🌍 Burkina Faso orders the French military to leave

🌍 Burkina Faso orders the French military to leave

Plus: What’s happening to Iraq’s currency?

Hi there Intriguer. Newly (and painfully) inaugurated US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is planning a trip to Taiwan later this year, according to the Washington-based Punchbowl News. McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi also made a visit to the island last year, where she was greeted with open arms in Taipei and met with clenched fists from Beijing. Second time’s the charm? 🙂

Today’s edition is a 4.0 min read:

  • 🇧🇫 Burkina Faso orders France’s military to leave.
  • 🇮🇶 The culprit behind Iraq’s currency slide.
  • ➕ Plus: New Zealand welcomes a new prime minister, how the papers are covering Erdoğan’s response to Quran burnings in Stockholm, and some shiny fun facts to get you through hump day.

– VC & EP

  1. 🇺🇦 Ukraine: Several senior Ukrainian officials, including Deputy Defence Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, have resigned due to corruption allegations.
  2. 🇨🇴 Colombia: The Colombian government announced it will not approve any new gas and oil exploration projects. Colombian President Gustavo Petro (a misleading name) has vowed to accelerate the country’s green energy transition.
  3. 🇰🇷 South Korea: South Korea is planning to ease financial regulations to make it easier for foreign investors to buy and trade local stocks.
  4. 🇲🇲 Myanmar: Myanmar’s military junta has stopped issuing and renewing passports. Activists believe the move could curb foreign cash flows to resistance groups.
  5. 🇩🇿 Algeria: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune hosted Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Monday (23 January) in an effort to strengthen their countries’ energy ties.

Another West African country kicks France out

Briefly: Burkina Faso has become the second West African country to boot the French military from its territory. On Monday (23 January), government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouédraogo confirmed France had just one month to withdraw all its soldiers.

Burkina Faso’s suspension of a 2018 anti-terrorism security accord comes after months of souring relations between its military government and France. Still, Ouédraogo promised that the removal order did not spell “the end of diplomatic relations between Burkina Faso and France”, and pledged to continue military cooperation in other ways. 

Mali did it first: It’s deja vu for French President Emmanuel Macron, who announced last February that France was recalling thousands of soldiers stationed in Mali after a decade-long mission. And in Mali, as in Burkina Faso, a military coup had precipitated the withdrawal of French forces.

French failure: As the region’s primary colonising force, France has a… uhm… complicated legacy in West Africa. In recent years, it has led several anti-jihadist operations in Burkina Faso and the Sahel. But France’s military failed to achieve its goals in almost every instance, which contributed to growing anti-French sentiment in the region.

Intrigue’s take: With France’s departure, the Burkinabè military will either have to reinforce its anti-insurgency efforts or forge new alliances. One potential partner is Russia, which has vastly expanded its military presence on the continent in recent years, despite its many preoccupations elsewhere.

Also worth noting: 


How different newspapers covered: Turkish President Erdoğan’s announcement that he no longer supports Sweden’s NATO bid after Quran burnings in Stockholm.

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Iraq’s dinar has lost 7% of its open market value against the US dollar since November. Credits: Hadi Mizban/AP.

A US crackdown on illegal cash transfers might be driving Iraq’s currency slide

Briefly: Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani replaced the governor of Iraq’s Central Bank on Monday (23 January) amid a currency crunch. Iraq’s dinar reached a record low value against the US dollar on Friday.

The alleged culprit: Since November, the US Federal Reserve has tried to curtail Iraqi cash transfers to Iran and Syria by bringing Iraqi banks into compliance with international banking regulations. The Fed has blocked 80% of wire transfers since November, which made it much harder for Iraqis to access foreign reserves or exchange currencies. It’s no doubt a marked shift for an economy that has relied on the US dollar for decades.

Intrigue’s take: The long-overdue controls on Iraq’s banking system are likely not the only drivers of the currency crisis. But currency devaluation of any kind brings suffering to regular Iraqis, which then plays into the hands of Iraq’s Iran-backed politicians. The Fed’s policy, designed to decouple Iraq from Iran, may bring sanctioned economies across the Middle East closer together.

Also worth noting: 

  • Prime Minister al-Sudani told the Wall Street Journal that he would send a delegation to the US to seek a six-month moratorium on the new policy.
  • The US, EU, and UK approved a new round of sanctions against Iran on Monday.

Not even politicians wear pants when they work from home. Credits: Chris Hipkins via Facebook.

Who is New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Chris “Chippy” Hipkins?

Chris Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand’s next Prime Minister today (25 January) after Jacinda Ardern’s resignation last week.

Hipkins has held office since 2008, and shaped the nation’s pandemic response as both health minister and Covid minister from July 2020 to June 2022 (he’s perhaps best remembered for encouraging New Zealanders to “go outside and spread their legs”).

Of all the challenges Hipkins will face as Prime Minister – New Zealand’s high cost of living, his government’s fractious coalition – his toughest battle may be at the ballot box: voters go to polls in eight months, and his Labor Party looks likely to lose power.


On this day in 1905, the world’s largest diamond, a 3,106-carat beast, was found in a South African mine. Here are some gemology-themed fun facts to commemorate its discovery.

  1. Russia has by far the world’s biggest diamond reserves.
  2. Cleopatra had a well-known love for green gems, including emeralds and peridots.
  3. Garnets, a red gemstone, take their name from pomegranate seeds.
  4. Zircon is thought to be the oldest mineral on Earth: the first specimen formed around 4.4 billion years ago.

Has the West’s ‘War on Terror’ been a success?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Yesterday’s poll: Will China continue to soften its diplomatic approach?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🤝 Yes, better to not be isolated from economic partners (58%)

🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ 🚫 No, superpower competition is a tough business (42%)

Your two cents: 

  • 🤝 S.B: “Without trade, China as we know it dies. Like Germany, its economy is trade based; it imports most of its energy and fertiliser and exports to fuel growth.”
  • 🚫 C.F: “Why should China reverse course? They have been extremely successful on the current course.”
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