Podcast / American Prestige / Mar 8, 2024

A Haiti Gang Offensive, the Sudan Crisis, and Gaza

On this episode of American Prestige, headlines from around the world.

The Nation Podcasts
The Nation Podcasts

Here's where to find podcasts from The Nation. Political talk without the boring parts, featuring the writers, activists and artists who shape the news, from a progressive perspective.

Haiti Gang Offensive, Sudan Crisis, Gaza | American Prestige
byThe Nation Magazine

On this episode of American Prestige, Danny and Derek bring you news from around the world. This week: in Gaza, the U.S. makes airdrops while Biden announces a temporary port (0:30), some countries restore UNRWA funding (4:02), and more; a cargo ship is sunk and data cables cut in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen (12:26); the parliament of Pakistan elects a new prime minister (16:15); a renewed attempt at a ceasefire in Myanmar (18:02); an update on the crisis in Sudan (20:17); a new date is set for Senegal’s presidential election (23:16); an attack in Odesa during a visit by Zelensky and the Greek prime minister (25:32); Sweden officially joins NATO (27:08); in Haiti, a new gang offensive threatens to oust Ariel Henry (28:33); and we continue to break new climate records (33:54).

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This screen grab taken from AFPTV shows tires on fire near the main prison of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on March 3, 2024, after a breakout by several thousand inmates.

(Luckenson Jean / AFPTV / AFP via Getty Images)

This week: in Gaza, the US makes airdrops while Biden announces a temporary port for emergency relief (0:30), some countries restore UNRWA funding (4:02), and more; a cargo ship is sunk and data cables cut in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen (12:26); the parliament of Pakistan elects a new prime minister (16:15); a new cease-fire is attempted in Myanmar (18:02); we have an update on the crisis in Sudan (20:17); a new date is set for Senegal’s presidential election (23:16); Odesa is attacked during a visit by Zelensky and the Greek prime minister (25:32); Sweden officially joins NATO (27:08); in Haiti, a new gang offensive threatens to oust Ariel Henry (28:33); and the world continues to break new climate records (33:54).

The Nation Podcasts
The Nation Podcasts

Here's where to find podcasts from The Nation. Political talk without the boring parts, featuring the writers, activists and artists who shape the news, from a progressive perspective.

The Early Days of Imperial America with Emily Conroy-Krutz | American Prestige
byThe Nation Magazine

On this episode of American Prestige, Emily Conroy-Krutz on the global history of the early American republic.

On this episode of American Prestige, we sit down with Emily Conroy-Krutz, historian of nineteenth-century America specializing in the global history of the early American republic, to talk about the volume she co-edited with Michael Blaakman and Noelani Arista, The Early Imperial Republic: From the American Revolution to the U.S.–Mexican War. They explore the delineation of empire vs. republic vs. nation-state, challenging the narrative of 1898 being America’s imperial turn, settler colonialism and the dispossession of Indigenous Americans, shifting notions of imperialism over time, and how the framing of America as an imperial project from the beginning can better help us understand its history.

You can also grab a copy of Emily’s book Missionary Diplomacy: Religion and Nineteenth-Century American Foreign Relations.

Further Reading:

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This transcript was computer-generated and may contain errors.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Hello prestige heads and welcome to American Prestige.

I’m Danny Bessner here as always with my friend and comrade Derek Davison and we are excited to bring you the news.

Derek, let’s start with Gaza and let’s start with the airdrops and Biden’s announcement about the port.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah, so the Biden administration over the past week has begun airdropping humanitarian aid into Gaza.

It started on Saturday, dropping around 38,000 meals for a population of around 2.4 million, around 750,000

or 575,000 of them according to the UN at acute risk of starvation.

So you can see the numbers just don’t add up.

It’s done two more drops since then, including one on Thursday.

I don’t think you can say this is anything other than a showpiece.

It’s not actually

Doing Anything of Substance or Significant to Alleviate the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza.

It’s more a demonstration from a White House that I think is feeling some political pressure to be doing something.

