What We're Watching: French anti-racism protests, Sudan-Ethiopia border dispute, Pentagon checks Trump

What We're Watching: French anti-racism protests, Sudan-Ethiopia border dispute, Pentagon checks Trump

French protests over racial injustice: The George Floyd protests in the United States have sparked solidarity demonstrations around the world, with people flocking to US embassies in Berlin, London and elsewhere to express their outrage. But they have also inspired other countries to reexamine racial justice within their own societies. In France, where street demonstrations are practically a national pastime, thousands of people have gathered in support of the family of Adama Traoré, a 24-year old black man who died in police custody back in 2016. At least 20,000 Parisians demonstrated Wednesday, despite coronavirus bans on public gatherings. Protesters adopted similar language to the Floyd protests, demanding accountability for the officers who violently pinned down Traoré during a dispute over an identity check, leading to his death. Renewed focus on this case, which has become a potent symbol of police brutality in France, comes as coronavirus lockdowns have recently stoked tensions between the police and the mostly-minority residents of Paris' banlieues (low-income suburbs).


Sudan's new defense minister walks into a firestorm: Sudan has sworn in a new defense minister, just days after Sudanese forces clashed with militias from neighboring Ethiopia, sparking a diplomatic standoff between the two states. The two countries have long been locked in a bitter border dispute that's given rise to sporadic bursts of violence. More than 1,700 Ethiopians live on Sudanese farmland, a source of tension that the two sides had hoped to settle as part of a border demarcation process to be completed in March 2021. But tensions have resurfaced during thorny negotiations over Ethiopia's planned construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The hydropower project, which would draw waters from the Nile, is largely opposed by both Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream from Addis Ababa.

The Pentagon checks Trump: President Trump has repeatedly threatened to deploy the US military to quell unrest in American cities, after 10-days of both peaceful anti-racism protests and some riots. In recent days, however, pushback against the president's proposal has come from a powerful source: the Pentagon itself. After Trump floated using the Insurrection Act, which allows the US president to use active-duty troops domestically, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper distanced himself from his boss, saying that such a move would be misguided as anything but a far-off last resort – a position also supported by the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and many of the nation's governors. Meanwhile, Esper's predecessor, retired general Jim Mattis, who has refrained from weighing in on politics since leaving the Pentagon 18-months ago, penned a searing op-ed Wednesday, where he warned that calling in US troops would cause "chaos" and accused President Trump of trying "to divide us." The ensuing debate over the army's proper role in American politics has exposed a growing rift between the White House and the Pentagon, as an increasing number of armed forces personnel accuse the president of politicizing the military.

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