ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 02/10/2017

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Financial Times—T. Barber / Rajoy faces huge task after Catalonia independence referendum

  • Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is adamant that it is his government’s fundamental duty to uphold the law and preserve the integrity of the Spanish state. Yet the police’s methods to disrupt the referendum on Sunday risk deepening the confrontation.
  • In principle, the most sensible way for Madrid and Catalonia’s authorities to defuse the tensions is to open a dialogue on an upgraded form of regional self-government.
  • Luis de Guindos, Spain’s finance minister, hinted at such a solution two weeks ago. Yet he made it clear that the push for independence had to stop, which is a price many secessionists, for now, seem unwilling to pay.

The Guardian—M. Pengelly, et al. / Trump says Rex Tillerson ‘wasting his time’ with North Korea negotiations

  • A day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US had direct lines of communication to North Korea, President Trump tweeted that his top diplomat should “save his energy” as “we’ll do what has to be done!”
  • “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now? Clinton failed, Bush failed, and Obama failed. I won’t fail,” Trump said.
  • Tillerson’s chief public affairs adviser, R C Hammond, said Trump’s tweets were not a rebuke to Tillerson but were intended to send a message to Kim Jong-un that time was running out for a diplomatic solution.
  • The latest presidential Twitter outburst threatened to undermine the nation’s top diplomat at a highly sensitive moment. Tillerson was speaking in Beijing, where he met Chinese president Xi Jinping.
  • Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies: “I can’t say whether [the tweeted threats] are effective with North Korea, but they are not likely effective with the Chinese. The Chinese are more likely to cooperate with a US president that is consistent, predictable and reliable.”

South China Morning Post—Yanmei Xie & C. Copeland / To intervene or not? China’s foreign policy experiment in South Sudan raises questions

  • For years, China has been testing, refining and growing its clout in South Sudan – an indication that its adherence to the long-standing policy of non-interference is becoming less doctrinaire.
  • Both Juba and South Sudan’s rebels are well aware that Sudan’s and South Sudan’s economies live and die with Chinese investment in oil, which constitutes almost all of South Sudan’s exports and government revenue.
  • In 2015, the Chinese foreign minister brought together South Sudan’s warring parties and regional mediators to talk in Khartoum. For Beijing, convening peace talks was a “groundbreaking” experiment.
  • However, China’s role as a peace-builder remains challenged by its aversion to risk. Beijing is comfortable as a table-setter for talks but unwilling to publicly offer solutions or enforce outcomes. It is also reluctant to apply pressure when needed.

Bloomberg—G. Shennib & C. Alexander / Russia’s man in Libya turns to the street in bid to take power

  • Khalifa Haftar controls more territory than any other Libyan leader and some major oil facilities. The Popular Authorization Movement for Saving the Country wants to propel him from Eastern Libya to Tripoli, seat of the United Nations-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.
  • A campaign that claims to have collected 700,000 names is being seen as an attempt to give Haftar—who is supported by Egypt and Russia—popular legitimacy ahead of the December expiry of Serraj’s mandate.
  • The next UN-backed process will include those previously sidelined and aim to deliver within year a timeline for a constitutional referendum and elections for a legislature and president.
  • “The idea of Haftar taking Tripoli is far-fetched,” said Eurasia Group analysts Riccardo Fabiani and Varsha Koduvayur. Instead, Haftar’s foreign allies may seek a compromise with moderates in Libya’s west, eventually leading to elections that Haftar and his backers believe he could win.

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

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