When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

That's A Long Time In Geopolitics

People attend the funeral of victims of the blast in Alexandria, Egypt on Sunday.
People attend the funeral of victims of the blast in Alexandria, Egypt on Sunday.
Worldcrunch

By now, that famous Harold Wilson quip "A week is a long time in politics' can also just as well be applied to geopolitics. Last Monday, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was enjoying the diplomatic courtesies and photo ops of a White House meeting with Donald Trump, as the world's attention was mostly focused on other hot spots on the map. The big question as last week began was how the apparent coziness of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin was bound to play out in Washington and beyond.


Now, just seven days later, al-Sisi is back at home calling for a state of emergency in Egypt after at least 49 Coptic Christians were killed in the bombing of two churches on Palm Sunday. That attack, which ISIS claimed, followed a terrorist strike Friday in Stockholm when a man drove a truck into a crowd of shoppers that killed at least four. A 39-year-old arrested reportedly expressed sympathy for ISIS.


But Middle East watchers know that both the causes and effects of international terrorism, in geopolitical terms, is often hard to keep up with. A week ago, al-Sisi, Trump and Putin were in a similar place concerning the war in Syria. But that changed suddenly with Friday's U.S. missile attack aimed at a military base of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, accused of using chemical weapons against his own people. While most observers are still trying to analyze the ins and outs of Trump's change of heart, the coming week should bring the first diplomatic consequences of his swift reaction.


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson landed in Italy this morning for a meeting with other G7 Foreign Ministers, with Syria high on the agenda. This two-day summit will be followed by Tillerson's highly anticipated visit to Moscow, and according to The Daily Telegraph, he will present Russian leaders "with an ultimatum from the G7 demanding that Putin withdraws his armed forces and ends his support" for Assad. If he complies, Putin will reportedly be allowed to rejoin the G7, from which Russia was banned at the height of the Ukraine crisis. If he refuses, new sanctions could be imposed on Russia.


There is also, of course, one risk that can and should never be overlooked: An escalation between Moscow, which has vowed to "respond with force,"and Washington and its allies. What seems clear in any case, as the Moscow correspondent for French daily Les Échos Benjamin Quénelle noted, it's that the would-be Trump-Putin love affair has given way to a new U.S.-Russia power struggle. And one week from now? That's a long time away.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Photo of rescue teams trying to reach trapped residents inside collapsed buildings in Diyarbakir, after a 7.8 earthquake devastated southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria. An estimated 1,300 have died, with the death toll expected to mount.

Rescue teams in Diyarbakir, after a 7.8 earthquake devastated southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria, killing at least 1,500.

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hugo Perrin and Inès Mermat

👋 Salibonani!*

Welcome to Monday, where a 7.8-magnitude earthquake kills more than 1,500 in southern Turkey and Syria, Iran pardons tens of thousands of prisoners, and Beyoncé makes Grammy history. Meanwhile, Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage lists the five reasons why Vladimir Putin may be planning a major assault on Ukraine before the end of the month.

[*Ndebele, Zimbabwe]

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest