Morning Brief

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

Tunisians Protest Crackdown on Migrants

The demonstrations come as Tunisian President Kais Saied depicts opponents and foreigners as threats to national security.

By , a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews.
Protesters lift placards during a demonstration in Tunisia.
Protesters lift placards during a demonstration in Tunisia.
Protesters lift placards during a demonstration in Tunis, Tunisia, on Feb. 25. FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at protests in Tunisia, investigations into the poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s warnings about the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at protests in Tunisia, investigations into the poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s warnings about the eastern city of Bakhmut.

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


Tunisians Protest Crackdown on Migrants

Hundreds of Tunisians have taken to the streets to protest Tunisian President Kais Saied’s anti-migrant crackdown. Saied has claimed that undocumented migrants from sub-Saharan Africa were part of an orchestrated attempt to change Tunisia’s culture and has resorted to increasingly xenophobic rhetoric in recent weeks as opposition to his government increases.

There are social media reports of crowds trying to forcibly evict migrants from their homes and police arresting parents fetching their children from day care. So, too, have there been reports of companies refusing to sell to individuals they believe to be undocumented.

Protesters chanted, “No fear, no terror, the street is for the people,” and they claimed solidarity with migrants and the African continent at large.

The Guardian reported that the interior ministry appeared to be treading gently with the protesters, taking a “deliberately light touch.”

In recent weeks, Saied—who suspended parliament and dismissed the country’s prime minister in the summer of 2021—has moved against his critics. He has called opponents “traitors and terrorists,” had prominent opposition figures arrested, and threatened judges with legal action if they acquitted detainees. Food shortages and a sluggish economy are also cutting into support for the president, who is pushing back against his critics with threats, portraying himself as the guardian of national security while presenting his opponents—and foreigners, especially Black Africans—as security threats.


FP Live

Explaining U.S. trade policy. Join U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Foreign Policy Editor in Chief Ravi Agrawal today, Wednesday, March 1, at 1 p.m. ET for a conversation on the Biden administration’s trade and economic policies and their global impact. Subscribers can submit questions in advance.


What We’re Following Today 

Iran investigates the poisoning of nearly 700 schoolgirls. Hundreds of Iranian schoolgirls are believed to have been exposed to toxic gas since November 2022. “It became evident that some people wanted all schools, especially girls schools, to be closed down,” said Iran’s deputy health minister, who later backpedaled, claiming he had been misunderstood.

Iran’s prosecutor general has opened an investigation. No one has died, but dozens of girls have suffered problems like dizziness and fatigue, and public frustration is increasing. Some Iranians suspect that the poisonings are retaliation for the girls’ participation in protests last year, whereas others believe they are the work of religious hard-liners.

Zelensky says the situation in Bakhmut is worsening. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the situation in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is becoming “more and more difficult.” For more than six months, Russians have been trying to take the city. Now, Zelensky said, “The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions.” According to reports, fighting has recently intensified, but Ukrainian forces are not showing any intent to withdraw.

Moscow’s governor, meanwhile, has said a drone that crashed in the Moscow region was sent to try to target civilian infrastructure. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for such an attack, but Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs, tweeted out a photo of the drone along with the words, “It is more than 500km away from Russian border with Ukraine. Soon [Russian President Vladimir] Putin might get very afraid to show himself in public as drones can reach far distances.” Putin, for his part, said Tuesday, “We need to beef up our counterintelligence in general because Western special services have traditionally been very active in relation to Russia.”

Greece train crash. At least 36 people were killed when a freight train and passenger train collided head-on in northern Greece around midnight; at least 85 people were injured. The passenger train was traveling from Athens to Thessaloniki. Police are questioning a local stationmaster. According to the Washington Post, Greece has one of the worst rail safety records of 29 countries analyzed in a European Union study, with the highest overall rail fatality rate.


Keep an Eye On

Opposition parties dispute election results in Nigeria. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress has been declared the winner of Nigerias election, with 37 percent of the vote. Nigeria’s main opposition parties are calling for new elections, alleging that results have been manipulated to support Tinubu. The election has been marred by technical and logistical issues.

“We demand that this sham of an election should be immediately canceled. … We also call for a fresh election to be carried out,” said Julius Abure of the opposition Labour Party, whose candidate is Peter Obi. (The other main candidate was Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party.) Election officials maintain the elections were fair, saying, “Contrary to the insinuation by both parties, results emanating from the states point to a free, fair, and credible process.”

Finland builds border fence with Russia. Finland has started building a 124-mile fence on its border with Russia, a security upgrade from the light wooden fences it has currently. Finland apparently decided to build the fence as a result of a reported increase in Russians trying to flee the country to avoid conscription in their country’s war in Ukraine. Fence construction is permitted under new amendments to its Border Guard Act, which passed in July 2022. Cameras, lights, and loudspeakers are also set to be installed.


Monday’s Most Read

The Conversation About Ukraine Is Cracking Apart by Stephen M. Walt

The State Department’s Lack of Diversity Is Bad for U.S. Diplomacy by Jalina Porter

China’s Farmland Is in Serious Trouble by Zongyuan Zoe Liu


Odds and Ends 

Friends forever. Putin has given American actor Steven Seagal the Order of Friendship, a recognition of contributions to international relations. Seagal, a supporter of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, is also a Russian citizen, having become one by presidential decree back in 2016.

Emily Tamkin is a global affairs journalist and the author of The Influence of Soros and Bad Jews. Twitter: @emilyctamkin

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

Newspapers in Tehran feature on their front page news about the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, signed in Beijing the previous day, on March, 11 2023.
Newspapers in Tehran feature on their front page news about the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, signed in Beijing the previous day, on March, 11 2023.

Saudi-Iranian Détente Is a Wake-Up Call for America

The peace plan is a big deal—and it’s no accident that China brokered it.

Austin and Gallant stand at podiums side by side next to each others' national flags.
Austin and Gallant stand at podiums side by side next to each others' national flags.

The U.S.-Israel Relationship No Longer Makes Sense

If Israel and its supporters want the country to continue receiving U.S. largesse, they will need to come up with a new narrative.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the Moscow Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden during an event marking Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the Moscow Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden during an event marking Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow.

Putin Is Trapped in the Sunk-Cost Fallacy of War

Moscow is grasping for meaning in a meaningless invasion.

An Iranian man holds a newspaper reporting the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, in Tehran on March 11.
An Iranian man holds a newspaper reporting the China-brokered deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore ties, in Tehran on March 11.

How China’s Saudi-Iran Deal Can Serve U.S. Interests

And why there’s less to Beijing’s diplomatic breakthrough than meets the eye.