ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 17/10/2017

The Economist / A new war in Iraq, now between Shia Arabs and Kurds

  • Yesterday, Iraqi government forces advanced on Kirkuk, taking over the oilfields, the biggest military base outside the city, and then the governorate building in the centre.
  • Most Peshmerga fighters withdrew without much of a fight. But some Kurds in the city have responded to calls from their leaders to take up arms in Kirkuk’s defence.
  • The loss of Kirkuk’s oilfields would cost the Kurdish regional government its prime source of revenue at a time when it is already struggling to finance its rule.
  • Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has responded to President Trump’s bombast with force. Ahead of the Kirkuk offensive, General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign-operations arm, arrived in Iraq.

Financial Times—T. Hancock / Xi Jinping ally rides infrastructure wave to heart of party power

  • Chen Min’er, Guizhou’s former top official who oversaw the province’s growth and an accompanying rise in local government debt, has a chance of reaching the Politburo Standing Committee after the Chinese Communist party congress this week.
  • Mr Chen, 57, is a decade younger than the top leadership who generally retire at 68, increasing speculation that he is being groomed by Xi Jinping to succeed him as party chief.
  • While Mr Xi is widely seen as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, he is not the sole arbiter of party promotions. Analysts say the position achieved by Mr Chen will be read for signs of his clout.

Brookings—L. M. Milford & M. Muro / Devastation in Puerto Rico could produce a revolutionary power grid

  • A few weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, only about 15 percent of the island has electricity.
  • Tesla has started sending batteries to Puerto Rico, to be installed with solar as an emergency measure to provide power to critical facilities. Sonnen, a German company, is installing solar and storage systems in the island at emergency shelters.
  • Beyond these short-term measures, Elon Musk says he can quickly repower Puerto Rico’s grid with solar and battery storage, an alternative that would not rebuild the grid in the old way. Instead, it would make the island’s electric system more resilient, more local, more independent, and less costly.
  • Solar+storage technologies have become proven and accepted. They are beyond an experimental stage. But it often takes a dramatic moment to shift such a niche technology to mainstream success.

The New York Times—H. Mohamed & K. de Freytas-Tamura / Somalia blasts expose security failings and possible Shabab infiltration

  • Even by Somalia’s standards, the twin truck bombings this past Saturday in Mogadishu that killed more than 270 people were unusual in their scale and brutality.
  • Although the Shabab, Somalia’s Islamist extremist organization, has not publicly claimed responsibility, its members are thought to have orchestrated the attack.
  • The bombings were carried out by drivers of two trucks, crammed with explosives, who drove through multiple checkpoints on a tightly patrolled highway. Their easy access raised questions over whether Shabab infiltrators had compromised security.
  • “No one likes to talk about this, partly because it’s difficult to quantify,” said David Anderson, a professor of African politics at Warwick University. “It’s widely accepted that most of the institutions and organs of the Somali state are infiltrated by the Shabab.”
  • “The solution for the Shabab isn’t to drone-strike it away,” said Ahmed Soliman, an expert on Somalia at Chatham House. If international interest in Somalia diminishes, “there can be an unraveling of the progresses made in government and institutions.”

The New York Times—G. Aisch, et al. / How far is Europe swinging to the right?

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

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