US and Turkey agree temporary ceasefire
After the announcement of a five-day ceasefire in the Turkish offensive in Syria, The Financial Times headlined Ankara warning it would resume its assault if the agreed withdrawal of Kurdish militia did not materialise.
The Financial Times – Oct 19th
The Washington Post feared “Trump’s blunder” in withdrawing US forces in Syria would spark an Isis resurgence. “His surrender is so hasty that US forces could not execute a long-standing plan to take dozens of high-profile Isis detainees with them; we can expect to hear from those terrorists before long, in the region, in Europe or in the United States.”
The New York Times – October 14th
The New York Times also warned of a renewed Isis threat. It headlined Syrian forces filling the void left by the withdrawal of US forces and warned, “as desperate Kurds ally with Assad in Syria, the spectre of the Isis threatens again, and American power dims.” The paper saw President Trump’s action as a “moral and strategic disaster” in which Turkey and Russia emerged the winners.
The Wall Street Journal, however, reported serious anger in Congress at Turkey’s actions in Syria, sparked by the abrupt US withdrawal. “Mr. Erdogan is looking down the barrel of serious bipartisan economic sanctions from the US Congress.”
UK parliament delays vote on new Brexit deal
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson secured a Brexit deal with the European Union last week, which was to be put to parliament for approval on Saturday (Oct 19th). But parliament backed an amendment delaying approval of the deal.
The Observer – October 20th
The Observer headlined a defiant Johnson vowing not to allow the vote to delay Brexit, despite “a million” on the streets demanding a new referendum. The paper urged MPs to back the demand. “At the last hour, parliament has created a window in which Labour and the other opposition parties can act. The only way in which Johnson’s deal could be legitimised is in a referendum. MPs must deny him parliamentary approval for his deal unless he agrees to put it to voters.”
Ahead of the vote in parliament, The Times had urged support for the deal. “On behalf of a bored and disillusioned country, increasingly angry with Westminster, MPs should back the deal. After the vote, the paper’s columnist Dominic Lawson complained, “Parliament seems intent on a path of self-harm … by delaying Brexit again, MPs have trashed their office and their promises.”
The Mail on Sunday – October 20th
The Mail on Sunday condemned members of parliament as a “house of fools” for subjecting the country to more “agonising” delay over Brexit.
The Telegraph also castigated a “dithering and disgraced Parliament” for not voting to back the new Brexit deal.
Obama endorses Trudeau
The pre-election tweet last week by former President Obama urging Canadians to re-elect Justin Trudeau as prime minster caused some surprise in US and Canadian papers.
Canada’s National Post argued that Obama has intervened before in non-US politics, usually to support those leaders he saw standing against what he saw as illiberalism, nationalism and populism around the world. “If he’s speaking up for Trudeau now, it’s probably safe to assume he sees the Liberal leader as an ally in that fight, too.”
The National Post – October 17th
Washington Post columnist J. J. McCullough, however, called Obama’s endorsement of Trudeau for tackling issues like climate change “contrived” and “irresponsible. He argued, “there are certainly no documented instances of the two leaders working closely together on anything of substance.”
Jail terms spark anger in Catalonia
“Violence flares as Spain convicts Catalan separatist leaders,” headlined the Wall Street Journal, after protesters flooded the streets of Barcelona for the fourth straight day, angry at jail terms for organisers of the 2017 referendum on Catalan independence.
The Wall Street Journal – October 15th
Oriol Junqueras, a former vice president of the government of Catalonia, sentenced to 13 years, argued in the Washington Post that the verdict damaged Spanish democracy. “With this verdict, Spain has told the citizens of Catalonia that they do not have a right to decide on their future in a democratic way.” He said the battle for independence would now move to “European institutions, the United Nations and, if need be, international courts of law.”