This is something.

It looks very dramatic because it’s airdrops, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t even qualify as a drop in the bucket, really.

You can pack an awful lot into a military aircraft.

You can’t replicate the size and scale and scope of a convoy of 20 or 30 trucks.

The big news on this front, I guess, is that the Biden administration, Joe Biden himself in his State of the Union address, which will have aired by the time

People listen to this but has not aired yet.

The White House has leaked this to a number of media outlets.

Biden is ordering the U.S.

military to build a temporary port facility in Gaza that would enable the shipment of humanitarian aid to the territory from Cyprus.

There have been conversations about this idea that have gone on since October 7th in the middle of this conflict as it was apparent that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was getting worse.

The Israelis in particular have discussed the issue of inspecting cargo shipments with Cypriot officials and there are facilities in Cyprus to do sort of high-tech remote inspections

So they wouldn’t have to be done on the Gaza side of this is what I’m saying.

But it’s unclear how the U.S.

expects to build this facility, how long it’s going to take.

I think best case scenario, you’re talking about a couple of months.

the administration has insisted that it can do this without putting any US soldiers or US personnel in Gaza which seems far-fetched to me but let’s take them at their word that doesn’t explain who’s going to run the facility from the Gaza side it doesn’t explain who’s going to distribute the aid that comes in assuming that you ever get any aid coming in this way in an abstract sense it’s certainly a better solution than airdrops which are too inefficient and too

just aren’t capable of handling the scale of this problem.

But from a practical sense, I have no idea how any of these problems are gonna be solved.

And without a real proposal, and right now all it is is Biden’s gonna make an announcement in the State of the Union.

Again, I think this is for show.

I mean, it’s a showpiece to me on the part of the Biden administration to just say, look, we’re doing something.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Let’s talk about the countries that have restored UNRWA funding.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah, related to this, I guess, because UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency, is still the only agency that’s able to even attempt anything like large-scale aid distribution in Gaza.

It’s worth noting that the European Union and Canada have at least partially restored their funding for that agency.

The European Union

has partially restored funding and has set up a couple of more tranches.

And the Canadian government, as far as I know, is restoring all of its funding for UNRWA.

People may remember that the US, the Biden administration, led the charge here on this back in January when the Israeli government accused

Unruh of essentially being complicit with Hamas in the attacks of October 7th and in every other villainous deed that Hamas has ever committed, I guess.

And a number of other Western governments followed suit.

The Israeli government still hasn’t

given any evidence to other than a very slim dossier that’s been handed out to some media outlets or has been leaked perhaps to some media outlets that even the media outlets themselves have said doesn’t really make the case that they’re saying.

They have yet to present any evidence to the UN.

They have yet to, as far as I know, present any evidence to the United States government or any of these other governments that have suspended aid.

And so I think the position here is softening, particularly insofar as whatever problems UNRWA might have,

there’s no possibility of replacing it right now in the middle of this conflagration so there are so there has been this weakening of the position here at least on the part of the EU and Canada nothing from the Biden administration of course because that’s just not how the US rolls I think it’s you know I don’t mean to sound cynical I always sound cynical I guess but this is just seems like a joke to me I mean the the US could

with a couple of phone calls and a couple of threats, flood Gaza with humanitarian aid tomorrow, virtually.

The aid is there, it’s waiting on the other side of the checkpoints that the Israelis are bottlenecking at this point, and it could be done without much effort, and it just refuses to wield any leverage.

There was a report in the Washington Post this week

making it clear just how much leverage the U.S.

government has in this situation.

The Post reported that the Biden administration has sent Israel over 100 arms shipments or approved over 100 arms sales to Israel since October 7th.

Only a couple of these have been made public because they were large enough that the administration had to

Invoke Special Authority to get around congressional oversight.

The rest of them have been probably intentionally kept at a dollar amount that is below the level where they have to make them public or have to involve any sort of oversight.

But collectively, the Post called this a massive transfer of firepower to Israel, even over a period of time when the administration

has publicly been expressing greater and greater dismay over the loss of civilian life and the conditions in Gaza.

