The Cable

Unrest in Venezuela and Hungary, An Attack in Egypt, Tillerson to Moscow: The Weekend Behind, the Week Ahead

Catch up on all the top headlines from the weekend, and read what to watch in the days to come.

caracas protest

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for Palm Sunday bombings that killed 43 in two Coptic churches in Egypt. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who, in Washington last Monday, reaffirmed with President Donald Trump his commitment to combatting terrorism, announced a three month state of emergency.  

Unrest continued over the weekend in Venezuela. Thousands marched in Caracas against the announcement that opposition leader Henrique Capriles is banned from holding office for 15 years. Saturday’s protest, which security forces met with tear gas, followed over a week of protests against a Supreme Court decision to take over the functions of the legislature.

Although that ruling has largely been reversed, it sparked the most urgent, sustained protests Venezuela has seen since 2014. But between the continued imprisonment of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and the Capriles ban, the government seems to be unwilling to let those leading the protests run for office in the next elections, currently slated for 2018 (though the opposition has been angling to move them up).

Thousands also took to the streets an ocean away in Budapest, where protesters called on Hungarian President Janos Ader to veto legislation that would effectively shut down Central European University, which was founded by George Soros, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s bogeyman, in 1991. Although the ruling Fidesz party insists the new legislation is about making all accountable to the law, many see it as targeting CEU. The law has been met with resistance from the international and European diplomatic community, as well as from Hungarian institutions and individuals. But whether Ader listens to his people or to his party will be seen in the week ahead.

Also to be seen this week: How U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson manages his Moscow meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov, who became foreign minister in 2004, is the consummate diplomat; Tillerson, who until recently was the head of ExxonMobil, is not.
There was speculation when Tillerson was appointed that he might be too cozy and connected with Russia — he did business there, and won the Russian Order of Friendship. But the Trump administration’s recent decision to strike an airfield in Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, and Tillerson’s denunciation of Moscow’s role in Syria’s chemical weapons attack, could throw a wrench into whatever bond Lavrov and Tillerson were set to forge. Tillerson was also penciled in for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that was cancelled Monday, just a day before Tillerson is to fly to Russia.

Photo credit: FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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