections in key countries in our neighborhood, with complicated histories and complex contexts that we must keep an eye on. Because this year there are not only elections in the United States. Next door, in Africa, everything that happens also concerns us. Article written by José Segura Clavell, General Director of Casa África, and published on January 26th, 2024 in eldiario.es and on January 27th, 2024 in Kiosco Insular and Canarias7.

Diplomacy
Western Sahara Wall in Morocco, Western Sahara. March 22, 2008: Demonstration for the independence of the Sahara Occidental in front of the Moroccan wall

48 years after, there is no time for peace in the Western Sahara

by María López Belloso

In a world marked by growing tensions and conflicts in places such as Gaza, Ukraine, and Yemen, the 48th anniversary of the proclamation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic on February 27 invites us to reflect on the importance of peace in a context where escalating violence threatens to overshadow any possibility of international harmony. Paradoxically, the Western Sahara conflict does not seem to be one of the conflicts of greatest concern to the international community. Thus, the 2022 annual report of the International Crisis Group did not include the Saharawi conflict among the 10 to be considered in 2023, although it did not foresee the Gaza crisis either. In the current global landscape, peace is at a crossroads, challenged by conflicts that seem to be emerging in different parts of the world. From the live-streamed genocide in Gaza to the conflicts in Ukraine and Yemen, it is clear that the escalation of violence, is on the rise. But this is only the visible side of the coin. According to the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, there are currently more than a hundred-armed conflicts in the world, including 7 in Europe and 45 in North Africa and the Middle East. Meanwhile, recently the more than 350 high-level participants from over 70 countries who took part in the Munich Security Conference have demonstrated the incoherence of foreign policy by showing double standards in the application of personalized international law in the conflicts in Ukraine and Palestine. An appeal for peace and dialogue Although the motto of this conference, which began in 1963, is “Peace through dialogue”, peace and dialogue have disappeared from the equation, eclipsed by an exchange of accusations and requests for armament support. Only the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Layen, reflected on the democratic costs of the current global situation, asking whether “democracy will survive in the world and whether we can defend our values”. In this context, the anniversary of the proclamation of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic takes on a special relevance, reminding us of the urgent need to prioritize peace over discord. Throughout the decades, the Saharawi people have maintained a firm commitment to peace, even amidst provocations and breaches of agreements by Morocco. Their longing for a peaceful future has been eloquently manifested in their participation in conflict resolution efforts and in their constant willingness to negotiate peace. Despite the adversities, the Sahrawis have shown an admirable resistance, reaffirming their commitment to regional stability in a context in which no one seems to remember that it is now 48 years since the start of the conflict at Europe’s doorstep, with over 250,000 people struggling to survive in the refugee camps in Tindouf, increasingly forgotten by donors and international society. Even though the Sahrawi people have references such as Aminetu Haidar, internationally awarded for her peaceful resistance and struggle for human rights, reminding us that peace, despite the provocations and challenges, remains a fundamental objective for the Sahrawi people, the international community bets on whitewashing Morocco by granting it the presidency of the Human Rights Council. The complex international relations The recent trip of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, to Morocco has raised questions about his commitment to international law. Ignoring Morocco’s occupation and exploitation of the Sahrawi territory not only contravenes fundamental principles, but also highlights the complexity of international relations in an increasingly interconnected world. In this critical context, there is a need for spaces for reflection that can shed some light on this bleak panorama. The University of Deusto will soon host the conference “Western Sahara: Exploring New Perspectives from International Law and International Relations” to analyze the complexities of the situation in Western Sahara, explore new perspectives and seek solutions from the field of international law and international relations. It will be a space for constructive dialogue, with the hope of finding paths towards peace and justice in a region marked by controversy. To paraphrase Hannah Arendt, “in dark times” it is imperative to remember that peace and international cooperation are fundamental to building a sustainable and fair future. The situation in Western Sahara provided us with an opportunity to reflect on how we can move towards a world where respect for international law and peaceful conflict resolution are the norm, not the exception.

