SAUDI ARABIA: Crown Prince Visits Washington

On 20 March, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Washington D.C. to meet with US president Donald Trump. Their public meeting is allegedly meant to represent the two countries are united. The two leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing Qatar crisis, the Yemen conflict, and Saudi Arabia’s request to develop a civilian nuclear energy program. 

[Robert B. Lundgren]

LEBANON: Prime Minister to Visit Saudi Arabia

On 26 February, Saudi Arabian King Mohammad bin-Salman’s special envoy Nizar al-Aloula extended an invitation to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to visit Saudi Arabia. Aloula delivered this invitation during a four-day visit to Lebanon,  the first visit from a high ranking Saudi official since Lebanon’s prime minister Hariri unexpectedly announced his resignation last November. Hariri accepted the invitation, and his visit to Saudi Arabia will be the first since his unexpected resignation spurred tension between the two countries. 
[Robert B. Lundgren]

BREXIT: Government Requests EU Reconsider Transition Period Time

On 21 February, the British government asked the European Union to reconsider the proposed Brexit transition period, which would allow a gradual transition for the EU and UK into full Brexit. The EU originally stated the transition period would end on 31 December 2020. Britain argued the transition period should only last the duration that the various transition processes take, but did not specifically propose its own transition period time length. 

[Zach Coffee]

GERMANY: Parties Agree on Coalition Deal

On 7 February, members of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Christian Social Union (CSU) agreed to the terms of a coalition to form a majority in parliament. The coalition will not become official until the SPD votes on the proposed agenda within the coming weeks. In a victory for the SPD, the CDU will allow the SPD to control the finance, foreign, and labor ministries. The coalition deal also includes compromises involving eliminating time limits on labor contracts, a cap on immigration by family reunification, and the restriction of a controversial pesticide. 

[Zach Coffee]

IRAN: Man Attempts to Break In to Presidential Office

On 5 February, an unidentified man wielding a machete attempted to breach the Iranian presidential office. The perpetrator was shot in the leg and arrested. Tehran’s deputy governor, Mohsen Hamedani, reports that President Hassan Rouhani was not in the presidential office during the incident. Authorities have not yet released the identity of the perpetrator or his motive. 

[Robert B. Lundgren]

CHINA: Special Envoy to North Korea Reinforces Denuclearization Policy

On 26 January, Vice Foreign Minister Kong Kong Xuanyou, the special envoy to North Korea, reinforced China’s commitment to bring about a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Xuanyou also restated that Beijing’s current efforts to cultivate peace in the region are unchanged, but hinted at the reopening of the six-party talks between China, the U.S., Japan, Russia, North Korea and South Korea, which had dissolved in 2008.  

[Andrew Ruffini;]                                                                                   

JORDAN: Israeli Embassy Begins Gradual Reopening

On 30 January, Israel National News reported Israel’s Foreign Ministry had announced the reopening of the Israeli Embassy in Amman. The embassy has been closed for six months after an Israeli embassy guard shot and killed two Jordanian citizens. Israel has offered to replace Einat Schlein, previous Israeli Ambassador to Jordan, but has not announced Schlein’s replacement.

[Cassie Hettmansperger,]

ROMANIA: EU Condemns Controversial Anti-Corruption Bill

On 24 January, The European Union issued a statement condemning Romania’s controversial judicial reform bill. The bill would strip most of the power from Romania’s popular anti-corruption body. Although this is the first time the EU has officially commented on this bill, activists in Romania have been protesting the bill for weeks.  The legislation was passed by Romania’s congress but awaits the signature of the president to become law.

[Zach Coffee] 

ERITREA: Diplomat Expelled from Netherlands

On 17 January, the Dutch government declared “persona non grata” on Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, the highest-level Eritrean diplomat, expelling him from the Netherlands. This expulsion is in response to the Eritrean government imposing a “diaspora tax” to intimidate refugees that have fled Eritrea. The Dutch government will allow the Eritrean embassy to remain open, but maintains that it does not approve of the Eritrean government’s threats and taxations of those who have fled the country.

[Caitlyn Aaron,]

FRANCE: Authorities Thwart Election Attack

On 18 April, French authorities arrested several suspects after thwarting an attack that was to be conducted before the presidential election. National security topics were a key theme in the presidential campaigns. Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen strengthened her stance on foreign extremists, as well as border controls after the arrests.

[Madison Landry,]

RUSSIA: Agreement with US to Investigate Syrian Chemical Attack

On 12 April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced an agreement to launch an international investigation into the Syrian chemical attack. The announcement follows a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary Tillerson to discuss salvaging relations between the two countries. Despite differing views on Syria, the two countries plan to conduct the investigation together.

[Madison Landry,]