ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 23/04/2018

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Politico – Madeleine Schwartz / Andrea Nahles: German SPD’s last hope

  • Andrea Nahles was elected leader of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) on Sunday, becoming the first woman to take the helm in the 155-year history of the party. Nahles, a former labor minister, won with just over 66 percent of the votes, a lower share than widely expected.
  • Nahles, who already leads the SPD group in the Bundestag, is viewed as being on the left of the party, but has shown a pragmatic streak. She was widely credited with stewarding the party toward another partnership with Merkel.
  • Nahles promised that four more years in a coalition with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) doesn’t mean the death of the party. “You can renew a party in government,” she said. “I will prove this starting tomorrow.”

The New York Times – Patrick Kingsley / Tiny islands make for big tensions between Greece and Turkey

  • The number of incursions by Turkish military ships and jets into Greek territory has spiked in recent months, according to Greek officials, stoking concerns of a military conflict between two nominal NATO allies.
  • The biggest uncertainty involves Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and whether his ambitions are fueling renewed claims to Greek isles — particularly after he embarked on Wednesday on an election campaign in which he is expected to play heavily on nationalistic sentiment.
  • In December last year, Erdogan used the occasion of the first visit to Greece by a Turkish president in 65 years to call for a redrawing of the border.
  • The Turkish government feels it is unfair that Greece should have the right to potentially exploit energy resources in parts of the Mediterranean seabed that lie within sight of Turkey but many hundreds of miles from the Greek mainland.
  • For all the rhetorical exchanges between Greek and Turkish officials, many of Kastellorizo island’s 300 permanent residents, as well as their Turkish neighbors across the water, feel that tensions have been exaggerated by news media and attention-seeking politicians.

Haaretz – Zvi Bar’el / Conflict between Iran and Israel will rest on fate of the nuclear deal

  • The Iranian regime is contending with a sluggish economy, the worst drought in 50 years and growing public discontent.
  • Iran is also tensely awaiting May 12 – the date by which U.S. President Donald Trump must decide whether his country is quitting the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. The waiting period has already had negative effects on investment and government expenditure.
  • Paradoxically, the battle between Washington and European capitals has seemingly contributed to Iran’s restraint in the face of airstrikes on Syria attributed to Israel. Iran believes it can’t afford to start a new war, because that would play into Trump’s and Israel’s hands by releasing the European brakes.
  • The Israeli airstrikes will actually result in closer cooperation between Iran and Russia in an effort to reach a comprehensive agreement on Syria.
  • Tehran’s need to reconcile the consolidation of its influence in Syria with assuaging public anger over the financial bloodletting that the Syrian war has caused to its economy is ultimately what will determine how it acts toward Israel.

The New York Times – Stephen Castle / Could the U.K. vote again on Brexit? The prospects are rising

  • In the UK, several pro-European groups have come together recently and events are being organized across the country to make the case for a new vote on Brexit.
  • They argue that, rather than a rerun of the 2016 plebiscite, this new “people’s vote” would decide whether whatever Brexit deal the government finally produces matches up to the promises made in the referendum campaign.
  • A reversal of Brexit, nevertheless, remains a long shot. Neither the government nor Labour, the main opposition party, wants a new referendum. And, while public opinion has begun to shift against withdrawal, the movement is only slight.
  • If it happens, a “people’s vote” will result less from popular demand than from a political impasse. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will likely oppose any deal that Prime Minister Theresa May strikes, on the pretext that Labour could do better.

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

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