What We're Watching: The outgoing Liz Cheney, trouble in Kosovo, France out of Mali
Liz Cheney’s next move
Liz Cheney, a three-term Republican US congresswoman from Wyoming, suffered a stinging defeat Tuesday night at the hands of well-funded primary opponent Harriet Hageman, enthusiastically backed by former president Donald Trump. Sarah Palin — the former vice presidential candidate and governor, also supported by Trump — won the Alaska primary to run for Congress. Cheney’s defeat marks a remarkable political fall for a nationally known conservative politician who is the daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, the previous generation of Republicans’ best-known Washington powerbroker. Her political future and her potential impact on American politics will be defined by her central role on the congressional committee investigating the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and Trump’s role in it. Trump, according to Cheney, is “guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation’s history.” Cheney raised some $13 million for her now-failed House campaign. She can still spend that money on a future race. Next up: speculation that Cheney will run for president in 2024 in a campaign defined by opposition to Trump, who is still the Republican presidential frontrunner.
NATO tries to calm Balkan tensions
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will meet Wednesday (separately) with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti for EU talks in Brussels to try to avoid a new conflict in the Balkans. Two weeks ago, mass protests erupted across Kosovo after local ethnic Serbs were told they'd be forced to replace their Serbian-issued IDs and license plates with new documents and tags issued by Pristina, Kosovo’s government. Implementation of the law was then delayed by a month, but the announcement had already kick-started tensions in Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008 following a bloody war in the late 1990s. Tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs who live in Kosovo refuse to recognize the country, which Serbia still claims as its province. With the alliance now preoccupied with Russia’s war in Ukraine, NATO is especially on edge over the risk of new fighting in the Balkans, where the organization’s peacekeepers have been deployed since 1999. Kurti says there’s a connection between the two conflicts. He claims Vladimir Putin is egging on the pro-Moscow Vučić to spread what Putin sees as Russia's war with NATO to other parts of Europe — a charge which Vučić has denied. Vučić and Kurti are expected to hold a rare face-to-face meeting on Thursday.