Israel is preparing for war in the Gaza Strip. This may not seem noteworthy, considering Israel has reinforced its border with Gaza several times this year already. But some statements are difficult to ignore. Israel Defense Forces recently said they would dispatch “large numbers of reinforcements in the coming days” to beef up security at the border and that additional Iron Dome air defense systems will be deployed in southern Israel. A spokesman for the defense minister’s office said the IDF had also been ordered to maintain “maximum preparedness.” Ynet published an interview with a Hamas leader who said he opposed war but considered it inevitable, so degraded had the conditions in Gaza become. A less ominous sign is that the defense minister himself threatened Hamas. Israel usually doesn’t advertise its intentions, so it’s possible all this is performative. Even so, the troop rotations and the Iron Dome deployments have our attention.
India keeps its options open. Not aligning too closely with any one power has been the hallmark of Indian foreign policy since independence. It’s true that India has grown closer with the United States in recent years, but today it rolled out the red carpet for Russian President Vladimir Putin. New Delhi signed a $5.4 billion deal to purchase S-400 air defense missiles from Russia. For context: The U.S. recently sanctioned China for similar purchases, and it has yet to grant India a waiver for their procurement. Russian media said that in addition to the S-400 deal, the two sides reached a range of other agreements, signed a range of other documents, and mapped out “ambitious long-term plans.” India is an important country for Russia, a hedge on Russia’s bets on a more cooperative relationship with China and a reliable consumer of Russian arms. As for India, it is trying to be a U.S. partner only when it suits it – which increasingly seems to be the case. Washington needs to decide whether it will punish India or create a double standard for it. Considering how important India is to current U.S. plans, Washington may not have much of a choice.
France is losing patience with Germany. France’s finance minister strongly criticized the German government for stalling on taxes against large international tech companies in the European Union and on finalizing the eurozone budget. According to the minister, “there will be a eurozone budget or there won’t be a eurozone at all some day.” The longer Germany drags this out, the more time anti-EU sentiment will develop among Europe’s citizens. Germany’s hands are somewhat tied, of course. It has a multitude of domestic problems to manage, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is weaker now than she has been at any point since she took office. Even so, France and Germany just don’t agree on what should change or how quickly change should come. France’s motivation to reform the EU comes from its desire to enhance its influence in Brussels. Germany has already secured that power, so it can afford to be more cautious.
- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will prop up Bahrain’s struggling economy with a $10 billion bailout deal.
- Hungary and Poland are going to the European Court of Justice to challenge new EU rules on their workers in wealthier European countries.
- Russia’s deputy foreign minister warned Israel to exercise “good judgment” on Syria’s recently delivered S-300 system.
- China’s Foreign Ministry strongly criticized U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for accusing Beijing of meddling in U.S. elections.
- A member of Kosovo’s negotiation team with Serbia has said that “technical dialogue [with Serbia] is dead.”
- A new poll by Greek website Proto Thema says 72 percent of Greeks want to withdraw from the Macedonia name deal.