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Tensions Escalate Over Kashmir
Plus: More protests loom for Puerto Rico’s new governor, Trump’s top Latin America diplomat resigns, and the other stories we’re following today.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: The dispute over Kashmir grows, protests loom in Puerto Rico, and Trump’s top diplomat for Latin America resigns.
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With Pakistani Reaction, Kashmir Dispute Escalates
Pakistan responded to India’s recent move on contested Kashmir with diplomatic action on Wednesday, announcing that it would expel India’s ambassador to Pakistan and stop its newly appointed ambassador to India from taking up his post. It also halted bilateral trade with New Delhi, which on Monday revoked a measure of autonomy for Indian-administered Kashmir. Diplomacy does not appear to be on the horizon.
India’s move is still likely to raise tensions: Apart from changing the territory’s constitutional status, it effectively changes the map of the part of Kashmir it administers, dividing the former state of Jammu and Kashmir in two, while allowing nonresidents to live and buy property there, which could alter the region’s demographics. For now, it’s on lockdown: There are tens of thousands of additional Indian troops, and a curfew has been imposed.
On lockdown. Travel restrictions in the region have affected everyday life almost immediately. Hundreds of migrant workers have fled the region as their employers asked them to leave their jobs. While larger protests have erupted in New Delhi and in Pakistan, only a few have dared turn out on the streets of Kashmir, where Indian soldiers are out in force and the internet remains blocked.
Media blackout. The lockdown and the media blackout have made it difficult for information to get out. Newspapers in Srinagar, the largest city in Indian-administered Kashmir, haven’t been published since Monday, Al Jazeera reports. “Kashmir has been turned invisible even inside Kashmir,” one journalist wrote on Facebook.
What We’re Following Today
More protests loom in Puerto Rico. Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez has become Puerto Rico’s third new governor in a week after the territory’s Supreme Court overturned the appointment of Pedro Pierluisi. Vázquez has said that she doesn’t want the job—and many Puerto Ricans agree with her, citing her poor record on fighting corruption. Protesters are expected in the streets again just a week after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló formally stepped down.
Top U.S. diplomat for Latin America bows out. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Kimberly Breier, the White House’s top Latin America diplomat, had submitted her resignation—likely to be announced today. While Breier cited personal reasons for stepping down, the decision comes amid heated criticism over immigration policy in the region and her departure leaves a significant gap.
China increases warning over Hong Kong unrest. China appears increasingly unwilling to offer Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters any concessions, as the mainland government has now directly warned that it could intervene if city authorities are unable to restore order. Meanwhile, the United States increased its travel advisory for the city on Wednesday, noting that the protests have become violent—and increasingly unpredictable.
Turkish military action in Syria averted, for now. After three days of talks, Turkey and the United States have agreed to plans for a jointly-patrolled safe zone in Syria along the Turkish border—an area controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia. The decision appears to mitigate Turkey’s threat to launch a cross-border operation into Syria against the YPG, which it considers to be a terrorist organization.
Keep an Eye On
The mayor of Moscow. Russia’s election board has upheld the a rule banning several government critics from the Moscow city council election, as opposition activists plan for a nationwide protest this weekend. The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, was once popular enough among both liberals and the political establishment to have national political ambitions. The recent street protests have changed that, Alexander Baunov writes for FP.
U.S. foreign aid. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump bypassed Congress to freeze much of the foreign aid to be dispensed for the remainder of the year. The decision cuts off the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development from accessing and disbursing between $2-4 billion in funds. The funding is under review and could be reallocated.
Germany’s economy. Industrial production in Germany—Europe’s biggest economy—has taken its sharpest downturn in nearly a decade as demand for German cars and machine parts falls in Asia. Analysts say the slump could be another indicator of a global economic slowdown. Recession fears have rattled markets in recent weeks.
The former president of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz security forces raided former President Almazbek Atambayev’s home on Wednesday to try to arrest him, but were held off by his supporters. Atambayev has avoided police summons since June. He is wanted on corruption charges after a disagreement with the incumbent Kyrgyz president, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
Taiwan’s Chinese-language film awards. This year, China’s movie industry won’t participate in Taiwan’s Golden Horse awards, considered to be the Chinese-language Oscars. The event sparked debate about Taiwanese independence last year. Wednesday’s announcement comes amid rising tensions between mainland China and Taiwan.
Odds and Ends
Israel’s national library is at last sharing a long-lost collection of the author Franz Kafka’s papers. In Kafkaesque circumstances, the archives—originally carried from Nazi-held Czechoslovakia to Tel Aviv in a suitcase—had been the subject of a 10-year legal battle between Israel and Germany.
Within two years, Luxembourg aims to become the first EU country to fully legalize recreational marijuana—going beyond the permissive laws that already exist in the Netherlands. The country’s health ministry plans to unveil a full legislative proposal this fall. Lawyers say that if passed, the law could create a domino effect within Europe.
That’s it for today.