produced by the Council of American Ambassadors on American Ambassadors Live!
1. PM Boris Johnson says no to the Irish backstop in any future Brexit deal

What's going on
This week in a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that unless the EU withdrawal agreement was reopened and the Irish backstop abolished, there would be no prospect of a Brexit deal. The UK is scheduled to leave the European Union on October 31 and PM Johnson has promised to stick to that date even with no deal if necessary. On Wednesday, PM Johnson asked Queen Elizabeth II to suspend UK's Parliament for five weeks to limit the time lawmakers would have to prevent a "no-deal Brexit."
What Ambassadors are saying
"I think the markets are underestimating the risk of a no-deal, hard Brexit...Prime Minister May, before Boris Johnson, sketched forth some red lines. The single-market will leave the Customs Union and that necessitates the EU to have border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. That is because the single-market and the Customs Union are absolutely core to what the EU is, so customs checks have to be conducted. The backstop was a way to try to square the circle if you will. That is to say look, if you're going to be leaving both, one option is for Northern Ireland to stay in this arrangement and the Customs Union parts with the single-market. Boris Johnson said no. Chances of stripping the backstop out of the agreement I think are nil. So right now I believe that Boris Johnson is setting up for a blame game." -Ambassador Anthony Gardner, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Fox Business
2. China sends troops into Hong Kong

What's going on
On Thursday China sent troops from its People's Liberation Army (PLA) into Hong Kong. The PLA issued a statement saying it will "resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security, and develop interests, effectively perform duties to defend Hong Kong, and make important new contributions to safeguarding Hong Kong's prosperity and stability." Yesterday, Hong Kong police arrested prominent activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow. Both were later released on bail.
What the Ambassadors are saying
"[This is] the latest signal that Beijing remains very worried about ongoing Hong Kong protests and the failure of Hong Kong's leadership so far to address what remains a growing political and economic crisis...The continuing unintended consequence of Beijing intervention in Hong Kong affairs remains the slow death of what has been one of Asia's premiere financial hubs." - Ambassador Curtis Chin, former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, CNBC
3. Trump announces troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

What's going on
President Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. plans to reduce American troops in Afghanistan from 14,000 to 8,600. He says the U.S. will reduce troops to 8,600 and "we'll make a determination from there," on future withdrawals as U.S.-Taliban peace talks continue. He did not give a timeline for withdrawal. He added the U.S. would have a "high intelligence" presence remain in Afghanistan.
What Ambassadors are saying
Ambassador Ryan Crocker expresses concerns of similarities to the Vietnam war: "The mounting casualty counts, the lack of any concrete indication that we were gaining ground at all, the efforts of the administration to portray a successful campaign, and all of the available reporting indicated the opposite." -Ambassador Ryan Crocker, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, NPR
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