World roundup: July 13 2022
Stories from Sri Lanka, Libya, Russia, and more
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
At his Forever Wars newsletter, Spencer Ackerman discusses what Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia might mean for Yemen:
The goal of the Biden administration, which continues to back Riyadh materially and diplomatically, is "to move expeditiously towards a comprehensive and inclusive peace process," as Biden put it in June when commending the extension of the ceasefire. Grundberg doesn't give much reason to expect a peace process resulting from the ceasefire. Roads in Taiz remain closed; each side accuses the other of opportunistically rearming and consolidating forces during the pause ("...direct and indirect fire, drone attacks, reconnaissance overflights, and the establishment of new fortifications and trenches"); and there is what Grundberg calls "worrisome escalatory rhetoric by the parties questioning the benefits of the truce."
Again, there are weaknesses in every ceasefire. But this is Grundberg's broader strategic assessment:
Three and a half months into the truce, we still find ourselves immersed in the details of the truce implementation. This is important. But it has meant we have not been able to invest as much in the task of consolidating and expanding the truce in order to deliver more benefits to the population and set Yemen on the path toward a durable political settlement.
Grundberg said that, over the next several weeks, he intends to push the Saudi coalition and the Houthis to expand the ceasefire. Meanwhile, Reuters reported last week that part of Biden's attempt at getting Mohammed bin Salman to increase oil production may be a return to the extravagant arms sales of the Trump era and before. I don't like short-handing such sales as providing either "offensive" or "defensive" weapons because the line blurs so easily, as with November's air-to-air-missile sale. But the point is that the U.S. may open the weapon spigot to Saudi Arabia right as Grundberg is laboring to expand on a ceasefire.
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