Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors
Nonstate armed actors in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria
Conservation and security: New challenges, new opportunities, and the US-Africa Leaders Summit
Assessing UN state-building in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and beyond
Daniel L. Byman
Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy
Director - Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors
Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative
Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology
President López Obrador's extension of the term of Supreme Court chief Arturo Zaldívar is part of his strong effort to recentralize power in the Mexican presidency and hollow out the independence and power of other Mexican institutions. His other moves to bend the justice system to his will include a reform that lowered the salary of judges but did not improve the quality of prosecutors and his unwillingness to allow an independent selection of the attorney general, with López Obrador himself retaining the power of appointment. His latest move with the two-year extension of Zaldívar’s term is especially worrisome. Zaldívar is also the president of the powerful Federal Judiciary Council. The council appoints and dismisses judges, sets career advancement rules and disciplines judges. Zaldívar will be setting the council’s and, thus, the whole judiciary’s, agenda and priorities for two years. This allows López Obrador to influence how courts will rule in cases regarding the executive branch, what cases they take up and the legality of new policies. These moves are taking place when the effectiveness of the judiciary in Mexico remains limited and deeply concerning. The attorney general’s office has proven weak, unwilling to take up key cases such as against the suspects in the brazen attack on Mexico City’s security minister, Omar García Harfuch—an event that symbolized the impunity with which Mexican criminal groups operate. Mexico’s justice system showed itself equally meek and disappointing in inadequately investigating the alleged complicity of former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and dismissing the case, potentially the most significant case of corruption and criminal collusion charges against a high-ranking Mexican official in two decades. A decade and a half after Mexico initiated its justice system reforms, 95 percent of federal cases still go unpunished. President López Obrador has scored some points, but the already precariously weak rule of law in Mexico, and thus the Mexican people, will suffer.
The military partnership with Pakistan is important to Saudi Arabia... [Given the close ties, Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi's initial remarks were] very out of character for Pakistan... [The threat to convene a meeting bypassing the OIC] would directly undermine Saudi Arabia's posture, and position, of leadership in the Muslim world... I think that [FO] statement, more than anything, suggests that Pakistan will not take the actions [the foreign minister] hinted at in his remarks and it suggests that the Saudi reaction - including on the [Pakistani army chief's] trip - has led Pakistan to delicately walk back Qureshi's comments. [The walk-back indicated Pakistan] does not have the option of [turning away from Saudi Arabia] in any significant way... Pakistan's expectations from the OIC and Saudi Arabia on Kashmir have now been tempered, and realism has set in on that front for Islamabad. This ties Pakistan's hands a bit on the issue of Kashmir's autonomy. As long as Pakistan doesn't push Saudi Arabia where it doesn't want to be pushed [on Kashmir], the two countries can get past the spat.