Diplomacy
Elections in Portugal

What in at stake in the portuguese elections of march 10, 2024?

by Ángel Rivero

Portugal and Spain are two countries that share the same geopolitical position and parallel histories too. This makes mutual knowledge a source of information that should be valued by both countries, because one has much to learn from the experiences of the other. Unfortunately, as in the last century, it seems that getting to know oneself by studying one’s neighbor has little audience in both Spain, and Portugal. That is why it is worth it to insist on paying attention to what is at stake in the upcoming Portuguese legislative elections on March 10, 2024. The first thing to note is that this is an early election since the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, decided to dissolve the Parliament because of the corruption scandal involving António Costa, the socialist prime minister, who resigned on November 7, 2023. Costa´s resignation was agreed with the President of the Republic, and this explains the long period of time given to the Socialist Party so that it could recompose its leadership and face elections. The President of Portugal, elected by direct suffrage, has the power to dissolve the Parliament, even if the Government enjoys majority support as was the case, a prerogative reminiscent of the monarch in the old constitutional monarchy. The new leader of the Socialist Party is Pedro Nuno de Oliviera Santos, former Minister of Infrastructure and Housing under Costa and an enthusiastic supporter of the government agreements with the far left, known in Portugal as the “geringonça”. This data is important because it signifies that the radical sector of the Socialist Party has triumphed over the traditional moderate wing, and therefore, if the parliamentary numbers add up, a government like Costa’s first one in 2015 could be repeated. In that scenario, after losing elections, the Socialist Party was able to form a government with the support of the Communist Party and the Bloco de Esquerda. A novelty that deeply altered what had been until then the Portuguese party system. It is also relevant that, as a minister, Santos blocked the high-speed connection between Madrid and Lisbon, an infrastructure that should have been completed decades ago, and displayed a provocative and swaggering rhetoric in his relations with Spain. As a compliment, he has been dubbed as the Portuguese Pedro Sánchez. However, the chances of him reaching the government seem remote. That is why Santos has stated that if the center-right, which is running under the acronym of its historic coalition Democratic Alliance (AD), were to win the elections, he would allow them to govern as a minority, so they could not have to rely on the far-right Chega! Party. But these manifestations neither express moderation nor political generosity because, in fact, the only possibility for the PS to govern is, precisely, that, as was the case before 2015, the right-wing would allow it to govern in a minority if it wins the elections, that is, if it manages to be the force with the most votes and seats. Santos has demanded reciprocity from the AD after making his attractive offer. Meaning that, if the PS comes out on top, it should be able to govern. It is somewhat ironic that this approach is taken by an enthusiastic supporter of what happened in 2015 when Passos Coelho was ousted from the government after winning the elections thanks to an agreement between the PS and the far left. However, if the PS was able to capitalize on the results of 2015 to achieve an absolute majority in the 2022 elections, at the expense of the weakening of the far left – it came close to doing so in the 2019 elections –, things are quite different today. 2015 was an exceptional moment for the Portuguese far left as it garnered nearly 20% of the votes. But since then, it has continued to decline, and polls for these elections confirm the demise of the Communist Party, whose voters have moved to Chega!, and the likely confirmation of the weakness, if not irrelevance, of the Bloco de Esquerda. The latest Portuguese elections of 2022 resulted in the following outcomes shown in table 1: But recent polls from the last few days show the PS with between 20 and 30% of the vote, indicating a severe blow with the loss of half or at least a quarter of its votes; the Alianza Democrática between 21 and 33%, a slight increase compared to the last elections. The party that is growing the most is Chega!, which would go from 7.28 to 15 or even 19% of the votes, according to the polls. In contrast, the far left would be annihilated. If the 2022 elections were already one of the worst results in their history, these could still worsen. The latest polls indicate that the Communist Party would reach between 2 and 4%, with most surveys placing it at 2%, and the Bloco de Esquerda between 3 and 8%, with most polls placing the vote for this party between 3 and 4%. In short, even if the PS were to win, it would not have the option of repeating the “geringonça” of 2015, so strongly defended by its current leader Santos. That is, Santos could only govern if the old tradition of allowing the party with the most votes to govern were to be revived, a tradition he helped to destroy. But on the right side, things are also not clear. Although recent polls consistently indicate that the AD will surpass the PS, it seems difficult for them to reach a sufficient majority with the seats of IL Iniciativa Liberal, center-right, which polls give between 2% and 6.6%, although polls that give it 6% dominate. Luis Montenegro, the leader of the PSD who presents himself as the head of the AD coalition, along with the CDS-PP and the PPM, has established a political exclusion with Chega!; and André Ventura, its popular leader, has indicated that he will not support an AD government if they are not allowed to be part of it. So, as things stand, there could be the paradox in Portugal where the Assembly of the Republic is largely dominated by the right-wing parties, yet the AD government would be extremely weak. Paulo Raimundo, leader of the Portuguese Communist Party, says that their former voters now support Chega! because they are desperate. But something must have to do with the fact that Chega! has voted in favor of all social policies of the Costa government, particularly regarding the increase in the minimum wage, pensions, and other benefits. Portugal’s evolution in its party system shows a closer proximity to the European trend than Spain: the decline of the far left, the rise of the far right, and a certain fragmentation and weakening of the central bloc of governing parties. This means that in a context of weakness in the left Portuguese, the governing right may not be able to capitalize on it, despite being majority, due to being divided and having incompatible projects. The Democratic Alliance points the way to the necessary unity of the right to win elections and form a solid government, but its components are weakened parties whose main asset is their history, something that, according to the polls, lacks sufficient appeal to halt Chega! and thus offer a consistent government alternative.

