Reuters – Robin Emmott / Outside EU, France launches crisis force with Britain, others
- On Monday, France launched a military force – together with Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom – outside the framework of the European Union.
- The so-called European Intervention Initiative aims to bring together a coalition of willing militaries ready to react to crises near Europe’s borders without NATO or the United States.
- Despite concerns about potentially overlapping European defence initiatives, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the decision. “I believe it can strengthen the readiness of forces, because we need high readiness,” said Stoltenberg.
- Separately on Monday, Spain was awarded the right to take over Britain’s command of an EU maritime mission that combats Somali pirates next year off the Horn of Africa, on March 30, 2019, a day after Britain’s EU departure.
The New York Times – Palko Karasz / Five takeaways from Turkey’s election
- After his re-election, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will now be the formal head of the Turkish government, and will be able to appoint ministers, issue decrees, make crucial appointments in the judiciary, and authorize investigations of individual civil servants.
- In practice, however, little will change, as Erdogan already informally exerted far more power than his position had technically allowed.
- With more than 86 percent of Turks participating, the vote was considered free. But international observers said it took place in circumstances that had clearly favored Erdogan. The spirited performance of the opposition in such tough circumstances either bodes well for them in the future — or highlights the futility of running against Erdogan in such biased circumstances.
- Erdogan threatened to take greater control of Turkey’s central bank if he won re-election. Since voters failed to punish him for his intervention, Erdogan may now feel emboldened to follow through on his promise.
- Erdogan’s victory was partly the outcome of his alliance with a far-right party, the Nationalist Movement Party, with anti-Western and anti-Kurdish views that Erdogan must continue to accommodate. This plays into the hands of Russia.
Financial Times – Anjli Raval & David Sheppard / All eyes on oil supply after Opec deal to boost output
- The prospect of an extra 1m barrels per day of oil hitting the market would normally be considered uniformly bearish for prices. But part of the Saudi-led decision to raise production stems from the risk of less global supplies later this year, as output reductions can be expected from Venezuela, Iran and Libya.
- Meanwhile, the US shale industry, which has grown sharply during the past 18 months, is finding its top field — the Permian basin in Texas — is starting to push up against pipeline constraints for getting the oil to market. That should see supply growth slow until more lines can be opened in 2019.
- The OPEC+ deal is being interpreted differently by Iran and its regional rival Saudi Arabia, potentially sowing the seeds for a future clash.
- Iran emphasised the agreement only allowed producers that had cut in excess of their targets to return an equal amount of output, a move it said would see output rise by 500,000 b/d or less. Saudi Arabia and Russia, however, made clear they planned to raise output closer to 1m b/d — which would likely see them producing above their own targets to fill in for other members.
Foreign Policy – Dalia Hatuqa / Mohammed bin Salman has thrown the Palestinians under the bus
- Saudi Arabia’s increasingly warm bilateral ties with Israel have not gone unnoticed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Palestinians are no longer the focal point of the regional agenda, and PA leaders have grown increasingly uneasy as some Arab leaders have shifted their attention to Iran.
- According to a report in the New Yorker, Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman have outlined a Middle East strategic alliance that would focus on thwarting Iran and getting the Palestinians to agree on a peace deal.
- The asymmetry of power between Israelis and Palestinians, coupled with the Palestinians’ internal divisions and utter dependence on external aid, has left them with very little leverage.
- The lack of a favorable external context provides an opportunity for the Palestinians to look inward. Palestinians have to deal with a domestic legitimacy crisis: The PA has no succession plan to speak of despite an aging leadership headed by an 82-year-old Abbas.
- Grassroots activism has the potential — further down the line — to give rise to a leadership that is more reflective of its constituency. According to a recent poll, more than two-thirds of Palestinians want Abbas to resign.
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.