What we’re watching: Thai PM suspended, US hits Iran in Syria, Macron woos Algeria

Thai prime minister in limbo

Thailand’s highest court on Wednesday suspended Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as he decides whether his term began when he seized power in a 2014 coup or when he was ‘elected’ five years later. If the court decides first, Prayuth would be removed from office for exceeding the constitutional limit of eight years in office. Such a verdict would likely spark youth protests demanding his resignation, which began with fanfare in 2020 but quickly ended in groan following a crackdown on their leaders for questioning the role of the monarchy. The decision falls in two weeks, and until then Prayuth’s deputy – who also took part in the 2014 power grab – is in charge. Fun fact: The eight-year limit was put in place by the military to target ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose sister Yingluck was ousted by Prayuth. Guess who is likely to run for prime minister in the next election? Thaksin’s millennial daughter, Paetongtarn.


US hits Iran in Syria

United States carried out two rounds of airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria this week, more than a week after Iranian-backed groups spear a series of rocket attacks against American troops in the northeast of the country. (Iranian militants reportedly responded on Wednesday with more rockets, cooking at two sites where US forces are based, including a large gas field.) US strikes hit several facilities in Deir al-Zour province, believed to be affiliated with Iran Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the military force established during the revolution that controls much of Iran’s economy and plays a major role in overseeing Tehran’s foreign policy. Iran – which has long maintained a presence in Syria in an effort to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power – has denied targeting the US base, where around 1,000 US troops and allied forces are stationed, on 15 august. These exchanges between Washington and Tehran come as the two parties seem closer to reviving the defunct nuclear agreement. For critics of the deal, this episode is proof that Iran is an untrustworthy terrorist state. But for his supporters, this outbreak reinforces that a deal is needed to curb (at least some of) Iran’s bad behavior.

Macron visits Algeria

Will he be able to seduce Algiers in three days? French President Emmanuel Macron is considering giving it a shot. He arrives in Algeria for a “Good will” visit on Thursday and will spend 72 hours trying to flatten France’s strained relations with its former colony. The trip – which follows the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence after 132 years of French rule – is aimed at improving diplomacy in the wake of dust from Macron last year, when he accused Algiers of rewriting the story and booster “hatred of France”. Algeria responded by withdrawing its ambassador from Paris. Moreover, Algeria is one of the largest gas producers in the world, and with the war in Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis putting Europe on edge, Macron would like to sow the seeds of a deal to get more liquefied natural gas from its former colony. Macron also likely hopes to discuss the Sahel region, where Algeria wields great influence, particularly in Mali, a state where French troops recently withdrew after a nine-year mission.