It continues to arm the Israeli military just sort of pell-mell without any consideration for any of this.

And it makes clear, I think, just how dependent

The Israeli military is on these armed shipments.

The frequency of them, the sheer number of them speaks to a level of dependence where, again, if the administration wanted to do something about the humanitarian situation, it could just turn the spigot off and say, we’ll turn it back on when you have allowed sufficient amounts of humanitarian aid into the territory, but it refuses to do that.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Thanks, Derek.

How are the ceasefire talks proceeding?

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Not well.

The ceasefire talks broke down, I think, officially on Thursday, although they’d been breaking down for several days prior to that.

There was a round of talks going on in Cairo with the aim of getting a ceasefire agreement in place by the start of Ramadan, which will probably be Monday evening for most of the world, give or take.

This has been the Biden administration’s stated goal was to get a ceasefire in place by Ramadan.

Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians generally rise during Ramadan anyway, so I think the thought was let’s try to get a cessation of fighting during that period of time.

The Israeli government was boycotting.

They boycotted several days ago.

They just refused to send representatives to Cairo to participate in this round of talks.

They were participating indirectly, but they boycotted any direct participation, ostensibly because they had asked Hamas to provide a list of the hostages who are still Gaza hostages who are still alive.

And Hamas refused to provide it.

I don’t entirely understand why, although Hamas has, Hamas officials have said they view this as something that they would provide after a ceasefire is in place, not before.

SPEAKER 2

But there are still some very big sticking points between these two sides.

For a start, Hamas is always

insisted that a temporary truce should lead to a permanent ceasefire.

Hamas also insisting that Israel carry out a full military withdrawal from the northern Gaza Strip, that to allow internally displaced residents to return to their homes.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

So things were already, you know, not off to a great start.

Negotiations continued through the week involving basically Hamas and representatives of the Qatari and Egyptian governments sort of, you know, preaching to the choir.

There’s no real

potential for those three parties to get a deal done.

And then Hamas recalled its delegation on Thursday suggesting that talks might continue next week, but that would put us past the Ramadan deadline.

So it’s not looking terribly good.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Thank you, Derek.

And let’s talk about Benny Gantz’s recent visit to D.C.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah, Gantz visited D.C.

earlier this week.

I can’t remember if we talked about this last week or not, but he had announced this trip.

He was going to meet with Kamala Harris.

He was going to meet, I think, with Antony Blinken.

That was already on the on the cards, which drew a rebuke from Benjamin Netanyahu’s office because Gantz was freelancing here.

He didn’t get any permission from Netanyahu and ostensibly is a member of the war cabinet that

Netanyahu has put together to prosecute the military campaign or the massacre or whatever you want to call it in Gaza.

He clearly felt like Gantz was working for him.

Gantz apparently disagrees.

So he did go on Monday to Washington.

He met with Kamala Harris.

As I said, he met with Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser at the White House, didn’t meet with Biden.

That probably wouldn’t have been good protocol.

There’s been a lot of reporting since then to the effect that Gantz basically got it with both barrels from U.S.

officials who are frustrated with the war, frustrated with the civilian casualties, frustrated with the humanitarian situation, all of these things.

Again, this is political theater.

It’s meant to, on the one hand, for Gantz to burnish his credentials in Israel as an alternative to Netanyahu.

For all the good that’ll do, Netanyahu doesn’t have to

Expose himself to another election until 2026, as long as he keeps his coalition together.

But, you know, that’s that’s what Gantz is thinking.

The Biden administration, on the other hand, gets to have these meetings, I guess, yell at Gantz, although who knows if they even did that.

They probably might have just arranged the story beforehand and then leaked to the press that, you know, hey, we really told this guy what’s what.

So, you know, if you don’t get mad at us anymore because we’re having more frank, candid

and at times difficult conversations with our Australia.

I mean I don’t mean to laugh but it’s just absurd the extent to which this is all being managed I think.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Thanks Derek.

