Meridian Reads: UNGA, Ukraine and tensions in Africa

The 2019 United Nations General Assembly.


Happy Sunday, Meridian Readers! It sure was an eventful week, so let’s jump in.

What happened at the U.N. General Assembly

Publication: The New York Times | By Rick Gladstone and Alan Yuhas

  • Every year presidents and prime ministers come together for UNGA, the word’s most prominent convening of leaders in diplomacy. With Brexit, the climate crisis and plenty of global tensions, this year’s assembly was nothing short of eventful.
  • Here’s a quick rundown of what went down:
    • Boris Johnson, Britain’s new prime minister, made is UN debut just after Britain’s top court ruled that he acted unconstitutionally when he suspended Parliament.
    • In President Trump’s third appearance at UNGA, he spent time recounting what he described as his administration’s strong economic achievements, embraced the theme of nationalism and rejected the principles of multilateral cooperation often heard at the United Nations.
      •  “Wise leaders put the good of their own people and their own country first. The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots,” Trump said.
    • Trump also spent much of his speech disparaging China over trade disputes with the United States, Iran over its actions in the Middle East and Venezuela over that country’s economic demise under President Nicolás Maduro.
    • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey denounced the spread of hate crimes against Muslims, Jews migrants and other minority groups around the world.
    • President Emmanuel Macron of France, who has been struggling to salvage the Iran nuclear agreement repudiated by President Trump last year, called on the United States and Iran to pursue negotiations.
    • 16 year old Greta Thunberg spoke on the importance of tackling the climate crisis.
      • “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you,” she said.
  • A lot of other things happened throughout the week, but those were the main takeaways. Busy time to be a world leader, eh?

More details emerge as Trump-Ukraine story dominates

Publication: CNN | By Oliver Darcy Image result for trump

  • Unless you live totally off the grid, you’ve heard about Trump’s controversial call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And the details just keep on coming.
  • In a story published Wednesday night, the NYT reported that the July phone call “showed only a slice of Trump’s obsession with Ukraine.”
    • The Times also reported that Trump had placed a phone call to the Ukrainian president in April, and urged him to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigation “corruption.” The details of that phone conversation had not been previously reported.
  • Now that the House is moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, things are heating up in Washington— and the whole world is watching.
  • The still-anonymous whistleblower “has tentatively agreed to meet with congressional lawmakers,” CNN reported Wednesday night.
    • Lawmakers have not been told the identity of the whistleblower or where the complainant works in the government.
  • You definitely haven’t heard the end of this story, and the news cycle around it is non-stop. Stay tuned for more updates.

Gulf rivalries play out in Horn of Africa, sometimes with deadly consequences

Publication: The Washington Diplomat | By Jonathan Gorvett

  • Situated on one of the world’s most vital shipping lanes, linking Europe, the Indian Ocean and the rest of Asia, the Horn of Africa is also now fast becoming one of the world’s most contested regions, as regional and global actors vie for power and profit.
    • The U.S., China, Japan, France, Russia and the U.K. all now have military facilities there, with the lower Red Sea area seen by all as a key geographic foothold for the protection — and extension — of their international interests.
  •  Increasingly, the region is also becoming a theater for nearby Arabian powers, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which have been investing heavily in infrastructure and land in the Horn, as well as backing various local governments and authorities.
    • While much of this investment has been welcome in a region scarred by conflict and poverty, it also comes with some growing concerns, especially given Saudi and Emirati involvement in other conflicts.
  • “The danger is that the disputes and rivalries of the Middle East will lead to competition in the Horn of Africa that makes it difficult for the region itself to move forward and rise above its current challenges,” said Daniel Benaim, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Middle East expert.
  • As countries continue to battle over the region, civilians are suffering the most, and some have become casualties.