Weekly News Blast | Sep 18 - 24
Canada-India relations are in the air after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of aiding in the murder of Canadian-Sikh separatist leader (Prime Minister's Office/Wikimedia Commons)
Canada Accuses India of Aiding in the Murder of a Sikh Separatist
On Monday, September 18, Canada expelled India’s top intelligence agent with little explanation. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau only stated that the move was “actively pursuing credible allegations” that Indian authorities may be linked to the murder of a Sikh (an Indian ethnoreligious group) separatist leader. India’s Ministry of External Affairs responded that Trudeau’s claims are “absurd” and politically motivated.
In June, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the president of a Sikh temple near Vancouver, was shot in a public parking lot, making him the third prominent Sikh figure to have died unexpectedly in recent months. A staunch advocate for a separate Sikh state in India called Khalistan, his followers described Nijjar as a peaceful campaigner, while others called him an advocate of terrorism.
India requested that the Canadian government crackdown on Sikh separatists, fearing that a revived Khalistan campaign in Canada and other Western countries could spark the same violence seen in the 1980s when Sikh insurgents first rose up in India. However, the Canadian government held their position. “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeau said, hinting that he suspects India’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar. Trudeu’s actions with the Indian intelligence official instigated widespread protests in both countries and forced Canada to suspend negotiations regarding a free trade agreement with India. India has stated that a similar failure to deal with “Sikh extremism” will be an obstacle to good relations in other Western countries.
U.S. Pushes For Strengthened Israel and Saudi Arabia Relations
Driven by bitterness toward Iran, the U.S. has recently been working with Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel, hoping to promote Israel’s acceptance in the Muslim Middle East. In exchange, the U.S. has agreed to create a defense pact with Saudi Arabia and help develop their civilian nuclear program.
Many are optimistic about the deal and believe it will completed soon, transforming the political landscape of the Middle East. For Biden, it could boost his standing against Trump in the 2024 presidential elections. It would also be a major victory for the U.S. as it brings together two close allies. However, according to a U.S. official, Israel wants a defense treaty with the U.S. to match the one made with Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Palestinians see the possibility of Saudi recognition of Israel as a betrayal. During the U.N. General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated that it would be “delusional” to have peace in the Middle East without full rights for the Palestinian people. In the U.S., some senators are concerned that a deal with Saudi will cause an uproar, especially considering Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Still, Biden has pushed forward. Although the deal is in the early stages, it could be in place by early next year.
Anti-Monarchy Activists Protests at Buckingham Palace
Activists from the anti-monarchy group Republic recently gathered at Buckingham Palace, calling for the British monarchy to be replaced by an elected head of state. During the protest, the activist unveiled T-shirts spelling out “Not My King” inside the Grand Hall of Buckingham Palace. They were then detained by security and escorted out the front gate.
As the number of protests increases, more attention has been brought to the debate about the future of the monarchy. The Republic dates back to 1983 but did not establish a campaign group until 2006. Its members argue that the hereditary monarchy is unfair and undemocratic. The Republic website states, “We can’t hold King Charles and his family to account at the ballot box, there’s nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence, or simply wasting our money.”
The Republic did not protest in the aftermath of the passing of Queen Elizabeth, as they believed it would not have been “appropriate,” instead opting to protest at other royal occasions. However, in the 10-day days of reflection between the queen’s death and her funeral, the group gained 1,000 new members and raised about £70,000. In a recent poll, about 22 percent of the country indicated opposition to the monarchy.
Sources & Further Reading
Canada Accuses India of Aiding in the Murder of a Sikh Separatist https://thehill.com/opinion/international/4214935-how-the-murder-of-a-sikh-leader-sparked-an-international-incident-between-canada-and-india/
U.S. Pushes For Strengthened Israel and Saudi Arabia Relations https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/saudi-israel-normalization-closer-crown-prince-interview-fox-news-rcna111292
Anti-Monarchy Activists Protests at Buckingham Palace https://www.thenational.scot/news/23809309.republic-stage-anti-monarchy-protest-inside-buckingham-palace/