Let’s talk now about Yemen where as usual there’s been a lot going on.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yes, so there’s a few things to talk about here.

One of them being the Ruby Mar, the cargo ship that was badly damaged in a Houthi attack last month has sunk in the Red Sea.

The ship had been abandoned by the crew after it was attacked.

It was listing very severely.

You could see pictures of it online.

The back end of it was practically underwater.

It has almost fully sunk now.

There’s still apparently a little bit of the bow of the ship that’s above water, but it has been spilling oil into the Red Sea since it was attacked, which causes its own

The American Prestige, Sudan Crisis, Gaza

in the next couple of days, which seems unlikely.

Once that cargo spills into the water, it can cause algae blooms.

It can cause dead zones, oxygen-depleted dead zones, which kill fish, kill coral, kill all kinds of things.

The oil itself is bad for sea life.

It’s bad for desalination plants on the Saudi coast.

It’s all

Pretty dire from an environmental standpoint.

And because of the currents of the Red Sea, it’s somewhat trapped.

Those materials are probably going to be trapped in there for quite some time.

Its water doesn’t get out of the Red Sea.

It sort of circulates around most of the time.

So that’s all pretty dire.

Now the Houthis

have since attacked another cargo vessel on Wednesday called the True Confidence.

They launched a missile at it.

It collided with the ship.

It killed three crew members, at least three crew members.

There are several wounded.

I don’t know their condition.

The rest have been evacuated but have been taken to hospital.

Those are the first three fatalities since the Houthis began attacking commercial vessels in the Red Sea region, which was back in November.

The ship itself is on fire but doesn’t appear to be in any danger of sinking, and there is apparently already some planning underway to try to salvage it.

The other thing to note here, and this is something that has been feared for a while now, three major telecom cables that run under the Red Sea, and there are a number of telecom cables that run through the Red Sea to connect Europe and Asia, three of them have reportedly been cut.

which you know obviously threatens data connectivity you know it’s it’s just not great news there had been there has been a lot of discussion about this since November the nominal government of Yemen has been suggesting that the Houthis might deliberately cut these cables it’s unclear

How they would even go about doing that, I don’t think they have the technology to do anything like that.

The U.S.

government believes that it was the Ruby Mar actually after it was abandoned, attacked and abandoned, its anchor probably scraped across these cables and cut them.

But nevertheless, this is another real fear rooted in these Houthi attacks in the Red Sea region and threatens to be another cause for escalation here.

Thanks, Derek.

Let’s talk about Pakistan.

Yeah, this is a story we’ve been talking about for a while now.

The ending any sort of, I guess, uncertainty about the outcome of last month’s Pakistani parliamentary election.

The National Assembly elected the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz candidate Shahbaz Sharif as prime minister.

on Sunday.

So this was this was the expected result.

The Pakistani Tariqa and South Party of Imran former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been insisting that it won.

It really won the election last month.

Its candidates collectively did secure more votes than the PMLN, but because of the legal cases against Imran Khan and just the general establishment desire to destroy his party, they were unable to run as a united party.

They had to run as independents effectively, which meant that they

They were sort of procedurally limited in what they could do after the election in terms of trying to set up a coalition.

So, yes, Sharif, the PMLN and the Pakistan People’s Party formed their own coalition.

They were the second and third place.

If you want to technically say that PTI was the winner of the election, they were the second and third place parties.

They formed a coalition and Sharif got

Over 200 votes, I think 201 votes in the assembly for PM, which is a comfortable majority that should last him for two, three weeks at least until he runs afoul of the Pakistani military and then there’s another change in Pakistani politics.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Thanks, Derek.

Let’s talk about another ceasefire, this time in Myanmar.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah, there were reports this week of another ceasefire, another Chinese-brokered ceasefire between Myanmar’s ruling junta and the Three Brotherhood Alliance, the rebel group, the coalition of the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Tang National Liberation Army.

that have since late October been on the move in Shan State which lies along the Chinese border and have really pushed junta forces back away from that border.

