The European Union won’t be enough to save Iran. Brussels will provide the embattled country 18 million euros ($21 million) worth of assistance as part of a larger 50 million-euro package. Nominally, this will be used to offset the damage caused by U.S. sanctions. Realistically, it’s a pretty small figure. The EU obviously wants to help out, as evidenced by the blocking statute it passed a couple of weeks ago, but there’s only so much it can do. Especially when you consider that 16 U.S. senators have called on Washington to expel Iran from the SWIFT banking network, a messaging service that facilitates cross-border transfers of funds. This would make it more difficult for Iran to access and move capital around outside of its borders.
Weaknesses continue to reveal themselves elsewhere in the EU too. Several days ago, a spat over where an Italian coastguard ship should dock, Italy or Malta, at first seemed resolved when it docked in Sicily. The ship was carrying nearly 200 migrants. But only unaccompanied minors have been allowed to disembark. Now Italy has issued two threats to the EU. The first: Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the nationalist League party, has said he would resign if the EU does not quickly execute a plan to disperse all the migrants throughout Europe instead of just Italy. The second: Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said he would withhold 20 billion euros’ ($23 billion)f worth of EU funding if other member states did not accept some of the migrants from the ship. Withholding funds from the EU to induce bloc-wide policy change would set a precedent for other countries, raising the uncomfortable question of who’s ultimately in charge of the EU: Brussels or the EU members willing to take the biggest risks.
- India’s and China’s militaries have agreed to enhance cooperation in the form of training and joint exercises. The goal is to mitigate the risk of conflict on their shared border.
- Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s unexpected tweet about possible land expropriation without compensation in South Africa, the U.S. State Department has now also weighed in, claiming that expropriating land without payment “would risk sending South Africa down the wrong path.” South Africa, though, has structural economic problems that redistributive policies probably won’t solve.
- Two airlines, British Airways and Air France, have stopped flights to Tehran.
- A former German intelligence chief has claimed that it is no longer safe to share intelligence with Austria for fear that it will end up in Moscow’s hands.
- U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has said sanctions on Iran will be lifted only if Iran withdraws completely from Syria.
- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was ousted by rebel conservatives in his Liberal Party. Treasurer Scott Morrison has been sworn in as prime minister – Australia’s sixth in the past decade. (Kevin Rudd served twice, nonconsecutively.)
- Two days of trade talks between the U.S. and China ended without any evidence of concrete steps on a deal.