The week in foreign policy

It’s been a dramatic and turbulent week of current events, with the continuation of tensions with Iran and the passing of the EU Withdrawal Bill in Parliament to name but two historical developments that the week has brought. We have selected our picks of opinion and analysis from across the world – interesting takes, things you might have missed, and everything in between.

Stuck in the Middle with EU

As the situation in Iran hangs on a thread, and the US and Iran continue to threaten each other, Andreas Kluth argues in Bloomberg that heightening global tensions have exposed the European Union’s foreign policy as a failure – with a distinct lack of unity between member states. In Libya’s civil war, Kluth points out, instead of taking a joint diplomatic stance, the union’s member states are supporting opposing sides. Italy, its former colonial power, backs the government that’s recognized by the United Nations and led by Fayez al-Sarraj. (So does Turkey). France plumps for his enemy, a warlord named Khalifa Haftar. (As does Russia).

Putin and Erdoğan broker peace?

In other bad news for the EU, as European Council President Charles Michel vowed that the EU would ‘step up’ its efforts in Libya, Russia and Turkey have taken charge, argues David Herszenhorn for POLITICO. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have announced a ceasefire to begin at midnight on Sunday. ‘We decided to take the initiative and, as mediators, call on all parties in Libya to cease hostilities’ the pair said in a joint statement on Wednesday. Herszenhorn examines the diminished geopolitical influence of the Western powers whose bombing campaign in 2011 ultimately led to the power vacuum Libya is experiencing today.

Have you seen this man?

Across the pond, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser with the Middle East portfolio, has been visibly absent from arguably the most critical foreign policy moment of Trump’s presidency – the Iran crisis. Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman write in the New York Times that Kushner is working on something of even greater importance to President Trump – his 2020 reelection campaign.

Lula opines for peace

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva writes in The Guardian urging for dialogue and peace with Iran. Some always profit from war, he writes, but some always lose – notably, the civilian populations, and the poorest, who face death, starvation, and displacement. Lula outlines Brazil’s historical role in building peace between Iran and the US through the Tehran declaration, and pushes for Brazil to take this mantle once again.

‘Happy, apolitical, and nationalist’

In a fascinating study, Henry Foy explores how Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone from ‘anonymous apparatchik to one of the world’s most powerful men’ in the Financial Times, and how Russian public opinion has gone with him. The FT have interviewed 50 of the so-called ‘Putin generation’ – those who have grown up under his regime, and they report high levels of support and admiration for the Russian President, whilst others bemoan a system that makes them feel powerless. Almost all, however, appear to recognise the trade off of social stability and economic progress in exchange for restricted freedoms, that Putin’s Presidency brings.


If you would like to stay up to date with our latest research, news, and events, sign up to our newsletter.

Matt Gillow

Matt is the Communications & Events Manager at the British Foreign Policy Group.