The Chinese government has been has done this a number of times tried to mediate settlements because of course doesn’t want this conflict on its border and it interferes with commercial activity along the border so you know variety of

Chinese interests are threatened here.

So they’ve done a number of these.

None of them have taken.

I don’t know that this one’s going to take either.

This one does include a couple of new details.

The junta agreed to recognize the MNDAA, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, as the governing authority

in one of the districts of Shan State, which is a fairly substantive concession.

It also agreed to split the commercial revenues at one of the checkpoints that the rebel group has already seized.

So it agreed to give them really the lion’s share of the commercial revenue coming through that checkpoint.

So those are a couple of fairly substantive concessions, but whether they will actually make a difference, I don’t know.

SPEAKER 1

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And now back to the show.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

We’ve been covering Sudan for a while.

Derek, could you update us on the humanitarian crisis?

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yes, there’s been a big push at the UN to try and get a ceasefire in Sudan in place for Ramadan, not unlike the push to get a ceasefire in place in Gaza.

But that’s this is coincided with a lot of reports from UN agencies, expert groups, et cetera, in recent weeks about just how dire the humanitarian situation may be in Sudan.

We don’t have

Perfect information about what is going on inside Sudan, but by all accounts, millions of people are displaced, some of them to Chad or South Sudan, but many of them still inside Sudan itself, in particular in the Darfur region, and so

We’ve seen this week the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, make an appeal for a ceasefire.

We have seen the World Food, I would believe it was the World Food Program, warn that this could become the single largest hunger crisis

in the world if the situation continues without a concerted humanitarian relief effort.

And there’s now a UN resolution circulating a draft circulating at the Security Council was written by the UK that calls for a ceasefire through Ramadan, which would give aid agencies perhaps an opportunity to redouble their efforts.

They’ve been impacted

Most recently, by the effective closure, the Sudanese military has effectively closed the border with Chad, through which it says, and I think correctly says that the Rapid Support Forces group is getting shipments of weapons from outside the country, but also aid groups were using that were bringing food in over that border for the displaced population in Darfur.

So, you know, really a dire situation that a ceasefire might

Help to Ameliorate.

There was a bit of news earlier this week.

The notional Sudanese foreign minister told Russian media Sputnik, the Russian media outlet Sputnik, that the military government in Sudan has agreed to restart indirect negotiations with the RSF

with Libya and Turkey as mediators.

Apparently there was some discussion about this at a security or diplomacy forum in Turkey recently.

It’s entirely unclear if the RSF has any interest in doing this.

They have made a number of territorial gains in recent months that I think the military would effectively like to see rolled back

as a precondition for talks.

And I have, there’s no reason to believe that the RSF would be willing to do that.

So I don’t know how far that’s going to go.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Thanks, Derek.

Let’s talk about Senegal, where a new date has been set for a presidential election.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah, we’re on to our third date for the Senegalese.

Well, fourth, actually, if you count the original one.

Senegal, of course, was supposed to have a presidential election on February 25th.

A couple of weeks before the election, the president of Senegal, Macky Sall, who is not running, he’s on his second term and insists that he’s not going to try to run for third, announced that he was canceling, postponing the election for some technical reason.

There was a lot of speculation that he was worried that his handpicked successor, Ahmadouba, who was at that time prime minister, was about to lose the election, and so he sort of in a panic canceled it.

Parliament, Senegalese Parliament, then rescheduled the election for mid-December.

Senegal’s Constitutional Council ruled that that was unconstitutional.

You can’t delay the election until mid-December.

So Saul held what he called a national dialogue that was supposed to come up with a new date in keeping with the Constitutional Council’s ruling, and he settled on June 2nd.

made that announcement.

June 2nd is still after Saul’s term is supposed to end.

So Saul is supposed to be out of office on April 2nd.

June 2nd, obviously, two months after that.

So the Constitutional Council ruled again this week on Wednesday that even June 2nd, the, I guess, compromise, if you want to call it that, date, was still unconstitutional because there has to be an election.

