Last Week in Foreign Affairs (September 10 - September 16)
Russia and China Hold Joint War Games
Russian and Chinese military forces staged joint military exercises on Thursday as part of what has been billed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the largest series of military exercises since Soviet drills in 1981. While the exercises themselves are generally used both to flex military muscle and to sell hardware to other countries, these particular drills come with the additional display of the growing military partnership between Moscow and Beijing. While this drill does not necessarily mean the two countries are now allies, it shows that their relationship has come a long way since the Soviet Union and China fought a border war in the late 1960s. The United States and its NATO allies have become increasingly weary at the sight of such cooperation. For while the Russian-Chinese forces did not specify the enemy they were facing in the games, the rest of the world can guess who may be in their sights down the road.
Egyptian Court Upholds Death Penalty for 75 people in Mass Trial
The highest court in Egypt recently upheld the death penalty for 75 people, including journalists, accused of being members of or supporting the Muslim Brotherhood during the massive 2013 protests. These were the same protests that lead to the successful military coup against then-President Mohamed Morsi. The mass trial drew the condemnation of many human rights organizations, with Amnesty International labeling the proceeds a “grotesque parody of justice”. The military and judicial crackdown on protesters and dissidents that has gone on for the past four years drew condemnation from the Obama administration, who had withheld military aid due to the violence. In July, the Trump administration reversed this action, releasing $195 million in aid while pledging to give a further $1.2 billion. A U.S. State Department spokesperson defended the move by claiming that “We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Egypt, and we will continue to raise these concerns with Egyptian officials, including at the senior-most levels of the Egyptian government,"later adding that, "At the same time, strengthened security cooperation with Egypt is important to US national security."
Another Targeted Act of Violence Strikes the Heart of Mexico City
Gunmen posing as mariachi singers opened fire in Mexico City’s iconic Plaza Garibaldi with rifles and handguns in what appears to be a targeted shooting on a specific restaurant by an organized crime syndicate. Killing at least five and wounding eight, this incident marks the second time Mexico City has seen a popular location attacked in recent weeks. These attacks are a part of a larger wave of organized crime that has shaken the country, but one that Mexico City has largely been able to avoid until recently. While the U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings at levels 3 and 4 advising tourists to stay away from states around the capital, Mexico City itself remains under condition 2, which advises increased caution but otherwise normal behavior. This attack occurred during the transition period between two presidents, and cracking down on organized crime and corruption was a large part of the president-elect’s campaign platform. While the country’s current policies have allowed for the rise of crimes such as these, hopefully the change promised by the president-elect is on the horizon.