Diplomacy
Demonstrators marching along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House to encourage the Biden administration in ending its support of Haitian dictators

Haiti Mission Lacks Interlocutor Plus Peruvian Congress Purges Top Judges

by Shannon K. O'Neil , Will Freeman

No interlocutor for Haiti mission’s international troops and Peru’s “pact of the corrupt” is succeeding where Guatemala’s failed without international pressure. No interlocutor for Haiti mission’s international troops. Haiti’s acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced he will resign. The timeline for his resignation is still unclear—it depends on the appointment of a transitional presidential council, jointly proposed by the United States, the Caribbean Community, and Henry’s administration. Henry’s announcement comes less than two weeks after he and Kenyan President William Ruto agreed to send 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti as part of a Kenya-led multinational security mission (MSS). The mission’s aim is to support Haiti’s overwhelmed and outgunned national police force, less than 10,000-strong. The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, among others, may join their mission, potentially adding thousands more troops and police officers. And donor nations, including the United States, Canada, Germany, France and Guyana, have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in support. Yet the response looks to be too late and too little. Kenya’s promise to send officers is still in doubt, as courts have blocked government plans for over six months, and opposition lawmakers may mount a fresh challenge. Donor financial pledges total less than half the UN’s estimated need. And even if the troops arrive, they may not have a functioning government to work with. As the international community dithered, the situation on the ground deteriorated. Gangs now control over 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and have attacked police stations, a port, Port-Au-Prince’s international airport, and two prisons, releasing some four thousand inmates. With Henry having agreed to resign—but no new government currently in place—it’s unclear who can play the role of interlocutor for the MSS. Without stability, more Haitians will flee. Already, over 126,000 Haitians have arrived as part of the Biden administration’s new humanitarian parole program that allows them to come and work for two years, outnumbering tens of thousands of Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan migrants that also qualify. Mexico received more than 40,000 Haitian asylum requests in 2023 alone. And more look to join the hundreds of thousands of Haitians living across the Western Hemisphere if the Haitian state fails. Peru’s “pact of the corrupt” is succeeding where Guatemala’s failed without international pressure. Last year in Guatemala, an incongruous coalition of lawmakers from different parties earned the nickname the “pact of the corrupt” as they joined forces to erode the rule of law and overturn election results. Thanks in large part to sustained international pressure, including targeted U.S. sanctions against nearly 300 lawmakers, Guatemala’s “pact” failed to keep President Bernardo Arévalo, an anti-corruption reformer, from taking office. A group of far-right and far-left Peruvian lawmakers is conducting a similar move, passing laws to reduce judicial independence and undermine conditions for free and fair elections. On March 7, Peru’s “pact” fired two of the seven top magistrates from the National Justice Board, which names prosecutors and judges and helps choose election authorities. This could enable lawmakers to influence the selection of election authorities next year in the run-up to Peru’s 2026 general elections by threatening further purges. Last year, a coordinated joint statement from U.S., EU, and Latin American embassies in Peru forced lawmakers to back down from firing the National Justice Board magistrates. But this time around, similar democracy eroding moves triggered less unified international pushback. Senators Tim Kaine and Ben Cardin released statements in defense of the National Justice Board, and the State Department’s global anti-corruption coordinator met with the magistrates before the ouster. That could help explain why Peru’s congress fell short of the votes it needed to suspend more magistrates, including the National Justice Board president. But without more coordination and the threat of targeted sanctions, Peru’s “pact of the corrupt” seems to have won this round.