There has to be a replacement in place.

Effectively, or successor in place to Saul before he leaves office.

And so he is now set March 24th as the new election date.

He also fired Ahmadou Baha effectively.

I mean, you know, didn’t fire him, just dismissed him from office so that presumably he can concentrate

on trying to win the election.

So that’s where things stand.

I don’t know if there’s going to be any more movement on this.

It’s, you know, just a couple of weeks away.

So presumably there’s not much more time for Saul to try to tinker around with this.

And the court has made it, the Constitutional Council has made it pretty clear that it’s not going to abide any more shenanigans, I think.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Thanks, Derek.

Let’s do an update on Ukraine.

There was an attack in Odessa.

Tell us about it.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah, I don’t… I mean, the front line’s been pretty static, but there was a real close call to me, at least, in Odessa on Wednesday.

There was a Russian missile attack that hit that city.

Odessa is the major port city in southwestern Ukraine on the Black Sea.

It so happens, or maybe it’s not… I don’t know whether or not it’s coincidental,

but it happens that when that attack hit Odessa Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, was giving a tour to the prime minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis of the city.

Odessa has some purchase in the Greek imagination or Greek history so you know he was kind of showing him all the devastation in the city and I don’t know how close they came to being caught in this missile strike but I

it did kind of I think raise some alarm bells because hadn’t Mitsotakis been caught in this attack you could very easily see the Greek government going to NATO and saying you know this is we our Prime Minister has been attacked by the Russians what are we going to do here which could you know involve invoking article 5 and that would take this conflict into a

A whole nother direction.

So I think it was just a healthy reminder to everybody that this war is still going on and could still escalate beyond anybody’s wildest imaginations fairly easily, I think, still.

Great.

Good news.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Let’s talk about Sweden.

That is Sweden in NATO.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah.

Speaking of NATO, Sweden has formally joined NATO as of Thursday.

We talked about this last week.

The Hungarian parliament finally ratified Sweden’s NATO accession.

It was the last member to do so.

The president of Hungary signed off on that ratification earlier this week and on Thursday

They filed, the Swedish government filed whatever paperwork needed to be filed with the organization, and it is now in NATO.

It joins Finland, which was allowed in last year, and then

and now makes for an entire Scandinavia that is NATO territory.

Previously, only Norway had been in NATO and the other two countries had stayed out of it.

So I think kudos are in order for any number of people, but particularly

Vladimir Putin, who invaded Ukraine ostensibly to keep Ukraine out of NATO and has now driven two other countries into NATO.

So good job there.

He really got mission accomplished.

Great job, Putin.

He could hang a banner outside the Kremlin and declare victory there.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Derek, let’s talk about Haiti, where a new gang offensive threatens to oust Henri.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

Yeah, this one, this looks pretty serious.

Late last week, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry went to Kenya.

I think we’ve talked about this before.

Kenya is supposed to be leading the international police intervention to deal with gang violence in Haiti that the UN authorized months ago.

there’s been some hang-ups in Kenya because the plan called for the deployment of a thousand Kenyan police officers as part of this mission and the Kenyan High Court ruled that there was no constitutional basis for Kenyan President William Ruto to make that deployment one of the reasons it cited was that there’s no agreement bilateral agreement between the Kenyan and Haitian governments governing that deployment so Henri went to Kenya

late last week to conclude such an agreement.

And in fact, he and Rudo signed it on Friday.

But in the meantime, basically a coalition of gangs, including a number of gangs that have not ever before gotten along with one another, organized essentially a joint offensive in Port-au-Prince with the stated aim of removing Henri from power.

Gang leader Jimmy Cherzier warns of worse to come.

SPEAKER 2

This will end in civil war and genocide, he says, if countries like the U.S.

and Canada keep supporting Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

They have had a number of successes.

Over the weekend, they attacked Haiti’s national penitentiary in the capital and broke

Almost all the prisoners, all of its prisoners out, it was holding somewhere around 3,700, 3,800 prisoners.

It was massively overcrowded.

