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What We're Watching: EU-Qatar bribery probe, US-Africa talk shop

VP Eva Kaili from Greece at the European Parliament in Brussels.

VP Eva Kaili from Greece at the European Parliament in Brussels.

EP/­Handout via REUTERS

Did Qatar bribe MEPs?

On Sunday, a Belgian judge charged four people with multiple crimes related to suspected bribery at the EU's legislature by a suspected Gulf nation. (It's Qatar, although, of course, the Qataris deny it.) Among the accused is Greek MEP and European Parliament VP Eva Kaili, who's been arrested and kicked out of the center-left parliamentary group as well as her own Pasok party in Greece. In what is being buzzed about as one of the chamber's biggest-ever corruption scandals, prosecutors suspect that the Gulf state tried to influence European Parliament decisions by giving money and gifts to MEPs. The bombshell probe comes just as Qatar is in the global spotlight over the FIFA World Cup, which many suspect the emirate paid bribes to host. Notably, just last month Kaili defended Qatar's human rights record, giving it credit for abolishing the kafala system that treats migrant workers as modern-day slaves. While the investigation is ongoing, the legislature has already suspended an upcoming vote on visa-free travel to the EU by Qatari nationals, and Greece announced Monday that it's freezing Kaili's assets.

Can Africa trust America?

US President Joe Biden is hosting dozens of African heads of state and government at the White House for the three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit that kicks off on Tuesday. His pitch: You can trust us more than China or Russia, which for years have been making inroads in Africa at the expense of America. But it won't be easy. The US will need to work hard to regain that trust, perhaps by offering African nations something more substantial — and generous in economic terms — than a permanent seat at the G-20 for the African Union. Indeed, much of the continent is reliant on trade with China and has refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine — despite Africa's food systems having been hit particularly hard by the war between the Sunflower Superpowers. Biden didn't send an RSVP to four countries suspended from AU membership over coups — or to gulag state Eritrea. But since he did welcome Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe, hardly beacons of democracy on the continent, the guest list seems as random as the one for Biden’s doozy of a democracy summit a year ago.


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