Greece, Turkey: Cyprus will.
Also: Ukraine, Russia, Mexico, the US, Kenya, Haiti and Vanuatu.
GREECE. TURKEY. Cyprus will.
Faint signals of a Mediterranean breakthrough.
Cyprus's president said on Sunday that reunification with the Turkish-majority north of the island remained a key focus of his government. Greece and Turkey have reached an informal migration deal, local media reported on Thursday.
INTELLIGENCE. After Cypriot reunification talks were suspended in 2017, there have been increased signs of their revival in recent weeks. Closer cross-Aegean collaboration is also in evidence, with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greece's Kyriakos Mitsotakis meeting for a second time in recent months at the UN in New York. Many doubt the détente’s durability, including predictably the leader of Cyprus’s Turkish enclave, but there are strategic rationales.
FOR BUSINESS.Erdogan and Mitsotakis, both in strong positions, can spend political capital on what would usually have been a risky deal. And despite Turkey’s frustrations with the EU, a deal with Greece (or Cyprus) could help realise its energy hub ambitions. Firms continue to eye regional projects. Chevron last week extended talks with Cyprus on the Aphrodite gas field. Moody’s on Friday lifted Cyprus’s rating two notches, days after raising its outlook for Turkey.
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UKRAINE. RUSSIA. Potemkin images.
With US support uncertain, it’s fake it till you make it.
The White House said on Monday the US only had enough funds to meet Ukraine's "urgent battlefield needs". The EU's foreign policy chief said on Monday the bloc would consider a €5 billion military aid package for Ukraine for 2024.
INTELLIGENCE. Western pledges to Ukraine look increasingly hollow after Congress axed new funding and Slovakia elected a pro-Russia candidate on the weekend. While EU foreign ministers put on a brave face at a historic meeting in Kyiv on Monday, the fact remains that existing funds, like the €500 million “European Peace Facility”, are yet to be released. Rishi Sunak meanwhile walked back suggestions on Sunday the UK would send military trainers to Ukraine.
FOR BUSINESS. Russia is also engaging in forms of subterfuge, with Putin asking an ex-Wagner commander on Friday to coordinate “volunteers” and reports Yevgeny Prigozhin's 25-year-old son now runs the mercenary group. The reality is both Kyiv and Moscow are waiting to see what transpires in Washington, which will determine if the war is to escalate, or a deal is to be found. Drone and missile strikes will continue but won’t materially affect the outcome.
With the brevity of a media digest, but the depth of an intelligence assessment, Daily Assessment goes beyond the news to outline the implications.
MEXICO. UNITED STATES. Shuttle bus diplomacy.
AMLO ups the political stakes on both sides of the border.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday slammed US spending on Ukraine and blamed its policies in Cuba and Venezuela for creating a migrant crisis. Mexico on Monday bused hundreds of foreigners towards the US border.
INTELLIGENCE. AMLO has clashed with Washington before and will soon retire, but the estimated 10,000 irregular migrants crossing into the US daily are creating political problems in Mexico, which goes to the polls in June. AMLO’s protégé Claudia Sheinbaum leads in the polls, but opposition senator Xochitl Galvez is an emerging threat and has criticised the burden Mexico is placing on border cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, which host many migrants.
FOR BUSINESS. The causes of the crisis look set to remain. Washington is distracted by investigations into Biden and Trump. Cuba and Venezuela continue to stagnate. And as Venezuela’s 2024 elections approach, Caracas is rattling the sabre at neighbouring Guyana, poised to become a major oil exporter. For Mexico, a protracted crisis will raise nationalist sentiment, complicating US investment, as of course do Republican candidate pledges to invade.
KENYA. HAITI. Mission implausible.
A UN-mandated mission in Haiti is more about US-Kenya ties.
The UN Security Council on Monday approved a multinational armed force to Haiti, led by Kenya. The US and Ecuador drafted the resolution. China and Russia abstained. Kenya and the US last week signed a five-year defence agreement.
INTELLIGENCE. Haiti, wracked by gang violence and chronic poverty, needs help. But previous missions have made things worse, and Kenya is hardly a paragon of best practices or human rights. While its security forces have faced fiercer rivals in the Somalia-based al-Shabab, which killed 67 in Nairobi in 2013, Kenya's police are not known for winning hearts and minds. While Haiti’s beleaguered government wants an intervention, most civilians are opposed.
FOR BUSINESS. Don’t expect a Haitian transformation, but the mission, even if it fails, signals increasing alignment between Kenya and the US under President William Ruto, one of Africa’s few leaders to criticise Russia's war in Ukraine. But Ruto, who last month wooed tech investors in Silicon Valley, is also courting China. In August, he met Xi Jinping at the BRICS Summit. This month, he will attend the Belt & Road Summit in Beijing, with new deals expected.
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VANUATU. In for the Kilman.
A second government is set to be toppled in a month.
Vanuatu's parliament called an extraordinary sitting on Monday to debate a vote of no-confidence in the government of Prime Minister Sato Kilman, who won power last month via such a vote. The session has been adjourned until Friday.
INTELLIGENCE. Port Vila’s instability is not just of interest to the region, with Kilman – prime minister on four previous occasions – seen as aligned with Beijing, which has reportedly coveted a base in the archipelago 1,750km off the coast of Australia and 500km off the French territory of New Caledonia. But even if China's alleged ambitions are overblown, Beijing can complicate Washington’s plans in the Pacific, as it has done in neighbouring Solomon Islands.
FOR BUSINESS. Vanuatu relies on Australia for tourism and remittances, but its flag of convenience service – ironically popular among oil firms despite the country's climate advocacy – and dormant plans for a nickel processing industry could boost interest among foreign firms. Its traditional support for the independence of Indonesia’s Papuan provinces is also leading to more proactive engagement from Jakarta, the world’s top nickel producer.