ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 03/10/2017

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The New York Times—D. M. Halbfinger / Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, move toward reconciliation in Gaza

  • Fatah and Hamas took an important step toward reconciliation on Monday, as the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister –Rami Hamdallah—arrived to take the reins of their impoverished territory’s government.
  • If the effort succeeds, the Palestinians could have a unified leadership for the first time in a decade, potentially giving them more leverage in their push for an independent state.
  • Fatah and Hamas have made many attempts at reconciliation, and even formed a government together in 2014, but within weeks that agreement fell apart and a new war between Hamas and Israel intervened.
  • Analysts say that leaving the Hamas military intact while the Palestinian Authority provides police and other government services in Gaza would threaten to replicate the situation in Lebanon, where Hezbollah holds far greater power than the Lebanese government — a situation that Mr. Abbas is likely to find unacceptable.

Project Syndicate—G. Verhofstadt / Europe’s future after Germany’s election

  • To sideline illiberal elements like AfD, Europe will have to deliver on meaningful reforms. And the only way to do that is for those in Europe who still stand for liberal democracy to join forces.
  • Many analysts were quick to conclude that the German election results was a blow to Emmanuel Macron’s plan to reinvigorate the European project. But it was the CDU’s Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble who blocked most of the proposed eurozone reforms over the past decade.
  • An end to the CDU-SPD “grand coalition” could mean an end to political stagnation not just in Germany, but at the European level, too.
  • Macron and Christian Lindner, the leader of the FDP, agree that Europe needs better governance, based on a combination of consistently applied fiscal rules and growth-enhancing investments.
  • A new coalition government in Germany will be able to work with France to build a closer political and economic union. Making the EU more democratic is the only way to push back the nationalist tide that the European project was meant to prevent.

Foreign Affairs—G. Dalay / After the Kurdish Independence Referendum

  • Results of the independence referendum of Iraqi Kurdististan suggest a high turnout (over 72 percent), and it appears that a large majority of voters endorsed the bid for independence.
  • Both Turkey and Iran see the referendum as having transformed the Kurdish aspiration for statehood in Iraq from problem to be managed to a mounting crisis on their borders. Israel was the only country in the region to express support, while Jordan adopted a mildly sympathetic position.
  • At no point since 2014 (when President Barzani first announced his plans to hold an independence referendum) have the US or any other international power made a serious attempt to reconcile Baghdad and Erbil as an alternative to the referendum.
  • The Kurdistan Regional Government miscalculated. Given its role in the fight against the ISIS, it expected more leeway to press for independence. But with the referendum, Barzani has at least managed to put Kurdish aspirations—which risked being overlooked once the fight against ISIS was over—onto the international agenda.
  • Going forward, talks should start by focusing on the implementation of the constitution, which both sides are accusing each other of violating, and rethinking the framework of relationships between Baghdad and Erbil. Ideally, these talks should have international supervision and mediation.
  • Meanwhile, the US should make sure that its opposition to the Kurdish referendum is not taken as a green light by other forces (Iraq, Iran, and Shiite militia forces) to squeeze the Kurds on all sides.
  • At this moment, either a better defined and implemented federal structure—with some international and regional guarantees—or a confederal structure are relatively more plausible options than a new independent Kurdish state.

The Guardian—P. Wintour / Italy’s deal to stem flow of people from Libya in danger of collapse

  • There have been repeated reports of a clandestine deal struck by the Italian interior minister with a powerful 500-strong smuggling gang led by Abu Dabbashi in Sabratha, Libya. The deal would involve the gang shelving its profitable business in return for political status and cash.
  • But the reported deal appears to have sparked a wider power struggle in the city, notably between Dabbashi on one side and the counter Isis-operations room and rival al-Wabi militia on the other. All the groups are on the payroll of ministries of Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli.
  • The number of migrants reaching Italy from Libya suddenly started to creep up again last month, suggesting the deal was crumbling.
  • The agreement has also been criticised by Gen Khalifa Haftar, the increasingly powerful leader of the Libyan national army, who is trying to present himself to the Italians as the man who can bring the trafficking under control.
  • The Italian government insists it has only given aid to the UN-backed government in Tripoli or to the Sabratha council, but not directly to any militia.

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

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