Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes — the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about
Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.
It’s August 7th, and it’s been a busy week — with disputes between various countries front and center.
- On Monday August 6th, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador and recalled its own ambassador to Canada. It also suspended new trade and investment with Canada, and began plans to pull 16,000 Saudi students out of Canadian schools. The reason? The Canadian foreign ministry had publicly urged the Saudi monarchy to release civil rights activists, clerics and journalists it has imprisoned.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement — first denying the charges, then calling them “a violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty”, and finally confirming what it said was the Kingdom’s “commitment to refrain from intervening in the internal matters of other countries.” That is, apparently, unless the other country happens to be Iran.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates publicly backed the Saudi position, as they do most Saudi policies and actions. That includes the Saudi blockade of Qatar one year ago.
- But now, the UN International Court of Justice or ICJ has ruled that last year’s air, sea and land blockade of Qatar by the Saudis, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt was a violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Qatar filed a case last month in the court on behalf of the Qatari families that were separated by the sudden blockade, as well as the expelled Qataris who still own property in the UAE.
The UAE is bound by that treaty, as both it and Qatar are signatories. And while Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt did not sign the treaty, the World Court decision still sends a powerful message about enforcement of international norms.
- Also on Monday August 6th, the Trump administration continued its effort to make Iran’s life difficult, and to destroy every policy achievement of the Obama administration. Ninety days after withdrawing the U.S. from the landmark JCPOA, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear accord, Trump re-imposed on Iran many of the sanctions that had been lifted in that agreement. Trump’s actions isolate the U.S. further from its allies. In a joint statement, the European Union, Britain, France and Germany said: “The JCPOA is working and delivering on its goal, namely to ensure that the Iranian programme remains exclusively peaceful.”
Trump has established close personal ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel, both regional rivals of Iran. And with Mike Pompeo now as secretary of state, and John Bolton as national security advisor, Trump’s position on Iran has hardened notably over that of previous U.S. administrations.
- And lastly, Pope Francis is pushing back on countries that still employ the death penalty. On Thursday August 2nd, the Catholic Church published Francis’ dramatic change to their official teaching on the death penalty. It now states that capital punishment attacks the inherent dignity of human beings, and is always “inadmissible.”
In a remarkable acceptance of responsibility, Francis said that the Church had erred in the past, in being “more legalistic than Christian.” He said that the voluntary killing of any human life goes against the Gospel. And he committed the Church to working to end capital punishment everywhere.
This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting too little attention. Tune in next week for more.
music from bensound.com