Diplomacy
A look at the massive protest march in Gaza at Freedom Plaza and the White House

Will Gaza Defeat President Joe Biden?

by Dennis Altman

Election prospects for Joe Biden are looking dimmer as the war in Gaza steadily worsens and the casualties of civilians increases. How will Americans vote on the Palestinian issue? Lyndon Johnson decided not to seek re-election because of opposition to his policies in Vietnam. Jimmy Carter’s chances of re-election were crushed when the attempt to rescue US hostages in Iran failed. Will the war in Gaza have the same effect on President Joe Biden? The United States is increasingly isolated internationally over its support for Israel. It has had to use its veto in the Security Council on three occasions to prevent calls for an immediate ceasefire, when not even the United Kingdom was prepared to do more than abstain. Biden has a long history of support for Israel, but even he has clearly lost patience with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After the initial Hamas attacks he flew to Israel to express solidarity, but also to warn against over-reaction. He has repeated that warning consistently, both publicly and privately, but the United States continues to provide Israel with arms and to protect it in international fora. Until recently that was a position supported by most Americans. However the last few months have seen a major rift develop among Democrats, with increasing numbers criticising Biden for his unwillingness to put further pressure on Israel. Vice President Kamala Harris has publicly pressured Israel to halt its ongoing assault on Gaza. At the same time some of the most strongly pro-Israeli lobbyists have deep connections with Democratic politicians. It’s important to recognise that some of Israel’s strongest defenders are not Jewish, and particularly on the Republican side are often associated with fundamental Christians who accept the claims of the Israeli right to all of Palestine. Traditionally, American Jews have tended to vote Democrat at a higher rate than their economic status might suggest. But there are significant Republican connections with both right-wing Jews and the Israeli lobby, and Netanyahu made little secret of his preference for Donald Trump, who both recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and brokered peace with some of the Gulf states. The Jewish population of the United States is less than three percent, but it is heavily concentrated in a few states and Jews tend to vote more often than other groups (the figures are rubbery, in part because many people with Jewish backgrounds are non-religious and not connected to organised community organisations). The Palestinian population is small, and even the Arab-American population is probably less than that of Jewish-Americans, unlike the situation in Australia. Not all Jews support Israel, and opposition to the Netanyahu government is larger and better organised than in Australia. But there are sufficient Jewish and Arab Americans for whom Gaza is an important enough issue to determine their vote. And here lies the problem for Biden. Trump, who has managed to combine friendship with anti-Semites and unwavering support for Israel, has little to lose through the unfolding tragedy in Gaza. Few of his supporters would be concerned with his closeness to Netanyahu, but he may well increase his support among former Democratic Jewish voters who like his support for Israel. Of the six states that are generally regarded as likely to swing the results of the presidential election only two, Arizona and Pennsylvania, have sufficient Jewish voters that even a slight decline in their support could cost Biden the state. The bigger problem for Biden is people on the left who are so outraged by his continuing support for Israel that they may choose to either not vote or vote for a third-party candidate. In the American system, with first past the post voting for president in all but a couple of states, a third-party candidate could erode Biden’s lead in a number of crucial states. Voters who feel they cannot support his policies can of course choose not to vote—or could vote for Greens Party leader Jill Stein, who has called for an immediate ceasefire, or Robert Kennedy Jr, who speaks more vaguely of peace and a less militaristic foreign policy. Neither of them is a potential winner, but they have the capacity to take left-wing votes away from Biden. The Biden campaign are clearly worried about this, particularly in Michigan which has a sizeable Arab-American population. The presidential election is over ten months away, and no-one can predict whether the war in Gaza will be over, although it would be absurdly optimistic to assume any realistic settlement. Domestic issues—the economy, immigration—will be more significant, as will the apparent health of the two men who are fighting to be the oldest US president in history. But there are enough Americans for whom the scars of Gaza are sufficiently traumatic to determine how they will vote—or not vote—in November. And on balance this can only help Donald Trump.