Global Beat: U.S.-Turkey Spat, NAFTA Dispute, and More
October 13, 2017

Global Beat is your weekly stop for news from around the world. Join us every Friday morning for important stories you should know about.

This week, relations continue to deteriorate between the United States and Turkey; allies clash over NAFTA negotiations; Catalan suspends its declaration of independence pending talks with Spain; and more.

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Americas

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with American lawmakers Wednesday to discuss renegotiating NAFTA, a contentious subject since President Trump’s April threat to terminate the 23-year old agreement unless new provisions were met. Critics accused the president of trying to sabotage the negotiations with "poison pill proposals," which include a sunset clause allowing termination of the deal after five years and a push for freer trade in cultural products. The relationship with Mexico has also been strained, as some American lawmakers have advocated strengthening the rules of origin for the auto industry, which Mexico strongly opposes. Pacific Council Director Michael Camuñez said that there has been "a palpable shift in tone and dynamics surrounding the discussion. Stakeholders must engage now."

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Central & South Asia

The International Committee of the Red Cross was forced to "drastically reduce" its presence and operations in Afghanistan following several fatal attacks on its staff. Seven of its staff members were killed this year. Such attacks by the Taliban and ISIL have already driven out many other humanitarian organizations. Monica Zanarelli, head of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, said it was a "painful decision" that would result in people in the north no longer getting the help they need.

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China & East Asia

Squadrons from the U.S., Japanese, and South Korean air forces conducted joint drills over the Sea of Japan and the Korean Peninsula late Tuesday night in a show of force to North Korea. The drill included simulations of missile launches on both coasts, which U.S. Pacific Forces stated was intended to show "how the United States stands resolutely with Japan and the ROK to honor their unshakeable alliance commitments." Meanwhile, President Trump met with advisors to discuss how to respond to possible North Korean aggression and defend against a nuclear attack.

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Europe & Russia

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont gave a speech to his parliament Tuesday in which he suspended the declaration of independence while he pursues talks with the Spanish government. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy responded by giving the Catalan government eight days to drop the independence bid before invoking Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which would suspend the region’s political autonomy. Rajoy accused Puigdemont of sowing "deliberate confusion" in his address and reiterated his claim that the referendum constituted a "disloyal attack" on Spain’s institutions.

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Middle East & North Africa

Relations continue to deteriorate between the United States and Turkey, as both countries have now frozen visas for business and tourist travel. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized U.S. Ambassador John Bass for suspending all non-immigrant visa services following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul last week, and said that Turkey no longer considers him a legitimate representative of the United States. The employee, Metin Topuz, is the second U.S. consular officer to be detained in Turkey this year on suspicion of involvement in last year’s failed coup.

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Southeast Asia & Oceania

Australia has offered to relocate refugees housed in its Manus Island facility in Papua New Guinea to another detention center on the island of Nauru. A Papua New Guinea court ruled last year that the detention of refugees in Manus was illegal, and the camp will be closed by the end of October. Refugee advocates have said that the offer, which has been presented as a voluntary relocation, will just transfer asylum seekers from "from one broken processing system to another." Fifty-four refugees from Manus have been granted asylum in the United States, but hundreds more remain in limbo as the Australian government struggles to resettle them.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

Four people have been shot and at least 17 wounded after protesters demanding election reforms clashed with Kenyan police forces in western Kenya. Protests have rocked Kenya since the Supreme Court’s annulment of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reelection in August. Opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the race Tuesday, insisting that a new vote would be meaningless without reforms. The Supreme Court’s September ruling includes a stipulation that elections have to be held within 60 days.

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Stay informed. We’ll see you here again next week.

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