Will More Talks Resolve Venezuela’s Crisis?
Plus: French officials travel to Tehran, Trump attacks Britain’s ambassador, and the other stories we’re following today.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: What to expect from another round of Venezuela talks, Iran continues making threats, and Trump lashes out at Britain’s ambassador.
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Venezuela’s Third Round of Negotiations
Representatives from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government and the opposition are expected to meet this week in Barbados for another round of talks mediated by Norway. Previous discussions to end the country’s ongoing political crisis have ended in deadlock.
The talks so far have involved two parties: Maduro’s government, which still controls state institutions largely due to military backing; and the opposition led by Juan Guaidó, who is recognized as Venezuela’s acting president by more than 50 countries. Guaidó, like many in the opposition, is skeptical of dialogue. Maduro’s critics see it as a stalling tactic.
What to expect. Guaidó has demanded a solution this time, but the talks could again be limited by the two-party approach, said Moises Rendon, the associate director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The new round of negotiations has a flaw that hasn’t been addressed in the last rounds: who is representing Maduro’s government and who is representing Guaidó’s government,” Rendon said. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere, because you don’t have the full representation of all the forces within the Maduro regime”—including the military.
What about rights violations? Last week, the United Nations released a report alleging thousands of extrajudicial killings carried out by Venezuelan special forces over the past 18 months. “That will help on the leverage of the Guaidó side,” Rendon said. But it could have limited impact on this week’s negotiations.
“The [U.N.] report did not go that far in terms of connecting the human rights violations they described to the Maduro government,” he added. “It’s not shedding light on who’s responsible.”
What We’re Following Today
Iran continues making threats, France negotiates. French President Emmanuel Macron’s top Iran envoy will meet with officials today in Tehran, hoping to halt the country’s violations of the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran ramped up its threats on Monday, saying it would restart centrifuges and enrich uranium up to 20 percent. The new threats would undo the agreement’s achievements.
Experts say that as Iran continues to breach the nuclear deal, it exposes the limits of E.U. foreign policy without U.S. support, Robbie Gramer and Keith Johnson report. “While European governments have condemned Iran’s breach of the nuclear deal, they have not yet revealed any new policy proposals to address it,” they write.
Trump feuds with Britain. U.S. President Donald Trump has renewed his attacks on Kim Darroch, the British Ambassador to the United States, after leaked memos revealed the diplomat had called Trump’s administration “dysfunctional” and “inept,” among other things. “We will no longer deal with him,” Trump tweeted, alongside criticisms of Theresa May’s handling of Brexit. A spokesman for May said she has “full faith” in the ambassador but disagrees with his comments about the Trump administration.
The White House has since escalated the diplomatic spat by disinviting Darroch from a dinner with the Emir of Qatar and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Britain is aiming for a major trade agreement with the U.S. if it leaves the European Union as scheduled on Oct. 31.
Mexican crackdown on migrants speeds up. Officials in Mexico have captured more than 200 migrants trying to cross the U.S. border by truck in just two days, as it steps up its enforcement under the country’s former prisons chief. Along the border, the new National Guard—created to bring down the homicide rate—is now also detaining U.S.-bound migrants, drawing the concern of a Mexican government watchdog.
Keep an Eye On
The party to rival Erdogan. A former Turkish deputy prime minister, Ali Babacan, resigned from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Monday. Babacan plans to launch a new party with former President Abdullah Gul later this year, which could further undermine the AKP after its defeat in the Istanbul mayoral election last month.
An ICC conviction. The International Criminal Court found an ex-rebel leader guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Monday. Bosco Ntaganda is the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC, which could set a legal precedent.
A probe into Duterte’s drug war? Amnesty International has called for a U.N. investigation into extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug crackdown has killed around 6,600 people since 2016. (NGOs say the death toll is higher.) Duterte opposes a visit by U.N. investigators.
Iraq’s Shiite militias. Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi—under U.S. pressure—declared that the country’s Iranian-backed Shiite militias would now come under Iraqi state control. That’s not likely to happen as there isn’t much the Iraqi government an do to fight back, Geneive Abdo writes for FP.
Sri Lanka’s tea plantations. As thousands of workers migrate and large-scale, colonial-era tea plantations decline in Sri Lanka, small family-owned farms appear to be on the rise. They hope to be the future of the country’s industry, Philip Yiannopoulos reports for FP.
Odds and Ends
The British Museum will soon return a set of fourth-century Buddhist terracotta heads to Afghanistan in one of its biggest repatriation cases. The artifacts, likely removed by the Taliban, were intercepted at London’s Heathrow airport in 2002 and went through a long legal process before arriving at the museum last year.
Technology is transforming home security in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, the Washington Post reports. Apartment buildings are increasingly turning to fingerprint scanners, cameras, and “remote doormen,” supplanting their human counterparts.
Officials in Tanzania are fighting over the plan to boost tourism with a cable car on Mount Kilimanjaro. The proposal, announced earlier this year, has faced criticism from environmental advocates and climbing guides, who fear it will affect their livelihoods.
Passport applications in Zimbabwe have soared as the country’s economic crisis pushes people to work, study, or seek medical treatment abroad, the Guardian reports. The passport office can only process 50 each day and has a backlog of 280,000 applications. Zimbabwe’s inflation—second only to Venezuela’s—is close to 100 percent, a 10-year high.
That’s it for today.