The Week That Was: Global News In Review

Foreign Policy Brief #86 | By: Ibrahim Castro | August 3, 2023
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Coup in Niger

Last week Niger’s democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown by the country’s military leaders. The leaders of the coup have warned against any armed intervention in the country. This comes as West African leaders are set to gather for an emergency summit to discuss how to restore constitutional order to Niger. As the largest country in West Africa, it’s an important country for the region. Politically, it was seen as an example of relative democratic stability, as its neighbors in the region, Mali and Burkina Faso, have already succumbed to military coups. Strategically for the West, it hosts French and US military bases as a key partner in the fight against armed insurgents in the Sahel region. Economically, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, receiving close to $2 billion a year in official development assistance, but it is rich in raw materials like uranium, producing 7% of all global supplies. The US has called for president Bazoum’s immediate release. Meanwhile the African Union, the West African regional bloc Ecowas, the EU and the UN have all spoken out against the coup.


Floating border wall

Last week the United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, calling for the removal of a floating border barrier that has raised territorial and humanitarian concerns. Mexico filed a complaint with the US government earlier this month, accusing the structure of violating border treaties signed in 1944 and 1970. The razor-wired floating border is one of the latest examples of extremist efforts by the Texas Republican governor to repel asylum seekers.  The barrier is a part of Operation Lone Star, a Texas initiative launched in 2021 under Governor Abbott. It includes bussing and flying migrants and asylum seekers to predominantly Democratic cities, and deploying troops from the state National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to guard the border. The number of irregular crossings from Mexico into the US has been on the decline since the ending of Title 42, a controversial COVID-era policy that allowed border officials to turn away asylum seekers without processing their claims.  The floating border and other Texas policies for dealing with migrants have sparked human rights concerns, and asylum groups denounce the militarisation of the border and heavy-handed policies.


Russia writes off $23 billion debt for Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week, at the second ever Russia- Africa summit that his country has written off $23 billion of Debt for African countries. Russia also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes, saying it would continue to train personnel from African countries.  Putin assured African leaders that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa. Russia is now pushing harder to move closer to African nations as it looks for friends, allies, and markets to help support it against  Western states opposed to its aggression in Ukraine. Moscow was a crucial player in Africa in the Soviet era, but its influence has waned heavily over the past few decades. Putin is trying to rekindle that influence and win over the countries in the global south to back him in an ever increasing polarized world.

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