Lavrov in Damascus
On September 7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Damascus. This was the first visit of Lavrov to Syria since February 2012.
As UWI wrote, “in his statements in Damascus, Lavrov emphasized the importance and success of the Astana process and the necessity of focusing on a common goal”.
According to experts interviewed by UWI, Lavrov’s statements reflect the common goal of cooperation between Turkey and Russia in the region and in Syria.
New Prime Minister of Japan
On September 14, Yoshihide Suga, General Secretary of the Japanese government, was elected Leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan, who will soon become Prime Minister of the country. Suga said he intended to inherit and develop the political course of his predecessor, Shinzo Abe.
Japan’s new prime minister is known as an experienced bureaucrat who for many years supported Shinzo Abe’s policies. Changes in Japan’s foreign policy strategy are unlikely.
Libya: prospects for a political settlement
From September 7 – 9, the parties to the conflict in Libya met in the Swiss city of Montreux in the presence of UNSMIL head Stephanie Williams. The aim was to create a road map that would pave the way for dialogue in Geneva.
On the official website of the Provisional Government of Libya (Tobruk) a statement from the Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) Aguila Saleh was published. It stated that the parties agreed that each of the three Libyan regions – Kirenaika, Tripolitania and Fezzan – would choose representatives in the new Presidential Council formed of a head and two deputies.
Also according to Saleh, the parties to the conflict allegedly agreed to temporarily make the city of Sirte the seat of the executive and legislative authority. Earlier, each party to the conflict claimed rights to Sirte. This decision is one of compromise, but this does not ensure that it will be approved. The US, represented by its former ambassador Stephanie Williams, is trying to use the talks to increase its own influence in Libya.
Inter-Afghan talks in Qatar
In Qatar, historic peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began on September 12. Direct talks on an inter-Afghan settlement are taking place for the first time in decades. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also arrived in Qatar.
The government delegation was headed by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation. The Taliban delegation was headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the Taliban political office.
For Qatar, these talks are a proof of the country’s weight on the international stage. Negotiations promise to be difficult. The withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has not been resolved. Despite the agreement with the Taliban and US promises to withdraw, no real steps have been taken by Washington.
Bahrain: recognition of Israel
Bahrain and Israel have agreed to establish diplomatic relations, according to US President Donald Trump.
The solemn ceremony of signing diplomatic documents took place in Washington on September 15. Thus, Bahrain followed the example of the UAE, which concluded a similar agreement in August. In Palestine, Bahrain’s decision was called a betrayal.
India and China reduce tensions
On September 11, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar agreed at a meeting in Moscow the day before to normalize the situation at the border between the two countries in Ladakh.
The talks in Moscow were held in the framework of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) foreign ministers. Thus, the SCO demonstrated its effectiveness as a mechanism for conflict resolution.
The situation on the de facto control line in Ladakh deteriorated in May when, according to Delhi, 20 Indian servicemen died in a clash between the border guards of the two countries. India also accused the Chinese military of provocations in late August. China rejects these reports.