Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Hannah Kris
Monday, July 30, 2018, 4:13 PM

Italy’s new populist government is threatening to shoot down a free trade deal between Canada and the European Union, reports the Wall Street Journal. The agreement, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, eliminates tariffs on most goods between the two entities. The main opposition to the deal comes from small farmers who believe that the agreement allows Canadian companies to degrade the food market in Italy, a charge somewhat tempered by recent EU data which shows that food exports to Canada have risen by 12 percent since the deal was temporarily implemented last year.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen won another five-year term in an election that both U.S. officials and exiled opposition leaders condemn as a sham, according to the Journal. Hun Sen has served as prime minister for 33 years; he was initially installed in office by the Vietnamese military. The turnout for the vote was 82 percent, although many believe this number is inflated as a result of voter intimidation: The Cambodian government tracks voters by fingerprint and may limit access to municipal services, such as the issuance of business licenses, for those who refuse to vote.

Zimbabwe is holding its first presidential election Monday since Robert Mugabe was ousted last November in a military coup led by then-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, reports the BBC. The elections are the first in 16 years to be overseen by EU and U.S. monitors, many of whom are expressing cautious optimism about the fairness of the process. One monitor said that long lines at polling stations indicated a lack of voter repression. The election is expected to be a close race between the two leading candidates: Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa, a candidate who has promised to rebuild Zimbabwe’s dying economy with promises that include hosting the Olympics in Zimbabwe. Over the weekend, Mugabe endorsed Chamisa’s party.

China has offered to open talks for a free trade agreement with Britain after it withdraws from the EU, according to Reuters. The announcement comes as global trade faces rising tensions across the globe: the U.S. and China are engaged in a trade war, Britain is in the process of withdrawing from the EU, and parts of Europe have elected populist, Eurosceptic governments. A final deal will take time, however, because Britain cannot negotiate deals with China while it is still a member of the EU. The negotiations are seen as a win for both Britain, whose government is still struggling to maintain trade relations with European countries, and for China, who needs an ally in the trade war it is waging with the U.S.

Al-Qaeda has claimed responsible for mortar attacks during Sunday’s elections in northern Mali, reports Reuters. The attacks took place in the village of Aguelhok, with one mortar exploding about 100 meters from a polling station, temporarily suspending voting. Al-Qaeda stated that the bombing was “a clear message from us to France and its pawns in the country that the war between us will not end.” Mali was plagued by insecurity throughout its election, with 644 of approximately 23,000 polling stations unable to function due to violence.

The U.S. announced on Monday that it has deployed armed drones to Niger to attack Islamist militants since last November, according to Reuters. The drones have been in Niger with nation’s permission, although neither side revealed their presence until today. Many believe drones are a cost-effective way to attack militants, but critics say that drones cause unnecessary civilian casualties and foster resentment among local populations. The U.S. military presence has recently expanded in Niger in response to increasing concerns about rising jihadist activity in the Sahel region of Africa.

India is considering passing legislation that will force e-commerce and social media companies to store data locally, reports Reuters. The policy would affect many internet companies, including Amazon and Facebook. The Indian government is citing recommendations from a government-appointed panel that all personal data in India should remain in India. Proponents of the bill say that it will make it easier for the government to access data for national security and public policy objectives, while opponents—largely tech companies—are resisting the bill due to the logistical difficulty of relocating servers. The resistance by U.S. tech companies may be successful as India’s finance ministry has since proposed relaxing the policy.

ICYMI: Last weekend on Lawfare

Paul Staniland criticized the liberal order, a foreign policy objective venerated by many critics of President Trump’s foreign policy.

Jen Patja Howell posted the Lawfare Podcast, a conversation about Brexit with Shannon Togawa Mercer, Amanda Sloat and Tom Wright.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board