The Week That Was: Global News in Review

Foreign Policy Brief #138 | By: Ibrahim Castro | April 17, 2024
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Israel and Iran conflict

Israel’s military chief on Monday said the country would respond to an Iranian missile and drone attack on Israeli territory, the first time Tehran has attacked Israel directly. Israel has suggested it would ignore calls for restraint by allies and the United Nations who are anxious to avoid a further escalation of conflict in the Middle East. Iran launched the attack on Israel as response to an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month that killed seven Iranian officials. Iran sent nearly 300 drones and missiles towards Israel, but Israel’s air defense systems along with US, UK, and Jordanian forces shot down nearly all incoming objects and no casualties were reported.

The attack, which was announced days before actually being carried out, has been described by some analysts as mainly a show of force that Iran used in order to demonstrate an ability to retaliate without seeking further conflict. The White House on Monday said President Biden told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US won’t support any Israeli offensive against Iran. The bombing of the Iranian consulate and subsequent drone fleet sent towards Israel has brought with it a new phase of tension, uncertainty and confrontation in the Middle East that is striking fear of a region-wide conflict.

Ecuador and Mexico Cut Ties

Mexico’s government has severed diplomatic ties with Ecuador after police raided the Mexican Embassy to arrest former Ecuadorian vice president Jorge Glas. The former Ecuadorian VP sought political asylum at the embassy after being indicted on corruption charges. Mexico, as well as foreign experts, say it was a blatant violation of international accords. Diplomatic premises are considered foreign soil and under the Vienna treaties and a host country’s law enforcement agencies are not allowed to enter without the permission of the ambassador. Following the raid Mexico filed a complaint at the international court of justice in the Netherlands asking the UN to expel Ecuador. Leaders across Latin America condemned Ecuador’s actions, Venezuela and Honduras took actions to recall staff from the country and signal displeasure with the move.

Anniversary of War in Sudan

Sudan this week marked a year anniversary of its ongoing civil war. Aid agencies have warned that the country is on the edge of collapse. Sudan is facing an enormous humanitarian crisis that has been largely forgotten by the rest of the world as other conflicts and crises have taken center stage. After Sudan’s ruler of nearly 30 years, President Omar al-Bashir, was toppled by a popular uprising in 2019, a fragile transition to civilian led democracy was destroyed when the army and RSF staged a coup in 2021. The ensuing civil war has seen the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) fighting against the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The war has left millions displaced and an estimated 15,000 civilians dead. Over 8.4 million people, including two million children, have been forced to flee their homes in the wake of the conflict.

Sudan has also been experiencing deadly outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, measles, and malaria. Meanwhile, about 65 percent of the population lacks access to healthcare and between 70-80% of hospitals in conflict zones are no longer functional due to air raids. Several efforts are under way to attempt to bring the war in Sudan to an end, but their lack of success has been linked to rifts and competing interests between the mediating countries such as Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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