ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 30/01/2018

The Guardian – Reuters / China rejects claim it bugged headquarters it built for African Union

  • China and the African Union (AU) dismissed on Monday a Le Monde report that accused Beijing of bugging the regional bloc’s headquarters, which it built and paid for in the Ethiopian capital.
  • Le Monde quoted anonymous AU sources saying that data from computers in the building had been transferred nightly to Chinese servers for five years.
  • According to Le Monde, the hack was discovered a year ago, and microphones were found hidden in desks and walls.
  • China’s ambassador to the AU: “China-Africa relations have brought about benefits and a lot of opportunities. Africans are happy with it. Others are not.“

Al-Monitor – Jack Detsch / Qatar visit to the US aims to break Gulf gridlock

  • A contingent of Qatari high-level Cabinet officials – including the foreign, defense and finance ministers – are attending this week in Washington a series of events headlined by a US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue that will take place today.
  • Qatari officials are hoping to use the visit to set up talks to end the stalemate with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.
  • “The only person who can solve the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] issue is President Trump,” said Qatari Minister of State for Defense Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah.
  • Recently, Qatari officials confirmed they have looked into purchasing the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system, despite purchasing $21 billion worth of US-made F-15 fighter jets just last summer.

Foreign Policy – Keith Johnson & Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian / NAFTA talks stalled, as world moves on without U.S.

  • Even as the Trump administration continues to try to compel Canada and Mexico to accept a revised trade deal on its own terms, these two countries are forging ahead with new trade pacts of their own.
  • Canada and Mexico signed on last week to a new Trans-Pacific Partnership with nine other Pacific Rim nations. Last fall, Canada’s trade accord with the European Union went into effect, while Mexico expects to revise its own trade deal with the European Union this spring.
  • With more room for maneuver than they had in the 1990s, Mexico and Canada have so far pushed back against the toughest U.S. demands during a half-dozen rounds of talks to update NAFTA. The continued impasse sets the stage for a final pressure-packed round of talks in Mexico City next month.
  • But Mexico has presidential elections in July, which both shortens the time left to make a deal and makes Mexican leaders less able to concede anything to Washington. The U.S. congressional midterm elections that will take place this fall create another pitfall for NAFTA.

Politico – Bruno Maçães / The strait at the center of the world

  • The Bab-el-Mandeb strait is a strategic chokepoint through which passes almost all of the maritime trade between Europe and Asia.
  • The strait is shared by Djibouti, Eritrea and Yemen. Almost every week, oil tankers and merchant ships come under rocket attack from the Yemeni shore.
  • Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of attempting to control the strait by using the Houthis in Yemen as a tool.
  • Bab-el-Mandeb is a rare place — one where refugees flow in both directions at once, meeting each other, perhaps, on the way. Some Africans that flee their continent end up landing in Yemen amid a brutal, devastating war, and become enslaved by armed militias.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may contain word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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