Morning Brief

Foreign Policy’s flagship daily newsletter with what’s coming up around the world today. Delivered weekdays.

Biden Courts African Leaders at Key Summit

Washington wants to signal its commitment to a region that has been growing closer to U.S. rivals.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about unions and pensions.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about unions and pensions.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about unions and pensions at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Dec. 8. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at what to expect from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the unfolding European Parliament corruption scandal, and China’s sharp turn from zero-COVID.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Kicks Off

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at what to expect from the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the unfolding European Parliament corruption scandal, and China’s sharp turn from zero-COVID.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Kicks Off

Leaders from 49 African countries will convene in Washington today for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, as U.S. President Joe Biden attempts to signal his commitment to a region that has been expanding ties with U.S. rivals. 

As the summit kicks off, expect three days of group meetings and themed forums and sessions, alongside $55 billion worth of planned initiatives. Not everyone was invited either: Nations that the African Union suspended—Guinea, Sudan, Mali, and Burkina Faso—and Eritrea were all left off the invite list.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the leader of Equatorial Guinea and the world’s longest-serving autocrat, will be attending, however. As FP’s Robbie Gramer, Amy Mackinnon, and Jack Detsch noted yesterday, Washington is worried about the prospect of a Chinese naval base on Africa’s Atlantic coast and seeks to talk Obiang out of drawing closer to Beijing. “By courting Obiang … critics say the Biden administration is showing democratic activists in Equatorial Guinea and across other autocratic countries in Africa that its talk on democracy and human rights is just talk,” they wrote.

In recent years, China has emerged as the continent’s top trading partner, according to Politico, with trade between the two surging to an all-time high level in 2021. But at this year’s summit, Washington has deliberately avoided referring to Beijing at all, as Gramer reported in December. 

The Biden administration is walking a “difficult diplomatic tightrope,” Gramer wrote. “U.S. officials are focused on countering Chinese influence on the continent, but they want to do so without eclipsing their own messaging on U.S.-Africa cooperation and without sparking blowback from African leaders.” 

At the summit, Biden is expected to advocate that the African Union permanently join the G-20 and announce an official upcoming trip to the continent, Axios reported

“It’s past time Africa has permanent seats at the table in international organizations and initiatives,” Judd Devermont, the U.S. National Security Council’s senior director for African affairs, said in a statement. “We need more African voices in international conversations that concern the global economy, democracy and governance, climate change, health, and security.”


What We’re Following Today

European Parliament corruption scandal. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called to establish an ethics body that would encompass every European Union institution—including the European Parliament, which has been highly scrutinized in an explosive Belgian corruption probe. “It is a question of confidence of people into our institutions,” von der Leyen said

On Sunday, Belgian prosecutors charged four people with corruption and other crimes as part of their investigation into an alleged Qatari influence operation targeting the European Parliament. Police continued to raid Parliament offices on Monday. 

China’s sharp turn from zero-COVID. China will no longer use its COVID-19 tracking app, a key pillar of its zero-COVID policy that Beijing is rapidly shifting away from. By using travel and location data, the app dictated whether individuals should be tested for the virus or quarantined. The decision comes as a surge in infections has strained health clinics as well as supplies of medicines and COVID-19 tests. 


Keep an Eye On

Iran’s continued executions. Iranian authorities publicly hanged a 23-year-old man on Monday, marking Tehran’s second public execution tied to the country’s ongoing anti-government protests. The man, Majidreza Rahnavard, had been convicted of stabbing two security officials to death. 

The toll of Yemen’s civil war. In the last seven years, at least 3,774 children have died as a result of Yemen’s civil war, UNICEF said last week; 7,245 more children have been injured during the war, according to the agency, while as many as 2.2 million children suffer from acute malnourishment


Monday’s Most Read

Don’t Be Afraid of a Russian Collapse by Kristi Raik

India’s Maddening Russia Policy Isn’t as Bad as Washington Thinks by Derek Grossman

Killer Robots Are Here—and We Need to Regulate Them by Robert F. Trager and Laura M. Luca


Odds and Ends 

Los Angeles authorities sent a young girl named Madeline a Permanent Unicorn License after she wrote a letter seeking permission to own the magical creature. “Dear LA County, I would like your approval if I can have a unicorn in my backyard if I can find one,” she wrote. 

Along with the license, the city’s Department of Animal Care and Control also sent Madeline a unicorn stuffed animal and a list of five conditions for unicorn licensing, which include giving it “regular access to sunlight, moonbeams, and rainbows;” feeding it watermelon; and polishing its horn on a monthly basis. “We commend Madeline’s sense of responsible pet ownership to seek permission in advance to keep a unicorn in Los Angeles County,” the department wrote on Facebook.

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.