What We’re Watching

In this new weekly segment thegeopolity will publish the key issues our analysts are watching and key events they are keeping an eye on.
30th August 20214 min

Editor’s Note: The analysts at the geopolity follow numerous events as part of their analytical process. In this new weekly segment thegeopolity will publish the key issues our analysts are watching and key events they are keeping an eye on.

US Afghan withdrawal deadline looms. Afghanistan continues to be the world’s key issue currently. President Joe Biden vowed to keep up airstrikes against the culprits whose suicide bombing at the Kabul airport killed scores of Afghans and 13 American service members. Biden warned another attack was “highly likely” and the State Department called the threat “specific” and “credible.” The Pentagon has said the remaining contingent of US forces at the airport, now numbering fewer than 4,000, had begun their final withdrawal ahead of the deadline of 31 August 2021. The Taliban has stated it will wait until after the US leaves to announce details of its planned government and plans for the country. The US withdrawal and new Taliban government begins a new phase in the country. We will be watching the Taliban’s capacity to govern, the evolution of their relations with the regional and global powers.

See our analysis on Afghanistan, the new great game? and podcast Taliban takeover Afghanistan.

Tunisia’s President suspends parliament indefinitely. On the 24th August the populist president, Kais Saied further tightened his hold on power by extending the suspension of parliament. This unprecedented move comes amid an economic crisis made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic for a country which is heavily tourist-orientated. The president defended his actions by claiming they were in order to “protect the country from collapsing.” This comes just a month after he dismissed the prime minister and assumed executive authority in a move widely considered as a coup by opposition parties. The president has now done what he has long been accused of: grabbing power. We will continue to watch how the opposition responds.

See our analysis: is Tunisia turning into a failed state.

Israel joins the African Union (AU). Israel has been admitted into the African Union, albeit as an observer state. Some AU member states, like South Africa, expressed aversion to the decision, citing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Israel has been on a charm offensive ever since the deal of the century was launched by former US president Donald Trump. This comes at a crucial moment for Israel as the countries that normalised relations with Israel were beginning to dry up. In the statement issued by Yasir Lapid, Israel’s foreign affairs minister, he said: “This is a day of celebration for Israel-Africa relations…This corrects the anomaly that has existed for almost two decades and is an important part of strengthening the fabric of Israel’s foreign relations.” Africa represents both political but also economic opportunities for Israeli exports and will help strengthen the entity which is constantly looking for legitimacy.

See our series on the geopolitics of normalisation 

Palestinian Authority losing control of West Bank. Many in the West Bank watched in horror as the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces arrested nearly 30 protesters who were calling for answers to Human Rights lawyer, Nizar Banat’s death. Over the summer, the PA has responded to protests critical of its activities, and even those in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, with the arrest of dozens of activists, while offering muted responses to Israeli security force deaths. Fadi Quran, a human rights activist and international law expert, who was among those arrested, said he was interrogated about why he had distributed Palestinian flags and, during a court appearance, asked a judge to sentence him so he could be the first Palestinian charged with possessing the country’s flag. The absurdity of the moment, and the PA’s increasing oppression in the face of criticism, have left many to question whether the lashing out is a last act of desperation by the PA. The PA has lost credibility as it failed to solve the most basic issues for those under its authority and is seen to be too close to Israel. All the factors for the collapse of the PA are present, we will be watching this closely.

Ukraine President to meet President Biden. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to visit Washington on 30th August 2021. The US provided significant support to Ukraine back in 2013 during the euromaidan protests. The US was able to overthrow the Pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and was able to maintain pro-West leaders ever since. But a number of points of contention between the US and Ukraine have grown. Donbas, the region Russia has effectively annexed, remains frozen, despite US military assistance. President Biden will try to avoid the accusations levelled at his predecessor of insufficient support for and even undermining Ukraine’s stability, while Zelensky will be keen to avoid the perception that his administration is not capable of securing US support.


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