Council on Foreign Relations – Daily Brief Sept. 26, 2022

Top of the Agenda

Right-Wing Alliance Wins Sweeping Victory in Italian Elections 

A right-wing coalition headed by Giorgia Meloni of the Brothers of Italy party won a resounding victory (FT) in Italy’s parliamentary elections yesterday, earning over 44 percent of votes. Meloni’s far-right party won over a quarter of votes, putting her on track to become Italy’s first female prime minister and its first far-right head of government since World War II.
Meloni’s win was celebrated (Politico) by populist European leaders who have sought to distance themselves from Brussels. Still, Meloni has signaled (The Economist) that her government would seek to work with the European Union (EU), and unlike her coalition allies Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, she is a vocal supporter of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. 

“Despite international worry over her ascent to power, a strong Meloni may be preferable to a weak one. She is now shedding her formerly populist public image, instead presenting herself as something more like a traditional conservative,” Greenmantle’s Elettra Ardissino and the European University Institute’s Erik Jones write for Foreign Affairs. 
“As often happens in Italian politics, Ms Meloni’s star is liable to fade once confronted with the dour realities of government. Faced with a probable recession, a war at the borders of the EU and a raging cost-of-living crisis, a government headed by Ms Meloni may have little time or inclination to pursue a radical agenda,” the Economist writes.
Pacific Rim

North Korea Test-Fires Ballistic MissileThe test yesterday came ahead (Yonhap) of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to Japan and South Korea.  This Backgrounder looks at North Korea’s military capabilities

China/North Korea: Cross-border cargo trains resumed travel (Korea Herald) after a five-month pause prompted by a COVID-19 outbreak in a Chinese border city.
South and Central Asia

Kazakhstan Says It Will Not Recognize Russia-Orchestrated Referendums in UkraineA foreign ministry spokesperson said Astana will not recognize (Kyiv Independent) the ongoing votes for four Ukraine regions to join Russia and that Kazakhstan respects other countries’ “territorial integrity.” 

Pakistan: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail resigned (Dawn) as Pakistan suffers an economic crisis worsened by recent catastrophic flooding. 
Middle East and North Africa

Syrian Health Ministry: Twenty-Nine Dead in Cholera OutbreakThe ministry reported 338 cases (Reuters) since an outbreak began last month, while the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee warned of underreporting and documented more than two thousand suspected cases. Syria’s decade-long war has left much of the population reliant on unsafe water sources. 

Germany/Qatar/UAE: On a visit to Arab Gulf states, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was unable to secure an energy agreement (Bloomberg) with Qatar and obtained only one tanker of gas from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This video explains Europe’s energy bind amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
Sub-Saharan Africa

ICC Begins Trial of Alleged CAR Rebel Mahamat Said Abdel Kani is accused of leading a rebel group that ousted the president of the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2013. He pleaded not guilty (AP) to charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.  This Backgrounder looks at the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

Mozambique: President Filipe Nyusi was elected to a third five-year term (Bloomberg) as the head of the country’s ruling party. He ran unopposed.
EuropeThirteen Reported Dead in Russian School ShootingA man wearing Nazi symbols opened fire (CNN) in a school in the western Russian city of Izhevsk, killing at least seven children, Russian state media reported.

Ecuador Sacks Interior Minister Over Femicide UproarEcuadorian President Guillermo Lasso dismissed (MercoPress) the country’s interior minister and two police commanders following public outcry over the murder of a thirty-four-year-old lawyer. Her husband, a police officer, is the main suspect.

Cuba: The country held a rare referendum (AFP) on a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. 
United States

Hurricane Ian Heads Toward FloridaGovernor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency (CBS/AP) for all of Florida. The hurricane is expected to make landfall there this week.
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