Bills in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s controversial extradition bill has been delayed, but it’s far from dead. The city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced Saturday that the legislation – which would facilitate extraditions to mainland China and, according to critics, threaten Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous status and the rule of law – had been suspended indefinitely but not withdrawn outright. The bill triggered massive march last Sunday, followed by days of protests and clashes with police, and another protest is scheduled for this Sunday. Opponents of the bill fear that the delay is intended to sap their movement’s momentum so that the bill can be hastily reintroduced at a later date. At this point, Beijing is still following the playbook that we laid out on Wednesday. It will be important to watch how many people and from which segments of society turn out on Sunday to keep the protests alive.
The new and old in Moldova. In other “one country, two systems” news, one of Moldova’s governments bowed to international and domestic pressure by stepping down on Friday, paving the way for the new coalition government to take power. New Prime Minister Maia Sandu’s pro-Europe ACUM group had refused after February elections to form a coalition with either of the two largest vote-winners, the pro-Russian Socialist Party or the incumbent Democratic Party. But then ACUM and the Socialists reached a coalition agreement on June 9, a day after the expiration of the 90-day deadline. However, the country’s court-appointed president, a member of the Democratic Party, dissolved parliament and called snap elections, sparking criticism from Europe and Russia. Finally, on Friday afternoon, after talks with the U.S. ambassador, the president stepped aside, though his party still insists that the government is unlawful. It won’t be easy for the new government to balance its foreign policy between Europe and Russia. Sandu said her government will prioritize improved cooperation with the EU but also said the country was open to better economic and trade ties with Russia.
U.S.-Mexico immigration. A week ago, the U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement to stem the northward flow of migrants across the border. The problem now is that the deal is unpopular in Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s own party. Under the terms of the arrangement, if Mexico fails to reduce immigration numbers by late July, it would become a “safe third country” and would be obligated to handle asylum applicants who reach the U.S. via Mexico. The president of Mexico’s lower house, a member of Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement party (Morena), said that the deal would put the country in a cage and that congress had a responsibility to “avoid harmful agreements.” Morena’s Senate leader also said the deal was “inadmissible.” And on Thursday, the interior minister expressed doubts about the ability of the national guard to stop caravans of migrants from entering the country. Indeed, Reuters said on Friday that witnesses had noticed no signs that the national guard’s expected deployment of 6,000 personnel to the Guatemalan border had even begun.
- Moody’s Investors Services cut Turkey’s credit rating by one notch to B1 with a negative outlook. The Turkish Ministry of Treasury and Finance said the decision called into question the ratings agency’s objectivity and was incompatible with Turkey’s economic indicators.
- Mediterranean states in the European Union threw their support behind fellow member state Cyprus in its dispute with Turkey over offshore natural gas deposits.
- Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister was quoted in Greek media as saying Greek Cypriots “should know their limits,” and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that the country would not reduce its troop numbers in Turkish Cyprus.
- Sudan’s military council will form a caretaker government within two weeks, with or without the support of protest leaders, a source told Sudan’s Alintibaha newspaper.
- Any Brexit withdrawal agreement without an indefinite backstop would be as bad for Ireland as a no-deal Brexit, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
- Saudi Arabia’s energy minister called for a “rapid and decisive response” to this week’s oil tanker attacks.
- The UAE’s foreign minister said that the evidence suggested a state actor was behind the oil tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman but that there wasn’t enough evidence to implicate any particular country. Al-Arabiya deleted a tweet that quoted the minister as saying Iran was responsible.