The ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 26/09/2017

Washington Post—I. Tharoor /  Iraqi Kurds voted in their independence referendum. Now what?

  • Official results of the Iraqi Kurd independence referendum are expected in the coming days, with a “yes” vote in favor of independence almost certain to win out.
  • Kurdish officials insist the vote is nonbinding, and see it instead as a demonstration of the Kurdish will for self-determination and a pointed message to Baghdad.
  • A ”yes” vote should kick-start a process of negotiations that would pave the way for an eventual separation from Iraq, said Bayan Sami Adbul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s top representative in Washington.
  • Two prominent Iraqi Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Movement for Change, see the referendum as a power grab by the Iraqi Kurd President, Masoud Barzani.
  • U.S. officials fear that a Kurdish independence push now will undermine the campaign against the Islamic State and harm the reelection campaign of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in April.

Financial Times—R. Harding & P. Wells / Shinzo Abe calls snap Japan general election

  • Japanese PM Shinzo Abe has called a snap election, which is expected to be held on October 22.
  • Calling it an election to “break through our national crisis”, Mr Abe said he offered strength at a time of national demographic decline and tension with North Korea.
  • While Mr Abe starts with a huge lead in opinion polls (all opposition parties are in single digits), the early election has prompted a realignment among Japan’s opposition, with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike saying she will lead a new “Party of Hope”.
  • Mr Abe wants a modest revision to the constitution that would explicitly recognise the legality of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Ms Koike backs constitutional reform, increasing the odds that supporters of a change will secure the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to pass a revision, and then take it to a national referendum for approval.

Financial Times—N. Thomas / Solar power breakthrough as subsidy-free farm opens

  • The first solar power farm in the UK to have been built without government subsidy will open today—a landmark moment for the industry.
  • The new farm is based next to an existing solar project that did benefit from subsidies. The common infrastructure already in place was crucial to drive down costs.
  • According to the CEO of Anesco, the private company that developed the new solar farm, the success proves that the “government’s decision to withdraw subsidies [from solar] doesn’t have to signal the end of solar as a commercially viable technology.”
  • Solar and onshore wind projects were both excluded from the latest contracts for difference subsidy auction this month.
  • “We absolutely applaud them [Anesco] but government shouldn’t then assume the industry is away — it isn’t,” the Solar Trade Association spokeswoman said.

Project Syndicate—N. Khrushcheva / The return of the Madman Theory

  • With Donald Trump leading the United States, Richard Nixon’s madman doctrine is back with a vengeance. But, this time around, it is far less clear that it’s just an act, even though Trump’s UN speech was read from a teleprompter and vetted ahead of time.
  • When Nixon adopted his own “mad” persona, he was in some ways drawing on the example of Nikita Khrushchev, the author’s grandfather and Nixon’s adversary.
  • The West, Khrushchev thought, didn’t take him seriously. This is why he acted so outrageously at the UN General Assembly in 1960. He behaved, he explained later, as the early Bolsheviks would: when you disagree with an opponent, you must make your argument loud and clear.
  • The world must now hope that Trump can begin to act as coolly in assessing Kim as John F. Kennedy was dealing with Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Kim responded to Trump’s UN speech by calling him “mentally deranged”. Either Trump’s madman act is working, or Kim is more right than any of us would like.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. 

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