Last week, a certain number of events took place and are worth paying special attention to.
Good but not good enough ? The EU has adopted a deal to relocate 120,000 migrants across the continent, from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other countries. Even if unusual for an issue like this involving national sovereignty, the decision was taken after a majority vote rather than an unanimous decision. For instance, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic voted against while Finland abstained. The large majority that voted for this plan will see it take effect over the next two years, after it will have been ratified on Wedenesday by EU leaders. Welcomed by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, this decision has been criticized by the same body : compared to the 480,000 arrived in Europe this year, the EU’s plan is notably insufficient.
Coalition risks avoidance or beginning of an agreement ? In the past week, US officials have confirmed that the Russian military has sent warplanes, tanks, armoured personnel carries and 200 marines to an airfield in Latakia province. The military build-up and this recent deployment were followed by military-to-military contacts between the US and the Russians at the end of last week. Ashton Carter, the US Secretary of Defence and his counterpart Sergei Shoigu have held talks, officialy to know how to avoid accidental clash on the ground. However, and since the two countries have a common adversary in Isis militants in Syria, this « deconfliction » could quickly turn into a deal leaving Assad in power while focusing, for the time being, on Isis.
Are peace talks at hand in Afghanistan ? Mullah Mansour, new lead of the Afghan Taliban, has stated he would be ready to open peace talks with the Kabul administration on two conditions. First, all foreign troops have to withdraw from the country ; second, the security agreement signed with the US has to be scrapped. If those conditions are unlikely to be met by Kabul, these negotiations could be seen as a goodwill gesture. However, Mullah Akhtar Mansour is quite contested in his leadership : senior Taliban figures accused Pakistan of installing him as the new leader and important Taliban commanders in the south are not entirely showed full support.
Off the hook. Lord Sewel, the peer that resigned in July after being exposed by the Sun taking drugs in the company of prostitutes won’t have police take further action against himself. The Met Police raided a property in central London but eventually concluded the inquiry had to be closed for there was « insufficient evidence to proceed ». Former chairman of the Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee, Lord Sewel can apparently snort as much white powder wearing orange bra and being filmed in one of the most popular English tabloid without being condemned or fined for it.