Morning Brief

Turkey Faces Sanctions Over Syria Incursion

Plus: Police officers killed in Mexico, Mozambique heads to the polls, and the other stories we’re following today.

Turkey-backed Syrian fighters gather around a tank in the outskirts of Manbij near the Turkish border on Oct. 14 in northeastern Syria.
Turkey-backed Syrian fighters gather around a tank in the outskirts of Manbij near the Turkish border on Oct. 14 in northeastern Syria. ZEIN AL RIFAI/AFP via Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: EU countries consider a response to Turkey’s Syria incursion as Trump announces U.S. sanctions, gunmen kill 14 police officers in Mexico, and voters in Mozambique head to the polls amid tension.

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Trump Orders Sanctions, Europe Mulls Its Strategy

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump called for an immediate ceasefire, announced increased tariffs on steel imports from Turkey, and imposed sanctions against Turkish government ministries and officials—including the defense and energy ministries and the interior minister—in response to the ongoing military offensive in northern Syria that began after Trump withdrew U.S. forces in the area. Critics say Trump’s measures are just as likely to strengthen Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as they are to hurt him, FP’s Keith Johnson and Elias Groll report. (Congress is still working on its own sanctions legislation.)

Meanwhile, the European Union is mulling its own approach to the Turkish incursion in Syria—much closer to its own backyard. EU countries haven’t agreed to much: On Monday, they announced limits on arms exports but stopped short of an embargo. Turkey has also recently started new natural gas drilling off the coast of Cyprus, prompting further EU sanctions.

How will Turkey react? Turkey will consider both the drilling sanctions and the EU’s reaction to the Turkish invasion to be “part of the same European and Western attempt to undermine Turkey,” Dario Cristiani, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, wrote in an email. While further economic sanctions could harm Turkey later, in the short term “they will push Erdogan to be even more assertive and aggressive than he has been so far,” Cristiani said.

Foreign fighters. Europe is also in a tough position when it comes to its own citizens held in prisons for fighting for the Islamic State. EU countries have urgently tried to move these prisoners to Iraq, where they would face an uncertain future in the Iraqi legal system. (Denmark has even tried to revoke dual nationals’ citizenship.) But Turkish-backed forces with extremist links are already freeing some Islamic State prisoners, FP’s Lara Seligman reports.

“Moving these fighters would have been challenging in normal conditions,” Cristiani said. “[I]n the current situation it is nearly impossible … not only because of the Turkish military offensive, but also because of the ongoing problems that Iraq is facing.”

What’s next? Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that Trump had demanded a ceasefire and said that he and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien would soon travel to Turkey. Trump has also reportedly received a commitment from Erdogan that Turkish forces would not attack Kobani—a strategically significant city for the Kurds.


What We’re Following Today

Attack on police challenges Mexico’s government. Gunmen killed 14 police officers during an ambush in Mexico on Monday, marking some of the worst violence the country has seen under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who ran on a promise to fight organized crime. Now, his first year in office may end with a record number of killings. The attack on the police convoy on Monday in Michoacán state appeared to be the work of the New Generation Jalisco Cartel, which is in conflict with local groups over drug routes.

Mozambique heads to the polls. Mozambique holds a general election today, with the Frelimo party—in power for decades—widely expected to win. But the vote could test the peace deal signed between Frelimo and the main opposition party, Renamo, just two months ago. Under the terms of the new deal, Renamo could gain provincial governors for the first time since 1992, when the country’s civil war that pit Frelimo against Renamo ended. Sporadic violence has already preceded the election, including the murder of an election observer.

Death toll rises in Japan. At least 58 people have been declared dead in Japan three days after the powerful Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan’s main island. Rescuers continue to search for the missing as the floodwaters subside. The typhoon was the worst storm to hit the country in decades, leaving tens of thousands without water or electricity. Those in towns north of Tokyo were particularly hard hit, and residents tell the Associated Press that they were surprised by the strength of the storm.


Keep an Eye On

Green energy and Scottish independence. If Scotland votes in another referendum to leave the United Kingdom, renewable energy will again be a key issue. Scotland has 25 percent of Europe’s total offshore wind and tidal resources and renewables are worth $7.5 billion annually for the Scottish economy. As the climate crisis accelerates, there is disagreement over whether independence would help or hurt the alternative energy industry, Jamie Maxwell reports for FP.

The Trump impeachment inquiry. Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council senior director for European and Russian affairs, testified behind closed doors on Monday in an all-day session. She told lawmakers that then-National Security Advisor John Bolton had referred to Rudy Giuliani as a “hand grenade” due to his shadow diplomacy in Ukraine and that Bolton had instructed her to tell White House lawyers that he was “not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up”—a reference to the White House chief of staff and the ambassador to the European Union. Sondland is scheduled to testify later this week.

Protests in Haiti. Protests have entered their fifth week in Haiti, as people—angry over corruption and shortages of food and fuel—call for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. The unrest has caused businesses to close, kept children out school, and led to 20 deaths. The government has called for dialogue with the opposition, which insists it won’t back down.

Venezuela’s bid for the U.N. Human Rights Council. Despite its weak human rights record, Venezuela has put forward its candidacy for the U.N. Human Rights Council. Ahead of the Oct. 17 vote, Costa Rica has announced it will also compete for the Latin American seat on the council. If the General Assembly chooses Venezuela, it will undermine the council’s efforts, Human Rights Watch’s Executive Director Kenneth Roth argues in FP.

China’s surveillance apps. China is using two popular mobile apps—one that shares propaganda and another for translation—to track individuals’ data within and beyond its borders, new research reveals. The reports suggest that China’s cybersurveillance is increasingly sophisticated, using innocuous technologies for its own ends.

For more news and analysis on stories like this, subscribe to China Brief, delivered on Wednesdays.


2019 Essay Contest—If you’ve been reading Foreign Policy and the U.S.-Russia Relations website for the Carnegie Corporation, you know that tensions between the United States and its Cold War foe are high and rising. We’ve presented a lot of ideas for how to change things for the better. Now it’s your turn. Compete for a $1,000 prize and publication on ForeignPolicy.com by submitting your essay by Nov. 1. Details here.


Odds and Ends

The Man Booker Prize was awarded jointly to authors Margaret Atwood (The Testaments) and Bernardine Evaristo (Girl, Woman, Other) on Monday. While the award is supposed to go to one winner, the judging panel said it could not choose between the two. Atwood and Evaristo are the oldest winner and the first black woman winner, respectively.

Britain’s Prince William and his wife, Kate, are in Pakistan for a five-day visit—the first by any member of the British royal family for more than a decade. While details are limited by tight security, they will visit both Islamabad and Lahore, focusing on climate change and education.


That’s it for today.

For more on these stories and many others, visit foreignpolicy.com, subscribe here, or sign up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or corrections to morningbrief@foreignpolicy.com

Lara Seligman contributed reporting.

Audrey Wilson is the newsletter editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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