Foreign Affairs News Roundup Week 43

Obama and Romney faced off in the final of the three presidential debates, this one focusing on foreign policy. It was arguably the most belligerent of the debates, with both men keenly aware of how close the polls are with less than three weeks to polling day. Obama, as expected, took advantage of the fact that his time as president has given him an opportunity to engage in foreign relations, something outside the remit of a lowly State Governor. Mitt Romney, equally as expected, highlighted the shortcomings in Obama’s foreign policy, especially the perceived weakness on defence. Despite the US possessing a peerless military machine and weildng a preponderance of power, horses and bayonets were discussed.

No, really.

In reality, there is very little to separate the candidates on foreign policy. All but the most partisan news agencies called it a draw, leaving a riveting next few weeks on the campaign trail.

The Emir of Qatar became the first Arab head of state to visit Gaza since Hamas’ election victory swept them to power, much to the ire of Israel and the West, not to mention Fatah who run the West Bank. Qatar has emerged as a small but potent power broker in the region, heavily involved in the campaign to outs Gadaffi, hosting talks with the Taliban, and being one of the most overt opponents of the Assad regime in Syria. The Emir has pledged $400 million in construction aid to the area, though no details have been announced.

Sudan has accused Israel of being behind an air strike on a weapons factory south of the capital, Khartoum. Despite being over 500 miles from Israel, the government of Omar Bashir insists the attack is part of continuing efforts by Tel Aviv to undermine his government. Last year a convoy of vehicles carrying Islamists in east Sudan was attacked by unknown warplanes.

The violence in Syria shoes no sign of abating. A Jordanian soldier has been killed on the border fighting anti-Assad rebels trying to cross the border. The US has recently sent hundreds of soldiers to the Pro-Western kingdom, nervous that the stable but militarily weak kingdom may be dragged into a wider war.

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