ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 18/10/2017

The New York Times—A. Barnard & H. Saad / Raqqa, ISIS ‘capital,’ is captured, U.S.-backed forces say

  • American-backed forces said on Tuesday that they had seized the northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State.
  • The United States Central Command, however, stopped short of declaring victory, saying that “more than 90 percent of Raqqa is in S.D.F. control,” a reference to the Syrian Democratic Forces.
  • A spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces admitted that suicide bombers might still be hiding in the city.
  • With the fall of Raqqa, the Islamic State has lost the two most important cities of its self-declared caliphate (the other one being Mosul, in Iraq) in three months. Analysts say the group is already preparing for a new phase, morphing back into the kind of underground insurgency it started as.
  • A major concern, now that Islamic State-held territory is reduced, is how countries in Europe, in the Middle East and around the world will handle the foreigners who joined the group in places like Syria and might return home and plan attacks there.
  • The fall of Raqqa threatens to inflame relations between Kurds and Arabs, who have been fighting the Islamic State in an uneasy alliance with the United States-led coalition.

Financial Times—T. Mitchell & L. Hornby / Xi Jinping hails ‘new era’ at opening of China congress

  • President Xi Jinping declared that China had “entered a new era” as he opened the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress, which he hopes will cement his status as a transformative leader alongside Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong.
  • In an address that ran for more than three hours and was attended by his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, Mr Xi urged his party colleagues to “work tirelessly to realise the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.”
  • “China’s cultural soft power and the international influence of Chinese culture have increased significantly,” Mr Xi said. “China’s international standing has risen as never before.”
  • One of the speech’s biggest applause lines was Mr Xi’s pledge to maintain the anti-corruption campaign’s “unstoppable momentum”.
  • Mr Xi also outlined a vision for China through the middle of the 21st century, predicting that the world’s most populous nation would be “moderately prosperous” by 2035 and “prosperous, strong and democratic” by 2050.

Project Syndicate—J. Fischer / Europe’s attackers from within

  • Were Catalonia actually to achieve independence, it would have to find a way forward without Spain or the EU. And without membership in the European single market, Catalonia would face the grim prospect of rapid transformation from an economic powerhouse into an isolated and poor country.
  • The EU cannot countenance the disintegration of member states, because these states comprise the very foundation upon which it rests. Although regions can play an important role within the EU, they cannot stand in as an alternative to member states.
  • One could argue that nothing less than the EU’s future is at stake in Catalonia today.
  • There is no alternative but for both the governments in Barcelona and Madrid to abandon the trenches they have dug for themselves, come out to negotiate, and find a mutually satisfactory solution that accords with the Spanish constitution, democratic principles, and the rule of law.

Project Syndicate—J. Stiglitz, et al. / Intellectual property for the twenty first century economy

  • Over the last two decades, there has been serious pushback from the developing world against the current intellectual property (IP) regime, designed not to maximize innovation and scientific progress, but to maximize the profits of big pharmaceutical companies and others able to sway trade negotiations.
  • The economic institutions and laws protecting knowledge in today’s advanced economies are increasingly inadequate to govern global economic activity, and are poorly suited to meet the needs of developing countries and emerging markets.
  • Given that knowledge is a global public good, the worry has been that the market will undersupply knowledge, and research will not be adequately incentivized. But it is not wise to attempt to correct this market failure by creating another one: private monopolies.
  • The current patent system impedes the flow of knowledge, reduces the benefits derived from it, and distorts the economy. By contrast, the final alternative to this system maximizes the flow of knowledge, by maintaining a creative commons, exemplified by open-source software.

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

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