Israeli security. At the start of this year, the Israel Defense Forces identified four potential fronts for major conflict. We at GPF pointed out that having multiple conflicts on different fronts puts Israel in a vulnerable position. And now, we’re seeing small-scale skirmishes on several of these fronts. Palestinian and Israeli security forces engaged in a firefight in Nablus this morning. In Gaza, incendiary balloons started fires in the forest around Kissufim that continue to burn, but the IDF chief of staff said a cease-fire with Hamas is still in place. These two incidents come just days after Israel responded to Syrian threats by firing missiles over the border. None of these incidents pose a serious threat or show signs of immediate escalation. But they are small examples of exactly what Israel hopes to avoid: simultaneous engagement on several fronts.
U.S.-Mexico update. The U.S. and Mexico have reached a deal on migration, but, as is often the case, implementation will be the tricky bit. Mexico has 45 days to reduce the number of Central American migrants headed toward the U.S., according to Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. Mexico’s initial measures will include sending 103 police officers to the state of Chiapas, establishing 23 immigration coordination zones in southern Mexico that will be managed by the National Guard, and allowing more migrants to wait in Mexico while their U.S. asylum applications are processed. But the U.S.-Mexico tensions also appear to be creating opportunities for Mexican cooperation with other Latin American countries. Ebrard said the government may reach out to Guatemala, Brazil and Panama, which serve as springboards for migrants making their way to Mexico, and leaders of Argentina’s grain industry reassured Mexico that, as it faces U.S. trade threats, Argentina has a sufficient affordable maize supply to meet Mexican demand.
In other migration news, after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the reopening of the country’s border with Colombia, some 70,000 Venezuelans immediately entered Colombia. (About 40,000 of them returned to Venezuela within a couple of days.) This comes after Brazil and Venezuela quietly agreed to reopen their shared border, too. The reopened borders are expected to accelerate the exodus of Venezuelans. Maduro’s decision suggests that he does not feel as threatened as before – Venezuela closed its Colombian border in February to prevent the delivery of U.S. aid, and knowing that a greater outflow of people would increase tensions with other South American countries seeking to oust Maduro. Peru, on the other hand, has started requiring additional documentation and imposing stricter entrance requirements for Venezuelans and deporting those who don’t meet the criteria. Meanwhile, European Union asylum applications from January to April were 15 percent higher than the same period last year – a rise attributed to a dramatic spike in applications from Venezuela and Colombia.
- The Sentix investor sentiment index for Germany fell into negative territory in June for the first time since March 2010.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that Iran is increasing its rate of uranium enrichment, though it did not say by how much.
- Defense ministers from Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia will meet tomorrow to discuss trilateral development cooperation and other regional issues.
- The United Kingdom and South Korea signed a post-Brexit stopgap trade agreement.
- Greek Cypriot authorities issued arrest warrants for crew members and officials of companies cooperating with the Turkish drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Greece’s central bank chief said the country would likely miss its primary budget surplus target (which excludes debt servicing costs) in 2019 after the government introduced last-minute tax cuts and bonuses to pensioners ahead of May’s European Parliament elections.
- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a statement that he had reached an agreement with his two deputies, the leaders of the two governing parties, to work with the Economy Ministry to avoid EU disciplinary action over Italy’s public finances.
- China’s ambassador to Nairobi said Beijing is ready to start negotiations for a trade deal with the East African Community.