Will Turkey Face Double Sanctions?
Plus: Hong Kong’s justice minister in China, Congo’s Ebola crisis, and the other stories we’re following today.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Turkey deals with a double sanctions threat, Hong Kong’s justice minister heads to mainland China, and experts convene to assess Congo’s Ebola crisis.
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Turkey Faces Sanctions Threats on Two Fronts
While the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump appears set to sanction Turkey as it receives components for the S-400, an advanced Russian missile defense system, the decision to enact them sits with U.S. President Donald Trump—who said on Tuesday that it was “not fair” to halt the sale of U.S. F-35 fighter jets to the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to be banking on Trump’s disagreement with other administration officials. Turkey can’t afford any sanctions: It is edging closer to an economic crisis, with the Turkish lira falling earlier this week as Erdogan fired the governor of the country’s central bank.
Meanwhile, Turkey has responded to another sanctions threat from the European Union over drilling in the eastern Mediterranean—by increasing its gas and oil exploration off the coast of Cyprus—the northern half of which is occupied by Turkey. The government of Cyprus—an EU member—accuses Turkey of violating its sovereignty by searching for oil and gas off the island’s northeastern coast; Turkey claims that the area has been licensed for exploration by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a territory which is recognized only by Ankara. While the European Union has already suspended some aid to Turkey, the country’s foreign minister has said he isn’t taking the threats seriously.
A breakdown of trust. While Turkey once looked to NATO and the European Union for strength, the state of play has changed. Earlier this year, Sinan Ulgen argued in FP that smart diplomacy could halt Ankara’s drift toward Moscow and bring Turkey back into the fold. But that window may be closing. Events in recent years have amplified the strategic differences between the United States and Turkey, Nick Danforth writes for FP.
“A justifiable urge to immediately condemn Ankara’s foreign-policy decisions has made it harder for Washington to correctly understand and predict them,” he writes. “[Turkey]’s leaders now appear to believe that directly confronting the United States and Europe is the best way to advance their interests.”
What We’re Following Today
Hong Kong’s justice minister travels to the mainland. Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng travels to Beijing today, as protests over the city’s extradition bill continue with an eye to influencing opinion in mainland China. Over the weekend, Chang repeated the government’s apology for its handling of the bill but insisted that protesters who took part in clashes with the police on June 12 would be charged.
As its protest movement drags on, Hong Kong appears increasingly like West Berlin during the Cold War, Melinda Liu argues in FP. “[I]f Hong Kongers’ grand dream of transforming mainland China—rather than ending up like it and living under greater repression—has any chance of coming true, it needs to start happening fast,” she writes.
Health experts meet (again) over Ebola. The World Health Organization will hold another expert meeting today to decide whether to declare the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo an international emergency. Authorities said on Tuesday that a patient in the largest city in eastern Congo, Goma, had died, raising concerns that the outbreak could spread further. Experts have already declined to make the emergency declaration three times.
G-7 finance ministers convene in France. The finance officials from the G-7 countries will meet near Paris beginning today, with debate over cryptocurrencies and taxes on tech companies expected to top the agenda. On Tuesday, Facebook’s new digital currency, Libra, was criticized at a U.S. Senate hearing. The full G-7 summit takes place in Biarritz next month.
U.S. issues sanctions on Myanmar military leaders. The United States has announced sanctions against the commander in chief of Myanmar’s military and other military leaders for “human rights violations,” including extrajudicial killings, against the Rohingya minority since 2017. It’s the strongest response yet from the United States to Myanmar’s violence against the Rohingyas.
Keep an Eye On
Spain’s government standstill. Talks to form a government in Spain have stalled, risking repeat elections. On Tuesday, the leader of the far-left Podemos party said he is willing to make concessions to restart coalition talks with the Socialist party of acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Another coalition—between the Socialists and Albert Rivera’s Ciudadanos party—could resolve the crisis immediately, but it’s unlikely to happen, Mark Nayler argues for FP.
Protests in Puerto Rico. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Puerto Rico’s capital this week to call for Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign after private chat messages were leaked showing him making sexist remarks. (Rosselló has insisted he will remain in office.) The scandal follows the arrest of two former officials on corruption charges, and it seems to be the last straw for many protesters.
Cambodia’s man in Washington (state). Facing rebukes from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has turned to an unlikely politician for endorsement: a state senator from Washington. The easy confusion between the state and the nation’s capital works in Hun Sen’s favor in the Cambodian media, Charles Dunst reports for FP.
Financial hacks in Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s finance minister has apologized after hackers stole millions of taxpayers’ financial records in an attack this week. Someone claiming to be a Russian hacker emailed local media on Monday. Experts say the size of the hacks was unprecedented, potentially affecting almost every Bulgarian adult’s financial data.
Japan and South Korea’s trade war. Lawyers announced Tuesday that South Koreans forced to work under Japanese occupation would seek a court order for compensation from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. It’s not clear what Japan hopes to achieve in the dispute: Its trade restrictions against South Korea are harming the Japanese economy, S. Nathan Park argues in FP.
Odds and Ends
Orthodox priests in Greece will remain civil servants after the country’s new conservative government threw out a plan by its predecessor to remove 10,000 clergy from the state payroll. Their salaries—amounting to around 200 million euros—will continue to be paid from the national budget.
Tokyo’s government has asked hundreds of thousands of people to work from home over the next two weeks to test a plan to reduce crowding on public transit during next year’s Olympics. The city’s train system has 121 lines serving over 35 million people.
Germany’s population has hit a record number of more than 83 million people, largely owing to migration. While net migration fell last year to 400,000 new arrivals, over half of those immigrants were from E.U. countries—and the most came from eastern Europe. (The number of war refugees arriving in Germany appears to be declining.) Germany’s labor force is likely to shrink in the next few decades, making immigrants crucial to the country’s economic growth.
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That’s it for today.
Audrey Wilson is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson