The week in foreign policy

We’re back with the week in foreign policy – exploring what’s happening away from the front pages, and key developments in global affairs that have caught our eye.

As the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office opened its doors for the first time, FCDO Secretary Dominic Raab claimed that the UK will lead the world on tackling famine – not least famine caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen McVeigh writes in the Guardian that although critics fear aid spending will be deprioritised, Raab has claimed that merging the two departments will be a force for good. McVeigh writes that: “Raab announced a £119m aid package to tackle coronavirus and famine, aimed at alleviating extreme hunger for over 6 million people in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic, the Sahel region, South Sudan and Sudan.”

Will Worley writes in Devex on the FCDO, highlighting the fears for the aid sector – and worry that the UK will end its commitment to the 0.7% of GDP aid spending target. Worley cites Rachel Glennester, Chief Economist at the FCDO (and formerly Chief Economist at DFID,) who said there was: “lots of potential to combine different instruments — trade, diplomacy, investment, research, and aid — to have a greater impact on the world. Aid flows on their own will always be small compared to the impact of policy, investment, and remittances but they can be [an] important catalyst.”

The Daily Mail notes that the UK had dropped to 47th place in the global broadband ‘speed leagues,’ due to slow rollout of pure fibre networks. Ryan Morrisson writes that: “the top three spots in the table were all taken by small nations including Liechtenstein, Jersey and Andorra – all with more than 200Mpbs average speeds. The US is placed 20th with an average speed of 71.30Mbps and Australia is in 62nd place with an average speed of 25.65Mbps.”

This week, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin travelled to Belarus – as tensions in the country continue to increase. Dan Haverty wrote in Foreign Policy that: “mass protests have gripped Belarus since longtime President Aleksandr Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in the presidential election on Aug. 9, despite facing massive opposition to his 26-year presidency. The security forces have since launched a brutal crackdown on protesters, and opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was forced to flee to Lithuania.” Though previously, Russian government officials have suggested Russia will refrain from overt involvement in Belarus – Prime Minister Mishutin’s visit suggests this could be changing.

Lynne O’Donnell writes in Foreign Policy that peace defying Taliban prisoners are returning to the battlefield in Afghanistan. According to the article, “confidential research obtained by Foreign Policy shows that the majority of Taliban prisoners released under an agreement signed by insurgent leaders and the United States are taking up arms to fight Afghan forces and continue their “jihad” to overthrow the U.S.-backed Afghan government and replace it with an Islamic emirate.”


Matt Gillow

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