They broke almost all of them out.

I think there were about 100 prisoners who sheltered in the facility and just stayed there because the fighting was so serious, but all the other ones apparently escaped.

They have attacked the Toussaint Louverture Airport in Port-au-Prince, the city’s main international airport.

and the Haitian government or you know whatever counts as a Haitian government these days declared a state of emergency in response it has since extended that state of emergency and through all of this right up until I believe Tuesday there was some question as to where Henri was after after he did his deal in Kenya on Friday he sort of

disappeared into the ether while all this stuff was going on in Haiti.

He didn’t comment publicly.

Nobody was even really sure of his whereabouts.

He finally turned up

in Puerto Rico on Tuesday having boarded a flight in the US that was supposed to take him to the Dominican Republic and I guess from there he would have gone back to Haiti but the Dominican Republic has closed airspace to any Haitian flights so that became I guess a non-starter and the flight that Henri was on diverted to Puerto Rico

He still, to my knowledge, has not publicly commented on what’s going on, but he appears now to be stuck in Puerto Rico, unable to go back to Haiti.

As I said, the airport was under attack at one point.

I don’t know if there’s still fighting going on at that facility, but the gangs, the main gang warlord, Jimmy Chazier,

has threatened civil war and I mean it seems like that might be where they’re at anyway but he’s threatened an escalation if Henri should try to return to Haiti and reportedly the Wall Street Journal and a number of other media outlets has said there is a behind the scenes push

from a number of quarters for Henri to resign because if you can’t go back to Haiti, it’s unclear how he can govern the country anyway and his existence or his

Continued presence in that office just seems to be spurring more violence.

So the Caribbean Community Bloc, which is, as you might expect, made up of a number of Caribbean nations, has reportedly approached Omri about resigning and he has refused.

They’ve been holding emergency meetings.

They held one on Tuesday to talk about what could happen if Omri

either changes his mind or if the situation in Haiti doesn’t improve to the point where he can go back and, you know, what do you do then?

The Biden administration has been reportedly talking to Haiti, talking to Henri behind the scenes, kind of urging him to announce some kind of political transition.

Doesn’t have to be that he’s resigning, but it could be the formation of an executive council or something of that nature with an eye toward finally putting, making a date for a new general election that would presumably

You know, see somebody elected president who would succeed Henri in his role as de facto head of state.

None of this seems to be anywhere near happening.

And Henri, by all accounts, has been pretty recalcitrant about any of it.

But it’s hard to know how things could move forward as long as he insists on holding on to that job.

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Thanks, Derek.

And why don’t we end with typically good news and let’s talk about the climate.

SPEAKER 4: Derek

yeah so we set a bunch of records again according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service of the European Union February was the hottest February on record this continues a streak of I believe nine months that have each in succession been the hottest of that month on record and I’m you know I’m rooting for us to get to a tenth

We also set a record from March of 2023 through February 2024, the hottest 12-month period on record.

That record will presumably fall next month when we have data on the April 2023 to March 2024 period.

But all to say that the streak of unbroken heat records is not going anywhere.

And of even greater potential concern, the service also reported that average global sea temperatures, surface temperatures rose to, I believe, a bit over 21 degrees Celsius in February.

That is another record.

for any month done you know not just February the the previous record was set back in August all the way back in August 2023 we’ve now broken that there are a lot of concerns that at these temperatures we could see another global coral bleaching event it would be the fourth one of those on record and could be the worst one yet so lots of reasons to be not terribly optimistic about where we stand on the climate but that’s nothing I guess

SPEAKER 3: Danny

Well, on that happy note, Derek, thank you so much and we’ll see you all soon.

Bye.

Bye.

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Daniel Bessner

Daniel Bessner is an historian of US foreign relations, and cohost of American Prestige, a podcast on international affairs.

Derek Davison

Derek Davison is a writer and analyst specializing in international affairs and US foreign policy. He is the publisher of the Foreign Exchanges newsletter, cohost of the American Prestige podcast, and former editor of LobeLog.

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