Morning Brief

Omar al-Bashir Goes on Trial

Plus: Fears of a global recession, the ongoing crisis in Kashmir, and what to watch in the world this week.

Sudanese protesters from the city of Atbara arrive at the Bahari station in Khartoum on August 17  to celebrate transition to civilian rule.
Sudanese protesters from the city of Atbara arrive at the Bahari station in Khartoum on August 17 to celebrate transition to civilian rule. AHMED MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Ousted President Omar al-Bashir goes on trial in Sudan, fears of a global recession grow, and restrictions return in Indian-administered Kashmir.

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Bashir Goes on Trial as Sudan’s Transition Begins

The corruption trial of Omar al-Bashir, the former president of Sudan who was ousted in April after months of street protests, begins today in Khartoum. Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years. His team of nearly 100 lawyers seems confident that he could be acquitted of corruption. Pro-democracy activists hope Bashir will face additional charges for involvement in the deaths of protesters this year.

The high-profile trial comes as the power-sharing deal finally signed between Sudan’s military leaders and opposition over the weekend begins to take effect. The agreement follows weeks of violence and on-and-off negotiations. Many of those demanding a civilian government remain cautiously optimistic, Al Jazeera reports.

What’s in the deal? Under the terms of the transition deal, a military and civilian council will rule for around three years, until elections are held. The council is composed of 11 members, led by a military leader for the first 21 months and then a civilian leader for 18 months. The council includes Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, known as Hemeti, the deputy head of Sudan’s military council and the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The agreement also calls for an independent investigation into the deadly crackdown on Khartoum’s main protest camp in June, attributed to the RSF.

Will there be more charges? Many activists are angry that Bashir is not facing more serious charges—for the crackdowns on protesters before he was ousted in April, and for crimes committed under his regime. (The authorities have refused to turn Bashir over to the International Criminal Court, which has a warrant for his arrest for atrocities committed in Darfur.) Human rights lawyers say that the more serious charges—for Bashir and other members of his regime—will come later, under a civilian-led government.

What We’re Following Today

Fears of a global recession grow. Global investors are preparing for new government stimulus measures amid slowing growth after the U.S. bond yield curve—an indicator of recession—inverted. The United States has said that it’s considering new tax cuts, and the Federal Reserve will hold its annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this week as it faces pressure to keep the economy going. Last week, Germany released data indicating its economy had contracted in the second quarter, and its finance minister has indicated that the country can spend $55 billion if an economic crisis does hit.

The signs of a recession have been around for a long time, Rana Foroohar writes in the Financial Times. “The question was when the markets were going to put aside the complacency bred by a decade of low interest rates and central bank money dumps, in the form of quantitative easing, and embrace this new reality.”

Kashmir government staff return to work amid protests. India has ordered government staff in Kashmir return to work today after violent clashes between police and protesters over the weekend. It has been two weeks since the Indian government announced that it would revoke Article 370, which had granted Kashmir special constitutional status. While the curfew had been relaxed on Friday, restrictions were reimposed in some areas of Srinagar, the capital, on Sunday due to protests. The Indian government has downplayed the unrest.

Eleventh week of Hong Kong protests begins. More anti-government protests are expected in Hong Kong this week after an estimated 1.7 million people turned out for a peaceful rally on Sunday—a signal of the movement’s broad support after 11 weeks of demonstrations. Meanwhile, China has continued to put pressure on businesses in Hong Kong to reaffirm their support for Beijing, the New York Times reports. The CEO of Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways resigned on Friday and the Big Four consulting firms have distanced themselves from support of the protests.

The World This Week

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet French President Emmanuel Macron today in France ahead of the G-7 summit. Macron is expected to put pressure on Putin to resume peace talks with Ukraine. (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for talks earlier this month.)

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has been summoned to parliament on Tuesday to respond to a growing political crisis after Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, declared the ruling coalition unworkable. Conte might face a vote of no confidence. Salvini’s bid for power is not going according to plan, however: The Five Star Movement, his former partner, could form a coalition with another party.

The U.S. Federal Reserve begins its annual symposium on Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to indicate that the Fed plans another rate cut, as well as to speak about the challenges the central bank faces amid fears of a global recession.

The annual G-7 summit begins in Biarritz, France, on Saturday—with the U.S.-China trade war looming over the meeting. The summit will also mark British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first appearance as U.K. leader on the global stage, where he could clash with other EU leaders. “This is a diplomatic quagmire of a G7,” a European diplomat told The Guardian.

Keep an Eye On

Brexit leaks. Britain’s Sunday Times reported over the weekend on a leaked document that details how a no-deal Brexit could cause medicine and food shortages and increased costs for social services. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office has dismissed the report as “out of date” and a “worst case” scenario. Meanwhile, internal emails leaked over the weekend revealed that Downing Street is already preparing for an election campaign. 

The Venezuelan refugee crisis. During a visit to Brazil this weekend, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, requested more humanitarian aid for the 4.3 million Venezuelan refugees who have fled to neighboring countries—mainly Colombia. Grandi remarked on the anti-immigrant sentiment the refugees face throughout the region.

Israel’s new kingmaker. For decades, Avigdor Lieberman was known as a fixture of the Israeli right wing and an ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ahead of Israel’s September elections, he has rebranded himself as a champion of secular Israel. If polls hold true, Lieberman could get the chance to decide whether Netanyahu gets another term, Joshua Mitnick reports for FP.

For news and analysis on the world’s most populous and fastest-growing regions, sign up for FP’s new weekly newsletters: South Asia Brief, delivered on Tuesdays, and China Brief, delivered on Wednesdays.

Climate Check

Singapore’s prime minister said on Sunday that protecting the city-state, which is an island, from rising sea levels due to global warming could cost as much as 100 billion Singapore dollars (around $72 billion) over the next century. It has already begun some preparations, including rules that a new airport terminal and port be built on high ground.

A group of officials and climate activists in Iceland left a monument at the site of the Okjokull glacier—the country’s first glacier lost as a result of the climate crisis. Scientists warn that all 400 of Iceland’s glaciers could be gone by 2200.

Odds and Ends

Representatives from 180 countries will meet in Geneva on Saturday for the World Wildlife Conference on trade in endangered species (known as CITES), where they will discuss how to protect vulnerable species amid growing demand for plant and animal products—including the exotic pet trade. The conference is held only every three years.

That’s it for today.

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Audrey Wilson is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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